FOOD

The Best Restaurants And Cafes In Australia

Eat your way around the country.

05/06/2016 10:35 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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Cheers to good food.

To much of the world, Australia is a land full of sunshine, turquoise waters, drop bears and people who seem to be speaking English but are actually maybe not. Australia is probably most of these things (they're called koalas, though), but we're also a country which offers pretty darn good food.

Whether you're in stunning Sydney or blissed-out Byron Bay, there's amazing restaurant and cafes all around.

Handy for both locals and travellers, Lonely Planet has released Best Of Australia, a guide brimming with top sights and authentic experiences around the country -- including the most delicious spots to pop in for some grub.

Here are some of the best eateries 'Straya has to offer.

Sydney

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Sydney. Where there are both swimmers and crystal clear waters aplenty.

Circular Quay and the Rocks

Quay

Quay is shamelessly guilty of breaking the rule that good views make for bad food. Chef Peter Gilmore never rests on his laurels, consistently delivering the exquisitely crafted, adventurous cuisine which has landed Quay on the prestigious World's Best Restaurants list. And the view? Like dining in a postcard. (www.quay.com.au; Level 3, Overseas Passenger Terminal)

Momofuku Seiōbo

The first restaurant outside the U.S. opened by New York's gastronomic darling David Chang, Momofuku Seiōbo is a thorough destination diner. Bringing together the techniques, concepts and ideas of Japanese kaiseki (multi-course eating) and classical Western degustation, it's not one for the short of time, or funds. The two-hour degustation costs $185 (before wine) but is guaranteed to transport you to heaven. (www.momofuku.com/sydney/seiobo; The Star, 80 Pyrmont St)

City Centre

Mr Wong

Dumpling junkies shuffle down a dirty lane and into the bowels of an old warehouse for a taste of Mr Wong's deliciously addictive Cantonese fare. There's a dark-edged glamour to the cavernous basement dining room. Despite seating 240, there are often queues out the door. (www.merivale.com.au/mrwong; 3 Bridge Lane)

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Mr Wong's famous dumplings bring in swarms of lunch and dinner goers.

Surry Hills and Darlinghurst

Bourke Street Bakery

Queuing outside this teensy bakery is an essential Surry Hills experience. It sells a tempting selection of pastries, cakes, bread and sandwiches, along with sausage rolls which are near legendary in these parts. There are a few tables inside but on a fine day you're better off on the street. (www.bourkestreetbakery.com.au; 633 Bourke St)

Ms G's

Offering a cheeky, irreverent take on Asian cooking (hence the name -- geddit?), Ms G's is nothing if not an experience. It can be loud, frantic and painfully hip, but the adventurous combinations of pan-Asian and European flavours have certainly got Sydney talking. (www.merivale.com/msgs; 155 Victoria St)

Paddington and Woollahra

Four in Hand

You can't go far in Paddington without tripping over a beautiful old pub with amazing food. This is the best of them, famous for its slow-cooked and nose-to-tail meat dishes, although it also offers fabulously fresh seafood dishes and a delectable array of desserts. The bar menu (mains $19 to $29) is a more affordable option. (www.fourinhand.com.au; 105 Sutherland St)

Eastern Beaches

Three Blue Ducks

These ducks are a fair waddle from the water, but that doesn't stop queues forming outside the graffiti-covered walls for weekend breakfasts. The adventurous chefs have a strong commitment to using local, organic and fair-trade food whenever possible.(www.threeblueducks.com; 141-143 Macpherson St)

Byron Bay

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Surfing in Byron Bay, NSW

The Roadhouse

A short trip out of town will find you at Byron's most atmospheric night spot. Rocking incredible, locally sourced wholefoods and elixirs by day, the Roadhouse transforms into a dimly lit, blues-infused bar at night with more than 500 types of whisky on the menu. Book ahead. (byronbaycafebar.com.au; 6/142 Bangalow Rd)

Top Shop

On the hill east of town, Top Shop has long been the choice of local surfers. Today it's an upmarket version of the old-school takeaway, with diners ripping into burgers, sausage rolls and quinoa kale salads on the lawn while chugging back ice coffees. (65 Carlyle St)

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Refresh with a tasty acai bowl from Top Shop.

Three Blue Ducks at The Farm

After the success of its Sydney cafe, the team from the Three Blue Ducks decided to move up north and showcase its paddock-to-plate food philosophy on the grounds of this lovely cattle and chicken farm just out of Byron. (www.thefarmbyronbay.com.au; 11 Ewingsdale Rd, Ewingsdale)

Byron at Byron Restaurant

With flickering candles and a rainforest backdrop this intimate resort restaurant offers light, Mediterranean-style dishes created around the best of Northern Rivers produce, such as sweet Bangalow pork and Yamba prawns. On Thursday night there's a good-value two-course Farmers' Market dinner ($49). (www.thebyronatbyron.com.au; 77-97 Broken Head Rd)

Petit Snail

Get stuck into traditional Gallic fare such as steak tartare, duck confit and lots of fromage. There's outdoor dining on the verandah. Vegetarians get their own menu (mains $21 to $25). (www.thepetitsnail.com.au; 5 Carlyle St)

Cairns

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Great Barrier Reef

Tokyo Dumpling

Come to this spotless little takeaway for the best tantanmen (a kind of spicy sesame ramen) outside Japan and some seriously drool-worthy gyoza (dumplings): the cheese and potato variety are to die for. We predict you won't be able to eat here just once. (46 Lake St)

Meldrum's Pies in Paradise

Multi-award-winning Meldrum's Pies deserves the accolades bestowed upon the seemingly innumerable renditions of the humble Aussie pie it's been baking since 1972. From chicken and avocado, to pumpkin gnocchi and tuna mornay. We loved the steak and mushroo-mmm in creamy pepper sauce! (97 Grafton St)

Candy

This quirky, licensed cafe has some seriously sweet treats on its more-than-tempting menu: eggs benedict with light, fluffy hollandaise; caramelised French toast with poached pears and mascarpone; and the infamous Wagyu beef candy burger with egg, bacon, beetroot jam and vintage cheddar. (70 Grafton St)

Waterbar & Grill

Cairns' award-winning steakhouse shouldn't fail to deliver on its promise of succulent, juicy steaks and tender burgers. In the unlikely event that you do leave a crabby carnivore, be sure to let them know so they can make it right. Save room for the homemade sticky date pudding... (www.waterbarandgrill.com.au; Pier Shopping Centre, 1 Pierpoint Rd)

Melbourne

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Beautiful Melbourne, a city notorious for its great coffee and food.

Central Melbourne

Don Don

Due to its popularity, Don Don had to move digs to a bigger space, yet it still fills up fast. Grab a big bowl or bento box full of Japanese goodness and wolf it down indoors, or join the masses eating it on the State Library's lawns. (198 Little Lonsdale St)

MoVida

MoVida sits in a cobbled laneway emblazoned with one of the world's densest collections of street art -- it doesn't get much more Melbourne than this. Line up along the bar, cluster around little window tables or, if you've booked, take a table in the dining area for fantastic Spanish tapas and raciones. (www.movida.com.au; 1 Hosier Lane)

Mamasita

The restaurant responsible for kicking off Melbourne's obsession with authentic Mexican street food, Mamasita is still one of the very best -- as evidenced by the perpetual queues to get into the place. The chargrilled corn sprinkled with cheese and chipotle mayo is a legendary starter, and there's a fantastic range of corn tortilla tacos and 180 types of tequila. No reservations, so prepare to wait. (www.mamasita.com.au; 1/11 Collins St)

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Melbourne is rich with colourful street art and graffiti.

Cumulus Inc

One of Melbourne's best for any meal; it gives you that wonderful Andrew McConnell style along with reasonable prices. The focus is on beautiful produce and simple but artful cooking: from breakfasts of sardines and smoked tomato on toast at the marble bar to suppers of freshly shucked clair de lune oysters tucked away on the leather banquettes. No reservations,so queues are highly probable. (www.cumulusinc.com.au; 45 Flinders Lane)

Vue de Monde

Sitting pretty in the old 'observation deck' of the Rialto, Melbourne's favoured spot for occasion dining has views to match its name. Visionary chef Shannon Bennett has moved away from its classic French style to a subtle Modern Australian theme that runs through everything from the decor to the menu. (www.vuedemonde.com.au; Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins St)

Carlton and Around

Rumi

A fabulously well-considered place that serves up a mix of traditional Lebanese cooking and contemporary interpretations of old Persian dishes. The sigara boregi (cheese and pine-nut pastries) are a local institution, and tasty mains like meatballs are balanced with a large and interesting selection of vegetable dishes (the near-caramelised cauliflower and the broad beans are standouts). (www.rumirestaurant.com.au; 116 Lygon St, East Brunswick)

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Said to be the country's coffee capital, Melbourne sure knows how to make a good cup.

St Kilda and Around

Monk Bodhi Dharma

Monk Bodhi Dharma's hidden location, down an alley off Carlisle St (next to Safeway), means it doesn't get much passing foot traffic, which is lucky given that this cosy brick cafe has enough devotees as it is. A former 1920s bakehouse, these days it's all about transcendental vegetarian food, housemade bircher muesli and house-roasted single-estate coffee. Book ahead for Friday night dinners. (www.monkbodhidharma.com; rear 202 Carlisle St, Balaclava)

Attica

Consistent award-winning Attica is a suburban restaurant that serves Ben Shewry's creative dishes degustation-style. Many dishes are not complete on delivery; staff perform minor miracles on cue with a sprinkle of this or a drop of that. 'Trials' of Shewry's new ideas take place on Tuesday night's Chef's Table ($125 per head). Booking several months in advance is essential. Follow Brighton Rd south to Glen Eira Rd. (www.attica.com.au; 74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea)

Hobart

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Hobart is renowned for its heritage buildings, parks, restaurants and Salamanca Market.

Pilgrim Coffee

With exposed bricks, timber beams and distressed walls, L-shaped Pilgrim is Hobart's hippest cafe. Expect wraps, panini and interesting mains (Peruvian spiced alpaca with quinoa and beetroot!), plus expertly prepared coffee. Fall into conversation with the locals at big shared tables. Down a laneway around the back is the Standard (Hudsons Lane) a fab burger bar run by the same hipsters. (48 Argyle St)

Jackman & McRoss

Don't bypass this conversational, neighbourhood bakery-cafe, even if it's just to gawk at the display cabinet full of delectable pies, tarts, baguettes and pastries. Early-morning cake and coffee may evolve into a quiche for lunch, or perhaps a blackberry-and-wallaby pie. Staff stay cheery despite being run off their feet. The city branch (4 Victoria St) has parallel prices. (57-59 Hampden Rd, Battery Point)

Raspberry Fool

The all-day menu here features dressed-up comfort food with a chef's spin. Try the cheesy leeks on toast with bacon and a fried egg, or the baked eggs with caramelised onion, ham and Gruyère. It gets as busy as a woodpecker when the Farm Gate Market is happening outside on Sunday mornings. Great coffee, too. (85 Bathurst St)

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Head to Salamanca market in Hobart for fresh, seasonal produce.

Ginger Brown

When a food business is this well run, the mood infects the entire room: happy staff, happy customers and happy vibes. Try the slow-cooked lamb panini with cornichons and hummus. Very kid- and cyclist-friendly. Last orders 3pm. (464 Macquarie St, South Hobart)

Tricycle Café Bar Cafe

This cosy red-painted nook inside the Salamanca Arts Centre serves up a range of cafe classics (BLTs, toasties, free-range scrambled eggs, salads, house-brewed chai and Fair Trade coffee), plus awesome daily specials (braised Wagyu rice bowl with jalapeño cream -- wow!). Wines by the glass from the bar. (www.salarts.org.au/portfolio/tricycle; 71 Salamanca Pl)


Reproduced with permission from Lonely Planet's Best of Australia (1st Edition) by Hugh McNaughtan, et al. © 2016 Lonely Planet. Available now, RRP: $34.99 (www.lonelyplanet.com)

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