Sydney and Melbourne have bickered and bitched for years over who has the best restaurant scene. Meanwhile, little Adelaide has quietly snuck up on the inside to give the big guns - and their egos - a run for their money.
Sure, Sydney may have world- famously mastered the fine art of fine dining. And Melbourne's culinary depth and range gives it massive bragging rights. But Adelaide's blossoming love affair with ethnic cuisine and passion for its amazing local produce gives it a strong claim to the title of Australia's Foodie Nirvana.
It is indeed an awesome place for a feed. From takeaway tempura fish n chips, to witty twists on Adelaide's iconic "pie floater", to degustation seafood extravaganzas, Adelaide dishes up the lot. Washed down with orgasmic Barossa Valley wines. Al fresco dining in a climate that rivals the Mediterranean. At prices that, generally, allow you to blissfully succumb to gastronomic seduction without having to sell your granny.
Adelaide: what isn't there to love?
- 700 + restaurants to experience. That means you could eat out somewhere different every day for nearly two years in Adelaide. Or around twice a week for seven years. Not bad going for a city of just 1.2 million people.
- Sophisticated and diverse cuisine. The locals have known for ages what the rest of the world is suddenly discovering: multi-cultural Adelaide has world-class restaurants offering a jaw-dropping range of cuisine.
- Quaff Grange by the glass at some establishments. By the glass!
- Adelaide's overflowing food bowl floats in a sea of legendary wine regions including the biggies such as Barossa, The Clare Valley, Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide Plains. There are, in fact, 16 wine regions in South Australia. And as well as a cellar door, many vineyards also have a top-notch restaurant or café - which is very thoughtful of them as all that wine tasting can really work up an appetite.
- Kangaroo Island's sublime crayfish, mouth-watering marron, and to-die-for artisan cheeses are just a hop, skip and a jump away from the magical hands of the city's culinary magicians. It doesn't get any fresher than that.
- In between meals out, explore Adelaide's fantastic Central Markets - one of the country's best-kept foodie secrets. Nearly all produce comes from within a 200km radius of the city. A true blue working market, it is the largest fresh food market in the Southern Hemisphere and where all the local restaurateurs go to sample the latest and buy their ingredients. Not surprisingly, it's also a Mecca for gourmands and food paparazzi: don't be surprised to see an artfully displayed cheese being photographed by a salivating horde like it's a half-naked Hollywood starlet having a wardrobe malfunction on the red carpet.
A treasure trove of deliciousness
Adelaide has several dining precincts and loads of "restaurant streets" serving up a vast array of eclectic styles across international, South Pacific and contemporary Australian cuisine. Here are but a few of the hot spots:
The Parade and Unley Road, Norwood, 5 minutes from the CBD are famous for European-style café society and al fresco dining.
You can't go wrong on Gouger Street in the CBD, especially if you love Asian food creatively and expertly prepared. Rundle Street in the CBD is predominantly European food . Here the atmosphere is distinctly urban cool and the food to die for. This is a great area to sit and watch the world go by.
Also check out the menus at Waymouth, Halifax, Hutt and Leigh Streets. While a short trip by car takes you to O'Connell Street and Melbourne Street in North Adelaide where there's endless fun to be had exploring the gorgeous heritage pubs and yet more restaurants. Another great dining strip within minutes of the CBD is King William Road at Hyde Park.
Adelaide's picturesque beachfront offers up both a change of scenery and eating experience. Don't miss the two Jetty Roads - one in Glenelg and the other in Brighton, or the Square at Henley Beach. Seafood, naturally, is the name of the game, in myriad drool-inducing permutations.
Even the pubs are gourmet
On the whole, the pubs in this neck of the woods are a far cry from the unlovely and stinky beer barns found in other parts of the country. You'd be hard pushed to find a soggy schnitzel in lumpy grey gravy here. Adelaide's best pubs turn out meals on par with the posh nosh at flash restaurants. Many are heritage buildings with beautiful iron lace balconies on which to laze away a sunny afternoon, with a pint of deliciously cold South Australian Coopers Ale at hand to accompany the fine fare.
Book or be bumped
People come to Adelaide from all over the country purely to experience the food, so tables at the most sought after eateries can be at a premium, especially during the high season. Don't risk being turned away - book!