Worth the Waitlist: 6 Australian Restaurants for Serious Foodies

It may be tough to get a table, but these coveted bars and restaurants deserve a place on any foodie’s bucket list.

From coast to coast, discover which on-trend eateries in Australia have flocks of culinary connoisseurs joining the virtual – and physical – queue. 


Where: Melbourne

Best For: An extravagant group celebration

Price Range: $$$$$

Oysters on ice

Positioned as the top restaurant in Australia – and one of the 50 best restaurants in the world – Ben Shewry’s Attica represents the pinnacle of fine dining. Nestled in the unassuming Melbourne suburb of Ripponlea, this coveted destination champions Australian produce, with ingredients like kangaroo, marron and emu frequently appearing on the menu. Seldom available for bookings less than three months in advance, the best way to beat the queue at this exclusive eatery is to plan a private dining experience in the Quandong or Bridgewater rooms, which can help expedite the booking timeline for those willing to pay a premium. It may seem like a great length to go to for a single meal, but those not worried about the generously-sized bill can rest assured it will be worth every penny.


Where: Brisbane

Best For: Spontaneous diners in groups of two or more

Price Range: $$$ - $$$$

 Esquire restaurant

With menu items and prices fluctuating from day to day, Esquire is best suited to travellers who don’t feel the need to feast their eyes on the offering before sitting down to dine. Influenced by fresh produce and local market availability, this inventive restaurant’s set menus can range from 12 to 25 items on any given day, with dinner menus typically ringing up at $110 to $150 dollars per head. Not up for a surprise degustation? Esquire’s sister restaurant, esq., heroes the same sustainably-sourced ingredients in a more casual setting, with a selection of small plates all roasted over coal.


Where: Gold Coast

Best For: Pathfinding foodies willing to go the distance for fine dining

Price Range: $$

Meal from Fleet restaurant

Situated in one of the country’s up-and-coming foodie hotspots, Brunswick Heads, Fleet has taken fine dining regional. And at only $85 per head for an eight-course degustation, this small twenty-two-seater is a downright bargain. For those willing to make the forty-minute trek from Gold Coast Airport, Fleet’s concise yet meticulously designed menu is sure to impress, with dishes like whole Ballina king prawn and guanciale-topped yellow fin tuna matched to a curated list of sustainably-produced organic wines.


Where: Sydney

Best For: Modern Australian menu lovers with a soft spot for scenery

Price Range: $$$ - $$$$

Meal from Bennelong restaurant

Worth the waitlist for its iconic backdrop alone, Bennelong’s coveted Sydney Opera House setting adds another layer of enchantment to Peter Gilmore’s expertly crafted menu. With four different dining options to choose from – including the opportunity to watch some of the country’s most celebrated chefs at work – this versatile eatery caters to diners of all kinds. Want to experience Bennelong on a more reasonable budget? Opt for an evening at the Cured & Cultured Bar, which offers a paired-down menu of raw and cold Australian produce with elegance and simplicity at the heart of its ethos.


Where: Adelaide

Best For: Adventurous eaters with an appetite for new flavours

Price Range: $$ - $$$

Meal from Africola restaurant

While Adelaide doesn’t have the same reputation for fine dining as its larger counterparts along the coast, this unassuming capital continues to come into its own each year with new restaurant openings aplenty. Among the culinary pioneers leading the charge is Africola – a self-described ‘simple restaurant’ specialising in African-inspired meats, flatbreads, vegetables and natural wines. Don’t let Africola’s humble description fool you, though – this multi award-winning restaurant has put Adelaide on the map with a refined hybrid cuisine unlike anything else in the country.


Where: Perth

Best For: Business travellers looking to wow clients and colleagues

Price Range: $$ - $$$

Meal from Balthazar restaurant

Set in the centre of Perth’s CBD, this inner-city eatery was practically made for sophisticated business meetings – but its bustling atmosphere and polished service aren’t its only drawcards. Taking the local dining trend one step further, every morsel that graces the plate at Balthazar is made in-house, ensuring the integrity of the local produce is championed in the purest way possible. With lunchtime set menus starting from $75 dollars per head, this business-meets-pleasure bistro takes the meaning of ‘power lunching’ to a whole new level.

Craving an adventure worth the extra mile? Book Mates Rates sale flights with Virgin Australia and dig in to the nation’s most-coveted dining experiences one city at a time.

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