With more than 50 nationalities, access to fresh seafood and tropical fruits, and a creative, out-of-the-box approach to life, drinking and dining in Darwin offers much more than you may expect.
The dry season, around May to September, is famously populated with indoor and outdoor pop up venues taking advantage of the excellent weather and higher numbers of tourists, but there are plenty of year-round options for fresh, inventive and modern food and drink.
Sure, there’s crocodile on offer, but you’ll find plenty more to delight the tastebuds in this emerging foodie destination. A few Darwin stalwarts such as Char and Frankie’s Pizza Joint still have their doors closed, casualties of the pandemic, but there are more than enough venues to keep you busy.
Here are our top picks for dining in the Top End.
Little Miss Korea and The Loading Bay
For Korean-inspired food in a funky venue, hit up Little Miss Korea. A concise food menu with a heavy focus on local seafood includes choo chee Northern Territory barramundi, KFC (Korean fried chicken) and lobster and prawn wontons. The wine list has international flavours, and classic cocktails are on offer.
After your meal, head next door to The Loading Bay for clever cocktails, a wide range of gins and bar snacks from the Little Miss kitchen in a trendy, industrial-chic venue.
Pee Wee’s at the Point
This one-of-a-kind restaurant shows off the best of both the Northern Territory’s produce and its stunning natural beauty. Set in four acres of waterfront land originally called Pee Wee’s Camp when it was established in 1911 to protect Port Darwin against naval attacks, the building has been designed and built to fit effortlessly into the natural surroundings and site’s history.
Head to the dining room for elegant meals made with local ingredients and an award-winning wine list, or get comfortable in the lounge with cocktails and small plates.
If you’re only going to have one splash-out meal in Darwin, have it here.
In the historic Woolworths building in the heart of the CBD, this modern kitchen and bar specialises in share plates with international flavours and a focus on fresh Northern Territory seafood and produce.
Treat yourself to a luxe (but not prohibitively expensive) banquet with perfect wine pairings, or have a signature cocktail at the bar.
De La Plage
This dry-season-only venue in front of the Darwin Surf Life Saving Club is a boho-dream licenced cafe serving quality local produce all day. The broad expanse of grass that rolls down to the sand is strewn with beanbags, lounges and hammocks that invite you to stay all day – from your morning coffee to an evening antipasto platter. Check their website for their events, including live music afternoons.
If you fancy a meal of cleverly done Australian produce accompanied by water views from every seat, try Wharf One in the Waterfront precinct just a short walk from the CBD.
This vibey restaurant has an extensive range of raw and cured dishes and an excellent seafood offering. If you can’t choose, opt for the four-course tasting menu paired with local wines. Long lunch, here you come.
Smith Street Social
Relative newbie Smith Street Social has two main drawcards: its modern, inventive take on pub classic dishes and its rooftop dining room. Choose from share plates such as fried chicken wings and cured kingfish tacos, or opt for something from their famous stone-baked pizza menu.
To quench your thirst, you’ll find a decent wine and beer list, as well as a range of signature cocktails.