Where are the Healthy Restaurants and Cafes in Canberra? Great question! We decided to take one for the team and do some serious foodie research, tough job right?
Recently we wrote a piece especially for news.com.au on all of the healthy eating secrets in Canberra, not all of them got published so we thought we’d share our entire list! Have you got a Canberra healthy eats secret? If you do, share in the comments and we’ll update our list (and even take a visit!).
Healthy Restaurants and Cafes in Canberra…
Pod Food – located 2 minutes away from the airport in Pialligo: the suburb of nurseries (yes, the pot plant kind). They do a beautiful 3 course lunch menu for $50 a head (that’s a bargain, the food is local and gourmet). They modified the menu to suit gluten, dairy, grain and refined sugar free. When we said no to dessert they came out with a delish seasonal fruit platter – ticks for taste and ticks for service! They also serve natural / orange wines with low sulphates.
Elemental – Lonsdale St Braddon. Seriously our ALL TIME FAVE place ever! The head chef and owner is our mate Aussie Paleo Chef and just prepare for deliciousness! The menu changes seasonally but you can’t go wrong with either the naked burger or pork belly! Oh, did we mention it’s 100% paleo! YEP! AMAZING! Tell him we sent you 😉 Below is the nachos and an AMAZING Japanese inspired salad!
After something down south and local? You can’t go past Common Grounds Gowrie. They use almond milk in their coffee and smoothies PLUS ask for the big brekky (minus the bread, add avocado). It’s actually BIG and under $20!
Eighty/Twenty – Lonsdale St Braddon. A very HIP place with loads of delish salads and seasonal menues. We LOVE their cacao coffee smoothie… seriously… DROOL! Plus… they use Pialligo Estate bacon, it’s amazing. One time we just ordered a side of bacon! True story!
Originally from Sydney, Thr1ve is the place to go for healthy meals on-the-go. Dan Churchill, Scott Gooding and Luke Hines all rate it! Paleo-friendly (grain, gluten, dairy, refined sugar free) and using sustainable produce too. Their cookies and cream smoothie is a must try! Serving up brekky and lunch bowls, smoothies, salads and delish coffee… would you like your coffee with butter (yes butter), home made almond milk, home made coconut milk, extra protein or medium chain tryglycerides?! Read more about that here.
Grazing, Gundaroo (about 25 minutes drive from Canberra), it’s ala-rustic, an 1865 restored pub. Winner of the ACT Restaurant & Catering Awards, Restaurant of the Year 2013. PLUS this place has celeb cred with Sarah Wilson giving her approval! Perfect for winter with open fire places, private dining rooms and generous, wholesome meals. You know you’re eating local when there’s a huge veggie patch (they call it the Chef’s Garden) you can roam about on the grounds. The wine is local and they brew their own hand crafted beer (if beer is your thing, you’ll love it!).
Maple + Clove, situated just outside the city centre (right next door to Parliament House, you might even catch a politician there!). With a focus on wholefoods to nourish the mind, body and spirit. You’ll find all your favourite health foods on the menu: kale, quinoa, kefir, chia seeds, sweet potato (chips… they are scrummy) and grass-fed beef. They also have a delightful dessert menu using all natural, low GI sweeteners, we can recommend the seasonal crumble. If you’re there for lunch you’ll also want to check out their beer, wine and cider – either biodynamic or organic. Their smoothie menu is also impressive. Definitely one of Canberra’s hidden healthy food gems, you’ll never stumble upon it (be sure to google the address!).
Local Press Wholefoods Cafe (minus all the sugar filled pastries for sale!). The new kid on the block having just opened its doors May 2014. You’ll want to visit not just for the food but also the lakefront views down on Kingston Dockside. You’ll have a ‘Dorothy’ moment of I don’t think we’re in Canberra anymore with its oh so Sydney cafe fit out of a large central communal table, eclectic mix of chairs, cushions and knick knacks on every shelf. Their brekky and lunch menu is seasonal and minimal, we recommend the roast pumpkin and beetroot salad and pick a fresh cold pressed juice to go! Tables are quickly filled on the weekends but it’s well worth the wait!
Paleo Perfection Espresso Bar. Go against the grain. This little corner cafe down at Kingston Dockside is full of organic and homemade delights that are free from gluten, dairy, grains and refined sugars. The affogatto is a must try, using coconut ice cream (drool!) and although it might not look pretty, the caveman slice is our go-to each and every visit (trust us). Favourable mentions must also go to the sticky date pudding with caramel sauce and the basil pesto frittata (great for brekky on the go). They open early for the tradies (6.30am!).
Parlour Wine Room. Oh. My. Pork Belly. Yes, that’s right! Fat doesn’t make you fat! Plus, when you can get 2 for 1 tapas every Sunday (2-5pm) why wouldn’t you order it?! The chefs are more than happy to meet any dietary requirements, we tried their entire menu and they modified it to suit our gluten, grain, dairy and refined sugar free requests. They have a huge selection of local, biodynamic and orange wines (the expert staff will talk you through the entire drinks list if you ask… you should ask!).
A.Baker. Parlour Wine Room’s next door neighbour! They make their sourdough in their underground bakery (if you’re lucky you might get a tour!) and we have heard rave reviews (our dad loved it). Their entire menu is local produce focussed and changes with the seasons! Keep an ear out for their backyard produce dinners, where the guests bring the ingredients and the chefs do their thing (really well!). When we went we supplied flowers from our garden for the centrepieces!
Vspot Vegan and Raw Cafe. This humble little corner shop in Garema Place (opposite the iconic Civic merry-go-round) is a real find! Full of raw, refined sugar free, vegan sweet treats and black board menu specials. You cannot go past the raw red velvet cake (the secret ingredient is beetroot but don’t let that put you off, it’s delish!) and a hazlenut milk dirty chai (intrigued? We bet!). PLUS you’ll also find The Fix Cold Pressed Juices here – a local start-up team making fresh juice available to the whole of Canberra!
Playground Bar. Be transported back to your childhood! You’ll find this fun-filled bar in Garema Place (look for the white picket fence!). It even has its own hopscotch to play on! But that’s not why you’ll visit. Their bar menu features local grass-fed and organic meat. Order the veal rib-eye fillet with a side of crispy sweet potato fries (we can confirm that the ribs are also tasty… but not sugar free). PLUS request a sugar free mojito just for fun!
If a view is what you’re after then you’ll want to visit the Boat House, situated right on Lake Burley Griffin. They offer a 4 course menu at $80 a head, using local and seasonal produce. Go for the scallops with black garlic and buckwheat noodles, the forrest mushroom with jerusalem artichoke and sweet potato, the beef flank and the Pumpkin Cheesecake Icecream (not 100% healthy but featured as one of Gourmet Traveller’s top ten Australian dishes for 2013!). Team it with an organic wine and you are set for a wonderful night.
Elk and Pea. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, located in THE hipster central of Canberra (according to The New York Times) on Lonsdale Street. Sit on the communal table, the milk crates outside or request the birdcage! We love the share platters for dinner, go for the chipotle braised goat and red snapper (both gluten free).
Eightysix. Not sure what to order? Leave it to the very talented chefs at Eightysix, we’re serious (though you should probably request the melt-in-your-mouth lamb shoulder). With a huge focus on local and seasonal foods what ever they bring out you will LOVE! Sit at the chef’s counter and watch them work their magic while enjoying local and a selection of biodynamic wines.
Mood food and co. New to town and it’s taking off. With an extensive menu your best bet is to try and get to one of their Surprise Dinners, where they showcase six of their menu items. Coconut steamed chicken with avocado and mango salsa anyone?! We think yes! Sleek and sophisticates, sexy and delicious (their words… and ours!).
After a bite to eat? Then don’t go past… A Bite To Eat in Chifley (like what we did there?!). This place is quirky: the food and the decor, you’ll feel like you’re in a mix of decades when you walk in. Almost all of their menu items can be made gluten free and vegan friendly upon request (love THIS!). They use free range and organic products (where possible) and sustainable coffee. Their Never Been Fetta roast veggie salad is the pick for lunch and spiced BBQ chicken with smoked duck sausage for dinner.
Mountain Creek Wholefoods, Griffith. Take a step in to health food heaven (warning: only enter if you have at least an hour to spend scanning the shelves! It’s jam packed full of alternate baking supplies, organic beauty products and all of the raw chocolate you could ever need!). At the back of the shop they have a take away food bar where you’ll find freshly made salads, frittatas and more. PLUS you can’t leave without getting a pot of local honey or freshly made nut butter. If you have time check out the organic butcher, organic grocery store and the Heirophant – a store full of naturapathic and homeopathic needs (all located at the same surburbian shopping centre!).
The Ridge, 4 Farrer Place. Another restaurant you’ll find tucked away (Canberra is full of little local shopping centres with hidden jem restaurants!) you won’t even find them online! The Ridge only uses organic produce and caters for many dietary requirements. Order the fish of the day (it’s coated in an amazing almond crust!). Plus the build your own vegetarian plate is another great choice where you can choose 3 of the vegetarian options so you get to taste it all!
Penny University. Visit Penny University for brunch on the weekend and be prepared to wait for a table, it’s that popular! With house roasted coffee, almond milk smoothies and a drool worthy breakfast menu selection. Penny is making Kingston hip again. Their warm breakfast smoothie is a must try! Salted coconut, 3-grain porridge, macadamias, cinnamon, dates, almond milk and vanilla bean yoghurt all blended for an on-the-go taste sensation.
Double shot cafe. Hidden in the suburb of Deakin where everyone is drinking fresh juices and eating yoghurt out of jars. We recommend the baked porridge, the paleo breakfast (no adjustments required for this menu item!) or the healthy start plate (avocado + salmon = heaven on a plate). They have a great range of choose your own adventure style salads for lunch and you’ll want to finish off with an almond milk coffee.
C Dine Bar. another new kid on the block on the Kingston Dockside highlights it’s local seasonal produce, exceptional prime cuts and perfectly prepared seafood. We’re yet to try but have heard amazing dinner tales, the Baby octopus san choy bau and crispy skin Atlantic salmon served with kale and carrot puree has definitely hooked our attention.
OX Eatery. A simple French style menu designed to share. Located at the East Hotel on Canberra Avenue, it’s easy to tell the kitchen team are passionate about quality produce. With whole roast chicken and beef rump (watch it cook on the rotisserie!) served with bone marrow butter on the menu… it’s the perfect dine out for a large group. You could even get 12 of your nearest and dearest and enjoy the whole suckling pig with plenty of sides (be sure to order it at least 3 days in advance). We joined the table next door and enjoyed their left overs (we’re not kidding!).
Sweet bones. A vegan café and bakery where the meals and baked goods are made with love. For those who follow a vegan lifestyle (or not), this ultra-cute café on Lonsdale Street in Braddon is a must-try. We’re not a fan of beans and legumes but give us an almond milk coffee or roast vegetable, cashew nut lasagne any day!
Temporada is tucked away at the back of the Canberra CBD, we tried this place in its second week after opening and happily received perfect service and perfect food. Since then the winning picks are the grilled lamb ribs along with the marinated sardines and cultured butter (we gave the bread away and just ate the butter!). The food is designed to share but you might want the lamb ribs to yourself. Plus they have a selection of organic and biodynamic wine, just ask the knowledgable bar staff!
If cooking your own fresh and healthy food is your thing then you’ll find local markets on over the weekend at Belconnen, Fyshwick, The Capital Region Farmers Market and Southside Farmers Market. Plus for your during the week organic veggie supplies check out Choku Bai Jo. Why not warm up with our easy healthy curry and some of our paleo pita bread? You can make it in under 30 minutes and finish off with or Raw Paleo (and vegan) Choc Raspberry cake!
Emma + Carla
P.s don’t forget to comment below with your Healthy Restaurant and Cafe Canberra experiences! We want to hear all about it!