From visiting Adelaide Central Market, to beachfront dining on the Fleurieu Peninsula and wine tasting in McLaren Vale, these are the best food and wine experiences in Adelaide and beyond.
So, you’re planning a trip to Adelaide, one of the wine capitals of the world? Well, you’re in for a serious treat! This part of Australia is famed for its amazing local produce and beautiful vineyards. It’s a region with an abundance of interesting native ingredients too. I mean, what better way to learn about a destination than by eating your way through it?!
I’ve just got back from an incredible 2-week road trip in South Australia. I’ll admit food is always high up my agenda when I travel, but on this trip, it was one of the main focuses!
South Australia is home to some of the best vineyards in the southern hemisphere. If you’re partial to a glass of wine from time to time, you’ve probably heard of this part of Oz’s most famous wine region: the Barossa Valley. However, you might not know that there are several other top wine regions just a stone’s throw from Adelaide.
Head an hour out of the city to Adelaide Hills for great whites, drive north two hours to the Clare Valley for top class Rieslings, or go south to McLaren Vale for some of the best Shiraz’s on the planet.
While the wine attracts a lot of tourists to Adelaide and beyond, there’s plenty for food-lovers too. I found the culinary scene to be seriously exciting, with a huge focus on seasonal, local produce and sustainability. The Aussie brunch scene is world-famous, but there’s more to Adelaide’s cuisine than flat whites and smashed avo! We’re talking degustation menus, sharing plates and intricately-paired culinary extravaganzas!
So, it’s time to jump into my top recommendations for food and wine in Adelaide and beyond. I’ve included some in the city itself, while others are a little further afield (but I promise they’re worth travelling for!)
10 Best Food And Wine Experiences In Adelaide And Beyond
Adelaide Central Market
Adelaide Central Market is one of the largest undercover fresh produce markets in the Southern Hemisphere. There are more than 70 traders under one roof, selling everything from fruit and vegetables to fish, meat and sweet treats. I always think that wandering through a city’s food market is a great way to learn about the destination. You get to see homegrown produce, learn about what’s popular with locals and soak up the buzz too.
Around the outside of the market you’ll find small restaurants and cafes too, so you can grab a bite and enjoy a side-order of people watching (one of my favourite pastimes!)
Don’t miss Something Wild, a stall specialising in a range of indigenous foods including native meats, fruits, vegetables and herbs. Among the rarer (and more adventurous items) on sale you’ll find kangaroo, camel, emu and even green ants! Yep – I tried them and they were surprisingly zingy, like a little pop of lemon!
For another great introduction to South Australian produce, I’d recommend stopping by the Kangaroo Island stall. This island is located just south of Adelaide and is known for its amazing produce, which includes Ligurian honey, gin and sticky fig syrup!
Adelaide Central Market is a lovely place to wander for an hour or so, but to make it more fun, I’d recommend booking a tour with Food Tours Australia. Our guide shared so much knowledge about the unique produce from the state, as well as stories about the community at the heart of the market.
Some of the best places for food and drink experiences in Adelaide are on the quirky laneways of Peel Street and Leigh Street. Running in parallel, these two alleys are home to several cool wine and cocktail bars, romantic date spots and vibrant nightlife options.
Fugazzi is a stylish Italian restaurant on Leigh Street. The décor is gorgeous, with a sleek bar as you enter, romantic tables for cocktails tucked at the back, and a large buzzy restaurant space to the side. If you’re a fan of interior design, don’t miss a trip to the toilets! Honestly, they’re some of the coolest I’ve seen on my travels!
But wait, let me take you back to the main event: the food! Fugazzi is an Adelaide hotspot for decadent Italian cuisine with a sophisticated touch. The menu is divided into snacks, small plates, pastas and grilled dishes. There are also a couple of tasting menus if you find it hard choosing.
My favourite dishes were the small plates of wood-roasted shimeji mushrooms with Jerusalem artichoke and burnt butter, and the whipped ricotta and honey with gnocco fritto (fried bread) and black pepper. Both were absolutely delicious.
We couldn’t resist but choose pasta dishes for our main courses. I had the black pepper and lemon agnolotti with sage and burnt butter, while Macca ordered the hand rolled taglierini with blue swimmer crab. Both were tasty and very generous, but a little rich for our palettes. This was a shame as I was eyeing up the desserts with interest, but couldn’t find an inch of space!
Fugazzi is a lovely place for dinner in Adelaide, and worthy of its excellent reputation. Top tip – be sure to book in advance as it’s very popular!
Golding Wines, Adelaide Hills
As a quick guide, if you’re looking for wine tasting and cellar door experiences close to Adelaide, you can head north to the Barossa Valley, east to Adelaide Hills or south to McLaren Vale. All three are easily accessible in under an hour from the city centre.
Golding Wines in Adelaide Hills is one of the best places to visit if you’re looking to get out of the city for a gastronomic food and wine experience. This is a family-run winery that spans 200-acres. I thought the sparkling blanc de blancs was excellent, as were the more unusual savagnins.
Stop by to enjoy a wine flight in the tasting room, book a wine safari tour out in the vineyards, or collect a picnic hamper and relax in the gardens.
Inside Golding’s pretty barn you’ll find Gingko Restaurant, which is open at lunchtime. On weekdays the menu features casual options such as pizzas and grazing boards, with more gastronomic options available on weekends.
We booked for something extra special, known as the NIDO Experience. This is where the team serve a gastronomic 6-course degustation menu inside their unique hand-woven bird’s nest structure overlooking the vineyards. Each course is paired with a wine from Golding’s collection.
On the day we visited, the weather was a little wet so we couldn’t cosy up inside the nest, but we still enjoyed the full tasting menu in the restaurant. Highlights included the kingfish with beetroot which was spectacularly presented, and a sweet and sticky chocolate and berry dessert.
My favourite course was an aromatic mushroom “tea”. This delicious mushroom consommé contained wild mushrooms, chilli, lemongrass and a unique ‘teabag’ constructed out of vegetables. It was like something from Alice in Wonderland – adding a little bit of theatre and magic to the meal!
D’Arenberg, McLaren Vale
McLaren Vale is one of the most popular wine regions in South Australia and is a really quick and easy drive from Adelaide (only 45 mins!) It’s home to over 80 vineyards, a 9km Shiraz Trail and lots of great restaurants. There are plenty of options of full-day wine tours here too, which will pick you up from your accommodation in Adelaide, take you to several wineries. After all, no one wants to be the designated driver when there’s so much great wine to taste!
One of the most popular attractions is The Cube at d’Arenberg Winery. When you see it, you’ll understand why! Many wineries in South Australia have created clean and modern spaces for wine tasting, where the wines and views do the talking. At d’Arenberg, things are a little different!
The Rubik’s cube architecture has been designed to represent the complex puzzle of winemaking. The man responsible for the wacky design is Chester Osborn, fourth-generation family member and the chief winemaker at the winery.
The Mad Hatter vibes continue inside, with an immersive museum, Dali exhibition restaurant and wine tasting space. We dined at Singapore Circus, The Cube’s South-East Asian restaurant on level 4. I loved dining in this space! The chairs are multicoloured, the views are beautiful and there was a real buzz in the restaurant.
We enjoyed a selection of plates to share including chicken satay, prawn dumplings, sticky aubergine and some crispy and delicious fried chicken. This isn’t high-end cuisine, but if you’re looking for a more traditional gourmet dining experience, you can nip across to d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant, d’Arenberg’s other restaurant.
Don’t miss sampling some of d’Arenberg’s wines on level 5. I couldn’t quite believe it when I heard they produce 80 different wines! The shiraz is among the best we tried in South Australia, so definitely order a glass of that.
Gemtree Wines, McLaren Vale
As you drive around McLaren Vale, you’ll see signs for wineries and cellar doors at the sides of every road. To contrast with d’Arenberg, I’d recommend visiting Gemtree Wines. This is a third-generation family-owned winery, with a focus on sustainability. The wines are certified as organic and biodynamic.
They are also looking after their land in a different way to many of the wineries in the region, with the creation of their very own eco-trail (open to all). This walking route is a nod of respect to the indigenous people, and a way of preserving some of the native flora and fauna. These efforts not only protect the land for future generations, but also improve the biodiversity locally, which in turn benefits Gemtree’s vines.
While you can wander the route alone, I’d recommend joining a Wuldi Cultural Experience with Ngarrindjeri Elder, Mark Koolmatrie. We had fascinating chats about the strong connections native people have with the land. There’s a real appreciation for what it provides, and an emphasis on protecting it. I found myself utterly engrossed in Mark’s tour, feeling that as I learned about him, I also learned about myself.
At the end of the eco-tour, we sampled some native foods including saltbush, quandong and muntries, accompanied by a selection of Gemtree’s biodynamic wines. It was a great way to combine South Australian culture with food and drink. I definitely appreciated all of the elements more after learning from Mark.
If you don’t fancy booking a tour like this, you can also visit Gemtree’s tasting room, which offers beautiful views over their vines.
Pikes Wines, Clare Valley
Just one hour and 45 minutes from Adelaide and you can be in the heart of another of Australia’s best wine regions: the Clare Valley. Having visited several of South Australia’s wine regions, I’d say this part is quainter and has a slightly more off the beaten track feel, perhaps because it’s a little further from the big city.
The scenery is spectacular, with gently undulating hills lined with rows and rows of vines. It’s not as elevated as the Adelaide Hills, but still has cool nights and warm days which help to produce excellent Rieslings. There’s even a 33km Riesling Trail which is best explored by bike.
There are more than 30 wineries in the Clare Valley, but one of the most famous is family-owned and operated Pikes. There’s a real heritage to this brand. The family starting out in beer in the late 1800s, followed by soft drinks and cordials in the 1940s. The winemaking began in the mid-80s, and Pikes have been picking up impressive awards ever since.
We stopped by for a wine tasting experience in the beautiful tasting room which looks out at the vines. Along with some excellent Rieslings, we also loved the Viognier and Sangiovese.
Also on site is the craft brewery and highly-regarded Slate Restaurant, so you could spend a whole day here.
Watervale Hotel, Clare Valley
Just an hour and a half from Adelaide is this exceptional restaurant in the Clare Valley. I absolutely loved the food here, and it’s up there with the best meals I had in Australia. It really was that good!
As with so many of the restaurants we visited in the state, the dining concept at the Watervale Hotel is all about sharing. There’s a varied menu of snacks, small plates, large plates and sides to choose from, all utilising ingredients grown on the restaurant’s farm. This is always my favourite way to eat, as you get to try so many different things.
Our favourites included a large plate of deliciously moist roast chicken with a smoked garlic mash and herb butter, a dish of charred broccoli with spiced yogurt, and a warm salad of honey roasted beetroot with feta. I’ll admit it was really hard choosing our dishes as there were so many that sounded appetising!
The space at this restaurant is really well designed. There’s a large open plan kitchen which I could see from my seat (isn’t it fun watching the chefs busy preparing the dishes?!) There’s also a lovely outside courtyard, a bar area and a few private dining areas.
Some of the team working at the restaurant were from Europe, visiting as part of the Working Holiday Maker Program. They were loving the opportunity to learn new skills, all while working in a place that takes food so seriously. I wished I’d known about opportunities like this when I was in my mid-twenties – I think I’d have jumped at the chance to have an experience like this!
Star of Greece, Fleurieu Peninsula
Around 45 minutes by car from Adelaide lies this spectacular restaurant, nestled on top of the cliffs in Port Willunga on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The name might have you expecting a menu of Greek dishes, but no! The Star of Greece is named after the shipwreck which sank just off the coast in 1888.
This restaurant has an incredible reputation for fine dining, yet it’s not stiff or pretentious. There’s a dedication to using local produce too, with lots of ingredients sourced in the Fleurieu Peninsula, and ocean delicacies such as King George whiting and squid coming from nearby Kangaroo Island.
I absolutely loved the special that was on the menu the night we visited. It was a lobster tail laksa, which packed a punch with curried Asian flavours, while still having a delicate touch with the lobster. My partner really enjoyed the chargrilled wagyu eye fillet which was served with local Fleurieu mushrooms and a spicy XO sauce.
Being perched on top of the cliffs means you’ll be glued to the view. The panoramas of the beach and ocean are absolutely breath-taking, particularly if you time your meal for sunset.
If you’re loving the look of the location but can’t quite stretch to the main menu, the Star of Greece also has a kiosk outside, serving beach classics such as fish and chips. I can’t think of a better place for a beach-side snack or lunch on this coastline!
Willunga Farmers Market, Fleurieu Peninsula
I mentioned Adelaide Central Market was an ideal place to kick off your time in South Australia, but here’s another great market to add to your list. It takes place every Saturday from 8am until midday in the grounds of Willunga High School.
Willunga Farmers Market launched back in 2002 with just 18 stalls and has been growing ever since. When I visited, I’d estimate there were over 50 local producers selling everything from huge boxes filled with ripe strawberries, to freshly baked sourdough loaves, homemade jams and ice cream.
It’s a real event for the community too. There’s live music, places to buy coffees and drinks, areas to sit down and relax, and plenty of space for kids to run around! It was such a lovely atmosphere – the kind of market everyone wishes they had nearby!
Lost Phoenix Farm, Fleurieu Peninsula
With views of rolling hills, a varied menu and even its own distillery, Lost Phoenix Farm is a delightful place to stop for lunch. Under an hour from Adelaide, it feels like a real country escape.
As with so many of my favourite food experiences in South Australia, this restaurant also serves dishes designed for sharing. We enjoyed a light lunch of small plates.
My favourite was the salad of burrata, orange and radicchio which had a tasty mint and dill dressing. We also loved the raw tuna which was as pretty as a picture, served with tiny cubes of apple, slithers of baby turnip, micro herbs and tasty flavours of miso.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my top food and wine experiences in Adelaide and beyond. I’ve focused on food on many of my world travels, and I have to say that I think this is one of the best regions I’ve visited in a long time. The passion for local, seasonal produce, the creative menus, great wine and beautiful restaurant locations make the experiences extra special.
To help you plan your visit, don’t miss my South Australia road trip itinerary. This huge guide is packed full of travel tips and recommendations for places to visit, eat and stay in the state.
If you’re looking for some additional food and wine recommendations for your time in South Australia, take a look at the Epicurean Way. This route takes you to a selection of the top wineries, restaurants and shows off the best artisan produce too.
A big thanks to the South Australia Tourism Commission for inviting us to explore this amazing region. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
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