When you think of Darwin, food isn’t exactly the first thought that comes to mind. Perpetual summer, stunning scenery, Aussie wildlife and extremes of weather – sure. But after a recent work trip, I discovered that Darwin also has quite a few delicious foodie finds which should be added to you To-Do list next time you’re in town. Obviously this list is not exhaustive, nor does it feature some of the gems in nearby Palmerston. However, for someone staying in the city, it at least gives you some tasty and affordable options close to most of the major hotels.
PepperBerry is the fine-dining-esque restaurant in the lobby of The Hilton in Darwin. As I was away for a work trip, I jumped at the chance to try one of Darwin’s more fancy establishments.
The menu has a distinct Australian with Asian influences feel about, as well as using local produce and bush spices. As I have found with other venues in Darwin, the portion sizes are very generous, and while I’d definitely recommend trying three courses here you may have to skip lunch (and breakfast) to fit it in. Prices are quite reasonable, with entrees around the $20 and mains $25-35.
For entrée, I chose the kangaroo with dukkha crust, beetroot and lemon myrtle relish and yogurt mousse. I don’t usually like kangaroo as I find it to strong in flavour, but this was honestly the best one I’ve ever tried. Cooked medium rare and filleted quite thin, I think this stopped the ‘gamey’ flavour that you often find in kangaroo steaks. The beetroot wasn’t over-powering, nor the yogurt too creamy – it all balanced out perfectly. If kangaroo isn’t your thing, the salt and pepper crocodile may take your fancy (I’ve been told it tastes like chicken)…..
For mains, I chose the prawn risotto with miso pesto. Absolutely divine, and real comfort food. There’s always a risk with miso that the dish can become too salty but this was just enough to cut through the creaminess of the risotto. I will definitely be taking inspiration from this dish to try a similar DIY at home in the cooler months.
For dessert, I attempted to eat the ‘Chocolate Sin’. I say attempted because I was overpowered by the portion sizes. I wasn’t expecting a full sized chocolate tart AND mousse cake to arrive, dressed with berries and chocolate ganache no less. They were amazingly wonderful but I just had no room left!
Definitely give PepperBerry a try if you have the chance in Darwin, but be prepared for a spectacular food coma afterwards!
‘Big Greek family dining’ feel but in an intimate setting is exactly how I’d describe Meraki. Their exceptionally white décor and Mediterranean style fit-out has a very Santorini feel about it, and their menu heroes all the favourites of family-style Greek food. The portion servings are enormous, and very generous for the price point, so keep this in mind when you want to order one of everything to give it a try (and especially when ordering one of their famous platters).
I recommend the Fava (white bean served with a salty Herring and salad) but definitely order a side of flatbread to mop up every last bit. The Kalamynia salad is also a must, a much more rustic take on a “Greek Salad” including capsicum, roasted eggplant, a generous slab of fetta and ‘rusk’ (hard pieces of bread which soften with the juices of the salad). I wish I could say I got to try more but I was well and truly defeated by the portion sizes and ended up taking home the leftovers for dinner the next night. I’ll be eyeing off the pumpkin dolmades, spanakopita and grilled octopus for next time!
Ray’s was my go-to for great coffee every morning in Darwin. While I didn’t have the opportunity to try any of their dine-in options, they have the most amazing array of pastries including a drool-worthy hazelnut chocolate croissant.
Sashimi and sushi are by far some of my favourite savoury foods, so I was delighted to find Chokado only a short walk from my hotel, with excellent quality fare at a reasonable price. I particularly appreciated the lack of plastic packaging, instead wrapping the sushi into a gigantic sushi burrito to enjoy as you walk through the Smith Street mall.
I’m not a huge ramen fan, but I was intrigued by this cosy noodle joint and their offering of a ‘Cold Ramen Salad’. It was 28*C outside at 7:30pm, and the word ‘cold’ definitely spoke to me!
As well as an excellent selection of hot ramen options, the cold pork / egg and vegetarian ramen salads with an abundance of salad and sesame based dressing definitely took my fancy. I am so glad I branched out from the usual for me – the char su pork and seasoned egg were both delicious, and I was surprised at how refreshing the cold noodles with salad were. I’d definitely order this again and even consider making something similar at home in the summer months!
It’s only the best gelato in Darwin!
This place is SO good I had to visit twice, as it easily rivals some of the best gelato stores in the country (including Messina in my opinion!). The courtyard is also a nifty little spot to sit and watch the world go by, provided you don’t get rained on in the process of course…