Adelaide's South West is exploding with everything from seductive bars and unique beer gardens, to Italian eateries and trendy pubs.
BY SAM SMITH
In the last few years, Adelaide’s small bar and café scenes have exploded. Starting on Peel Street, the artisan epidemic has spread steadily through the city, taking over nearby Leigh Street, Vardon Lane and Avenue, as well as Ebenezer Place.
Now, Adelaide’s South West precinct has well and truly caught the fever. Sturt Street and Wright Street are booming with everything from seductive wine bars and unique dumpling/beer gardens, to eccentric Italian eateries and trendy refurbished pubs. Adelaide’s small bars and cafés are the result of passionate locals who don’t play by the rules. Try something new and discover some of the most unique dining and drinking experiences South Australia has to offer.
East of Norman
Modern and low-key with a subdued colour-scheme and industrial vibe, East of Norman is the perfect place for a gourmet pizza, relaxed share plate or glass of wine. If you’re popping-in for dinner, you’ll find a range of platters and pizzas, specially designed for passing around. For $15 to $20, you can tuck into dishes such as tempura okra with chilli jam or braised beluga lentils with flat bread. East of Norman’s pizza options will keep your mouth watering and wallet happy. At around the $20 dollar mark, toppings include mushroom and ricotta, prawn zucchini and mint, pumpkin, blue cheese and caramelised onion, salami, anchovy, olive and capsicum.
In case you were wondering, they also do breakfast. Until 11:30am on weekdays, and all day on weekends, you can revel in the flavours of braised lima beans, chorizo and baked egg. If dessert is your calling, you can’t go past the vanilla bean crème brulee.
East of Norman, 50/52 Sturt Street, Adelaide. Ph: 08 8211 6159;
Open Saturday 8am till 12am, Sunday 8am till 4pm, Monday 7:30am till 4pm and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 7:30am till 12am.
My Kingdom for a Horse
Tucked away on Adelaide’s Wright Street, My Kingdom for a Horse is a haven for coffee enthusiasts. All specialty coffee is roasted in-house with a bean roaster perched right next to the kitchen. With super-cool 70s inspired furniture, colourful wall art and splashes of neon orange, it’s a café experience like no other.
My Kingdom for a Horse prides itself on being family inclusive. It’s pram-friendly, with baby changing facilities, a breast feeding area and extensive (not to mention, delicious-looking) kids’ options. Main menu highlights include Israeli style eggs baked in spicy rich tomato sauce with dipping toast, Hiramasa kingfish, pan-fried and served with heirloom beets, goat’s chevre and a haloumi cheese burger with roast tomato, eggplant and rocket pesto.
My Kingdom for a Horse, 191/195 Wright Street, Adelaide. Ph: 08 8410 7408;
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 7am till 4pm.
Mention Feliciano and you’re likely to be met with either a jovial smile or look of confusion. Owner and head chef, Dominic Pelosi, prides himself on his ever-changing menu, so much so that he literally decides what you’ll eat for you. With no menu and no set opening hours, walking into Feliciano is more like turning up to a new friend’s dinner party than a restaurant – but that’s the reason people keep coming back for more.
As long as you’re not a picky eater, you’re more than likely to be impressed with Pelosi’s creations. Rustic pizzas, pasta dishes, steak, chicken wings, meatballs and unbeatable homemade sugo and braciole are just some of the many meals you can (or can’t) expect. Décor is not fancy by any means, but full of charm, and wine is strictly BYO. If you bring an appetite and an open mind, you’re in for one of the most unique dining experiences Adelaide has to offer.
Feliciano, 57 Gilbert Street, Adelaide. Ph: 8410 0222;
Feliciano has no concrete opening hours, so you will need to call to find out more.
Developed from an “endless love of drinking great wine with great friends”, Cantina Sociale is big on quality rather than quantity. Their wine list is made up of unique, exciting drops, and is designed to be a talking point between seasoned drinkers, looking to taste something exciting and new. You’ll find specialty Tempranillo, Shiraz, Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Grenache and fortified wines.
The interior is designed as a kind of pseudo cellar door. It’s rustic and industrial with bare bricks, a weathered tin roof, stacks of wine barrels, high bar stools and bare light globes hung low from the ceiling. The food menu is as exciting as the wine list with spring lamb lollipops, duck rillettes, whipped goat’s cheese with truffled honey and radish salad. There’s also local and imported craft beer and an extensive cocktail list.
Cantina Sociale, 108 Sturt Street, Adelaide, Ph: 08 8410 6246;
Open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4pm till late.
Cantina Sociale, on Adelaide's Sturt Street
Open, inviting and bright – Society Espresso is a breath of fresh air, conveniently located on bustling King William Street. Walking into Society Espresso, there’s an undeniably welcoming air with plenty of space, warm lighting and traditional wood panelling. It can’t be beaten for a quick work lunch or coffee on the go.
Society Espresso’s menu is absolutely bursting with fresh ingredients. If you want the full experience, we’d recommend the green smoothie bowl with spinach, avocado, banana, oats, honey, matcha and super seeds. In the mood for breakfast? Our top picks are the smashed avocado with cucumber ribbons on rye bread, smoked salmon with avocado and scrambled eggs, or the brioche with egg and smoked pancetta. Wash it all down with a freshly squeezed juice or smoothie. Of course, the coffee is fantastic too.
Society Espresso, 377 King William Street, Adelaide. Ph: 0412 318 834;
Open Monday to Friday, 7am till 4pm and Saturday to Sunday, 8am till 1pm.
Hotel Wright Street
Established way back in 1852, the Hotel Wright Street has experienced more than its fair share of beer garden lazing over the years. Now, after its most recent makeover in 2011, it’s attracting a young, vibrant clued-in crowd, as well as seasoned regulars who keep coming back for more. Completely gutted, renovated and rebuilt, the Wright Street’s interior has maintained its original rustic vibe with the addition of some seriously cool contemporary artwork, brand new bar and industrial-style dining settings.
But the Hotel Wright Street’s beer garden is what really sets it apart. The vintage vibe of the interior continues outside with multi-coloured bar stools, striped umbrellas and wooden decking aplenty. Smack bang in the middle is a shady crab apple tree, surrounded by a square island bench, perfect for perching a cider on. The Hotel Wright Street’s beer, cider and wine list is regularly rotated to keep things fresh. New creations are always appearing on their revamped menu – some popular dishes include locally caught squid, ale-battered local flathead and pea and ham gnocchi.
Hotel Wright Street, 88 Wright Street, Adelaide. Ph: 08 8211 8000;
Open 11.30am till late every day. The kitchen is open Monday to Thursday 12pm till 3pm for lunch, then 5:30pm till 9pm for dinner. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it is open from 12pm till 9pm.
Distinctive, classy and full of life, Troppo is a cutting-edge café nestled underneath an eco-housing complex in Whitmore Square. Designed with sustainability, community and conservation in mind, Troppo has an “urban treehouse” feel, with wooden beams jutting haphazardly out of grey concrete walls. Inside, the café is bright and airy, with mellow lighting and simple deck-style chairs. The urban treehouse theme continues with intertwined branches spiralling over the roof and plenty of colourful produce on display.
The menu rotates with the seasons and features as much South Australian produce as possible. Coffee is sourced ethically and is also fair-trade/organic. The key to Troppo’s success is its dedication to using only the best ingredients. The menu is simple with dishes such as waffles, daily pizza specials, home-made pot pies, steak sandwiches and burgers – it’s the exceptional ingredients that bring each dish to life.
Troppo, 42 Whitmore Square, Adelaide. Ph: 08 8211 8812;
Open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7:30am till 4pm, Friday from 7:30am till 10pm, Saturday from 9am till 9pm and Sunday from 9am till 4pm.
Troppo, on Adelaide's Whitmore Square
Vietnamese Laundry Street Food & Bar
Vietnamese Laundry Street Food & Bar is a tiny Vietnamese restaurant in what was once – surprise, surprise – a dilapidated laundromat. Though the restaurant is minuscule, it stands out from the crowd with a huge, colourful mural wrapping itself around the outside walls. Inside, it’s narrow, noisy but charming with warm lighting, ample seating, clean-cut décor and some quirky touches including one of the old laundromat’s original washing machines.
Inspired by Vietnamese street food and backstreet bars, Vietnamese Laundry specialises in Banh Mi, Vietnamese BBQ dishes, pho, and a large range of quick, authentic meals. The restaurant is licensed and well-known for its unique savoury and sweet pho cocktails. Mouth-watering lunch and dinner favourites are grilled mussel with spring onion oil and crushed peanuts, steamed buns, lotus chips, fried prawns with green flake rice, soft shell crab cups and pork ribs.
Vietnamese Laundry Street Food & Bar, 152 Sturt Street, Adelaide.
Open Monday to Thursday, 10:30am till 3pm, Friday from 10:30am till 3pm, then 5pm till 12am. Saturday opening hours are 12pm till 3pm, then 5pm till 12am.
Kenny Wang Dumpling and Beer Garden
Kenny Wang Dumpling and Beer Garden is a colourful mix of cocktails, dumplings, share plates and beer, set in an alleyway splashed with neon paint, Chinese-style street signage, wall art and posters.
Kenny Wang made a name for itself at the Adelaide Fringe as a pop-up food truck. Crowds couldn’t get enough of their pork belly salad, Korean wings, steamed duck buns and scallop dumplings. Now with their own fully-fledged premises, Kenny Wang’s prices remain more than reasonable and range from $3 to around $15 for a main. Thirsty? Their mango and chilli daiquiri is widely praised. During the warmer summer months, Kenny Wang really comes alive. Round-up a group of friends, order cocktail and a small plate to share, and you’re set.
Kenny Wang Dumpling and Beer Garden, 80 Wright Street, Adelaide. Ph: 08 8211 8000;
Open Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, 4pm till 12am and Friday 12pm till 12am.