18 Jul 2022
Outback roads

From sophisticated cellar doors with views that shine like diamonds to hidden away gems tucked into old sheds, McLaren Vale is destination dining that’s worth the drive.

One of the finest wine regions in South Australia and only 45-minutes from Adelaide, the cool climate wines of this stunning coastline mean restaurants in McLaren Vale are spoilt for choice. Luckily, so are you. A region bursting with beautiful cuisine and equally magnificent views, it’s divine dining. So, hop in your car, turn up the tunes and make your way to the Fleurieu Peninsula and prepare to be deliciously dazzled.

1. d’ Arry’s Verandah, McLaren Vale

dArrys Verandah
dArrys Verandah

Choose your own adventure at d’Arry’s Verandah with the beautifully presented eight course degustation menu. Always changing with the seasons, they’re just one reason to come back to McLaren Vale time and time again. They also don't compromise when it comes to their plant-based options, with inclusions like beetroot and pomegranate tartare and beetroot bark, pickled davidson plum gel and nasturtium leaf and flower salad. Perhaps you’re in the mood for something more substantial? Try the pan fried free-range duck breast or crumbled lamb brains with cauliflower puree – just make sure to save room for the notoriously decadent desserts. Try the Feral Fox Pinot Noir from the cellar door at d’ Arenberg. The food here is creative and meticulous.

2. Pizzateca, McLaren Vale

Pizzateca
Pizzateca

Three words: Neapolitan Style Pizza. Thin and airy and chewy – it’s the pizza of your dreams. Flawlessly fired in a custom wood oven that hails from Napoli, the aroma of handmade sugo, salami and chilli honey will have you salivating. While you could order Pizzateca to takeaway, why would you? Many McLaren Vale restaurants are known for their languid views, and Pizzateca is no exception. Dine out back under the shady gums or grab a table with an umbrella to ward off the sun. In winter, cosy heaters make the verandah snug and welcoming. Our favourite is the salami and chilli honey pizza, but they’re also well known for their mouth-watering Arrosticini (lamb skewers over charcoal).

3. THE CURRANT SHED, MCLAREN VALE

The Currant Shed
The Currant Shed

Set between a delightful lime grove and beautiful vineyards, The Currant Shed was originally built as a shelter in the early 1900s to prepare dry currants to be exported to the UK. Today, the Currant Shed blends inherent charm, stunning views and one of McLaren Vale's finest menus, all under the guidance of owners Hamish Maguire and Emily Dowie. Tucked away in McLaren Flat - just five minutes east of McLaren Vale - the restaurant was awarded a Chef Hat in the 2022 Australian Good Food Guide Chef Hat Awards. 

4. CORIOLE VINEYARDS RESTAURANT, MCLAREN VALE

Gather at Coriole, McLaren Vale

Steeped in McLaren Vale’s wine-making history, Coriole produces multi-award-winning estate-grown Shiraz and Cabernet and has pioneered a range of Mediterranean varieties including Sangiovese, Fiano and Picpoul. Their charming restaurant is nestled between Coriole’s original 1850s homestead and ironstone barn. The restaurant's focus is seasonal, locally-sourced, locally-produced and foraged fare. The relaxed grazing menu utilises Coriole’s onsite kitchen garden, as well as many local artisan producers.

5. Star of Greece, Port Willunga

Star of Greece
Star of Greece

Port Willunga’s award-winning Star of Greece restaurant is South Australian foodie royalty. Here, you’ll dig into South Australia’s most succulent seafood, overlooking towering cliffs, taking-in iconic views of Gulf St Vincent. Recently renovated, this restaurant will see you taking in 180 degree views of the sparkling blue ocean while delighting in fresh caught seafood, smoked duck breast, gnocchi and more. 

6. Maxwell Wines, McLaren Vale

Maxwell Wines
Maxwell Wines

National Food, Wine and Travel writer David Sly called it "the best regional dining destination in the country".So it is no surprise that Maxwell Wines have shaped destination dining in South Australia. When Maxwell's was first built, it was one of the few wineries in South Australia that had an accompanying restaurant. Now award-winning, Maxwell Restaurant's version of fine dining is a true experience - offering a multi course tasting menu with experimental, almost magical plating.

7. Victor’s Place, Old Noarlunga

Victors Place
Victors Place

At the gateway to McLaren Vale, this beautifully rustic restaurant has just received its second AGFG hat, and its executive chef, Chris Bone, his third. The accolades don’t stop there, though. Victor’s also shares cellar door space with Varney Winery, which received the 2021 Halliday award for Best New Winery of the Year. You really can’t go wrong here, but be warned that the food on your plate and the view of the rolling hills along Onkaparinga Gorge are both so perfectly placed that you won’t quite know where to look. Regional specialties reign supreme like the roo tail pithivier, native spinach, porcini and potato starter and the elegant éclair of wattleseed, chestnut, pear and parsnip.

8. The Salopian Inn, McLaren Vale

The Salopian Inn
The Salopian Inn

McLaren Vale’s iconic Salopian Inn plates-up some of South Australia’s finest food, straight from the garden of owner Karena Armstrong. The Salopian Inn’s menu is eclectic and ever-changing, reflecting Karena’s persistent culinary journey. The seasons dictate what is served, with a rotating menu featuring organic fruit, vegetables, locally-sourced beef, lamb, poultry and freshly-caught seafood.

9. DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE, McLaren Vale

Down The Rabbit Hole
Down The Rabbit Hole

With a vintage double decker bus converted into a unique tasting room and an airy, Mediterranean-style cellar door and restaurant, Down The Rabbit Hole is one of the most Instagrammable wineries on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The aesthetics are matched only by the food and wine, so step aboard the bus to taste a drop or two, before you settle in for a seasonal, local and organic feast. You can drop past for a casual wine tasting or grazing platter, or we recommend you book in for a more formal two or three course luncheon. This is a great spot for anyone with dietary requirements, as they cater for wheat and gluten intolerance, vegetarian and vegan diners

10. The Little Rickshaw, Aldinga

Start with bites and grazing dishes as you work yourself up to the mains; meals here at TLR are meant to be shared with love – unhurried and savoured. Modern Southeast Asian food is perfectly curated under the watchful and uncompromising eye of Trinh Richards, using the Vietnamese cooking skills and secrets she learnt from her mum. The atmosphere is cosy and eclectic, not unlike an upscale hawker’s market, but with better service and personalised recommendations - making it a beloved local secret. Tops with local foodies, dip your fork deep into the chewy hand pulled noodles with char grilled king prawns or the fried eggplant with its 5-spice covering that shatters like a savoury crème brulee. The menu changes seasonally – and trust us, you’ll be back.

Continue the journey of dining and discovery...

Want more than a taste? Check out our ultimate Fleurieu Peninsula itinerary for our tips on where to stay, what to do and where to drink. 

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