Home to Australia's seafood capital, hundreds of wineries and some of the most fertile soil in the country, South Australia is a treasure trove of fresh produce, award-winning wines and gourmet dining.
If you're looking for something a little more off-the-menu, we've got just the thing: from fine-dining amongst the branches of a 100-year-old fig tree, to a campfire meal only accessible via helicopter, there's no shortage of once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences in South Australia.
Discover the strange and surprising side of South Australia's foodie scene and read on for dining experiences that have to be tasted to be believed.
PRAIRIE HOTEL, FLINDERS RANGES AND OUTBACK
Ever eaten emu liver parfait? How about kangaroo tail or a goat steak? Located five hours north of Adelaide in the remote town of Parachilna (which boasts a population of five), this outback pub has a few culinary surprises up its sleeve. Artfully marrying the fine and the feral, the Prairie Hotel serves up a bizarre bush menu – think roo pastrami, wild boar ragu and emu sausage. For dessert, indulge in a sweet treat made from ingredients native to the Flinders Ranges, like wattlesed tiramisu and quandong pudding. Listed as one of the top 100 gourmet experiences in Australia, this unexpected outback oasis is not to be missed.
SINGAPORE CIRCUS, FLEURIEU PENINSULA
Ever wanted to eat lunch in a Rubiks cube? Floating above the vineyards of McLaren Vale, d’Arenberg Cube is one of South Australia’s most iconic wine destinations – but (if you can believe it) there’s more to this Dali-inspired structure than meets the eye. Head up to the third floor and you’ll find a flamboyant Asian fusion restaurant emanating mouth-watering smells – this is Singapore Circus, the newest foodie addition to the Cube and the only restaurant in the world inside a giant Rubiks cube. Tuck into a colourful menu of Singapore mud crab, Balinese whole duck and braised wallaby bao, while taking in 180-degree views of the surrounding vineyards from your unique vantage point.
RAWNSLEY PARK HELI-CAMPING EXPERIENCE, FLINDERS RANGES AND OUTBACK
If you prefer your meals served with a side of jaw-dropping views, you’ve come to the right place. Rawnsley Park Station in the Flinders Ranges is one of the only places in Australia where you have to be ‘chopper-ed’ in for dinner – and this is one mealtime we guarantee you won’t want to miss. The Rawnsley Park Heli-Camping experience starts with a late afternoon helicopter flight past Rawnsley Bluff and over magnificent Wilpena Pound – take in the extraordinary views of the natural amphitheatre from your vantage point in the sky, then touch down on the rugged Chace Range. Here, you’ll watch the sky turn to orange as the sun sets and gather round the clifftop campfire to enjoy a delicious two-course camp oven meal. Let the sounds of the bush lull you to sleep, then wake to a stunning sunrise and bush breakfast – cuppa, anyone? With soul and belly full, it’s time to buckle up for your flight back to the Station.
ENCHANTED FIG TREE, KANGAROO ISLAND
Kangaroo Island is a magical place, but this peculiar dining destination takes ‘fairy-tale’ to a whole new level. On the rugged north coast of the island, you’ll find a restaurant unlike any other; the Enchanted Fig Tree is housed under the limbs of – you guessed it – a century old fig tree. Originally planted in the 1800s by some of the island’s first settlers, this ancient flora operates as a wild dining destination in the summer months, where delicious seasonal dishes and local wines are served amongst a leafy maze. Take a seat under the green canopy and watch the sun dance over gnarled roots and branches, and delight in mother nature’s bounty.
OYSTER FARM TOURS, EYRE PENINSULA
Known as Australia’s Seafood Frontier, it’s no surprise that the Eyre Peninsula’s remote, pure waters produce multi award-winning, globally revered oysters. But what sets Oyster Farm Tours apart are their immersive, ocean-to-plate tasting tours. Jump on a tour with Experience Coffin Bay Farm Tours or Coffin Bay Oyster Farm Tours and wade through glassy waters, pluck your lunch straight from its source and wash it down with a glass of South Australian wine. Pick-up tips from generations of oyster farmers and reap the spoils of your labour right then and there.
WATERVALE HOTEL, CLARE VALLEY
Located in the heart of the Clare Valley, the Watervale Hotel is fast becoming one of the most exciting dining destinations in regional South Australia - and for good reason. Not your typical Australian pub, expect a menu showcasing farm-to-plate concept using locally sourced quality ingredients. Enjoy a range of dining options including a six course degustation, two shared plate feasts and an a la carte menu - a visit to Clare isn't complete without stopping by.
RESTAURANT BOTANIC, ADELAIDE
Named Gourmet Traveller’s Australian Restaurant of the Year for 2022, Restaurant Botanic is the crowning jewel in Adelaide’s glittering foodie scene. Nestled amongst the greenery of Adelaide Botanic Gardens, this fine-dining destination is a microcosm of its environment – when you sit down to dinner, you’ll be surprised to find that you’re actually being taken on an excursion of the senses through the surrounding gardens. The tasting menu by Chef Justin James serves up the tastes, smells, sights and sounds of the garden, and tells the stories of unique native ingredients like marron, green ants, finger limes and bunya bunya branches through more than 20 flavour combinations. Prepare your palate and put your phone on do-not-disturb for this four-hour sensory bonanza.
MAXWELL RESTAURANT, FLEURIEU PENINSULA
McLaren Vale is one of the most famous wine regions in Australia – but did you know that this slice of vineyard paradise is also a fine-dining foodie haven? Take, for example, Maxwell Restaurant – recently named a 2023 finalist in Gourmet Traveller’s Best Destination Dining awards, this premium restaurant refuses to be overshadowed by the vineyards that surround it. Forging a brand-new culinary path through McLaren Vales’ wine-obsessed food and drink scene, Maxwell has made a name for itself as a degustation destination, exclusively serving 10-course tasting menus each weekend. Make a booking and prepare be swept up in a culinary whirlwind, which you won’t ever want to come out of.
This garden centre café in the green foothills of Tea Tree Gully may appear unassuming on the outside – but on the inside, Topiary is a buzzing hive of culinary passion and ‘waste nothing’ gourmet pioneering. Step foot into this restaurant and you’ll be transported back in time to experience mealtimes as they were a hundred years ago – breakfast, lunch and dinner created from scratch, sourced locally and with each ingredient used to its fullest potential. With a garden-to-plate philosophy that sees Chef Kane Pollard foraging for edible weeds in nearby bushland or harvesting herbs from the kitchen garden, Topiary’s menu tantalises with creations like the ‘fair fish finger,’ (served with finger lime and native succulent) and Adelaide Hills truffled crème brulee. Hungry yet?
Arkhe (pronounced Ar-kay) is an ancient Greek philosophical term, referring to the ‘original source’ or ‘fire’. This Norwood hot-spot lives up to its name with a flame-powered menu that heroes traditional cooking techniques and shuns electrical kitchen appliances. With its three-and-a-half tonne wood oven taking pride of place in the open kitchen, patrons can take their pick from a meat and seafood heavy menu that heroes home-grown and harvested produce like Mayura Station beef, Goolwa pipis and southern rock lobster. Visit Arkhe and taste the extraordinary skill with which dishes are smoked, flame-grilled and cooked over open fire, then wash it all down with the 150-bottle strong wine list.
ARKAROOLA RIDGETOP SLEEPOUT, FLINDERS RANGES AND OUTBACK
You don’t need a rocket ship to eat amongst the stars, just a 4WD and an expert guide. Situated in the far reaches of the Outback, Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary is an eight-hour drive north of Adelaide – but it may as well be another planet. A lunar landscape filled with rugged mountains and red dirt tracks, this area is of huge cultural significance to local indigenous people, and has also recently been named an International Dark Sky Sanctuary. This prestigious certification means that Arkaroola has some of the darkest night skies in the world, and there’s no better way to experience them than with the Arkaroola Ridgetop Sleepout. Voyage deep into the bush to the top of Streitberg Ridge, where you’ll share canapes, wine and a camp oven dinner, while gazing at the cosmos above and listening to stories about Arkaroola’s rich history. Fall asleep under the canopy of stars, knowing that this experience is one you’ll savour long after its finished.
ALLEGRA DINING ROOM, ADELAIDE
You might be surprised to know that this fine-dining restaurant in the Adelaide CBD is completely meat and animal product free, but the reason for this is simple. Allegra Dining Room chooses not to make a song and dance about veganism – instead, it lets its stunning plant-based menu speak for itself. Seating just 28 people at a time, this intimate eatery recently reopened after an 18-month hiatus – no doubt also reigniting the tastebuds of gourmands around the country. With an ethos to “to rely on what is near with ideas inspired by afar,” the multi-course tasting menu features creations like soy butter and walnut cream, paired with seasonal fruit and veg prepared in unpredictable ways. You don’t need to be meat-free to enjoy this innovative dining experience, but we think that even the most cynical omnivore will eat this restaurant right up.
WASH IT DOWN WITH A SOUTH AUSTRALIAN WINE
What's a meal without a great drink to match? Continue tasting your way through South Australia on the Epicurean Way Road Trip and be sure to taste test an award winning wine with our guide to the best cellar doors in Barossa, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills.