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Fresh ingredients, friendly service, innovative flavor combinations, and great value for your money mean that eating out Down Under is usually a happy experience.
Australia's British heritage is evident in the hearty food served in pubs, roadhouses, and country hotels. It all seems to taste much better than food in Britain, though. Roast meat and potatoes; fish-and-chips; pasties and pies swimming in gravy; flaky sausage rolls; sticky teacakes and fluffy scones—all these things are cheap and tasty counter staples. They give the big fast-food franchises a serious run for their money.
Some Australian restaurants serve prix-fixe dinners, but most are à la carte. The restaurants we list are the best in each price category.
Australians eat relatively early. Breakfast is typically between 7 and 10 am, and eating it out (usually at a café) is popular. Options range from toast or cereal through fruit and yogurt and muffins, pastries, and hotcakes to a full fry-up—eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, hash browns, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Morning coffee and afternoon tea are popular in-between meals.
For most locals lunch is usually lighter than dinner: a salad or a sandwich, say, usually between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. Dinner is the main meal and begins around 6:30. In the cities, dining options are available outside these hours, but the choices are far more restricted in the countryside and smaller towns, where even takeaways close at 8:30 pm.
Unless otherwise noted, the restaurants listed are open daily for lunch and dinner.
At most restaurants you ask for the bill at the end of the meal. At sandwich bars, burger joints, and takeaways you pay up front. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are widely accepted in all but the simplest eateries.
Regardless of where you are, it's a good idea to make a reservation if you can. In some places (Sydney, for example) it's expected. We only mention them specifically when reservations are essential (there's no other way you'll ever get a table) or when they are not accepted. For popular restaurants, book as far ahead as you can (often 30 days), and reconfirm as soon as you arrive. (Large parties should always call ahead to check the reservations policy.) We mention dress only when men are required to wear a jacket or a jacket and tie.