Five-star feasts in Darwin that won't blow the budget
From sunset markets to food trucks, Darwin has a dazzling array of cheap and cheerful dining options.
With its tropical climate and blazing sunsets, outdoor dining is a way of life in the Northern Territory’s capital. The best news is that an amazing feast can be found even on a low budget. Here’s where to find the city’s best-value eats.
Sunsets with spice
Everyone talks about the Mindil Beach Sunset Market for a reason: twice a week during the dry season (late April to late October) you can come to one place to graze your way around the world. On Thursday and Sunday evenings, it can seem like most of Darwin heads to the market with their coolers in tow to try dishes from Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Portugal and more. Sample sizzling satay sticks, a spicy laksa or even a crocodile fillet and watch the sun dropping over the ocean.
Try a truck
Darwin does tropical outdoor dining so well it’s no surprise that there’s a new destination in town. Head to Nightcliff, a 20-minute drive north of the city centre, to find the food trucks that are parked along the foreshore. At five different spots, ranging from the Nightcliff Jetty and Nightcliff Pool to the Rapid Creek Fishing Platform, the trucks serve everything from pork souvlaki and risotto with blue swimmer crab to freshly fried fish and chips. Times and dates can change, so make sure you check out this Street Food schedule before you head down.
Manoli’s Greek Taverna, not far from the Smith Street Mall, specialises in inexpensive mezethes (small plates). Order traditional dips and pita bread chased with lamb chops, char-grilled squid and quail. Darwin has a notable Greek community and the restaurant, with its convivial atmosphere and blue-and-white checked tablecloths, attracts many diners.
A different kind of barbie
Forget throwing snags on the barbie – instead, go for a Korean barbecue self-sizzled on your own table hotplate. Little Miss Korea, in the city centre, is all industrial chic (think oversized bright-coloured wall murals, dangling vacuum exhausts and a polished concrete floor) with a BBQ menu that runs the gamut from beef strips marinated in nashi pear, garlic and soy to thin-sliced pork belly doused in chilli sauce and ginger.
On the Waterfront
One of the city’s most exciting developments is the Darwin Waterfront, where swimming is available year-round thanks to the recreation and wave lagoons. The area includes a dining precinct with fancy water-view restaurants as well as more affordable options such as Chow. At lunch, the Vietnamese restaurant serves four types of banh mi (feel free to add fries or a baby laksa) as well as bun cha (grilled marinated pork with rice vermicelli) and huge steaming bowls of beef, chicken or vegetable pho.
Feel like a succulent piece of local fish? Frying Nemo, a fish and chippery overlooking Tipperary Waters Marina just outside the city centre, specialises in wild-caught NT seafood such as barramundi, jewfish, king threadfin, rock cod and blacktip shark. As well as serving out-there burgers such as crocodile or buffalo, this quality Top End fish and chippery also snagged the award for the 2015/16 Northern Territory Best Fish and Chips!