Unless you live in the deep north, you’ve probably spent many of your meals out this year cowering from the cold inside a well-heated pub. You have well and truly earned your time in the sun and the best way to spend it is with a full plate of food and a cocktail in hand. We save you the trouble of searching for fresh air by breaking down the nation’s best al fresco offerings.
The Town Mouse, Carlton: Offering fancy food in a comfortable setting, The Town Mouse is the perfect date restaurant. Now you can take the romance outside on balmy nights, with a recently-opened al fresco dining space. Designed by Allistar Cox, the cosy courtyard is strung with colourful lights and perfectly complements the summer menu, featuring fresh dishes like asparagus with pecorino custard, sesame, green olive and lemon.
312 Drummond Street, Carlton, VIC, Phone: (03) 9347 3312
NEW SOUTH WALES
The Beach Club, Watsons Bay Hotel, Sydney: Visiting the newly refurbished Beach Bar at the popular boutique hotel is like taking a day trip to the Caribbean. Set on the beach, the bar offers fruity cocktails, fish and chips and all-day breakfast. If it’s a scorcher, this is the ideal spot to settle in for the long haul.
1 Military Rd, Watsons Bay NSW 2030, Phone: (02) 9337 5444
Harrisons, Port Douglas: Set amongst leafy surrounds with palm print walls and fairy lights, Harrisons is a tropical hideaway in the hustle and bustle of the popular tourist spot. The food is French-inspired and on the expensive side, so this is definitely a venue for a summery special occasion.
22 Wharf Street, Port Douglas, Queensland 4877, (07) 4099 4011
Spirit House, Yandina: Prepare to forget that you’re in rural Queensland when you step inside the tranquil, exotic grounds of this Thai restaurant and cooking school. Wildlife abounds, with Dragonflies hovering above the lake and water dragons occasionally popping out to say hello. The food packs a big flavour punch and the outdoor seating section is spacious and perfect for big groups.
20 Ninderry Rd, Yandina, Qld 4561 Phone: 07 5446 8977
Yots Greek Taverna, Darwin: Located on the boardwalk at the Cullen Bay waterfront area, Yots offers lots of fresh seafood with a Greek twist. The décor is simple and the atmosphere is family-friendly, so get a group together and watch the sunset over a plate of saganaki.
4/54 Marina Blvd, Cullen Bay, NT 0820 Phone: (08) 8981 4433
Table 131°, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park: Luxury boutique hotel Longitude 131° takes the concept of al fresco to the next level, allowing you to dine on gourmet fare under the stars. Literally. Four courses, cocktails and performances from indigenous artists can be enjoyed in the middle of the outback. The sunset is stunning and completely worth the price and the evening onslaught of bugs.
Yulara Drive, Yulara, NT 0872, Phone: 1300 134 044
Little Miss Mexico, Adelaide: A hipster’s delight, this trendy Mexican joint brings you standard burritos and sangria in a colourful beer garden. An open, relaxed vibe, occasional appearances from Mariachi bands and quirky décor make Little Miss Mexico stand out from the plethora of Mexican joints on offer at the moment. Get in there quick as the future is up in the air – the building housing Little Miss Mexico is set to be demolished.
188 Grenfell Street, Adelaide, SA 5000
Little Creatures Brewery, Fremantle: Enjoying a great beer in the sun by the water has got to be one of the highlights of the Australian experience. This is the original brewery for the popular Australian ale (they also have venues in Victoria) and it features a sprawling deck area and a menu based around hearty share plates.
40 Mews Road, Fremantle, WA, Phone: (08) 9430 5555