Australian food shows the influence of multicultural cuisines from the earliest settlers to the Mediterranean and Asian influence in the 19th and 20th century.
Eating the local food is a great way of discovering the tradition and the culture of a place while getting to know the relation locals have developed to food over the centuries.
On this post, I introduce you to some of the most popular Australian food that you will love to try.
Some most popular Australian Food you must try
Although meat and seafood are the iconic foods from Australia, as a “non-meat-eater” I find that Australia has got a fantastic offer for vegetarians too. The fertile soil and mild climate make it for a great place for growing almost any kind of vegetables and fruits. If you are wondering what is the most popular food in Australia, from East to West from South to North you will find a variety of local produce, including fresh veggies.
Here are my favourite Australian foods:
Australia is the country where the pumpkin soup comes from, proving that the country is not only about meats and seafood. For sure pumpkin soup finds its top place in all menus from pubs to the finest restaurants. And you will find it in supermarkets, organic food shops as a fresh product and a ready-to-eat healthy meal. Pumpkin is one of my favourite vegetables and I love it in different options. Here is my fave pumpkin soup with fresh orange and a dash of ginger. Yummy!
The Australian Avocados
One of the popular Australian smokos (Aussie slang for short break/snacks) is the famous smashed avocado on toast. I love the juicy Australian avocados in all variations. By adding it to fresh mixed salad, with scrambled eggs, with pasta or as a topping on ice cream. Avocados have a thick skin and are easy pack so you can eat them on the go too. Tropical Queensland is the best region for Avocados as they grow there. Being a great source of natural fat Omega 3 and rich in vitamins avocados rank high in the top Australian healthy foods.
Australian Tropical Fruits
If there is something I love is the tropical Australian food. While you can find tropical fruits everywhere at food markets, the best regions for tropical fruits are Cairns, Darwin and Queensland. From Mangos, Pineapple, Papaya, to dragon fruits, macadamia nuts and more, Australia is a paradise for fresh fruits.
Learn about the Australian food culture
You may have heard that some of the iconic Australian foods are the fish and chips and the barbecues. The best in the world. No joke. Australian meat and seafood are of the highest quality. And Australians love to celebrate family get-together and festive holidays with a traditional Aussie Barbecue. As a traveller, there will be many occasions where you can try a real Aussie BBQ.
A traditional Aussie Barbecue
Almost all green common picnic areas of cities and towns are equipped with Barbecue grills. Moreover in cities, you may also stalls, called “sausage sizzles”, selling all kind of take away roasted meat. If you plan to go on Tours around Australia, for sure an Aussie barbecue will be on the menu. Australian meat is good and tasty, from beefsteak to sausages fried on onions to kangaroo steak, the choice is huge. Although Kangaroo meat is not common among the locals who prefer lamb, beef and pork, kangaroo is available at supermarkets and popular in most pubs and restaurants. A few more Australian animals that you can “have on your plate” are emus and crocodiles.
The Australian Burger with beetroot
If you love burgers Australia is your country. As a traveller, you are likely to try the famous quarter pounder from McDonald’s or Hungry Jacks (Burger King). Another one is the Angus Steakburger with 100% Aussie beef and a slice of beetroot, which makes the Aussie burger so special.
The Australian Meat Pie
Meat pies are the favourite snack and quick-lunch for many Australians. Although this is not the healthiest food option, it truly is a national hit among the locals and must-have on picnics, barbecues and road trips. Meat pies come in all forms and basically are a pastry filled with chicken, beef, ham and any type of meat, cheese and veggies. They all belong to the typical Australian food that you are going to see everywhere when travelling around the country.
Popular Australian Seafood
Australia is known for its succulent fish and also for its unique fishing spots. From South Australia to the Top End, to Northern Tropical Australia it will be hard to choose. Here are my fave among the many Australian seafood specialities:
A truly iconic table fish across the whole country. You can get it everywhere, however, the most common regions are Queensland and the Northern Territory. There the saltwater barramundi can be caught in the rivers around Darwin. The saltwater barramundi has a better taste than the barramundi that lives in a freshwater environment, which has a slightly muddy taste. In the Northern Territory, there are several barramundi fishing competitions attracting people from all over the country and even overseas. If you are visiting Darwin and the Top End region you can go on fishing tours and may be lucky to catch one yourself.
Australian King Prawns
No. 1 highlight among the local fresh seafood is the sweet and succulent Australian prawns. You can get them anywhere and in all versions: from barbecued to grilled, to a prawn cocktail or simply as a prawn sandwich (yes Aussies eat them in a sandwich). They are delicious and truly mouth-watering. I remember getting fresh prawns and a crispy baguette for a meal on the beach in Yeppoon, Queensland. Some of the best prawns I ever had in my life.
South Australian Oysters
This is a hit among the special Food in South Australia. I couldn’t bear the sight of oysters before trying them for the first time in Adelaide. To tell you the truth, oysters in Australia have a different, better taste. The texture is smooth with a slightly salty taste. South Australia is the best place for oysters. In Adelaide, there are oyster restaurants where you can have them naturally or with a sauce: from lemon juice to BBQ spicy sauce. Definitely something worth trying if you like seafood.
Salmon in Australia is delicious, with a unique firm texture, a pink pale colour but not as fatty as the typical farmed salmon. There are other places in Australia where you can eat fantastic salmon like South Western Australia. If you travel to Tasmania, then you must try out their fish specialities and the mouth-watering Tasmanian Salmon should be no. 1. When touring the West Coast of Australia, don’t miss out on Albany for some terrific salmon fishing spots and restaurants alike.
Although these are the most popular seafood in Australia, everywhere in Australia you can get fresh local fish. If you plan to prepare your Australian meals and want to try local fish, just ask in a fish shop for the “catch of the day”.
Australian Aboriginal Food
If you are interested in trying native food, next to the kangaroos, emus and crocodiles there are goannas and the witchetty grubs as the most popular Australian native food. Witchetty grubs have been consumed by Aborigines for a long time and supposed to be tasty and very rich in protein but they are definitely not for everyone.
Australian Bush Food
If you want to experience real traditional food, there are many native plants that you can find in the Outback like the Quandong, popular in the desert, bush tomatoes, Australia desert raisin, finger lime, just to name a few. There are literally hundreds of them, each region has its own native local plants and Australian Aboriginal food.
A good way to learn about Aboriginal Food is to join an Aboriginal Culture Tour where you will learn about the beneficial ancient use of the native plants. Some aboriginal tours also offer a meal after visiting the bush plants. In all Australian National Parks, there are guided aboriginal tours available. Another great opportunity to experience Aussie bush tucker is in the Desert Park in Alice Springs or in the Kakadu National Park.
Australian Damper Bread
On Outback Tours you will also have the opportunity to taste the traditional Australian damper bread, the typical bush bread baked over hot coals in campsites. Yummy!
Traditional Australian Desserts
Among the top Australian desserts there are a few that are very traditional and worth a mention.
Pavlova Australian Cake
The Pavlova is an institution among the Australian sweets. With simple ingredients like crispy meringue, whipped cream and fresh fruits toppings this is a beloved cake by Australian families. Although it is a very rich cake is worth trying it. Here is my fave mini version of the Pavlova!
The Lamingtons Australia
If you have a sweet tooth, then you must try the Lamingtons which is the official national cake of Australia. Lamingtons are square-shaped sponges in a chocolate dip with crispy coconut. It’s popular to have them with a fresh cup of tea or coffee.
More sweet treats worth trying are the Anzac Biscuits and tons of cookies varieties with local flavours and nuts.
More Iconic Australian Foods
I couldn’t bring this post without mentioning the Australian Vegemite, a salty yeast extract spread similar to the British Marmite. For most Aussies is an institution as this used to be a common spread on toasts for breakfast, for others is sheer poison (me included but I a not an Aussie!).
So if this is my list of the most iconic Australian foods, what about the Australian Beer and Australian Wine? I would need a separate blog to write about it. For now, check out this post about Barossa Valley Food & Wine Experience.
Australia boasts some of the best multi-ethnical restaurants as well as modern Australian cuisine restaurants with a deeper synergy of these exotic cultures and international cuisines.
I recently wrote a post about the top food and wine regions of Australia.
Where to eat in Australia
Australia is a great place for a food experience. The variety of genuine foods along with the rich multi-cultural background make of Australian cities of Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney a mecca for food and wine lovers.
The Coffee Culture in Australia
Australia has a great food culture. You don’t need to go to expensive places to eat good food, as there are many places where you can experience genuine, authentic food without breaking the bank. Here is the full list of places.
Where to eat in Australian Cities
Food Courts – On the go
Food courts in shopping malls are very popular places offering fresh global and local food. Here you can literally find any type of food from a wide choice of Asian and Mediterranean and Arabic food to vegetarian and raw food for a quick hot meal whilst touring the city or shopping. My pick is Southbank Food Mall in Melbourne. The average cost is from 10-25 dollars.
Food Markets in Australia – A sensorial experience
In Australia, food markets are a real institution. They blend in the local with the global food offer and make it to a great food experience. You can spend hours walking around the stalls and taking in the colourful multi-ethnic atmosphere. Food markets are my favourite places to eat in Australia as they are rich in sounds, colour, smells and characters. They often offer hands-on courses or food workshops, so it’s really worth planning some time there.
One of the iconic food markets in Australia is Mindl beach Sunset Market in Darwin.
Have you ever seen a giant shrimp?
These are the giant Shrimps from the fish Market, Leederville, Perth.
In Melbourne the South Melbourne Markets, in Adelaide, the Central Markets are my favourite. Arts and crafts markets are usually held on weekends and on events and are a great way to experience street food.
Read more about 4 Australian Markets Wherever you are don’t miss out on farmers’ market to taste the local produce. If you are heading to South Western Australia check out my wine experience in Margaret River. food paradise. Here below the Street Food in Southbank Melbourne
Street Cafés – The trendy experience
If you plan a day exploring Sydney’s Bondi Beach or St. Kilda in Melbourne there is no better place to eat at one of the many street cafés for great food and coffee in a trendy setting, from vintage to modern design. There are many trendy and vintage cafes in Australia.
Australian Restaurants – exquisite food
If you rave about Italian Food go to Lygon Street or Fitzroy for the finest restaurants and top-notch food in Melbourne. The Lanes and Arcades are the pulse of the city and offer great (and hidden) places to eat when walking through Melbourne’s heart. The same for Adelaide, check out Gouger Street for fine Asian and Australian cuisine. A meal in a good restaurant starts at 50-60 dollars. This is the finest Australian Food at Gaucho’s Restaurant in Adelaide.
Eat on the go: Basic Outback Food
If the Australian cities have endless places to eat when travelling in the Outback you will experience food in a different way. On isolated areas, the only places where you can eat is at fuel stations or in outback hotels, which are usually pubs and offer a standard menu with heavy, filling food. You can eat steaks, hamburger, potatoes to fish & chips, the what I call “truck-drivers-food”. In Outback townships, you can eat good local food, experience a real outback barbecue and taste locally grown meats, beef, lambs, chicken and more. Read about my food experience in Queensland’s Outback Hotels.
For now, check out how to stay healthy and eat the right food when travelling around Australia.
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This post last update is in Sept 2019.