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Published May 6th 2017
Update May 12th 2018
Jamies Italian, number 7 on this list, has sadly closed down.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner in the heart of the city
When visitors first come to Canberra, they often ask where the main restaurant and cafe areas are in the city. The Kingston Foreshore and Lonsdale Street in Braddon are two popular venues, however many people who are staying in the CBD are looking for somewhere in the heart of the city. Bunda Street runs right through the middle of the city and has a range of cafes, restaurants and dessert cafes to wander along and choose from. They are located on the same street as the popular Canberra Centre shopping centre, which takes up three blocks along this busy thoroughfare. The lower end of this main street starts at the leafy Glebe Park and the top end finishes at the main Northbourne Avenue. Along the roadside there are restaurants lined up along the street, with many close together in the North Quarter dining area, below Dendy Cinemas.
The following are the most popular cafes and restaurants along Bunda Street, for your next trip into the city for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. The problem is, which one will you try first?
Enjoy a healthy start to the day at 332 Manhattan, at the lower end of Bunda Street
1/ 332 Manhattan Cafe is located at the lower end of Bunda Street, opposite the four hectare Glebe Park. With cute pots of flowers out the front and a warm and inviting interior, this cafe has cemented itself as a popular cafe at this end of Canberra's main street. It uses Lonsdale Street Roasters coffee, a Canberra-owned coffee brand that is roasted just streets away in Braddons' Lonsdale Street. 332 Manhattan is open Monday to Friday only, as their customers are mostly office workers during the week. See here for details. For a full article on 332 Manhattan, see here.
2/ GreenHouse Coffee and Co Cafe is not actually located on Bunda Street itself, but on the bridge going over it, connecting the Canberra Centre on both sides of the road. When you sit outside on the leafy verandah, you look right down the length of Bunda Street and down to Dobinsons Bakery below (next on this list). This cafe is a collaboration between two popular Canberra coffee houses - Espresso Room and Ona Coffee House bringing their specialty coffee to the Canberra Centre. See here for details. For a full article on GreenHouse Coffee & Co Cafe, see here.
Have breakfast on the verandah and look down to Bunda Street below
3/ Dobinsons Bakery Cafe is found back down on Bunda Street, on the outside of the Canberra Centre. This is another outlet that is popular with local office workers, as well as tradies and visitors to the city, for its reasonable prices in the heart of the city. As it is centrally located, it is an enjoyable place to watch the comings and goings of this busy street, whilst enjoying generous servings from their menu or a large pie from their display cabinet. They also have a decadent display of cakes, slices, tarts and baked items - with some of the most delicious cakes in the city. See here for details. For a full article on Dobinsons Bakery Cafe, see here.
4/ Via Dolce Pasticceria is an Italian pastry shop located further up Bunda Street, on the other side of the road. You can find this cafe by its little "hut" outside the cafe, which is an ideal place to sit in winter out of the wind. Walk inside Via Dolce and be amazed by the range of decadent cakes and desserts, as well as by the smell of the wood fired pizzas being cooked in their open kitchen. Another feature of this quaint cafe is the use of hand painted china cups and plates, which make presentation of the desserts look even sweeter. Open until late, this Italian restaurant and cafe can be enjoyed all year around, with their gelato window popular in summer. See here for details. For a full article on Via Dolce Pasticceria, see here.
5/ Scotts Crossing is a side street from Bunda Street, which goes under a bridge with the Canberra Centre above. There are a variety of restaurants and takeaway food outlets in this area, all with Bunda Street as their address. If you walk down this road and pop your head inside the doors to the Canberra Centre, you will find the Malaysian franchise PappaRich, which is a family friendly restaurant with photos on the menu to help with your selection. Next door you will also find Canberra's only sushi train, Hero Sushi. Back out on Scotts Crossing and further along the road you will find the CBD Dumpling House, which is always a popular venue, with glass windows so you can watch the dumplings getting made. If you are happy to walk a little further, around the corner from the CBD Dumpling House is the popular Coffee Lab. Take a walk around this busy area and see which venue has an empty table!
6/ Koko Black is Canberra's most sophisticated dessert cafe, located back on Bunda Street itself. When you walk in, the dark wooden panelling and sumptuous hand crafted chocolates on display make this a chocolate dining experience, not just a cafe. Open until late, this venue is particularly popular later in the evening as a dessert cafe after the movies. If you are after a romantic way to end the evening, stop in here for a sharing plate to rise into chocolate heaven. See here for details.
End your night with chocolate decadence at Koko Black
7/ Jamies Italian is a family friendly restaurant owned by UK celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, located further up Bunda Street in the North Quarter dining area. If you get there early, it is full of young families enjoying the pizzas, kids menu, colouring-in and stickers. Later in the evening, it becomes a restaurant for couples and groups of friends to enjoy good food and company, before a night out. With traditional pizzas, healthy salads, pasta, antipasti, and Italian fare, this restaurant is busy for both lunch and dinner. See here for details. For a full article on Jamies Italian, see here.
8/ Sammy's Kitchen is also found in the North Quarter dining area and has been a Canberra favourite for over a decade. They offer an extensive Chinese and Malaysian menu with good-sized servings, delicious traditional flavours and the fastest service in Canberra. Bookings are recommended to get a table on a Friday or Saturday night. This is one of the most popular restaurants with Canberra locals, as the fast service means you can be in and out quickly before watching a movie at the cinema's above. They also have a restaurant on the Kingston Foreshore. See here for details. For a full article on Sammy's Kitchen, see here.
Book a table at this busy restaurant, looking out to Bunda Street
9/ Cream Cafe and Bar is located next door to Sammy's Kitchen and is the last eatery on the North Quarter dining strip. This Art Deco-inspired venue is a welcoming cafe by day and a cocktail bar by night. During the day it is busy with local office workers meeting up with friends for lunch or coffee. By night they serve an international menu with a good range of Italian fare, as well as an extensive drinks list with spirits, liqueurs, cocktails, beer and wine. Stay for a nightcap after a movie and enjoy the views out onto one of the busiest streets in Canberra. See here for details. For a full article on Cream Cafe and Bar, see here.
Lunch and Art Deco sophistication at Cream Cafe and Bar
10/ Akiba Japanese restaurant is located a little further up Bunda Street on the other side of the road. This popular dinner restaurant has won over Canberra, with its modern take on traditional Japanese and Asian flavours. It is a modern, colourful and surprising venue, with neon lights and often a DJ to provide background tunes. It is a little slice of Tokyo, in the heart of Canberra's CBD. See here for details. Also on Bunda Street you can find Oliver Brown, Soi Noodle Bar, Kinn Thai Restaurant, Guzman Y Gomez and Shorty's, to name a few.
If by chance you are still hungry or want even more options, walk across the road from Akiba and back down Bunda Street to the turnoff to the popular Lonsdale Street in Braddon. Between the wide variety of options on both Bunda Street and Lonsdale Street I can guarantee - you won't be looking any further!
A modern take on traditional flavours at Akiba. Source: Original photos from Akiba Facebook