Fresh ingredients, friendly service, innovative flavor combinations, and great value for your money mean that eating out Down Under is usually a pleasant 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 are cheap and tasty counter staples and give the big fast-food franchises a serious run for their money.
Meals and Mealtimes
Australians eat relatively early. Breakfast is typically between 7 and 10, 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, and many cafés serve late or all-day breakfast and brunch on weekends.
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 can close at 8:30 pm.
At most restaurants you ask for the bill at the end of the meal. At sandwich bars, burger joints, takeaways, and some cafés, you pay up front. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are widely accepted in all but the simplest eateries.
Reservations and Dress
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.