Tucked away downstairs under the Magpies City Club in Canberra is Vietnamese Down Under. This place has had a few different incarnations, most recently as “The Underground”. It’s easy to miss it unless you’re a Garema Place regular and/or you notice the bright red A-frames in Bunda Street (next to Gus’s cafe) or in Garema Place near the Magpies Club Entrance.
If like me you’re normally staring at your phone while you walk, you could be forgiven for walking straight past and not noticing the front door.
Come on inside! Don’t be put of by the 70s-style club decor of the majestic stair case. Think how much easier it is to clean after a big Saturday night!
Personally I think there are more attractive community club venues in Civic (The City Labor Club in City Walk and Hellenic Club on Mort St for example, both of which also have awesome lunch specials) but variety is the spice of life! And how many other tasty and affordable Vietnamese restaurants in Canberra also serve schooners of beer at club prices? None!
The menu on the wall reveals a large array of Vietnamese favourites at affordable prices.
I have been here a few times and can attest that the $10 pho soup is quite good. Particularly on cold wintery Canberra days when you want a warmer and quieter lunch venue well away from the wind!
The service is good and fast and I will be back for more. For taste and value the Vietnamese Down Under gets Three Canberra Beanies!
One of my favourite non-Canberra food blogs is the Sydney-based street-food blog B-Kyu.
B-Kyu is “a celebration of the world’s great culinary underbelly by two Sydney-based travel nerds. They dig traditional foods, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and international supermarkets of mystery.”
They recently came to Canberra to check out our annual world-famous National Multicultural Festival and were appropriately impressed.
They also wisely set aside some time to visit a local favourite – The Burmese Curry Place.
I’ve blogged on it before here and it’s one of those classic authentic ethnic restaurants that is family run and gives you consistent value for money.
It’s great to see it get the national recognition it deserves!
The Mandalay food bus (actually a cleverly fitted out food truck in an old bus chassis) is a long-standing Canberra institution. I’ve been there and enjoyed the foods too many times to count and every foodie in Canberra has a story to tell about it, either from a recent trip or from decades ago when it first became popular.
I will come back to this post and add some stories and newsclips about how loved and admired the bus is amongst decades of clientele.
In the last couple of years the bus has experienced a classic inner-city hipster revival as food vans and trucks experience a world=wide renaissance. The bus was recently resuscitated by a group of young local chefs working with the son of the original owner.
Although the hours vary you can usually find the lights on and a small crowd milling in the adjoining carpark.
My recent experience was of a friendly and cool atmosphere with amazingly delicious food.
It wasn’t very big, but this $9 satay chicken kimchee roti from tasted like nothing else I’d had. It packed a big flavour punch and I was tempted to buy a few more… maybe another time.
The Mandalay Bus opens most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and the menu varies regularly – giving regulars plenty of reasons to come back for more! Three Canberra Beanies.
Three #Canberra Beanies
Brindabella Café in Barton is one of those classic Canberra gems that you could easily (and regularly) drive past without ever noticing what was there or what you were missing. This is what the building looks like from the outside:
The Cafe has a web presence via facebook where the chef regularly posts details of their daily specials. As well as amazing lunchtime fare and quick service there is also an excellent coffee service with a wide selection of cakes and biscuits for those he seek sweet temptations.
I’ve always believed pictures speak louder than words. Here are a few examples of recent meals that my colleagues and I have enjoyed here;
Delicious slow/cooked duck leg, potato gratin, rocket/Parmesan/pear salad only $10.50!
Delicious Malay-style chicken curry with potato, coconut and rice. Only $12 with a 500ml drink!
Only $12 for 500ml sugar-free mother & a large plate of 5 tasty salads.
In the APH triangle there are still good affordable lunch around if you know where to look!: pumpkin, ricotta, fritters, salad, prawn spring roll and sugar-free mother all for $14
The Brindabella Café is well worth a visit. Even if you forget your lunch break you can occasionally (if you’re lucky) pick up boxed left-overs from the fridges after the café staff have started to clean and pack up. But if if you want to see why DFAT staff like their cafeteria so much, get here early for the best choice of freshly made food. In fact, its probably best to get here slightly before they do! No hesitation in giving the Brindabella Café in DFAT three #Canberra beanies.
I’m back to this blog from a short work/family-focussed hiatus. I recently changed jobs and now work in Barton most days (as opposed to the centre of Canberra City, commonly referred to as Civic). This move means that I’m more likely to have lunch around the parliamentary triangle, but after focussing on Civic for most of last year that’s probably a good thing!
Although within walking distance of Kingston and Manuka, the many office blocks in and around Barton have historically relied on a smaller variety of lunchtime food options than workplaces in larger centres such as Civic, Belconnen, Woden and Tuggeranong, with their shopping centres and numerous community clubs.
That seems to have all changed recently with the invasion of hipper eateries like Brodburger and Double Drummer, which, along with new contractors and chefs in many of the local pubs, clubs and cafes, have re-energised the local food scene.
Even old and reliable food outlets like the famous Lachlan Café have been, through this newer competition, preparing and selling tastier, healthier and better value food. Food competition has been good for the workers in Barton.
My two most recent excursions to Lachlan Café have left me impressed and changed my previously created impression that this was more like a bistro diner than a café in a cosmopolitan urban centre.
A few weeks ago I enjoyed a very healthy baked fish with roasted vegetables. $11.80 for the fish and vegetables and $3.80 for a large 500ml can of drink was good value.
Earlier this week I went back and liked the look of the chicken stir fry. For some reason I felt like having some veggies with it instead of rice – no problem! I also bought a diet ginger beer and the delicious and reasonably healthy lunch below set me back $14.
Lachlan Café is located on Brisbane Avenue near the corner of National Circuit and is a good option if your looking for fast and affordable food in the parliamentary triangle. Two #Canberra Beanies.
Today I had a delicious Tom Yum style chicken noodle soup at a Thai Restaurant on London circuit called Zen Yai. It’s located between East Row and Verity lane and after eating there today I’m very surprised its not packed out every day.
The large bowl of noodle soup was delicious! The photo below shows that there was lots of chicken and a generous topping of onions and nuts. The soup was divine and very filling. in fact I’ll happily say this was the BEST Tom Yum chicken I’ve had in a long time. I can’t wait to go back and try the prawn version.
You can see from the A-frame specials board outside that there are lots of delicious $10 lunch options to choose at ZenYai Thai Grill Noodle Cuisine.
As the printed lunch menu also reveals, there are a few dishes to choose from, but I’ve got my eyes (and stomach) set on the prawn Tom Yum on my next visit!
Zen Yai is highly recommended and deserves Three #Canberra Beanies!
If you’re looking for a cheap meal on a Monday evening or a Tuesday evening in Civic or just can’t be bothered cooking at home before or after some shopping on the way home from the office, here’s a couple of options:
1) Monday nights: $4 Burgers at the Uni Pub. Pretty hard to beat. Particularly if you live the life I lived while I was studying engineering at uni… i.e. spending most Monday nights at the Uni Pub (different uni though 🙂
Anyways, I tried one of their burgers a while back (check it out here) and it was quite ok. Beer was cold too!
2) Tuesday nights: $7.90 Chicken Schnitty (with chips & salad) OR Battered Fish & Chips (with salad) at the City Labor Club. They might charge you a bit extra for sauce but you’ll walk away full and satisfied. They also have a Movie Meal Deal with Dendy that includes a main meal and a movie ticket at the nearby cinema for only $15. Bargain!
There are far too many affordable and tasty meals in Canberra for a person to enjoy in one lifetime (however I’m trying)!
Here’s my current top ten venues for affordable (mostly lunchtime) meals in Canberra.