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16 Australian restaurants to transport you to European summer

Australian restaurants European summer

Sick of having seen your entire Instagram feed living it up in Europe during summer this year? Us too. While the Australian summer to come isn't shaping up to be all bad, the kiss of dry heat, salty tresses after a full day by the ocean, the irresistible smile of a handsome French man from across the bar, and of course, the unforgettable taste of delicious seafood, perfectly al dente pasta and cream-filled pastries, is still calling for us. Some of us won't be able to make it to the South of France this year, but we can momentarily transport ourselves to the idyllic setting of European summer, courtesy of these Australian restaurants.

Whether your heart is somewhere on the Amalfi Coast, or your dreaming of midnight tapas on the bustling streets of Barcelona, these 15 Australian restaurants will bring European summer down under.

Ursula's Paddington


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Where: Sydney

When Ursula's first opened its doors with a historic Paddington terrace as its digs, the hype was instant. And rightly so. The menu that ex-Rockpool head chef Phil Wood and wife Lis Davies have curated somehow gets better every time you visit. It's a neighbourhood bistro that gives in all the ways – the decor (which, is predominately hues of orange and vibrant blue), the wine and the remarkable service. Unassuming but leaving a major impact, Ursula's reminds us that just like our European travels, the best haunts are often the most quiet ones.


Bei Bar and Bistro


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Where: Sydney

Bei Bar and Bistro will transport you to the Sicilian sun with their take on modern Mediterranean food. Only just opened a month ago, this restaurant is Sydney's latest in the heart of Taylor square, where sipping on Aperol Spritz's and devouring hibachi grilled swordfish is highly encouraged.





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Where: Brisbane

You don't need a reservation at Brisbane's beloved Calile Hotel to eat your way through the menu at Hellenika, but why not simulate the full poolside Greek experience? With white brick walls, sandy linens and seafood the shining hero, this institution marries the city's sunny disposition with our favourite Greek classics. Think Greek salad with a brick of feta on top, veal dolmades, avgolemono soup, spanakopita, saganaki and a wine list to wash it all down with.




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Where: Byron Bay

White-washed walls, timber accents and a cocomisu for the ages – there's no question that Raes is one of the most popular and idyllic European-inspired dining destinations in Australia. With head chef Jason Saxby at the helm, the Mediterranean-inspired, modern Australian menu presents the best of both worlds – with dishes that use local produce and apply a modern Italian twist.

A right of passage when visiting the popular New South Wales coastal destination, spend an afternoon people watching as you sip on delicious cocktails – a luxury only afforded when on vacation.




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Where: Hobart

What makes summer in Europe so special is the nondescript hole-in-the-wall joints you enter at sundown and emerge in the early hours of the morning, dazed but contented. Sonny is your source for this experience. Strictly walk-ins only, the Hobart bar is brimming with that distinctly Euro laissez-faire attitude. Italo disco floods the speakers, toast is loaded with prosciutto, natural wine and amaros are in abundance and if you're travelling solo, there's always someone an elbow away to talk to.


Bistro 916


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Where: Sydney

It's all in the name. This Potts Point restaurant has become a trending Sydney location and for good reason. One step inside and you are instantly transported to Paris. The rose pink tablecloths are the perfect touch and they look particularly good with a plate of the restaurant's finger-licking good duck liver parfait placed on top. For a more intimate experience, ask for a table in the bar, a cosy nook deep inside. Endless records line the shelves on the walls and with no window in sight, it's easy to get lost for an entire evening here with the right company. If the burger is ever on the menu, order it. It's our only request.


Ciao Mate


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Where: Bangalow, NSW

If it's warm hospitality and a casual meal you seek, Ciao Mate in Bangalow is a must visit destination, kind of like Caviar Kaspia when in Paris, although a different experience entirely. With traditional checkered tablecloths, a courtyard and a forno, out of which emerges smoky, deceptively simple and utterly delicious pizza, it's worth the detour while on the North Coast.


Una Más


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Where: Sydney

One of the most recent openings in Sydney's impressive Coogee Pavilion precinct, put simply, Una Más is an unrivalled seaside spot with a Mediterranean bent. The beautiful tapas and wine bar is the more casual sibling of hotspot Mimi's – the open plan kitchen, impressive collection of terracotta ceramics and fresh produce on display is more than enough to catch the interest of a wandering eye.

The buffalo mozzarella dolloped on lemon leaves and whole fish cooked on the custom-built Josper grill are unforgettable dishes on the impressive menu led by executive chef Jordan Toft. Unlike most restaurants in Sydney, Una Más is open until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays, meaning you can come for a late-night meal and stay for an early morning nightcap.




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Where: Melbourne

To some, Europe is downing a Peroni on a beach lounger, to others, it's visiting relatives and their doily-decorated homes or being welcomed into the makeshift restaurant of a Yia Yia or Baka in a random village. If this is the Europe in your mind, then you'll feel at home at Capers, a laid back coffee shop and neighbourhood bar, that's a jumble of homestyle cooking, vinyl chairs, mismatched crockery and tchotchkes. Baba's Place in Sydney is Capers kindred spirit.


Osteria Oggi


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Where: Adelaide

It's all in the name. This Adelaide haunt is committed to bringing Italian-centric fare that's in tune with the seasons. The menu changes daily, however you can always guarantee it will feature some form of pasta, fish, smokey vegetable appetisers and salumi. The towering archways, warm service and stone floors bring a slice of Rome to your world, it's just a matter of taking it.




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Where: Sydney

North Sydney's latest venue Glorietta is an homage to European metropolises, creating a cultural hub for the community that is more than just a place to eat. This effortlessly charming dining space is equal parts contemporary and classic – exuding a sense of comfort and charm that will make you feel like it's your local even if you live on the other side of town.

High ceilings, green marble and stone finishes, rendered bench seating, rattan chairs and timber furnishings create the perfect backdrop for this Italian eatery. Enjoy a snack and a drink in the expansive courtyard, sit down for a full meal in the dining room or grab a seat at the long marble counter in front of the kitchen.


A la Grecque

Where: Aireys Inlet, VIC

If you have had the chance to explore Victoria's Great Ocean Road, you may have already had the pleasure of dining at Greek institution A la Grecque. The Aireys Inlet restaurant opened more than three decades ago by the Talimanidis family was built on three pillars – fresh, seasonal and simple – a winning formula that has given their chargrilled ox tongue and silky taramasalata with fried calamari and peppers a household name.


Il Lido

Where: Perth

A Cottesloe institution, Il Lido, formally Lido Cabaret, is built on an undying dedication to the food, drink and surrounding culture. This Italian canteen is a delectable slice of cucina povera, set against the serene surroundings of Cottesloe beach.

For espresso worth getting out of bed for, fragrant pastries straight out of the oven and an aperitivo and wine list that lives and breathes good taste, spend an afternoon (or several) this summer indulging in Il Lido's seaside charm.




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Where: Sydney

Ultra fresh, always seasonal, with a waterfront view and the most inspired interiors? Sean's in Bondi is all time. The menu changes daily and in large groups you can BYO, so bring your friends and settle in. This is the spot for long drawn-out Sunday lunches. A Sydney gem that doesn't need the Europe comparison to warrant a visit.


hope st radio


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Where: Melbourne

Hope St Radio brings a communal energy to this list that is second to none. Set in Collingwood Yards, operating as a community radio station and with Ellie Bouhadana behind the pass, you'll soon learn that these are all ingredients for a good time. The formula is straightforward when you think about it; good company, good music and extremely good food and plonk. And with a menu that nods to quintessential Mediterranean fare such as silky artichokes, fresh sardines, charred octopus, and thoughtful desserts, you'll eventually think to yourself, "who needs Europe anyway?"




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Where: Sydney

You can count on Enmore Road to deliver a little sliver of Greek hospitality during this torrid Winter haze. A tremendous focus on home-style cooking is what we'd expect from any tavern off the Mediterranean, but expect lashings of fresh seafood and live music from Friday to Saturday with this family spot. The Makaronada spaghetti with clams is what we'd get two of.





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Where: Melbourne and Sydney

Tipo 00 – a name to reference the flour used in what we specialise in ‘pasta’. Showcasing passion for Italian food, and the humble yet elevated pasta noodle. We can't think of anything more Italian. With a core focus on Australian produce and old-school, Nonna-tested recipes, there's something unctuous for everybody to share in. RUSSH picks include the risotto aglio e olio and the pappardelle served with braised duck and a small mound pecorino cheese.

For a sweet end, the tip0misu: the mascarpone is made in house and velvety on the tongue.

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Images: @hopestradio @lucia__mckenzie @raesonwategos @ursulaspaddington