Follow the heels of Canberra's most creative folk and you'll likely find yourself on Lonsdale Street, Braddon, the city's emerging hub for memorable eats, charming shops, microbrewery ales and all things artisan.
By Jennifer Pinkerton
Formerly an industrial area rife with car dealerships, Braddon – a suburb tucked into the northern edge of Canberra's city centre – has undergone a charismatic revolution. While remnants of its past still dot the area, Braddon's character has been renewed with a new generation of establishments. They're hip, whimsical and made up of young makers, traders, brewers and roasters. Arrive in this hip neighbourhood for brunch, spend a couple of hours perusing its design-oriented shops, pencil in an afternoon pamper treatment (a haircut, beard trim or beauty session) then return at sunset for some craft beer and a meal at either a food van, gastro pub or a fine dining restaurant.
- Sample a craft beer or cider at Bentspoke, one of Canberra's best microbreweries
- Poke around the colourful Lonsdale Street Traders stores in the newly built Ori building
- Sip on barista-brewed coffee in one of Braddon's many coffee shops and cafes
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Top things to do in Braddon
Sip coffee at a Lonsdale street eatery
Crafting 14 different coffee blends, each roasted in Canberra, Lonsdale Street Roasters – based at the Lonsdale Street Eatery – regularly draws workers from the city, all committed to enjoying some of the best coffee in town. What started as a coffee-only affair has since transformed into a thriving café, so if you're feeling peckish, dip into the Eatery's other offerings such as its pastries (AUD$4.50) or panini-bread sandwiches (AUD$12). 23 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
Shop in the Ori building
A refreshing assortment of small stores, known as the Lonsdale Street Traders, congregate in the sharply designed Ori building. Wander through the sweet blooms and intricate terrariums on display at florist Moxom + Whitney before ducking into homewares shops Hive and Handsomepretty – both are lined with ceramics, art prints, jewellery and giftware. For a fashion hit, see itrip iskip, run by sisters Ana and Diana. Gentlemen might appreciate a shoeshine (AUD$15), haircut (AUD$45) or hot towel shave (AUD$25) at Groomed. Finally, sink your teeth into a creamy coconut and caramel gelato (AUD$4.50) at the Frugii Dessert Lab. 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
Brunch at Elk & Pea
Claim a seat on the blue-cushioned bench that stretches along the edge of Elk & Pea, a Central American themed restaurant and bar. Step away from eggs and bacon, and instead opt for huevos rancheros (AUD$18), a plate of black beans, corn, fried eggs, tortilla chips, avocado, chorizo, salsa and herbed sour cream. 21 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
Be beautified at Browlab
Stride up a white staircase to the loft-style Browlab, a beauty bar with a difference. This open-plan space feels more like an art studio than a traditional salon. Browlab specialises in eyebrow shaping (AUD$40), but also offers make-up application (AUD$120), eyelash tints (AUD$29) and facial waxing (AUD$15-$17). Large-scale illustrations and hanging plants adorn the walls here, and the atmosphere is warm, fun and welcoming. Browlab gets busy so book ahead. 26 Elouera Street, Braddon
Drink at Bentspoke
With 21 beers on tap, you'd be hard pressed to find more locally brewed ales in one spot than at Bentspoke. From lagers and ginger ciders, through to pilsners, wheat beers and a choice of six Indian pale ales, the selection inspires beer lovers to stay a while at this double-storeyed microbrewery most nights of the week. For super keen microbrewery fans, Bentspoke Travellers (AUD$65) are for sale: two-litre, refillable, pressurised containers that allow tap beer to travel with you. 48/38 Mort Street, Braddon.
Fine dine at eightysix restaurant
Culinary creativity rises to fever pitch at eightysix, one of the city's top eateries. Choose from a before-or-after 7:30pm session (the café offers two dining timeslots only: from 5.45pm till 7.30pm, and from 7.45pm onwards). You can indulge in share plates with fresh, inventive ingredient combinations such as cured kangaroo, horseradish and beetroot (AUD$25) and caramel popcorn sundae (AUD$17). As night falls on the Braddon's buzzing urban playground, salute your visit with a honey badger martini (AUD$22), a blend of single-malt whiskey, honey and thyme. Mode 3, Elouera and Lonsdale streets, Braddon
How to get there
From the city centre a stroll to Braddon takes about 10 minutes. Pass through the lively café square at Garema Place and cross Bunda Street, which runs parallel to the Canberra Centre shopping complex. A few hundred metres north sits Lonsdale Street – Braddon’s main artery.