Whether you're sitting on the docks eating fish and chips, making a quick café stop among the smooth sandstone warehouses of historic Salamanca, or dining out in the city centre, there's an abundance of affordable feeds in Hobart.
By Andrew Bain
Hobart may be Australia's smallest capital city, but in recent years it's emerged as one of the country's finest and freshest dining destinations. Flavours here are driven by the surrounding sea and Tasmania's exquisite local produce, creating a range of tastes that transition between international and uniquely Tasmanian. The prime dining hubs are the city docks, Salamanca and North Hobart, but reasonably priced cafés and restaurants abound throughout the city and its inner suburbs.
Healthy eating doesn't always come cheaply, but colourful Café Lola is both fresh and frugal. Just a few steps from the docks in the red Marine Board building, this smart little eatery specialises in fresh local produce and clean-eating philosophies. The paleo-inspired menu includes Lola's paleo pods, which mix the likes of grilled polenta with Tasmanian salmon or falafel. Add a smoothie such as the choc mocha antioxidant, and you're sure to be energised for an afternoon of sightseeing.
Squeezed into a corner of restaurant-heavy Salamanca Square is an ever-popular café serving up fresh food, and fresh clothes. Yes, it sounds like a strange combination, but this Hobart laundrette, Machine Laundry Cafe, is a breakfast institution that's long been serving witty, inventive breakfast dishes to a crowd of fans. Alongside the egg and bacon standards are innovative dishes such as wonderful parmesan, caramelised onion and spinach pancakes and the Mental Lentil – a pide roll with spiced vegetable and lentil patty and salad. Grab an outside table for a great view of the square's bustling life.
For something with a bit of spice, head to Sawak Cafe to sample Malaysian street food dishes alongside stir fry rice, noodles and curries. With a large range of their dishes available in vegan and gluten-free versions, this little cafe goes above and beyond. Be sure to try their handmade dumplings (boiled or pan-fried) and their signature Mee Goreng.
Commanding centre stage on Hobart's docks is the bottle-green seafood restaurant, Mures, which contains two very different dining experiences. The Upper Deck is a fine-dining seafood restaurant, but the bustling Lower Deck bistro provides a more casual way to get a taste of the Tasmanian sea. All the fish here is line caught by Mures' own boat, and the signature seafood chowder is justly famous. Mures is also a great place to try Tasmanian scallops or oysters freshly shucked at the Lower Deck's fishmonger counter.
As Hobart institutions go, Flippers is right up there. One of four floating fish punts lining the docks of Constitution Wharf, the fish-shaped Flippers provides a classic Hobart experience. You sit on the steps of the docks eating fish and chips in view of the city's fishing fleet. Grab a classic fish and chips, or take a taste tour of the sea with a fisherman's basket of fresh fish, scallops, crab sticks, calamari and prawn cutlets.
The historic inner city suburb of Battery Point is home to a classic Hobart bakery. Just a short walk up the hill from Salamanca Place, Jackman & McRoss's wide windows are as inviting as the pastries and other baked goodies that fill its glass cabinets. Try the breakfast panini filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato and avocado, or get a uniquely Tasmanian taste with one of its scallop pies. If you're lucky, one of the footpath tables will be free so you can eat with a view of kunanyi (Mount Wellington).
Appearances are deceptive at this perennially popular café, pinched in a small shopping strip in South Hobart, two kilometres (1.2 miles) from the city centre. Grab a seat at one of Ginger Brown's retro tables and discover why it's a local favourite. The breezy vibe is matched by inventive dishes such as a fried haloumi, beetroot, orange and baby spinach salad. It makes a great lunchtime stop if you're heading to the Cascade Brewery, one kilometre (0.6 miles) further up the road.