5 Outdoor Dining Hot Spots You Must Try This Summer

Luna Park Ferris Wheel dining Sydney
James Graham


Jan 08, 2019

It would be down-right un-Australian to not be looking longingly at the BBQ in the corner of the patio about now.

Just think about all that delicious food and fun you’ll soon be having with family and friends on those long balmy summer nights.

But spare a night – or two – if you can to also try one of the many outdoor dining hot spots that come to life at this time of year.

Here are just five of our favourites to consider around Australia.

1. Sydney – Ferris Wheel Dining at Luna Park

The Deck Sydney outdoor restaurant ferris wheel

“Mum, look, they’re having dinner in there!”, comes the excited cry from below as we return to ground level on our first revolution. It’s a surreal feeling to be sitting in a Ferris Wheel in your Sunday finest while the Luna Park punters amble past, en-route to the many thrill rides nearby. Our VIP treatment for two ($399) kicks off with bubbles and amuse bouche served at The Deck bar and restaurant next door. We get a small briefing – and yes, you can make as many toilet stops as you like – before we’re safely strapped in to our restaurant seat in the sky. Three divine courses with matching wines are served, all carefully chosen and prepared by head chef Michael Roper – and they also include vegetarian options and an amazing dessert platter to finish. It really is an assault on the senses, in the best possible way as we hang at our secluded table high over the breathtaking Sydney Harbour, trying our best to take it all in. We leave vowing to return, just to make sure we weren’t dreaming. Click here for menu details and bookings. Your carriage awaits each Sunday from 6pm through to March 26, 2017.

2. Sydney – Catalina Sundays, Catalina, Rose Bay

Catalina Rose Bay Sydney dining

For a slightly less formal Sunday vibe, but with equally stunning water views, head to this Eastern Suburbs favourite for a summer cocktail and exquisite food.  The new ‘Catalina Sundays’ menu has been designed to share with friends and family and offers everything from a Cubano Sandwich with Roast Pork, Prosciutto, Pickles, Cheese and Mustard ($20), Empanada’s with Beef, Olives, Coriander and Lime Salsa ($18), Sydney Rock Oysters ($4.50 each), Full Cheese Selection ($39) to Yasa Elite Siberian Sturgeon Caviar with traditional accompaniments (30 gram tin $180). A specially curated selection of cocktails will also be available at ‘Catalina Sundays’, which are made using Crystal Head Vodka, London no.1 Gin, and Amaro Montenegro. The complete wine menu will also be available, which features wine bottles priced from $40 up to $11,000, as well as a selection of Pommery Champagne and La Gordonne Wine. A guest DJ also plays each Sunday. No reservations necessary.

3. Melbourne – Paco’s Tacos


A little hard to find but well worth the effort for lovers of a healthy and affordable Mexican snack in the middle of the CBD. Most come for lunch before dashing back to the cubicle; for the rest of us, slap on the complimentary sunscreen on offer here, and settle in for the sun and a cervezas, or three. Open to 9pm Sun-Thurs, and 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

4. Melbourne – Grub Food Van


Owners Tim Mann and Mark Murphy originally wanted to build a garden at this Fitzroy site and sell produce to cafes, but the council wouldn’t let them. Instead, the creative duo decided to buy a 1965 Airstream van fom eBay (originally from Iowa) and open a cafe, with a menu that used some of the produce grown in the green house underneath their home. Five years later they’re still going strong. Although there’s a solid year-round clientele, it’s the summer months where this setting really shines, with picnic tables sit amongst an eccentric sprawl of garden gnomes, bric-a-brac, and the coolest table tennis table you’ll ever play on. Oh, and did we mention the food is outstanding too!

5. Brisbane – Customs House

Brisbane customs house restaurant outdoor

With the backdrop of a heritage listed building and stunning river views, it’s no wonder this Brisbane favourite continues to be one of the most popular al fresco hotspots in the city. The restaurant showcases a range of local tastes, with a menu of modern Australian cuisine utilising fresh, seasonal produce. The varied lunch and dinner menu includes twice-baked goat’s cheese soufflé with tomato, asparagus and hazelnut salad, Coffin Bay oysters, Mooloolaba prawns, Moreton bay bugs, pan-seared snapper with warm broad bean, baked ricotta and pancetta salad and chargrilled eye fillet with cauliflower and carrot puree.



By James Graham


With over 20 years as a journalist and TV producer, James Graham has a wealth of experience covering the full media spectrum. James has a formidable reputation as a talented media veteran and worked as a reporter, script writer and as the producer of the TV documentary The Road To Athens. He has worked across newspapers, radio and the biggest flagship magazine brands in Australia and New Zealand. Previously, James was the News Director at Woman's Day and New Idea. Whether filing celebrity exclusives, or some of the biggest real-life splashes of recent years, James’ career has always been at the frontline of mainstream media. When not writing, you’ll find him at Royal Randwick, his beloved Long Reef Golf Club on the Northern Beaches – or visiting his mum in his native New Zealand.


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