We recently spent a day in Darwin and really wanted to maximise the experience and so ahead of arriving I’d listed down a few spots I’d like to visit…. and I’ll admit these were largely food focused aspirations. My thanks to @darwinguide on Instagram for a few suggestions, tripadvisor and also the Qantas Inflight Magazine that locked in our lunch destination once we landed.
We stayed at Darwin Central Hotel, listed as number 1 hotel in Darwin on tripadvisor. The hotel recently celebrated its 20th birthday. The rooms are clean and a decent size and its location is completely perfect for someone wanting to explore some of the Darwin sites, but with limited time to venture too far a field.
We arrived in the early afternoon and our lunch was our first priority. We headed just down the road from the hotel to PM Eat & Drink, highly rated in the Qantas mag and also well positioned on tripadvisor. Arriving just after 2.30pm it was easy to get a table and we turned our attention swiftly to the menu. And it was a looker, split into helpful sections, which increased in size and there was a definite focus on sharing. We decided to mainly go with Northern Territory seafood options… when in Rome… or in Darwin as the case was.
On this visit this is what we ordered:
- Saganaki, honey, rosemary, sesame seeds
- Pan fried calamari, pico de gallo
- Sashimi, pickled fennel salad, ponzu, miso mayo, wasabi
- Grilled bugs, beef consume, celery, parsley, radish
- Watermelon & Feta – candied almonds, mind, eschallot
It was a seriously cracking meal. Great flavours, a solid range of fresh, local seafood offerings and a wonderfully chilled vibe. The staff are fabulous too. So friendly. A great place to switch yourself into holiday mode.
From here we ventured to The Deck Bar for a look. Again just a short walk from our hotel. They don’t call it Darwin Central Hotel for nothing! I was pleased to discover it was Aperol Spritz month and they were on offer for only $8! So I had one of those and GG went for a Stella. It was really pleasant to sit out the front on the deck with a cooling beverage as we tried to acclimatize to the humidity. It is beautifully shaded too, which is just what we needed.
Next up we went full tourist with a visit to Crocosaurus Cove.
Adult entry is $35, kids are $23 and they are open from 9am til 6pm daily. There is a range of different reptiles, including snakes, lizards and turtles, along with many, many crocodiles!
They have them in pint sized (which you can hold) through to giant 80+ year old crocs, which you have the option to get in the water with, the Cage of Death, for additional fees….. and for folks a lot braver than me!
We spent an hour wandering around checking it all out, participated in the Fishing for Crocs show and just generally enjoying the opportunity to be so close to these impressive predators. It definitely felt like we got our value for money.
Perusing crocs was thirsty work though so from there we hopped a taxi to Lola’s Pergola, a pretty spot down by the water at Cullen Bay. Quirky decorations brightened up the waterside venue and the large rotating fans were a welcome addition. I switched to Matsos Ginger Beer for this stop, not minding the slight spicy sweetness to replace some electrolytes after a hot afternoon.
Now for some reason I thought the SKYCITY Darwin Casino was a whole lot closer so I would say don’t try and walk there from Lola’s because that was not a wise move on our part. Took a while and was a struggle in the warm weater. We did catch a beautiful sunset there though, so that was lovely and if we had more time there was a nice looking restaurant caled il Piatto in the complex that would have been nice to visit. Had a stunning view over the ocean.
Now I had thought that the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets would be on while we were there, but unfortunately we were one week early. I’d wanted to go because apparently they have delicious laksa on offer, but since that wasn’t an option a quick search suggested that Lazy Susan’s Eating House did a great laksa and was back near our hotel so we headed there and could fortunately find a table. Yes, part of me wondered if hot, spicy soup made sense for dinner given the weather outside but it was decided that this was what we’d do, so two chicken laksas coming up! Such beautiful rich flavours, creamy deliciousness from the coconut and a wonderful kick of spice. There was a generous amount of chunky chicken pieces and an abundance of noodles. One may even say oodles of noodles. It was really tasty and we both slurped out way happily though the bowl. Love me some laksa!
After a good night sleep breakfast required another taxi ride across town to Laneway Specialty Coffee. I’d spied photos of their egg and bacon burgers on social media, they looked epic and so this is what we wanted for breakie. Opening at 7am daily we arrived a touch after 8 and the place was nearly full! Clearly very popular. Thankfully we found two seats looking out the window. Great coffees and before too long, those beautiful breakie burgers arrived. Will you just looked at them. Breakfast of champions! Well worth the taxis drive.
Before lunch we ventured back to The Deck Bar, it was another hot morning, so a refreshing Aperol Spritz made perfectsense, before making a return visit to PM Eat and Drink for lunch. I was so pleased we would be able to work through more of their menu! This time we went with:
- Whole local snapper, ponzu, togaroshi seasoning, lime
- Grilled hanger steak soft tacos, sriracha mayo
- Warm mozzarella – roma tomatoes, chive oil, fried bread
- Steak tartare, chilli oil, bonito flakes, crostini
- PM Tiramisu
First time I’ve ever ordered a whole fish! It was perfectly cooked and easily flaked away from the bone. Northern Territory seafood is all kinds of tasty. Looked the two beef dishes also – the soft tacos and tartare, though very different, were both great dishes. Another lunch and our love of PM Eat and Drink was definitely confirmed!
Our final stop was Ducks Nuts Bar and Grill for a farewell wine before we jumped in a taxi to head to the airport. The menu there had looked tasty too and on another day a serve of their salt and pepper crocodile would have definitely been something I’d have tried.
Our visit to Darwin had been short but sweet and I do hope to head back one day soon and venture further a field to the amazing national parks. But for now, at least I can say I’ve spent an amazing day in the Northern Territory!