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  • Chloe Grabham

What made me change my mind about Canberra- A whirlwind guide

I am going to be honest. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Canberra until a few weekends ago.

To me, it just felt like one big roundabout, lots of kangaroos and stuffy government buildings that look like something from a dodgy 1980’s sci-fi film.

Now I see it more like a Kinder surprise. You have you have to crack through the outer layer, of the façade to unveil a new experience behind each door. Each with its own quirks and ways.

Let me take you on a weekend adventure to find out where gave me a change of heart on the nation's capital.

There’s a place called Kokomo's….

Green, leafy and where you can find one of the city’s best Pina colada's, Kokomo’s is a little piece of landlocked tropical island paradise in the heart of the city. Styled with cane furniture and palm leaf patterns, potted Boston ferns hanging from the ceiling and a good time vibe, there’s no wonder why it is a popular choice among Canberrans.

The bar is fun with a mix of inventive seasonal cocktails and classics. Local craft beers are also the flavour of choice featuring nearby brewery Bentspoke.

Anything but a typical bar menu, there’s a real fusion of light tropical-inspired dishes to creations that tempt the adventurous taste buds. There’s Poke bowls, traditional American style burgers, and even a blue cheese steak tartare sandwich.

Enjoy a brew at Bentspoke

Bentspoke is one of the signature and founding craft brewers to bring their yeasty delights to the capital. Inspired by Canberra's vehicle of choice the bicycle, you will find quirky cycle bits and bobs ( yes even the beer tasting paddle is made from a handlebar!) as well as beers named after bikey things like the Crankshaft.

In addition to the extensive craft beer menu, there’s also feasts from the kitchen, with the Seriously bent wings, a firm crowd favourite that definitely gives the taste buds a good old punch of chilli and spice.

Live bands and pool at Phoenix

Open the door to a dimly lit room where the vibrations from the amp shake the floor, and rising from the darkness is the fluorescent glow that emanates from the neon lights adorned on the walls. Welcome to The Phoenix Pub.

That slightly grungy, laid-back, live music, let’s play pool and chill vibe is just like that of the old-time favourites of Newtown in Sydney and Fitzroy in Melbourne. A little bit left of centre, the crowd is a mix of ages and backgrounds from middle age couples to groups of uni students.

Well worth the visit if you’re in need of some music culture and a cheap pint or two.

Fill your bellies at Selli’s

Find this real little piece of New York, smack bang in Garmea Place. It takes all the best parts of a retro diner, with glowing red neon signs, black and white tiled floors and a food cabinet that is a treasure trove of creamed, pastry and fruitful bites.

Selli's is open from breakfast to lunch most days and later on Friday and Saturday nights, this is where one goes to find true comfort food. Playful burgers like the Fricken Chicken and Hit The Road Jack, quickly fill any hunger voids in their bun-cheese and meaty divinity.

There’s hot dogs, homemade cakes, sandwiches and in typical American diner fashion, shakes and sodas. If you like your sweets with a cherry on top, then make tracks to Selli’s.

High ho, high ho, off to Hippo Co

Head around the corner and up the stairs to find one of Canberra’s finest cocktail and whisky bars, Hippo Co. It’s a cosy space that has the warmth and charm of a Swiss chalet, a Swiss chalet with a very well stocked collection of worldwide whisky’s.

The tealight candles create an amber light, bouncing off the collection of Islay and American blends that can be enjoyed in whisky tastings or mixed in experimental cocktail creations.

There’s a decent range of craft beers too, featuring the local yeasty artisans Capital Brewing and many others. Come along an enjoy live music and learn a few tricks of the trade with the cocktail masterclass.

A Monster breakfast

After a night out on the town, nothing beats a hearty, wholesome breakfast with a side of classic Canberrian quirk, all which can be found at the modern Monster Kitchen and Bar, located at Ovolo Nishi. Not only is this a great place to come and marvel at culinary architecture, but the attention to detail to the surrounding structures and interior are just like a page out of Architectural Digest.

There are beams of natural light which stream down from the open plant clad roofing, mixed with artistic interpretations of bicycles hanging off the walls. Just like its contemporary surroundings, Monster Kitchen takes its dishes to a new level.

Coffee is Canberra roasted coffee and it packs a punch of full bodied steaming flavour. Match this with Terra Preta Truffle Eggs and you have got yourself a serious breakfast.

There's plenty to choose from with internationally inspired creations like the taramasalata, poached eggs and pide served with dill and lemon or for fans of the home owners dream destroyer, good old avocado on toast with poached eggs,whipped cherve and dukkah.

In a roundabout way...

Canberra has fastly developed a culture of its own that embraces its local produce, love for cycles, craft beer and diversity. And there's more than just places to drink and dine, the city is full of things to do,there's museums, walks, galleries and much more... but I will leave that exploration article for another day.

1 Genge St, Canberra

48/38 Mort St, Braddon

27 E Row, Canberra ACT 260

Shop 5 88/96 Bunda St, Canberra

1/17 Garema Pl, Canberra

25 Edinburgh Ave, Canberra

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