There is no better time than now to explore one of Australia’s most famous wine regions that so happens to be right on our doorstep. South Australia’s McLaren Vale is home to almost 60 cellar doors and is just 45 minutes from the CBD, the perfect distance for a day trip. Boarded by a stunning coastline and pristine beaches, this special part of the world is full of flavours of both the liquid and culinary variety. In fact one third of the region’s wineries boast tasting experiences that exclusively use local produce and there are over 50 fully licenced restaurants as well.
To help narrow your choice, we’ve edited the list down to our favourite restaurants in and around McLaren Vale so you can wine and dine, see and be seen to your heart’s content this summer.
Star of Greece
The iconic Star of Greece is perched high on the clifftops that overlook the breathtaking Port Willunga, just a short 10 minute drive from the vines in McLaren Vale. Named after a cargo shipped that was wrecked nearby in 1888, the cuisine is not in fact Greek but a sumptuous showcase of the region’s finest ingredients including Coffin Bay Oysters and Coorong Angus. Dishes are creative but accessible and quintessentially South Australian. The famous Kangaroo Island Kind George Whiting with hand cut chips simply cannot be beaten.
1 The Esplanade, Port Willunga, SA
Nestled at a cross roads consumed by leafy vines, you’d be forgiven for not spotting The Salopian Inn on your first pass. This gorgeous old cottage has been lovingly converted into a busy restaurant space complete with an underground cellar. With no red wine on the menu, you must venture downstairs to select your bottle and return triumphantly to your table. The food is equally exciting, with absolutely everything on offer made from scratch. The organic kitchen garden feeds and dictates the menu which is again, proudly South Australian. The Steamed Prawn & Blue Swimmer Crab Dumplings are a must.
Corner of Main Road and McMurtrie Rd, McLaren Vale, SA
New kid on the block Pizzateca is buzzy and fun, and serves the best pizza we’ve tasted in a long time. With strong influences from Italy, this family affair is casual dining at its best. The open kitchen with marble stone for rolling dough flows effortlessly onto an indoor/outdoor space that offers plenty of room to enjoy the substantial fare, which can be paired with an edited wine list boasting Italian beer and summer’s favourite Aperol Spritz. Take special note of the authentic serving style which sees all pizzas delivered un-cut.
319 Chalk Hill Road, McLaren Vale, SA
THE LIME CAVE @ MAXWELL WINES
This decadent experience is next level in terms of setting, food and wine. Hosted on the sandy floors of a 100-old limestone cave, lunch or dinner at Maxwell’s is a rare luxury best reserved for a very special occasion. At 40m long the cave can not only accommodate large groups but it is also home to a prize collection of mushrooms that grow perfectly in the subterranean environment. These, among other local delicacies, are used to garnish a 7-course degustation with paired wines that will delight all your senses.
Corner of Olivers & Chalk Hill Roads, McLaren Vale, SA
THE VICTORY HOTEL
With one of the finest views in the area, The Victory Hotel is as much part of the landscape as the beaches and vines. The food and service is fantastic with the option to either dine in the restaurant or at the front bar. There is a beautiful outdoor area which flows on to a manicured lawn and vineyard behind as well as three B&B cottages just 100m from the pub. The famous underground cellar features a huge dining table that runs right down the centre and can seat up to 32 people. Don’t miss the daily specials.
Main South Rd, Sellicks Hill, SA