As people become increasingly conscious of their carbon footprint, many cafes and eateries have adopted eco-friendly practices. Whether it’s reducing food waste, using solar to power their business or saying no to single-use plastics, there are plenty of ways to make a difference.
From a love of local produce to a commitment to ethical production, South Australia’s restaurant scene is embracing sustainability. Discover some of the best places to dine with a conscience here.
As people become more aware of the impact they have on their surroundings, many local cafes and restaurants have adapted by offering environmentally friendly menus. The use of solar power and a ban on single-use plastics are just two of the ways in which these establishments have taken steps to reduce their footprint.
One of the most popular green dining experiences in Adelaide is Peel St, a rustic restaurant that embraces a modern European cooking style using the best sustainable South Australian produce. Chef Jordan Theodoros’s menu reflects the food experience he gained in Goolwa while utilising Middle Eastern and Asian flavours. The result is a hearty menu that is designed to be shared.
A former clothing storeroom, Peel St oozes charm with original brick walls and a long concrete bar overlooking the kitchen. Guests can choose from booths, communal tables or kitchen seating in this intimate venue. On balmy SA days the alfresco area is the place to be.
The team at Topiary have their own organic garden where they grow some of the vegetables they use on their menu. The rest is sourced from within the region to minimise food waste. Century-old techniques of culturing, churning and curing are used to transform local produce like nasturtium, wood sorrel and wild fennel. They believe that a deeper connection to the food they serve will inspire diners and lead them to eat better.
The multi-award winning Botanic Gardens Restaurant is another example of a sustainable restaurant that takes it to the next level. They use a garden to plate approach to minimise food waste and create dishes inspired by the flora and fauna of this inner-city oasis. Their menu includes items like green ants, paperbark parsnip pie and bunya bunya branches.
Botanic Gardens Restaurant
Among the many dining experiences that showcase South Australia’s love of quality local produce, this world-class venue in Adelaide’s botanical gardens stands out for its commitment to sustainability. Towering plane trees lead the way to this enclosed rotunda, which serves as a stage for a team led by chef Justin James (Noma, Eleven Madison Park, Vue de Monde). Here, his adherence to a garden-to-plate philosophy ensures no waste—any surplus is preserved through fermenting, salting and curing, making it available in future courses on a fixed menu of 4 or 7 courses.
The result is a cuisine that fuses the sensuous with the cerebral, and demonstrates that eco-friendly eating doesn’t mean sacrificing flavour or texture. From kangaroo tendons that were once destined for dog food, puffed into a crispy petit four and licked with salted koji caramel to a dish of grilled crocodile with a smear of wattleseed miso, this is a restaurant of dazzlingly inventive, deeply satisfying dishes.
As the dining room’s timber portal framework envelops you, you can see the kitchen in action, a visual expression of a well-versed balance. James reworks the degustation-as-journey trope, with many of the 20 or so courses a single bite.
Tucked away in Tea Tree Gully, Topiary is another standout sustainable restaurant that is bringing old-fashioned cooking techniques into the 21st century. The family-run restaurant is committed to zero waste, and utilises a variety of age-old preservation methods—from smoking to canning—to minimise food wastage. A plant-based set menu accentuates their use of fresh local produce, with foraged edible weeds like nasturtium and wood sorrel on the menu. Whatever isn’t produced on-site is sourced from nearby farms, ensuring that nothing is left to waste.
For Kane Pollard, owner/chef of Topiary, sustainability means a perfect circle. It’s a circle that begins with the garden-to-plate ethos at this restaurant set within a nursery in the pioneer settlement of Teatree Gully. A sandstone dining room, veranda deck and outdoor garden setting make up the space where modern Australian fine food with a daring fusion of ingredients is served. The menu is dictated by what can be sourced in the surrounding area, a policy that ensures no two visits to this enchanting eatery will ever be the same.
Topiary supports family-owned local farmers and pays regular visits to their suppliers to see how their animals are treated, where their produce is grown and to learn about the techniques used to grow the food. The result is a stunning menu of modern Australian cuisine that highlights seasonality and sustainable farming.
For the grand finale, try a dessert that looks as if it was created by a gastronomic artist. Textures of stone fruit – thin slices of peach and apricot – are curled to look like flowers that drift in a pool of buttermilk pannacotta with a foam, nectarine sorbet and peach syrup. The yin and yang of the dish perfectly complements the surrounding natural beauty of the garden.
A whimsy overload abounds at this delightful cafe that offers a full breakfast and lunch menu, plus wine and coffee. It is also a garden centre that stocks indoor plants and bespoke gifts. The kitchen focuses on organic and plant-based cooking using the best local produce available, which in turn reduces its carbon footprint. The Summertown restaurant also has a strong stance on inclusivity and has run a campaign to help educate people and businesses to achieve gender equality in the workplace.
The owners of this cafe are all about creating a community space that is dedicated to sustainability and green living. This is reflected in their menu and community activities. If you come in on a Friday evening, you may find live music at the venue or one of their regular wine tasting events. Their focus on a close-knit community has also led them to support Carbon Neutral Adelaide.
A hip, airy restaurant with a sustainable ethos, Cafe Troppo is a place to enjoy great food and drink in an environment that has been designed with sustainability in mind. The cafe is committed to sourcing local and organic produce, as well as supporting local growers, brewers, roasters, and winemakers.
Their menu reflects the changing seasons, the city of Adelaide, and its culture. They use as much South Australian produce as possible in their dishes. They offer breakfasts, lunches, and Friday night pizzas. You can choose from classics such as Sunshine Waffles – pumpkin seed and dill savoury waffles with smokey bacon, poached egg, and herb oil or go for a hearty weekend brekky pizza made with homemade red sauce, roast tomato, rashers of bacon, fresh basil, and shaved SA parmesan.
With an ethos that is based on sustainability and the idea of sharing cultures through food, the owners of this quaint restaurant are always looking for new ways to improve their operations. From reducing their waste to using solar energy, they have done everything they can to be a more responsible business. The restaurant also uses organic ingredients and only serves locally sourced wines, beers, and coffee. The staff is friendly and the environment is inviting.
Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant
One of Adelaide’s most popular restaurants, Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant serves succulent steaks, belly pork, and suppli alongside its renowned wine. It’s the kind of place where you can enjoy a bottle of Shiraz overlooking dusty ranges and rolling hills, or sip a glass of Grenache while gazing at a speckled blue ocean. It is also a great place for a romantic dinner with a loved one. You can also order drinks like a good wine or fruit juice and try the tasty ice cream. This restaurant has excellent reviews.
While the menu at this fine dining restaurant may not sound as’sustainable’ as some, you can still be sure to find local, seasonal produce. The food is served in a beautiful setting and the staff are friendly. The wine list is extensive and the prices are reasonable. The food is a mixture of Asian and European cuisines.
The main attraction of this restaurant is that you can enjoy delicious food with a wonderful view. It is a perfect spot for family and friends to come together and celebrate special occasions. The service is excellent and the food is delicious. The desserts here are amazing and the staff is very helpful.
At the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, the kitchen’s deep connection to native ingredients comes through in dishes such as cured emu and camel hump lardo alongside more traditional components like wattleseed, Geraldton wax, Davidson plum, and Murray cod. Revamped and rebranded in 2021, Chef Justin James devises short and long menus with additional flexibility for dietary requirements.
Located only 15 minutes from the city center, Penfolds Magill Estate is the home of Australia’s most celebrated wines. Guests can explore the heritage-listed cellars on a tour, sample the wines at the restaurant, and learn about the history of the wines at the Grange cottage. The restaurant offers three tours: the Heritage Tour, the Super Premium tour, and the Great Grange experience.