Orange has a well-deserved reputation for its array of quality produce and superb cool-climate wines, and the dynamic community spirit of our local producers and winemakers.
Two long-running and increasingly popular food and wine festivals attract thousands of visitors each year. Autumn’s Orange F.O.O.D Week, is Australia’s longest running regional food and wine festival, while the Orange Wine Festival draws crowds of wine (and food) lovers to its tastings, tours and tables in October.
In between, Orange offers a great choice of places to eat and drink that are open all year round. Here are some of our favourite local dining spots we keep going back to.
Charred Kitchen & Bar
They say it best themselves, ‘serious food, relaxed dining’ with a serious focus on showcasing the best of local wines and beers from the region and beyond, too.
Menus proudly display the provenance of the ingredients, as chef Liam O’Brien and his co-owner father, Peter, support a diverse group of local producers, including Farmer Doug’s Gourmet Potatoes, Aunty Rinn’s Free Range Eggs and Fourjay Farms Hazelnuts.
Charred’s sommelier, Dave Collins, is a good friend of mine, and has been offering Swinging Bridge wines to diners for many years. The regularly changing wine and beer lists are definitely worth checking out, as they take in the best of Orange before meandering through other great Australian regional drops and some from beyond our shores.
The B-Side Café, Charred’s daytime casual diner, is headed up by Liam’s wife, Samihla, a chef hailing originally from Thailand, and her take on authentic Thai street food is definitely worth a drop-in for lunch or takeaway (which you can also order online) – this is one of Orange’s best kept local secrets, so don’t tell anyone we told you.
This cool Korean/Chinese diner is one of the best places to head to in Orange, not just for the food and wine, but for its serious fun factor. Chef-owner Sammy Jeon offers a small but perfectly formed menu, ranging from delicious dumplings, steamed pork buns and delicate hiramasa kingfish sashimi for entrée, to main courses including KFC (Korean fried chicken), Chinese-style ‘drunken duck’, and Sam’s twist on Aussie steak.
Our favourite thing about Mr Lim though is that, once dinner’s done on Friday and Saturday nights, Sammy likes nothing better than rolling out the Karaoke machine, with some crowd-pleasing tunes. The best part? No one is safe from the mic – you’ve been warned.
Sweet Sour Salt
This is a long-time favourite for us and the local Orange community. Owner-chef Ivan Podres cooks up awesome food which, as the restaurant’s name makes clear, packs quite a flavour punch – a classic balance of those elements.
The menu is a like an Asian tasting sampler, ranging mostly through Thailand, China, Malaysia and Korea. This is a buzzy, welcoming fully licensed spot that’s great for a casual night out or fun Friday lunch, with a wine list that features plenty of Orange regional heroes, including Swinging Bridge.
Whenever we head there, we can’t go past the pork and prawn wontons with black vinegar and Sichuan chilli sauce to start, then the super-fragrant chilli basil pork belly or a delicious Thai green curry. Visit: www.sweetsoursalt.com.au
Raku Isakaya only opened in 2018 but has already established itself as a fantastic addition to Orange’s dining scene. This fully licensed contemporary restaurant on Summer Street offers lunch (the short lunch-only ramen menu is delicious) and dinner, and the cosy atmosphere makes this a great place for an intimate dinner for two.
If you’re up to it, we can highly recommend the six course omakase menu with matching wines from the region, a fantastic six-course Japanese degustation.
This multiple chef-hatted fine-diner has gained a stellar reputation since chef Simonn Hawke launched here in 2001. Her take on superb local ingredients is wonderful, with classic French and Italian cooking given a contemporary yet elegant spin, with a focus on seasonal, sustainably produced organic produce.
This charming historic former home has an ambience that’s warm and welcoming, thanks to the floor staff headed up by Simonn’s partner, Leah Morphett.
Lolli Redini is an amazing dining experience and definitely worth booking for a special occasion.
So now you have all the insider information you need on some of the best restaurants in the region. While you’re planning your visit, check out our recommendations for accommodation in and around Orange, as well as the best things to do when you’re here. Plus, visit the Orange360 and Australian Good Food Guide for more great dining suggestions.