By Rosie Stevens
September 9, 2020 | 5 minute read
In an era of unprecedented limitations surrounding travel, we’re all having to look a little closer to home when it comes to planning potential trips for the foreseeable future. While this is a little heart-wrenching for many who live away from their families, it’s also an excellent opportunity to discover hidden gems on home turf—and visit underrated towns without having to even cross state lines.
Enter, Wagga Wagga!
So good they named it twice (sorry, couldn’t resist.) Nestled in the Riverina region of NSW and straddling the Murrumbidgee River, it’s a vibrant heritage hub — bursting at the seams with seasonal charm; gorgeous backdrops for scenic jaunts, cultural explorations in the form of gardens, galleries and a burgeoning local shopping landscape.
There’s also an eclectic food and wine scene that’s ripe for discovery. Here’s your Weekender guide on where to eat in Wagga Wagga.
One of the town’s most renowned eateries, Fitz Cafe is a home away from home for Sydney-sider cafe connoisseurs. Serving specialty coffee, an all day breakfast menu brimming with both sweet and savoury delights as well as plenty of vegan, gluten-free and lunchtime options, it’s an unmissable destination on any weekender to Wagga (but beware, they’re currently closed on Sundays.)
Menu-wise we’re talking smashed pumpkin with hummus, feta, pomegranate and dukkah on grain sourdough, sweetcorn fritters with poached eggs or super grain porridge, served with poached apple, strawberries, coconut and macadamia crumble. And we can’t, in good conscience, omit mention of the cacao waffles—served with dark chocolate ganache, coconut ice cream, strawberries and toasted almond flakes. If your sweet tooth rears its head at breakfast time, this one’s for you!
Whether it’s breakfast, brunch or lunch you’re after—Trail Street Coffee Shop is a fail-safe pick for a delicious cup of coffee and a delicious feed. For breakfast, the beetroot fritters or coconut French toast are calling our name, or the salmon poke bowl—served with black rice, purple cabbage, charred asparagus and more—or roasted cauliflower with saganaki halloumi, radish, poached eggs and spiced pepitas get our vote for lunchtime!
A family owned and operated decade-long stalwart of the Wagga Wagga food (and drink) scene, The Thirsty Crow is the place to go for craft beer goodness and no-frills but delicious pizza (although the kitchen has closed for much of the pandemic, so be sure to check before you go whether or not they're serving food or not.)
A one stop shop for great food and wine, Uneke Lounge is the town’s perfect meeting spot for a lunch with friends—offering the option to dine in the bustling main restaurant or enjoy the open air courtyard. Serving breakfast and lunch 7 days per week, the breakfast menu boasts all the usual suspects—pancakes, corn fritters, French toast and smashed avo, alongside shakshukas, a specialty Uneke breakfast and a brekky burrito.
For lunch, it’s burgers, wraps, risottos and pies, alongside some Asian-inspired choices; such as dumplings and bao buns. The wine list is decidedly Australian-led, including a NSW Tumbalong Hills Cabernet from Gundagai that’s well-worth a try. Bills Beans coffee from Orange also graces the drinks menu, alongside a curated selection of delicious beers and ciders.
Cottontail Restaurant and Winery
Wagga Wagga’s very own homage to the slow food movement, The Magpies Nest is a great place to sample a menu inspired by local delights. The set priced dining concept includes antipasto to start—including house made breads and a selection of small bites—followed by mains and desserts from an ever-changing seasonal menu.
On the current menu, the shank of Riverina lamb is a delicious pick from the mains; served with chickpea and fennel farinata, braised garden greens and salsa verde. For vegetarians, the smoked eggplant with hints of gochujang served with sesame rice noodles and crisp greens will have mouths watering. And for your separate dessert stomach (‘cause we know that’s a real thing!), we’d thoroughly recommend the spiced apple cake, with walnut crumble and mascarpone cream. Drool!
Situated just a short drive out of Wagga, Cottontail Restaurant and Winery boasts elegant country surrounds, breathtaking views and a relaxed vibe. The carefully curated menu features an abundance of local produce that suits the needs of any occasion—offering fine dining professionalism alongside a a seasonal à la carte menu that’s guaranteed to indulge and inspire.
The menu is extensive—comprising tapas style bites like a cheese platter for two, baked camembert and trio of dips, alongside wood fired pizzas, main dishes like local lamb, steaks and prosciutto wrapped scallops. When it comes to wine, Cottontail is a hero of the Riverina region—creating full bodied wines with a smooth balanced flavour. We can certainly attest to a glass or two of the good stuff providing the perfect accompaniment to any bite to eat!
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