Updated on 1st December 2021
While McLaren Vale is known for its incredible wines, it’s also one of the best places to sample the delicious fresh produce to be found in South Australia. And of course, you’re going to need to eat something to keep up with all that wine you’re drinking! So what are the best places to eat in McLaren Vale?
It’s true, you’ll find some of the best eateries in the greater Adelaide area down in McLaren Vale. You’ll have plenty of options to pair food and wine perfectly, and come away with an even greater appreciation for South Australia as the ultimate foodie destination.
While we’re always on the lookout for great lunch spots to add to a wine-tasting itinerary, there are some amazing options for a romantic dinner or night-time festivities with friends.
Here are my favourite spots to enjoy a casual bite to eat or a more substantial lunch while you’re on the wine trail, or a luxe evening foodie experience.
For a bit of extra insight, I’ve divided this post into two sections: family-friendly spots, and romantic or grown-up options.
Family-friendly dining options
Down The Rabbit Hole
One of the grooviest places to eat in McLaren Vale has to be Down The Rabbit Hole. We love this super Instagram-worthy spot that’s relaxed, bohemian, and really kid-friendly. The trendiness has been known to intimidate some, based on some recent conversations I’ve had. But some friends and I recently tested out Down The Rabbit Hole, and it was such a gorgeous place to just relax and enjoy each other’s company – perfect for catch-ups that are overdue! I’ve got to say I didn’t feel intimidated at all – the staff are just delightful and everyone is there to enjoy the sunshine, good company, and just generally vibe out.
We ordered the share platter; at $35 per head it’s not exactly cheap for a platter, but the food was delightful and, bonus for me, everything is gluten-free. There are vegan options too! (That being said, if you eat meat, the meatballs are *chef’s kiss*).
Tastings are held on a groovy vintage double-decker bus – such a unique experience. When you arrive, your host will tell you more about the tasting experience and jot down a time when you can head in – you’re likely to have the space all to yourself.
You can arrive at Down The Rabbit Hole from 11 am; the kitchen doesn’t open until midday but you can grab a delicious coffee or if you’re ready, a bottle of wine. In my opinion, it’s worth getting there early to get the best spot (for us, a picnic rug under a nice, shady tree).
Down The Rabbit Hole is located at 233 Binney Road, McLaren Vale.
We’d been hoping Swell would open a cellar door for a while and here it is – only better. This huge space offers indoor and outdoor seating, grass for the kids (even the big kids) to run around and even kick a ball, and dozens of beer on tap for every palate. Yes, to my eternal delight, there’s even a gluten free option!
But it’s not just about the beer – you’ll also be super impressed with their food. It’s classic pub fare but done with love – their southern fried chicken and burgers are sensational. Vegan friends won’t be disappointed either – there’s a plant-based burger that hits the spot, too. The “grommets menu” (cute!) is a hit with our kids (did I mention how family-friendly the place is?) but they’ll eat from the grown-up menu too because it’s so delicious.
We’ve been a fan of Swell beers for a few years now. Along with our fave wine, Oliver’s Taranga (yes I know, we shouldn’t play favourites, but we’re just so in love) it’s always so nice to see your faves on a menu and know you’re going to enjoy your drop. So imagine our delight when we found out the brewer at Swell and the winemaker at Oliver’s Taranga are married to each other!
Swell Brewery is located at 168 Olivers Rd, McLaren Vale.
Ogre Brewing Co.
Ogre Brewing Co. is the new kid on the block, run by the same team as Mollygrub (which you’ll find on the Main Street, just down from Ogre). Don’t be put off by its name – inside you’ll find a rustic haven with a beautiful outdoor area under the vines for when the weather is warm.
The food is sensational, whether you’re in the mood for pub fare such as the Korean Fried Chicken burger; comfort food such as the truffle gnocchi; or something interesting like the grilled octopus and crispy pork (the menu changes option, so these are just examples of foods we’ve sampled here). Everything we tried here was brilliantly done, and there’s a delightful craft beer to match every dish (both by Ogre and by other independent South Australian brewers, such as Watsacowie and Smiling Samoyed).
In the back corner there’s a children’s play area, so make sure you mention your little ones when you book and request a table out the back.
Ogre Brewing Co. is located at 252 Main Rd, McLaren Vale.
Beach Road Wines
If you want food with a view, Beach Road is a top pick. This chill lunch spot sits above a valley and therefore overlooks spectacular vineyards with the D’Arenberg Cube in the distance. Kids can play in the sandpit too while grown-ups soak in the view.
Enjoy a delightful bottle of wine while indulging in the wood-oven pizzas (my fellow gluten-free peeps are well-catered for) – you’ll find super-fresh seasonal produce on top. I love that wherever possible, Beach Road goes out of their way to showcase SA produce.
For hungry tummies, add a starter platter or try the set menu – it’s only $40pp, or add $10 for a seated wine tasting (this $10 is redeemable with any purchase at the cellar door).
Beach Road Wines is located at 309 Seaview Road, McLaren Vale.
The Vine Shed Venue & Cellar Door
We recently discovered the Vine Shed by chance and my goodness, it is SO well equipped for kids! A cubby, swing set, tent, and huge lawn make this such a delightful option. The Winter Kids actually cried when it was time to leave, because they were having so much fun.
You’ll find simple nibbles, wood-fired pizzas, and share platters here – all high quality and delicious. It’s a large venue with indoor and outdoor seating with a covered deck, so it’s really well set up for all times of year.
The Vine Shed is located at 270 Sand Road, McLaren Vale.
The Currant Shed
The Currant Shed is in McLaren Flat, which is about five minutes on from McLaren Vale proper. It happens to be on the same road as Mr. Winter’s work – yes, it’s a hard life! Last time I went with a bunch of girlfriends and we stopped by his work afterwards to rub it in.
What I love most about The Currant Shed is the way it showcases fresh, seasonal, local produce. It’s one of those places where the food seems relatively simple at first, then they add a little twist, and then oh my god what enters your mouth is unlike anything you’ve had before.
Tucked away in McLaren Flat, make a booking and expect to stay awhile enjoying a long lunch with expertly paired wine. Don’t plan too much for after lunch – you’ll be too full because you wanted to try everything.
Little Wolf Osteria at Mitolo Wines
Restaurants that boldly showcase South Australian produce are my favourite. Of all the places to eat in McLaren Vale that do this well, Little Wolf is therefore an absolute favourite of mine. From oysters grown on the pristine Eyre Peninsula, to truffles handpicked in Summetown in the Hills, to the most tender and juicy Angus beef steaks from Meningie in the Coorong region, Little Wolf takes you on a food journey all around SA.
We actually ate here for dinner, where the degustation menus are an absolute treat, but lunch is also available Friday to Sunday. Book in advance.
Mitolo Wines is located at 141 McMurtrie Rd, McLaren Vale.
Looking for a somewhere to eat in McLaren Vale with a laid-back, trendy vibe, but you’re really hungry too? Pizzateca has you covered. This iconic pizza brand is renowned across SA for fresh, flavourful, home-y flavours – it’s a family-run business and it just feels that way. Like a good friend just happened to cook you a delicious pizza.
For groups of eight or more you’ll need to order from one of the set menus: a selection of antipasti, schiacchiata, pizza and contorni (side dishes). Prices start from $38 per adult / $20 per child over five, depending on the set you order. For smaller groups, you’ll have full reign over the menu (though I honestly find the set menu easier). Try the lamb skewers if you eat meat; also who can go past a tiramisu? I can’t!
Pizzateca is open for lunch and dinner, but you’ll need to make a booking in advance. This place is an institution for a reason, and the booking sheet reflects that.
I’ve put this under the adults section, though it is kid-friendly – we’ve been here as an adults-only group and with the kids – but I do think you get to enjoy it more when you’re not worrying about the little ones. There is a small grassed area but it’s near the carpark, and there’s no kid-specific play options. If you do bring the children along though, they will be welcomed and well looked after food-wise.
Pizzateca is located at 319 Chalk Hill Road, McLaren Vale.
This is one of Mr. Winter’s favourite places to eat in McLaren Vale – he’s always banging on about the Salopian Inn. And with good reason.
The menu is very seasonal here, so it’s quite likely that I’ll make a recommendation and soon it will be out of date. But here goes: my pick from the current menu is the kangaroo tail for a smaller bite, or the smoked lamb shoulder for something more substantial. If you can’t decide, the Salopian Inn offers two ‘Feed Me’ menu for $70pp of $85pp – it’s a lot of food though, so be warned! (But, seriously, go for it!)
Also, not only does the Salopian Inn feature incredible food and wine, but you can choose from over 200 gins – yes, 200 gins. Many local, but many from all around the world (if you need that, but I’m personally a huge fan of the local gin distilling scene).
For me, the Salopian Inn is adults only (we last went for Mr Winter’s birthday, just the two of us). I have no doubt the incredibly friendly staff would be welcoming of a family party, but to me this is date-night stuff. It’s an experience that shouldn’t be rushed.
The Salopian Inn is located on the corner of Main Rd and McMurtrie Rd, McLaren Vale.
While not technically in McLaren Vale but rather on the way to it, this relatively new addition to the northern-Fleurieu dining roster is getting rave reviews.
It’s a small but ambitious menu, and it delivers. Anything you order is going to be incredible, but we’re huge scallop fans over here, so that has to be our recommendation. An extensive wine and beer list (yes, there are Victor’s Place craft beers, than you beer gods!) will see you through each course very nicely.
Do you like oysters? Fridays from 4pm-6pm are Oyster Fridays at Victor’s Place – enjoy a serve of Yorke Peninsula oysters paired with the Varney Wines 2018 Semillon Fiano for only $20pp. Yes please!
Victors Place is located at 62 Victor Harbor Rd, Old Noarlunga.
The thing we love most about Ekhidna Wines (apart from the delicious food!) is that, while yes it’s technically a winery, Mr. Winter can order a beer tasting paddle – his favourite! Aside from beer, Ekhidna also offers handcrafted wines and ciders.
Ekhidna is another option to eat in McLaren Vale that really feels Australian. Kangaroo and barramundi feature on the mains menu – who can go past a pan-fried barramundi or a kangaroo loin with crispy salt bush for something truly Aussie?
Ekhidna cater really well for groups – they’re experts. So if you’re coming through with your entire posse, this is a great place to schedule in a hearty lunch.
Ekhidna Wines is located at 67 Branson Rd, McLaren Vale.
Gather at Coriole Vineyards
The delightful little cellar door is just the start of your experience at Coriole. Gather, Coriole’s restaurant, is another on the ‘local and seasonal produce’ list, and for that we are so thankful. Everything about Gather at Coriole’s menu just screams “South Australian food delight!”
Yes, Gather at Coriole is a gastronomy experience. Choose from a five-course ($75pp) or seven-course ($90pp) option, and add an optional wone pairing for $40pp. Alternatively, you can choose from the a la carte menu of you’re there on a weekday.
Gather at Coriole is another venue where groups are well catered-for: bookings under 12 people can be made online easily, while larger bookings can be made via email, with the potential to have your own private space.
Coriole Vineyards is located at 79 Chaffeys Rd, McLaren Vale.
What are your favourite places to eat in McLaren Vale? Let me know in the comments below. And if you’re particularly inspired, here is a bit more information on spending a weekend in McLaren Vale.