31 must-try foodie experiences in the Riverina
Australia’s Food Bowl, the Riverina (Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Junee and more) offers an abundance of indulgent culinary experiences. From restaurants, cafes and bars to local produce, food tours and food festivals, here’s how to get a taste for the region.
About 60 per cent of the people in Griffith have Italian heritage, so you can expect great restaurants celebrating la dolce vita across town. At fine dining Limone, much of the produce is grown and harvested at their own Piccolo Family Farm. And at Zecca, which specialises in cucina regionale (regional Italian dishes) via a daily changing menu – there’s also a small providore where you can pick up pasta and other goodies to take home.
In Wagga Wagga, The Oakroom Kitchen & Bar focuses on premium local ingredients in dishes like Junee Gold lamb backstrap with sumac, or pumpkin and ricotta rotolo with asparagus, chimmi churi and kale ‘popcorn’. Mr Lawrence is a cafe, restaurant and bar all in one, and it dishes up pretty-as-a-picture dishes like fried Murray cod burgers replete with a pine nut slaw and sriracha mayo, and sticky pork belly tacos. Nearby, Pastorale by Meccanico is secreted away within the heritage-listed Riverine Club, with a menu that changes to reflect the seasons.
On the outskirts of town, Magpies Nest pairs contemporary cuisine with regional wines, served in beautiful stone stables with sweeping views across olive groves. Finish the day with a drink at Birdhouse Bar.
The café culture in Wagga is booming – visit The Blessed Bean (where they roast their own coffee), Fitzmaurice Cafe, Artisan Baker and the Trail St Coffee Shop. Fuel up for another day of foodie fun with a warming coffee at the Trail Street Coffee Shop, which brews coffee by Wagga Wagga’s Full Circle Coffee Roasters. And whether you’re visiting for breakfast, brunch or lunch, is a winner – make the most of the backyard on a sunny day.
In Griffith, follow your nose to fourth-generation bakery Bertoldo’s Pasticceria for moreish oven-fresh bread, biscotti and gelato.
The Riverina is responsible for growing more than 90 per cent of NSW’s citrus. And the bounty is celebrated with gusto every October during Griffith Spring Fest. Visit at this time of year and you’ll witness some 100,000 oranges transformed into surprising artworks, like a grand piano, castle or robot. Meanwhile, Taste Riverina events – from long lunches to farm-foraging sessions – take place throughout the year.
Also held annually in October, the Tumbafest in February: this festival turns the spotlight on Tumbarumba’s chardonnay, pinot gris and other local drops, thanks to its Wine Courtyard showcase. There are also market stalls offering local produce and tasty bites.festival celebrates local produce and cellar doors, with the region’s cool-climate vineyards open for tastings. And look out for
Food tours & cooking classes
The Riverina’s wealth of food and wine offerings can be overwhelming. If you don’t know where to start, or would prefer someone else to do all the driving, book a food and wine tour from Griffith with Bella Vita Riverina Tours and relax as a knowledgeable local guide shows you the best the region has to offer.
Learn local secrets and cook with the country’s best chefs at a Food I Am cooking class, held in a gorgeous hilltop venue with sweeping views over Wagga.
Local produce & markets
In Griffith, curate the picnic basket of your foodie dreams with gourmet cured meats from Codemo Smallgoods; olives, relishes, pesto and other tasty condiments from Riverina Grove; and premium, pond-grown smoked (or fresh) cod from Aquna Sustainable Murray Cod at the company’s retail outlet. Rich Riverina soils around Griffith produce an abundance of citrus, grapes, hazelnuts and olives. Get your first taste on a tour of Catania Fruit Salad Farm hosted in a quirky bus, sampling seasonal fruits and nuts plucked straight from the trees.
Settle in for the next leg of your culinary adventure, taking the scenic route to Junee via historic Coolamon. Learn how to make your own cheese at a workshop with expert cheesemaker Jenn Nestor at Coolamon Cheese, or pick up some artisan cheeses for a picnic.
Upon your arrival in Junee, treat you inner (or actual) child to a sweet surprise at the famous Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory, housed in a four-storey 1930s flour mill. Watch organic licorice and chocolate being made before your eyes on a guided tour before indulging in a hot chocolate at the Millroom restaurant. If you’re visiting on the first Sunday of the month, drop by the to stock up on a tantalising array of fresh goods from the eastern Riverina region.
Meanwhile in Wagga Wagga, the Riverina Producers Market is held each Thursday afternoon at the Showground. Sip orange juice freshly squeezed from locally grown navel and Valencia oranges and connect with local farmers as you browse a bounty of fresh produce, from peaches to juicy cuts of lamb and beef perfect for a barbecue. Top up your shopping basket with artisan cheeses, local jerky and more at Knights deli, and award-winning olive oils and table olives at Wollundry Grove Olives.