Australian Pubs, Food and Etiquette

Pubs are a popular place for social gatherings in Australia. From summer to winter, university students, co-workers, and people from all backgrounds gather to mingle in pubs. While pubs have their origins in ancient Rome, Australians have taken this British institution and created their own version. There is no formal difference between a bar and a pub, but generally pubs are bigger and more casual than bars. Colourful and interesting pubs can be found throughout Australia, and many people will have their favourite local watering holes. Perhaps pubs are so popular in Australia as they provide a relaxed and social atmosphere for drinking.

Pub at night
Photo: Looking Glass

Pub food tends to be rich and hearty, and pub menus have a range of traditional and modern café items. There are many pubs that serve top cuisine, functioning as restaurants, and others that serve modern, café-style food. Some common and very popular traditional pub menu items are:

  • steak and chips
  • burgers and chips
  • fish and chips
  • chicken parmigiana
  • bangers and mash (pork sausages with mashed potato, kale, and onion gravy)
  • mixed grill
  • meat pie
  • steak sandwich

Etiquette and Atmosphere
There is no particular etiquette in pubs and all dress codes are acceptable. The atmosphere is cheerful and relaxed, though it may get a little rowdy when busy. You can sit or stand at the bar, or take a table with your friends and chat and drink the night away. When it comes to tipping, you should tip, especially if you have ordered a large around of drinks. Friends usually take turns shouting rounds of drinks for everyone.

The Pub Crawl
Pub crawls are a common way for a group of friends to try a lot of different pubs in one area. You order one or two rounds of drinks in each pub, and then move on. Generally, it’s advisable to eat a full meal before going on a pub crawl, and there is the common practice in Australia of finishing up the night with a giant kebab (at a kebab takeaway) in the early hours of the morning. Here some popular spots in Australia’s biggest cities:

  • Sydney: the Rocks, Circular Quay, Paddington, and Glebe have some famous and popular pubs.
  • Melbourne: there are many old and new pubs in Melbourne, many in the CBD and many more in the inner and outer suburbs. If you go pub crawling during footy season, be aware of the hordes of rowdy footy fans who mill into the pubs after the matches. Flinders St, Block Arcade, Collins St, Hardware Land, and suburbs surrounding the CBD such as South Yarra, Richmond, and Brunswick.
  • Brisbane: there are many famous pubs in Brisbane, in the CBD and outer suburbs. Brunswick St/Fortitude Valley, Ann St, Edward St, Queen St, Oxford St, and West End each have interesting pubs.
  • Gold Coast: Pubs in the Gold Coast offer great atmosphere and seafood. Try Surfer’s Paradise and Broadbeach.
  • Adelaide: some of Adelaide’s best pubs are to be found in Rundle St, Hindley St and Light Square.
  • Perth: try Northbridge and outer suburbs such as Joondalup, Subiaco, Fremantle and Scarborough.
  • Hobart: for a good pub crawl experience, try Slamanca Place, the waterfront area, Sandy Bay, and Elisabeth St.

Darwin: Mitchell St has many interesting restaurants and pubs.

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