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Myriad marvellous things born in the US-of-A have been happily embraced down under (reality TV, anyone?), but none with wider open arms (and mouths) than all-American diner food.
The last five years has seen a huge increase in American-themed food joints around Australia, and for good reason – who doesn’t love the idea of diving face-first into pounds of tender, smoky, slow-cooked brisket with a slathering of braised BBQ beans; or perhaps a crispy fried chicken burger with a side of corn that’s so damn juicy it could stain a clean shirt across the diner? It’s a no-brainer if you’re in the mood for comfort food and a good ol’ time.
Here’s our pick of the best American food joints in the country. Go forth and eat.
1. Miss Peaches
Upstairs at Newtown’s iconic Marly Hotel is home to some of the best damn fried chicken in town, plus some pretty cool house dishes – Brooklyn lager and butter-poached prawns is a must for seafood fans. Finish it off with a slice of sweet pie, washed down with a few American brews on the balcony, or some live music for those more inclines to boot-scoot the night away.
2. Jazz City BBQ
With their waitresses in retro diner uniforms, bringing round baskets of slow-roasted, Texas-style barbecued meats, burgers and delicious sweet treats, it’s no surprise Jazz City is one of Sydney’s most loved American food spots.
3. Eathouse Diner
Nestled within the inner-city culture hub of Redfern, Eathouse is seriously all-American – from the old-school diner decor to the more-than-generous servings of Southern US grub (BBQ beef cheek with a hot buttered roll, coleslaw and a side chargrilled corn? Yes we can).
Touted as an “inner-city homestead built for comfort and conversation” and with a US expat chef at the helm, Hartsyard is one of Sydney’s coolest modern eateries with American food at the heart of it all. Chow down on an oyster Po’ Boy, some crispy pig tails and fried chicken – that is, if you’re bold enough to ruin the amazing art-like presentation of the food.
5. Soda Factory
With things like ‘dollar dogs’ on Tuesday, buckets of chicken specials on a Wednesday and good American-themed food, drink and music on every other damn day, Soda Factory is as cool a place to hang out as it is to hoe into a mouth-watering hot dog. Plus, walking through a soda machine to enter the establishment will make you feel like the coolest cat in town.
It’s dark, loud and their burgers a praised ‘the best’ by every social media critic with an opinion worth their weight in brisket beef patties. And it’s true. But don’t let that stop you from greasing your fingers with their delicious fried chicken – and if you don’t get the mash and gravy, we don’t want to know you.
7. The Oxford Tavern
It’s a mesh of American and Australian pop culture in this former strip joint turned ridiculously awesome Inner West pub. Their fried chicken burgers are a thing of beauty, but Saturdays are the best days, when they fire up ‘Black Betty’ – a colossal smoker barbecue that churns out ‘low and slow’ meats all afternoon long.
8. Fancy Hanks
This trendy American BBQ spot specialises in dishing up slow-cooked meats by the portion – choose your animal of choice, from beer can chook to short ribs and Andouille sausage – paired with a long list of glorious sides, and an even more enticing cocktail menu.
9. Big Boy BBQ
Claiming to be Melbourne’s very first ‘low and slow’ smoked meat experience, Big Boy BBQ is all about meat – racks of mouth-watering BBQ ribs, beef brisket, chicken wings, pulled pork, all on their lonesome or between two buns, with a heap of tasty sides. Come hungry.
10. Nieuw Amsterdam
This is all-American, but from the East – a New York-style restaurant that whips up high-end comfort food (think mac ’n’ cheese soufflé with a mustard rubbed pork belly), and a bar that’ll knock you off your feet with its cocktail menu (try the ‘Elmer Had a Little Lamb’, infused with lamb fat-washed Buffalo Trace bourbon).
11. Carolina Kitchen
A tiny suburban diner with chequered table cloths, Carolina Kitchen honours the south by serving up ribs, hoagies, wings, chilli fries and burgers, with all the best American pies – cherry, key lime, pecan and pumpkin. And they do take away.
12. Yardbird Ale House
With two locations – one at Fortitude Valley and a new one at Paddington – Yardbird serves up a great range of different flavoured wings alongside an excellent list of your favourite craft beers. What more do you need?
13. Ben’s Burgers
These burgers are lovingly crafted piles of bread and meat that can dislocate the jaw – but every bite is worth it. As is the line.
14. The Smoke
One of Brisbane’s original Americana trendsetters, their ribs and pulled pork remain reliably succulent and satisfying.
15. South Side Diner
For decor true to style, South Side Diner has taken influence from the film sets of Grease. Indulge in American favourites like mac ’n’ cheese, a Reuben sandwich, Cobb salad and a great selection of pancakes and pies.
16. Brooklyn Lounge
Their mains selection might be a little off kilter, but Brooklyn Lounge’s burger offerings – from the simple double cheese, to their signature burger with a wagyu patty, homemade pickles and more – is a worthy tribute to the American food dream.
Located in Perth’s bustling Fremantle markets, Chimek is an American food stall that deals with chicken, beer and burgers. Their biggest claim? A charcoal beef burger with a black bun housing a slab of sizzling beef and cheese. Wipe the saliva off your phone screen, then head down.
18. Old Faithful
The exposed brick and wooden beams will draw you in. The giant lunch trays filled with ‘low and slow’ meats, bread, coleslaw, whole pickles and onions will stop you from ever leaving. Because you’ll be in a food coma.
19. Varsity Bar
If your love of America runs deeper than food, this is the place for you. Equipped with TVs pumping out sports, an Americana beer selection and more burgers and sports snacks (nachos, wings, and hot dogs) than a stadium cookout, Varsity Bar bleeds red, white and blue.
20. Jack Ruby
The dimly lit underground bar is a ramshackle of quality American food (mac ’n’ cheese, onion rings, sliders and more), booze and killer live tunes all night long.
21. Chuck Wagon 175
If you’re in the mood for a face full of burger (there are nearly 20 on the menu), Chuck Wagon is your go-to if you’re in the City of Churches. It’s also home to the Commando – a stacked-high meat explosion of a burger that even Man Vs. Food’s Adam Richman (pre-veganism) would cower at the thought of digesting.