Rapid Creek Markets
Taking a stroll around a market is a fail-safe way to experience local cuisine and, with a slew of vendors offering what Melissa labels as tropical produce at its best, the Rapid Creek Market's are a must-see.
“[Rapid Creek Markets] always inspire me to go home and draw on those scents, and the magnificence of produce, to cook something Southeast Asian inspired,” she says.
Melissa’s go-to-market feed? A banh mi for breakfast, a stab at a fully loaded roti and a couple of popiahs (for crunch).
Ella by Minoli
As Darwin’s first MasterChef Restaurant and Minoli De Silva’s debut eatery, Ella by Minoli is a nod to Sri Lankan share culture.
“Anyone who appreciates Sri Lankan food knows that it is an experience greater than the sum of its parts, you really need to share it with lots of people and order lots of food,” Melissa says.
Here, Hill Country-inspired dishes are the game – Melissa’s favourites include Kingfish Crudo (which first debuted on MasterChef) and crispy pumpkin.
Tiwi Island Retreat
No better food pairs with the Tiwi Island’s sun-drenched, sandy terrain than seafood and luckily, Tiwi Island Retreat has plenty of it.
Just a quick flight out of Darwin will land you at the off-grid retreat where Melissa recommends fishing in the mangroves for barramundi and checking on Vince’s mud crab pots.
“There is nothing like the thrill of pulling up a pot and seeing a hefty crab sitting in the pot, dinner is sorted,” Melissa says.
If you'd rather not get your hands dirty, the retreat's expansive menu can also bring the ocean to you.
Finniss River Lodge
A cattle station might not be your first pick to snack on canapes, but Melissa recommends heading to Finniss River Lodge to indulge in ‘Cows & Canapes’ – an exclusively NT experience.
“There is such diversity in flora and fauna in this expansive space and watching an epic summer sunset while patting some friendly cows and snacking on canapés, is a unique and fun way to spend the twilight hours,” she explains.
If you're looking for a more traditional dining experience, the lodge also contains a restaurant and bar.
Ray's Patisserie & Café
Melissa knows no holiday is complete without a brunch stop, making this courtyard café a noteworthy addition to any itinerary.
Opened by two Sydneysiders, Ray’s has a big city-style brunch offering (think bacon and egg bagels, and rice puddings) but keep note, the coffee here is best served ice-cold to offer some respite from the NT’s heat.