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RATINGS
Service
Value

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CUISINES
Cafe, Bar, Pub, Australian
Meals
Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Drinks
FEATURES
Seating, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Accepts Credit Cards, Live Music
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Reviews (29)
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11
9
4
1
4
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LanguageEnglish
Traveler rating
11
9
4
1
4
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Reviewed August 9, 2021

Good coffee, pleasant staff. Lots of quirky objects occupying different spaces. The band playing was Gypsy Jazz styled on the Django sound of the 30's- 40's. Small venue, right up close to the musicians. Thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon as the music for this bracket was...by polished performers. Worth checking out to see what's on and as it is in a restaurant area with lots of food choices, a live band or two may cap the day off.More

Date of visit: August 2021
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Reviewed March 12, 2021

This minuscule fascist dictatorship caters only to the homeless and welfare recipients . All others are beneath them. the decor may lead you to believe the owners are freethinkers and accepting of all however these are people at the end of thier rope and hate...what they do and despise anyone who can afford to pay their exorbitant prices. Their kitchen is barely legal the musicians they attract are incredibly below par. This venue has been closed long before the owners realised and it sad to watch. Unfortunately they lack the energy, foresight, innovation and the acceptance to carry this on into the future if you wish to watch something die feel free to visit. Set amongst the pigeon s*** the homeless beggars and the filth this venue will be as you see it which is far from the delusion that the owners suffer through who cling to it as small people desperate for an inkling of some sort of power and influence but can never quite reach the zeitgeist. Smiths bookstore is a dead meme and they don't know it. That in itself has some value. check it out laugh at how much they're willing to invest in this dead meme but whatever you do don't look like you can afford to pay the bill. .More

Date of visit: March 2021
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Reviewed June 16, 2019 via mobile

I visited this cafe twice once when it was quiet and and had coffee. And another time it was quite late and there had been a poetry reading night. So for all things alternative in Canberra it’s worth checking this place out. It’s casual and...lay back and they have s variety of entertainment to experience . So next time I am in Canberra I will drop in to see what’s on show for an evening of entertainment .More

Date of visit: June 2019
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Reviewed April 28, 2019

OK, so I am up for an alternative cafe / bar, so I thought I would try this one evening. Beer - none on tap. No enthusiasm for what was there (ie: knew nothing about it). Served a faurly generic IPA [alll that was one...offer] from the can (no offer of a glass). I was hungry, so asked for menu. Extremely limited. Basically cheese platter seemed all that was available. So, guess if 'alternative' meant 'supermarket', it would be OK. Supermarket cheese, with tasteless and dry lumps of cheapest supermarket bread. Worst of all - olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This was obviously prepared by someone who had never had this before, as they chose cheapest tasteless cooking olive oil, but also cheapest balsamic. NOTE TO HOSTS: the balsamic for dipping bread into needs to be slightly sweet - note pure acidic. Caramelized balsamic is the usual. But not cheapest supermarket. It's easy - dip a bit of bread into it, and if it tastes like acid - olive oil will not calm it down. pay the extra few $ and get a real balsamic for dipping. OK - so I read back on this. Why two stars not one? Maybe they are trying to be alternative and just need guidance?More

Date of visit: April 2019
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Reviewed February 2, 2019 via mobile

What a wonderful place very funky relaxing great coffee great food. Nice location wonderful settings old world. Excellent breakfast.

Date of visit: February 2019
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Reviewed January 15, 2019 via mobile

If you're in Canberra and miss the vibe of the alt cafes head on down to this spot and you'll feel right at home. Licensed, a separate function room and in the heart of the capital it's a refreshing change from shopping centre cafes

Date of visit: January 2019
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Reviewed May 27, 2018 via mobile

As the name suggests, if you like an alternative and quirky place, then this is it. It is unashamedly shabby with sunken and old couches that have seen better days and smell that is just as .... interesting... when you walk in. But once comfortably...ensconced in the shabby couch, or on chairs that hug the stage and ottomans scattered about, you get the feeling of sitting in ur favourite aunt or uncles’s house n you see the place in a different light. A comfortable n welcoming place. Somewhere to enjoy an eclectic range of music performed there at any given time. Where they serve simple food of soup or toasted. Where the patrons comprise not only the two-legged variety but also the four legged variety. Where you can play board games and while away the afternoon drinking tea or wine or your spirits of choice. It is a truly quirky place n I love it and totally recommend it.More

Date of visit: May 2018
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Reviewed March 18, 2018 via mobile

Staying at the hotel next door and hearing the piano they leave outside at 3.00 pm that night played by some idiot was not nice. Redeemed slightly by a jam session in the afternoon who were excellent. Staff not particularly friendly and great pity there...are no books as the sign outside said it was a bookstore and not just a coffee place.More

Date of visit: March 2018
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Reviewed March 16, 2018 via mobile

Great spot to relax anytime of the day, particularly pre-dinner. Have a lemon squash, and soak up the alternative vibe.

Date of visit: March 2018
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Reviewed March 12, 2018 via mobile

A great venue in which to listen and to be listened to. The cafe offered food to share and wine and soft drinks. A warm and enthusiastic audience of regulars and newcomers made for a memorable evening. Don't miss poetry evenings here!

Date of visit: March 2018
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Frequently Asked Questions about Smiths Alternative

Smiths Alternative is rated accordingly in the following categories by Tripadvisor travelers:
  • Service: 3.5
  • Value: 3.5