Whether you’re in it to win it or just looking for an excuse to get dressed up, there are plenty of places to celebrate the race that stops the nation on Tuesday, 5 November. The main event may only last three minutes but it’s a great excuse to take the whole afternoon off and if you haven’t yet decided where you’ll be celebrating the Melbourne Cup, SA Dining Guide has some suggestions.

Words Alexis Buxton-Collins

The Ed Hotel

One of Adelaide’s most iconic suburban pubs, the heritage-listed Ed Hotel in Mitcham is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. It’s expanded a lot over that time, and every inch of floor space is required for one of the biggest events of the year on Melbourne Cup day. The festivities begin at 12pm, and guests can book a table of any size across the various spaces including the pavilion, atrium, Victorian room, High Street bar and verandah.

The function kicks off with a glass of Chandon sparkling rosé on arrival and the three-course luncheon comes with several choices. The entrée options include half a dozen Hervey Bay scallops served with celeriac and cauliflower purée, microherbs and crispy leek salad, while for mains there’s Cone Bay barra or new season oregano and garlic baked spring lamb rump with moghrabieh, tomato and capsicum coulis and a lemon, baby beetroot, red onion and pistachio salad.

There’s space for up to 550 people inside, and there are plenty of TAB stations and large screen TVs around the venue, but if you’d prefer a less formal affair, the front bar will trade as normal and the iconic beer garden will host a pop-up spritz bar and post-race entertainment that kicks off with live music from Brian Ruiz at 4 and goes until midnight.

Level One @ Electra House

You’ll have to decide more than just which horse to back at Electra House this Melbourne Cup, with three separate events across the venue’s three floors. Head past the grand entrance lavishly decorated with garlands and provincial French carts laden with flowers and you’ll find a “casual affair” with a grazing table and St Germain cocktails at Ground Floor. Up top there’s a “VIP affair” sponsored by Pol Roger, but Level One will hit the sweet spot in between with award-winning modern Asian share plates and Chaffey Bros wines from the Eden Valley (including the Funkelpunkt sparkling riesling).

The omakase style menu curated by head chef Josh Kim will feature some of their most popular dishes including the famous house made pork and prawn wontons with shio goma, Sichuan oil and hazelnut, scallop sashimi accompanied by yuzu, wasabi, white soy and black tobiko, and mango pudding with coconut sorbet and raspberry granita for dessert.

All three floors will have sweeps, door prizes and fashion in the field competitions throughout the day and there’ll be 10 screens across the venue showing the day’s races live. Then, once the race has finished the ground floor will transform into a massive after party with a DJ from 4pm until late into the night.

The Kentish Hotel

Perfect for those who want to enjoy a more relaxed day, The Kentish begins their Melbourne Cup function with a Bird In Hand tasting in the leafy beer garden. Enjoy a cheeky glass (or two) with canapés such as oysters and gazpacho shots before heading to the adjoining wine shed for a two-course sit down lunch. The atmospheric setting has fairy lights strung overhead and walls lined with old wine and Champagne bottles, and guitar and vocal duo Blue Raine will MC the event and play between races.

For lunch, diners can choose between ricotta gnocchi, flatiron steak or crispy tommy ruffs followed by petit fours, and there’ll be raffles, door prizes and sweepstakes all day. And instead of a rowdy after party, when the event finishes at 4pm the action moves to the front bar, which is open for regular trade all day.