In the first half of the twentieth century, indeed until the 1960s, dining out was unusual for ordinary Australians, saved for special occasions when they ate in the dining room of the local hotel. This formal and conventional style of dining provided utterly predictable food in surroundings that emphasized the specialness of the occasion and the status of the diners, rather than the imaginative quality of the food. Pubs also provided cheap food at the counter, to customers drinking at the bar. This had all changed by the end of the twentieth century, as pub dining rooms became restaurants, catering to the pleasures of modern urban life, offering adventure, fantasy and the lure of the exotic. This paper traces this transformation and argues that the change in pub food culture was a feature of modernity and universalizing US capitalism, not a consequence of postwar immigration but a business enterprise in which Europeanness featured as an alternative to Americanness. In this, the transformation of pub licensing laws was a crucial catalyst.