What is it about the northern end of the Gold Coast that us locals love so much?
Be it the big backyards, the little city hub of the CBD (AKA Southport) with its ocean breezes, or perhaps just that it’s an arm’s length from the stereotypical Gold Coast of beach babes in bikinis, hipsters with lumberjack beards, and high rollers in high rises.
Stretching from Coolangatta to Upper Coomera, there’s no denying us GC kids are spoilt for choice these days, where food lovers can take their pick along the whole coast… Yep, even the northern end!
So, folks, jump in the car and set your GPS for these funky finds. We’re confident they’ll prove there’s plenty of gold to be found in the northern side of this epic coastline we call home.
This gem is a bit like coming across a hip bar down a back alley of Melbourne. Nestled in a wee Runaway Bay shopping village, you wouldn’t expect a happening lil’ venue to be hiding away such funk and flair. A long-standing family-run Vietnamese restaurant, Can Tho had a rad revamp by son, Vien who grew up helping out in the kitchen and has since taken over with his wife and young family, injecting renewed energy to the décor, menu, and vibes. Keeping the traditional family feel, share plates are their style so there’s no food envy when Saigon crispy chicken, sexy squid, and sizzling seafood dishes are served up to be devoured by all.
Where: 5/465 Oxley Drive, Runaway Bay
Sometimes you just want to keep it simple and order Fruit Loops for brekkie, right? Randy Wallhole is one of Southport’s newest cool cafés, so cool in fact that it wouldn’t even like being called cool. Ya know, just being Fonzie-like and born cool in an effortless kinda way. You picking up what we’re laying down? Brought to you by the talented crew behind 40/40 Creative, this super chill café is an eclectic mix of vintage couches, posters, arcade games, and retro everything. Some of their fiercely loyal customers slash adopted family are so laid back they’ve been known to swing in before changing out of their PJs. While the menu is somewhat mellow, think: muffins, toasties, and home-style salads, it’s the fresh bagels with Nutella, banana, and peanut butter that are making bagel addicts out of the locals. Though the star of the show is the coffee; Toby’s Estate bold Woolloomooloo which is always damn good, or mix it up and order Randy’s signature Coco Pop iced latte. Yep, that’s right, you’re an adult now and you can have Coco Pops in your iced latte if you want to.
Where: 21 Nind Street, Southport
SOLACE BAR AND RESTAURANT
Who doesn’t adore water’s edge dining? Want a table with a water view? Yes. Please. Excellent service? Would love some, thanks. Fresh and creative menu? Well, you had us at please take a seat. Once you get cosy among the stylish décor and lust over the yachts bobbing out front, the hardest thing about trying out this new venue is deciding, “is it cocktail or wine time?”. Given all the elegant flair at Solace Bar and Restaurant, it would be fair to think there was a hefty price tag attached, but these guys let you enjoy all the luxuries of waterside dining, without your wallet trembling at the starter menu. Open from 7:30am ‘til late, breakfast choices are all under $20 (don’t go past the tasty brews made with Elixir beans), while the tapas, lunch and dinner menus each embrace fresh local produce, such as our pick, the sun-dried tomato and mozzarella arancini. We’ll be back to try out the new winter warmer tapas selection while trying to nail that sunset selfie with a yachts and waterside backdrop. No one will ever know that we didn’t actually win the lotto…
Where: 4 Marina Promenade, Paradise Point
DAILY SQUEEZE café
Another gem in the north, when you’re craving wholesome fulfilment, Daily Squeeze has you covered. With a moto which promises “honest to goodness real food, that loves you back”, where do we sign up? Offering fresh, wholesome and homemade goodness, choices range from a healthy pink pitaya acai bowl, to a hearty breakfast board that oozes all the brekkie faves: corn fritters, crispy bacon, poached eggs, smoked salmon, avocado, roasted tomatoes, a side of hollandaise sauce, and gluten-free bread. Could this be one of the best breakfast spreads on the Coast? Worth testing for yourself, we say! Daily Squeeze is child friendly too, with an entire page of the menu catering just for ankle biters.
Where: 6/37 Musgrave Avenue, Chirn Park
What we like most about this airy and open space is that it’s child friendly, dog friendly, and active wear friendly. Heck, they are so friendly, they’d probably welcome you and your horse, if you rode up on one. While the shopping arcade location might initially take you by surprise, we give Raw Espresso added points for enthusiasm and passion for all things coffee, which they happily share with anyone who’ll listen. Open for breakfast and lunch, at Raw Espresso vegetarian, vegan, paleo, and clean eaters will find plentiful choices on the menu; plus, cold-pressed juices, elixirs, smoothies, acai bowls and naughty treats to suit any cravings. We recommend the veggie stack with haloumi, or the breakfast salad with bacon and macadamia dukkah dressing. Coffee lovers, you’ll like it here too, with a choice of blends from Uncle Joes, bottled house-blend cold brews, and drip coffee served theatrically at your table. Did we mention your furry four-legged friend is invited too? What’s not to love?
Where: 59/73 Meron Street, Southport
Coming Soon… Swannies
Not Tonight Bar has long been the late night beacon for bevvies and good times at the northern end of the Gold Coast. Soon, the waking-from-its-slumber scene in Southport will be joined by a cool new café cum tapas bar, Swannies. Work is currently underway to completely overhaul the space in Swan House, a 1970s building on Nerang Street, while still retaining the beautiful heritage feel. Details are being held somewhat tightly, but we reckon northern corporates and residents should be keeping their eyes peeled for this new destination for coffee, brunch, and post-work drinkies seven days and nights a week.
Where: Nerang Street, Southport
Want to see more of the northern Gold Coast? Here’s another eight sweet spots in the north.
Photo Credit: Brooke Darling for Metropolist + Can Tho