Who doesn’t love heading south to the picturesque Northern NSW for lunch?
Wind in hair as you pass over Sextons Hill, through curvy tunnels carved perfectly out of the land all the while under the watchful eye of Wollumbin Mt Warning. You can literally touch down at some of the finest eateries within 45 minutes of the Gold Coast (no need to stay overnight) just draw straws to designate a driver and presto you’re on the road. From burgers matched with beers to fish complimented by wine to tacos washed down with margaritas—you’re spoilt for choice with top notch chefs and farm fresh produce.
Here’s nine of our absolute faves.
Stone & Wood Canteen By 100 Mile Table
What a pleasant surprise to find 100 Mile Table has popped up at the uber cool new Stone & Wood Brewery. Makes sense considering they share the same philosophy of ‘act local thing global’. With an eye for detail and good quality produce 100 Mile Table is the perfect accompaniment to the naturally crafted beer that S&W produce. Think sticky chicken wings, grilled polenta, beef brisket massaman curry and local brewers charcuterie board-matched perfectly with a sticky nectar beer from the counter culture range. Open 7 days from 12pm tp 3pm, fuel up for lunch then take a tour of the brewery for afternoon tea or beer.
Three Blue Ducks
This little beauty has been quietly producing one of the finest, freshest menus from farm to the plate in the region, for the last couple of years. The creative team behind the ducks is well known for its Sydney eateries, but when they landed at The Farm in Byron they took the Northern Rivers food scene up a notch! A great day out for the whole family, kids can be entertained in the green open pastures, while eating a baked treat from the Bread Social counter. Adults can sit on the farm deck and enjoy the locally inspired menu, accompanied with craft beers and natural wines. The menu changes with the seasons, enjoy Moreton Bay bugs, turmeric, lemongrass and ginger curry with Nimbin brown rice. They’re open for lunch Monday to Thursday 12pm to 3pm and Friday to Sunday from 12pm to 10pm.
As we are south of the border we thought it appropriate to add one of Byron’s favourite senorita’s Miss Margarita. From the colourful Frida Kahlo mosaic feature wall to the alfresco street dining options, this place is always buzzing with tourists and locals alike. Miss M’s is fresh, affordable, authentic and a stone’s throw away from one of Australia’s most famous beaches. Think casual dining with ocean glimpses. Try the hot plate, chargrilled capsicum, onion and chipotle chicken fajitas or crispy snapper tacos with fresh lime, paired perfectly with a fresh fruit or chili margarita. They’re open for lunch Monday to Sunday from 12pm to 3pm.
Located in the super stylish Habitat precinct (a kind of creative commune) in Byron’s industrial estate, Barrio is as unique as it is delightful. The moment you step foot into Barrio’s open plan dining hall your senses come alive, with a smoking-room kitchen, the aromas seep into every corner. A counter full of fresh produce greets you on arrival and with a changing weekly salad menu, you can create your own nourish bowl from selected ingredients. Local favourites include roasted fennel, beans, rocket and salsa verde, coupled with chipotle corn bread, pickled cabbage and labne, just add a fresh Aperol spritz to boot. They’re open Monday to Saturday from 7am to 9pm.
Literally your old-fashioned corner shop, this milk bar come burger bar is the place locals flock to in droves. Think seriously good, wholesome food, coupled with picnic rugs on the front lawn, it’s one chilled out place to hang out for a long lunch. It’s all about the burgers here, the odd salad stack, really good coffee and next level acai bowls. From the chili chicken burger to the fish burger to the haloumi roll, you won’t leave this cool crib needing more. A one-stop shop of good times, classic food and beautiful (salty) people. They’re open for lunch Monday to Sunday 6.30am to 4.00pm.
We all need a go-to place for those special occasions, and Raes at Wategos is it. A seriously stylish hacienda perched high above Watego’s beach with views to write home about. Think clean white lines and exceptional service that starts from the Amalfi inspired bar on the lower level to the moment you enter the seaside restaurant upstairs. A well thought out wine list goes seamlessly with the ocean-inspired menu and if lunch turns into dinner, then book a room upstairs and stay awhile. Feast on dishes like free range pork cutlet with Davidson plum and hibiscus leaves or tagliolini pasta with Ballina king prawns and spicy nduja salami. Finish with a cheese board or roast pears with chestnut butter and pent beer grain gelato and you’ll give yourself a pat on the back for choosing this delightful spot. They’re open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
One of the newest kids on the block, Loft is an upstairs chic venue that has been fitted out to perfection, offering cocktails and shared plates to suit the ocean vibes. They’ve just launched their new menu with eats like BBQ squid with puffed buckwheat, coal smoked octopus with sweet and sour caponata, and slow roasted lamb shoulder with red capsicum, cashews and pita breads. Or if you’re coming with a crew, we recommend ordering a bunch of snacks from the deli bar, like the cheese board featuring local and international bites or a plate of Coffin Bay pacific oysters. All of which can be paired nicely with their expansive wine and cocktail list. They’re open for lunch seven days from 12 noon.
Orient Express Eatery
An oldie but a goodie this Byron institution from the Orient has been full steam ahead for over a decade or so, with well known local, Chef Tippy at the helm. Reminisce of an ancient Chinese Tea House, the ambience matches the delicious food. Specialising in dishes like dumplings and fried ice-cream and anything with duck—the pancakes are our favourite. Yum cha is another must and is on offer for lunch over the weekends. They’re open for lunch and yum cha Friday to Sunday from 11.30am to 3pm.
The Italian Diner
Located in the stunning Byron hinterland, The Italian Dinner is all about invoking the old-world charm of a traditional trattoria. With a strong focus on fresh seafood and the finest of local produce expect delights like house made spaghetti with pork cheek, sage and pecorino, wild venison carpaccio with juniper berry dressing and calamari with fermented chilli. Cosy up inside or dine al fresco under the fairy lights.
Image Credit: Loft, Kaitlin Maree Photography for Urban List