It’s the glitter strip that put our humble surf city on the worldwide tourist map, but there is oh so much more to Surfers Paradise than high rises, novelty arcades and expansive beaches.
In the past few years, Surfers’ culinary scene has really stepped it up a notch or three. So, if you find yourself knocking around these parts with a hunger for some delicious nosh and friendly service, best make good use of your valuable time—and avoid the tourist traps—with our pick of the best restaurants in Surfers Paradise. Happy holidays!
Yamagen is a funky Japanese izakaya located inside QT Gold Coast hotel, with one of Queensland's largest Japanese whisky collection (over 65 bottles and counting) plus some of the most innovative and creative Japanese cuisine you'll ever taste. Behind the expansive bar, you can peer into the glass-enclosed kushiage station; the beating heart of the izakaya where smells and smoke wafts as Japanese chefs work over robata grills and binchotan charcoal. Or, nab a posi at the 15-seat traditional sushi bar where you can interact with the chefs and devour plate after plate of omakase (chef’s selection of market fresh sushi and sashimi). If you’re on the hunt for one of the best restaurants in Surfers Paradise, well, you’ve found it.
Seaduction Restaurant & Bar
Part of Peppers Soul, Surfers Paradise, Seaduction transforms fresh and local ingredients into food that will have you salivating from the get-go. And, hey, the uninterrupted beach views aren’t half bad either. Located on The Esplanade, this modern dining spot has been the recipient of the Australian Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat since 2013, so you know that what they’re creating will be fabulous beyond belief. The menu includes deliciously unique ingredients like abalone and an extensive range of fish dishes cooked every way you can imagine. The venue is light and refreshing too, letting the view be the real hero and the perfect background for that Insta upload or to just watch the waves roll by with a perfectly crafted cocktail in hand.
There’s some stiff competition in the hotel circles, but when it comes to buffet feasts, QT Gold Coast is considered the best in town. Big call, right? And like everything QT does, they’ll ask that you forget any past buffet experiences, ‘cause they like to be different, and they nail it. Firstly, they’ll have you know this isn’t a buffet, it’s an ‘interactive kitchen’. Bazaar’s selection is seriously eye-popping and always changing with dinner options like made-to-order steaks, seafood (prawns, crabs, oysters), an Asian station (dumplings, stir-fries, curries), countless salads, a lolly station and a wall of quirky desserts. Served seven days for breakfast, dinner and Sunday lunch; one thing is guaranteed, you’ll need to be rolled out the door. Burp!
There’s a lot to love about The Island, Gold Coast's newest boutique hotel offering. Hotel guests and day visitors are welcome to enjoy The Island's hip Italian-inspired restaurant and adjoining bar, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days. Eat your way through starters including the Eggplant Involtini with buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and basil, to spicy bites of fried Ascolana olives and a terra cotta aioli for dipping. Or mains including wood-fired pizzas, pan fried Kingfish and a challenging 400-gram peppercorn-crusted Thousand Guideas Shorthorn rump. And don’t get us started on dessert. But the fun doesn’t end there, folks! Home to the Gold Coast’s biggest rooftop bar and sprawling alfresco patio, The Island Rooftop is bringing the cool back to the tourist precinct’s after-dark scene with DJs, a retro-styled cocktail bar, ample seating, nooks and one of the best Sunday sessions on the Coast.
Surfers Paradise’s longest established beachfront watering hole underwent a funky Bali-inspired overhaul recently, injecting some desperately needed cool back into the touristy precinct. We love Sandbar’s breezy fit-out, always-holiday vibes, creative menus (they’ve got poke bowls!), extensive craft beer selection and killer cocktail list to accompany those salty sea vistas. Tuck into creative burgers such as Kim Jong’s Demise with Korean-style crispy chicken or the Piggie Smalls with spiced pulled pork and apple relish, or surrender to a delish beachfront serving of Jo’s Proper Fish and Chips, complete with mushy peas. Head to Sandbar, one of the best restaurants in Surfers Paradise, and cheers to the good life.
Fu Manchu Oriental Kitchen
Fu Manchu Oriental Kitchen on Surfers Paradise’s Chevron Island has a true Asian fusion menu that morphs from devout traditions to dishes with a European twist. Hiding behind an unassuming London shop front-style facade, Fu Manchu is totally where we want to hang on our next date night, with a dark and moody supper club-ish interior that lends itself to getting cosy and just a lil’ bit boozy. Our tip? Fu Manchu’s Singapore chilli crab and sticky Asian beef short ribs are life changing.
Cicchetti Pizza & Pasta Bar
What will strike you first about Isle of Capri’s Cicchetti, aside from the contemporary dining room with floor to ceiling windows, grand vaulted roof and striking chandeliers, is the eatery’s finest asset—its staff. When the all-Italian team members constantly break into their mother tongue, you know you’re in for a fun night! Need to unwind on Friday with cocktails, live music and charcuterie boards? After a romantic-but-not-too-intimate first date option or perhaps somewhere that welcomes the extended family (kids eat free on Sundays)? You’ll find what you’re looking for at this upmarket pizza and pasta bar.
One of the best restaurants in Surfers Paradise, Edgewater Dining is one venue that’s successfully embraced the beauty of Gold Coast’s spider web of canals. Situated on Isle of Capri, Edgewater’s sprawling deck opens out to a swoon-worthy view of million dollar mansions and an up close and personal look at the iconic Q1 and glittering Surfers Paradise skyline. With talented restaurateurs at the helm and open for breakfast, long boozy lunches and dinner, seven days, a visit here is a sure bet you and your posse will be satisfied beyond belief. Munch on oysters, lemon pepper calamari. specialty burgers, risotto or perhaps a juicy lamb rump. Yes, please.
Chevron Island’s Tribeca NYC is named after the hip neighbourhood in downtown Manhattan with a world-renowned dining scene and inner-city loft living. It was the first true American dining establishment to open on the Gold Coast, and we can attest, is still one of the best. Tribeca NYC’s extensive menu strongly lends itself to share-style dining, which we totally urge you do, to ensure you can try as many dishes as possible in one sitting. Think: flame-grilled New York steak, Rueben sandwiches, gourmet mac and cheese, ridic burgers or their legendary BBQ rib night on Wednesdays, where 20 buckaroos gets you a full rack of pork ribs, fries and house slaw—but book early!
Betty’s Burgers have worked up quite the reputation, Australia wide. Originating up the road in Noosa, with Surfers Paradise their second ever location, the burgers dished out here are pure, unadulterated deliciousness. And don’t even get us started on their concrete AKA custard ice cream blended with your choice of mix-ins. As with any top notch burger joint, there’s always a favourite, and the pick of the bunch is the Betty’s Classic—a simply satisfying 10-buck burger loaded with an Angus beef pattie, lettuce, onion, tomato, cheese and Betty’s secret special sauce. It’s ridic!
Brooklyn Depot Kitchen & Brew
A little slice of old New York in the streets of Surfers Paradise, Brooklyn Depot is an original front-runner among the best burgers on the Gold Coast. Though not one to rest on their laurels, they’ve plunged deep into the heart of the borough, uncovering the true meaning of Brooklyn nosh, because research. And it comes in the shape of a menu featuring corn beef hash egg rolls, chicken ‘n waffles, shrimp and grits tacos, plus their famed OTT burgers including the Fuhgeddaboudit with a grass-fed beef pattie, onion rings and injectable hot sauce. Combined with a fun-loving vibe, cheery staff, a cocktail bar pouring a super selection of shakes that come in PG and AO versions (you must be 18+ for the AO version), and you’ve got a seriously energetic spot to start the night, or finish it. Your choice.
Undoubtedly one of the Gold Coast’s best hotel bars, QT Gold Coast’s Stingray Lounge is a fine example of hotels going all new age to entice the emerging savvy holidaymaker. Located in Surfers Paradise, Stingray’s clientele is a rare mix of tourists and locals. The bar is usually hoppin’ on weekends with its funky Pop Art theme and over 50 tequilas lining the shelves, with plenty of tempting casual eats on the menu from burgers to buffalo wings and $3 tacos on Tuesdays.
Seascape Bar & Restaurant
Got a weakness for seafood? Beeline to the esplanade where you’ll find Seascape Restaurant & Bar. Sprawling over three levels, including a sunny rooftop bar, nabbing a prime possie with uninterrupted Pacific Ocean vistas won’t be too difficult. Go semi-casual with the bistro on level one or frock up for a fine dining experience in the restaurant on level two. Here you’ll feast on fresh Pacific lobster, Moreton Bay bugs in a Malaysian red curry glaze, Tasmanian Atlantic salmon in a coconut broth, or an impressive selection of fresh local fish cooked to your liking.
Salt Meats Cheese
Ensuring you are never too far from cheese, pizza and pasta, Sydney’s renowned food emporium, Salt Meats Cheese, has its very own Gold Coast-based pizzeria and deli, right in the heart of Surfers Paradise. The New York-style menu features truffle gnocchi, flaming Parmesan wheels (Wednesday nights only) and the intriguing black lobster pizza with a squid ink base. Come for novelty offerings like coffee in a cone, all-you-can-eat pizza night on Mondays, or frequent pizza and pasta-making master classes.
If you fancy a little visual stimulation with your dining experience, you’d best head up the escalator to Steampunk. These guys have gone all out with the Steampunk theming; expect cogs, piping and machinery gauges, antique clocks and post-apocalyptic gas masks, industrial fans, grandeur period leather couches and lamps, exposed globes, all surrounded by a copper-coloured bar, walls and flooring. Yep, there’s a lot to admire as you wander around. Steampunk’s creative cocktail menu is equally as mischievous and the diverse food menu will have something to satisfy even the fussiest member of your holiday squad. Did we mention they’re shaking $10 espresso martinis all day, erryday?
House Of Brews
If a wide craft beer selection is high on your priority list when choosing a restaurant, House of Brews on Orchid Avenue has your name all over it. Beer lovers will be in hoppy heaven with a ridic wall of 32 taps—the biggest draft selection on the Coast. Hungry? Of course you are! House of Brews extensive beer menu can be paired with classic American BBQ dishes such as sticky BBQ wings and ribs, burgers, steaks and loaded parmys—knock back a coldie while people-watching the frivolities of the nightly Surfers’ circus.
Clifford’s Grill & Lounge
One of the better options in Surfers Paradise when it comes to hotel restaurants, Voco’s Clifford’s Grill & Lounge has a sleek inner-city vibe and a grill house menu with an American twist. The pan-seared pork sirloin, slow-cooked lamb shoulder and seriously meaty sharing platters are standouts. Just don’t leave without ordering Clifford’s signature Bombe Alaska dessert—it’s totes Insta-worthy too. Once you’re done stuffing yourself silly, venture next door to The Walrus Social House for a nightcap, with a solid bar list (they have over 25 rums from around the world on the menu; woah, sailor) you may need to be rolled home afterwards. You have been warned.
If you take away Elston’s hip, modern-rustic fit-out and breezy beachfront views, you’ve still got an on-trend food and drinks menu prepared and produced to perfection. Avoid the tourist traps nearby and pull up a seat to order from a menu loaded with pancakes to pulled pork, peking duck bao, or delicate share boards to a 440-gram New York sirloin. No matter your tastes, you’ll definitely find something you’ll happily devour at Elston, one of the best restaurants in Surfers Paradise. And if not, there’s no shame in skipping dinner and getting straight into the cocktails!
Longboards Laidback Eatery
It’d be a crime to leave long-time favourite Longboards Laidback Eatery off our list of the best restaurants in Surfers Paradise. Cheap and cheerful, with poolside seating next door to the towering Q1 Hotel, Longboards has served many a satisfied burger-loving customer with finger-licking appetizers and cheeky burgers like The Budgie Smuggler and The G-Banger. Up for a challenge? Their 1.6-kilo Phat Bastard Burger will ensure you depart from holidays with a lil extra bulge around the waistline. Think you’re ready for this?
8 Street is a sprawling hawker-style market that feature six permanent Asian restaurants and 30+ street food stalls, plus a freakin’ Asian beer and sake bar. In case your mouth isn’t already watering, be prepared for cuisine representations from Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, plus more, and flavour-packed eats like BBQ duck, pho, bi bim bap, banh mi, rice paper rolls, laksa, ramen, roti, rice noodle soups, dumplings and dim sum with authentic chefs bringing their traditions and skills from the mother countries. With lots of dark wood, hanging paper lanterns, oriental styling, steaming woks, flaming barbecues, wafting aromas and chatter from diners, it’s sure to be sensory overload and, even better, cheap! We’re confident 8 Street will fast become a top choice among the best restaurants in Surfers Paradise.
Filled that hole in your stomach and ready to drink? We hear ya! You’ll find all our fave Surfers Paradise bars right here. You’re welcome.
Image credit: Hayley Williamson for The Urban List