Food & Drink

Murwillumbah’s Best Restaurants That Are Worth The Road Trip

By Duncan Croker

Riverside views, a sleepy country vibe, and Mount Warning in the backdrop—Murwillumbah has all the ingredients for a great dining experience, and it doesn’t disappoint. 

But finding the right restaurant isn’t always easy. That’s why we’ve done the hard yards and curated our eight favourite spots in Murbah (and, trust us, there are some good ones). Pizza, pub food, and pickled octopus—it’s all here and ready for your next Gold Coast/Kombumerri Country day trip.  

Tweed River House

131 River St, South Murwillumbah NSW 2484

tweed river house
Image Credit: Tweed River House | Supplied

Hugging the bank of the Tweed River, this restored manor house is colonial opulence done right. We’re talking two storeys of white-washed walls, dark wood furniture and subtle pops of sage, all sitting under some of the most beautifully decorated ceilings on the Gold Coast. 

It’s a seriously impressive building, and the menu matches the fit-out. Actually, make that ‘menus’. Tweed River House has three separate dining areas, and they each come with a unique lineup of dishes. The restaurant is Euro haute cuisine with a fusion twist—expect dishes like Wimmera duck breast with salt-crusted beetroot, chicory purée, and duck jus as part of three set menus, including an intimidating seven-course degustation. (Vegans, don’t stress: there’s a five-courser for you too.)

Step out to the Lawn Bar, and you’ll get an a la carte selection of cocktails and tapas, with a side of panoramic views. In the Palm Lounge, though, it’s all hors d’oeuvres and desserts—the highly addictive chocolate coffee cheesecake is a must-try.  And if that wasn't enough already, Tweed River House has been awarded by the Australian Good Food Guide for three years in a row. 

Bistro Livi

Cnr Brisbane St & Proudfoots Ln, Murwillumbah NSW 2484

bistro livi
Image Credit: Bistro Livi | Instagram

Step into Bistro Livi, and the first three words that might come to mind are: minimalist, Melbourne, mouthwatering. This fine dining restaurant has an understated elegance that would feel just at home in the big city as it does in Murbah, and its menu is equally swanky.

This is the home of Murwillumbah’s only pickled octopus (that we know of), as well as dishes like seared Wagyu beef with pearl oyster cream and pickled turnip tops. Don’t come here expecting views of the river or the countryside, though. The focus is on full flavours and fresh produce—everything else, like the dim lighting and marble cladding, exists to enhance them. And, yes, Bistro Livi boasts a serious selection of vino, which suits a restaurant located in the Art Deco building of Murwillumbah’s Art Precinct.

Barrels Pizza

13 Wharf St, Murwillumbah NSW 2484

At Barrels Pizza, you get what’s on the label: authentic Italian pizza made with Northern Rivers produce. Choose classic styles like margherita and meatlovers, spice things up with pepperoni and jalapeño, or explore some of Barrels’ more unique offerings—like bianca pizza with kale, anchovies, and chilli. The standout: deliciously chewy bases, courtesy of a rotating wood-fired oven.

We love a good takeaway pizza (especially when eaten by the Tweed River as the sun sets), but Barrels makes dining in seriously tempting. Order a beer, wine, or house cocktail, kick back, and enjoy the ambience—if you’re visiting on a Saturday night, live music from local talent might be on the menu too.

Apex Dining

2 Mistral Rd, South Murwillumbah NSW 2484

Located inside the Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre, Apex Dining is all about the outlook. A second-storey deck and sweeping views of the countryside make this daytime-only venue ideal for both casual brunches and more upscale events—on a sunny day, the Tweed Valley is genuinely breathtaking.

Apex’s menu is a fusion of Asian flavours. Dishes like yellowfin sashimi with coconut and finger lime sit alongside prawn palabok (a Filipino blend of seafood, vermicelli noodles, and pork chicaron). For the traditionalists, there are burgers and the excellent fish of the day, as well as a strong selection of vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options. If you’ve still got a little room left after your meal, don’t go past the fresh-baked French croissant, which comes direct from Apex’s sister cafe, Baked at Ancora, in Tweed Heads. 

Johnny Franco’s Place

9 Commercial Rd, Murwillumbah NSW 2484

Breakfast. Brunch. Lunch. Dinner. Dessert. Johnny Franco’s Place does it all—and our stomachs are grateful. This Italian-inspired restaurant has spacious, elegant interiors and a menu that feels equally light and fresh.

Expect a range of traditional pizza and pasta, classic bistro fare like the beef brisket burger, and more adventurous options like the pork belly with truffle polenta chips and the duck and lychee salad. Our personal fave: the gnocchi with eight different kinds of wild mushrooms, seven of which are grown locally. Takeaway is possible, but we’d recommend dining in—it’s the only way to access the drool-worthy chef’s brûlée.

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The Balcony

66 Murwillumbah St, Murwillumbah NSW 2484

We have to say: The Balcony is well-named. This second-storey cafe and restaurant sits above the local Flannerys, commanding a view of north Murwillumbah. It’s the perfect place to catch some morning rays in winter—or watch the day fade into dusk over summer.

The menu is delightfully uncomplicated, dominated by classic dishes like eye fillet, barramundi, and carbonara. But it’s the atmosphere that you’ll return for: intimate, local, and laidback—just like Murwillumbah itself.    

The Imperial Hotel

115 Murwillumbah St, Murwillumbah NSW 2484

the imperial hotel
Image Credit: The Imperial House | Instagram

The Imperial Hotel is a Murwillumbah icon. Established in 1931, this historic Art Deco building features thoughtfully reconstructed interiors—plus a ’gram-worthy pink façade. Slide into a leather booth, order a pint of Spangled Drongo, and soak up close to 100 years of good vibes.

The menu is mostly pub staples like beer-battered flathead, bangers and mash, and pork ribs, with the Terranora-reared OP rib eye as a definite standout. Simple, great-quality country food—exactly what you’d want from Murbah’s most famous pub. If you visit on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night, you’ll get the full Impy experience with a round or three of live music.   

Husk Distillery

1152 Dulguigan Rd, North Tumbulgum NSW 2490

husk distillery
Image Credit: Husk Distillery | Instagram

Okay, so we cheated a little. Husk isn’t technically a restaurant, and it’s not technically in Murwillumbah—but it’s so worth visiting we just had to include. Just ten minutes' from Murbah, it is home to both Ink Gin and Husk Rum—made from farm-to-bottle cane juice, not molasses—the cellar door also features some downright tasty chow.

Inside, sample Husk’s distillations in all their forms: signature cocktails, gin fizzes, and the rum–chocolate tasting flight, which pairs different Husk rums with artisan pralines. For non-drinkers, there’s a lineup of temperance options too.

Once you’ve wet your palate (pun intended), head outside to soak up the sun at Planter’s Kitchen. This is al fresco dining done right, with a selection of locally sourced dishes served under umbrellas or picnic-style on the lawn. Our pick: the 18-hour shoulder lamb with Husk Rare Blend and lamb jus, topped off by the lemon myrtle panna cotta.

Main image credit: Tweed River House | Supplied

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