Byron Bay has come a long way since its surfie heyday in the 60s. Beach shacks have become mansions, celebrities are spotted on the streets, and Byron Baes is a thing (if you know, you know). Yet Byron still holds its lustre, attracting us to its pristine beaches and lush hinterland by the hordes. While you might be planning a trip to this pocked of NSW for the sun, sand, and surf, it’s worth booking a restaurant or two while you’re there. Love it or hate it, Byron is bigger these days—which means there are plenty of A-class restaurants around town.
From bustling Greek restaurants in Byron's industrial estate to long, leisurely lunches on 120-acre farms, Byron and its surrounds may just have some of the best restaurants in NSW. Here are the best restaurants in and around Byron Bay right now. Hot tip: book before you get there.
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Best Restaurants In Byron Bay
From the team behind Byron's Luna Wine Store, Bar Heather is a Parisian-inspired natural wine bar with an all-star lineup of some of Sydney's best restaurant alumni. Owners James Audas and Tom Sheer are sommeliers-turned-wine-importers, whose resumes include Noma, Oscillate Wildly, and LP’s Quality Meats. Under Lo-Fi wines, Audas and Sheer are the energy behind Australia's recent influx of really good nattie wines. Meanwhile, chef Ollie Wong-Hee has clocked time in the kitchen at Mr. Wong, Sixpenny, and Ester and sommelier Ollie Smith (yes, another Ollie), who was previously the somm at 10 William Street.
There are some 650 natural and biodynamic wines on offer at Bar Heather, a rotating list sourced from a roster of the world's best winemakers and the most treasured parts of the Lo-Fi cellar. So naturally, the menu is natural wine-friendly, made up of snacks like fried bread with garlic scapes, betel leaf with pork and pickles, and egg noodles with cuttlefish and squid ink. Book here.
This popular Byron eatery has gone on to open three more venues along the East Coast, which should be indication enough that it’s worth a visit. And even if you've been before, you might want to stop in again, because they've just moved into a stunning new venue in the Jonson Lane precinct. The sleek yet grounded new space is full of earthy peach and terracotta shades, a glam bar area and vibrant dining space where you can slide onto striped banquet seating. While they've got a whole new menu to match, Asian fare is still the name of the game, with share-style dishes such as prawn toast donuts served with yuzukoshu dipping sauce, salt and pepper tofu, hot and tingly BBQ lamb ribs, and honey king prawns with typhoon shelter crumbs. Book here.
Raes Dining Room
As one of the most famous holiday destinations in the country, Byron is bound to attract some of Australia’s best culinary minds. Across from Wategos Beach, one of the region’s best swimming spots is Raes Dining Room at the ultra-chic Raes on Wategoes hotel. From executive chef Jason Saxby, this light and coastal eatery plates up modern Australian with plenty of Mediterranean influence. If the relaxing beach surroundings and effortlessly luxe interiors aren’t enough for you, maybe dishes like a Davidson plum glazed free-range pork scotch fillet or spanner crab and sweet corn agnolotti will be. Book here. For those who’d prefer to breeze in for an afternoon spritz paired with finger lime-topped oysters, drop into the Cellar Bar & Terrace after a dip at Wategos.
If you're looking to explore one of Byron Bay’s newest gems, Lover's Lane should go on your hist-list.The grungy yet upscale restaurant-meets-bar is headed up by Chef Tyler Preston, formerly of Bang Bang. Here you’ll find moreish snack-style plates to share over a glass of vino, such as fresh shucked oysters, beef tartare, smoked fish rillettes, Wagyu rump cap and cheeseburger sliders. What style of cuisine is it, you ask? Preston says, “We want to showcase the quality and pedigree of the local produce, whilst at the same time saying we don’t give to many f**ks about tradition as long as it’s delicious.” We dig it. The extensive selection of cocktails is inspired by botanicals from the Byron region, such as a white negroni with pineapple gin, Gentian, white vermouth and infused lemon myrtle, and there’s a rotating selection of pet nat, orange and pink wines which are prime picks for long summer nights.
In stark contrast to the scene-y vibes of Raes is Kouzina—a charming Greek paradise in Byron’s Arts & Industry Estate. Here, it’s all about community and home-style feasts. The taverna-style restaurant offers a $60 three-course banquet, with loads of veggie options. The traditional Greek dishes change seasonally, but you can expect classics like calamari skewers and Greek salad to be on high rotation. The space is laidback, exuding Greek island vibes, and the leafy courtyard is an ideal spot for balmy nights. Oh, and did we mention it’s BYO? Book here.
Also located in this part of Byron is sleek Meditteranean restaurant Barrio. The moment you step foot into Barrio’s open plan, industrial-style dining hall, you’ll be hit by the smoky aromas coming from the woodfire oven and open-flame grill. A counter full of fresh produce greets you on arrival and everything here is smoked, cured, and pickled in-house. The ever-changing menu utilises what’s in season but, to give you an idea, you could be feasting on dishes like gooey grilled provolone (a must order, preferably with a side of woodfired focaccia), swordfish ceviche and angus beef short rib with chimichurri. Book here.
Daughter In Law
Rule-breaking Indian feasts in a colourful, neon-lit restaurant in the middle of Byron? Count us in. Acclaimed chef-owner Jessi Singh has restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and around the US—and now he’s opened his “unauthentic Indian” restaurant, Daughter in Law, on Fletcher Street. The menu here is a slightly more coastal version of Singh’s signature fare that encapsulates the Byron Bay lifestyle with an emphasis on seafood, vegan, and gluten-free fare. Think Skull Island prawn cocktail with green apple and Bombay cocktail sauce; scallop crudo with curry coconut, lime, and chilli; and Colonel TSO’s Cauliflower—a must-try Indo-Chinese style cauliflower that’ll send your tastebuds reeling—are just some of the delectable dishes you can sample at the vibrant venue. Book here.
No Bones is hands down some of the best vegan food we’ve ever tried and worth a visit the next time you're in town. They artfully crafted imitation meat items not even to the point that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, but where you know the difference and think it actually tastes better. Seriously incredible stuff. Menu highlights include “chicken” skewers and “calamari”. It’s also smack-bang in the middle of town, just a couple of streets back from the beach, making it a convenient lunch spot in between all the swims and shopping. Book here.
Another stellar venue from the team behind Light Years, Moonlight is an intimate hibachi and wine bar that heroes the hibachi grill, one of Japan’s oldest cooking traditions. The almost all black venue is a lesson in monochrome interior styling, featuring black and white prints on the walls, neon lights and a multitude of textures. With the menu divided into three sections, you can nibble your way through raw bites like spicy tuna with pickled cucumber, gochujang mayo and native finger lime on black sesame crackers, chicken thigh yakitori skewers from the hibachi grill and sides like furikake fries and pork katsu sandos. The drinks list is equally intriguing—think highball cocktails using ingredients foraged from the hinterland, sake from some of the oldest breweries in the world, biodynamic wines and Japanese whiskies.
The crew behind Light Years and Moonlight have just added another stellar Byron Bay eatery to their repertoire with the opening of Pixie Food & Wine. Right next door to Light Years in the new Jonson Lane precinct, Pixie is a sophisticated Italian spot that showcases local seafood in nostalgic yet refined dishes. The venue itself manages to feel both polished and relaxed, featuring dark red leather banquette seating, brown leather chairs and a marble tiled bar, with seating out in the laneway as well. Must tries on head chef Matteo Tine’s menu include the savoury sfinci with house pistachio mortadella, charred pineapple marmalade and radicchio, the barbecued octopus with salsa bianca, sicilian capers and pepper crisp, and lobster tortellini with saffron, buttermilk and caviar. A 120-strong wine list is paired with a creative list of cocktails designed to complement the flavours and ingredients in each of the dishes, including one, the Miami Memory, a blend of white rum, fresh pineapple, salted coconut and lime, that is quite frankly one of the best boozy concoctions we’ve ever tried.
Airy white interiors, rattan light hangings and beachy vibes—Loft is about as Byron as they come. Just steps from the main beach, the venue is more bar than restaurant, but that just means you can knock back uber creative cocktails with your meal. With a chef who's done stints in Melbourne and London at the helm—Steven Haby—the shareable menu features the likes of oven roasted Ballina prawns, crispy twice cooked pork ribs and Moreton Bay bug tacos. Pair it all with a Brookies Spring Gimlet for peak Byron Bay vibes.
Best Restaurants Around Byron Bay
Belongil Beach Food Italian
Acclaimed Sydney restauranter Maurice Terzini—the culinary genius behind CicciaBella and Icebergs—is the latest Sydney restaurant mogul to migrate north, having his heart set on opening a venue in Byron Bay for over twenty years. And finally, much to our delight, his dream has become a reality and its name is Belongil Beach Italian Food. Belongil Beach Italian Food is a dreamy seaside dining experience that puts a modern twist on classic Italian dining and in a nod to today’s demand for locally sourced produce, showcases the best of family-owned Northern Rivers producers and growers, including Byron Bay mozzarella and famous Ballina prawns. Summer menu highlights include the Esperenza Farm porchetta with salsa verde, grilled market fish fillet and the charcoal roasted spatchcock.
There’s no wonder this place is good. It’s the brainchild of Luke Sullivan and Matt Rabbidge, the duo behind locally loved boozer The Eltham, and Melbourne chef Nick Stanton of Leonardo’s Pizza Palace fame. So, expect plenty of fun, vino, and fantastic Italo fare at this Bangalow spot. The cosy restaurant is decked out with leather booths, warm timbers, and artworks, olive green panelling, and wine bottles lining the walls. There’s also a sunlit courtyard out the back, with red-and-white checkered tablecloths echoing old-school Italian trattorias. Food-wise, you’ll be tucking into inventive pasta dishes, woodfired pizzas, and more classic Italian nosh. It reserves limited tables for walk-ins, but you’re better off booking over here.
Yucatan comes to Brunswick Heads; this authentic Mexican cantina comes by way of the renowned Fleet folk—so you know it’s going to be good. There’s a wicked margarita menu, local beers, tasty antojitos (street snacks) like tostadas and wood-grilled jalapeños stuffed with pork sausage and queso, and tacos served up on house-made corn tortillas. La Casita channels an outdoor eatery in Tulum, beachy feels go together with splashes of orange and tiled feature walls. It’s a laidback Latin eatery offering good food and cocktails that taste like an endless summer, which is precisely what you want on a trip to Byron, right? Book here.
Farm-to-table restaurants aren’t in short supply in the Northern Rivers region (ahem, Harvest and The Farm), but we reckon you should pay Frida’s Field a visit if you have to pick just one. It’s “a celebration of the abundant Northern Rivers produce and agriculture”, housed in a revamped barn located on a 120-acre farm in the lush area of Nashua. Run by the Rawlings family (who own the farmland) and head chef Alastair Waddell, Frida’s Field is the ideal long lunch spot. In fact, it’s only open for communal-style lunches every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (and Thursdays over the busy summer period), offering a set menu of three starters, a main, three sides, and dessert over a three- to four-hour sitting. The menu changes every six or eight weeks to keep with the seasons, and the wine list focuses on small-batch, minimal-intervention, and local vinos. Book here.
For those looking for easygoing, beachside all-day diners, add Shelter to your must-visit list. Located directly opposite Lennox Head Beach, this airy restaurant serves up top-quality coffee, inventive brekkie dishes, and exceptional lunch and dinner fare—all in an unassuming beach shack. Sit at the window counter for sundowners paired with ocean views, or nab one of the outdoor tables to soak up some sun. The kitchen sources ethical, sustainable, and local produce to serve up dishes like brioche french toast and XO scrambled eggs for brekkie, and mafaldine with basil, kale, and stracciatella; mussels with coconut and turmeric; and market fish with fennel, white bean, capsicum, and pandan come lunch and dinner. Book here.
Keen on more stellar restaurants worth travelling for? Check out the best restaurants in Adelaide.
Image credit: Jess Kearney, Jess Kearney, Lightyears, Raes Dining Room, Lover's Lane, Kouzina, Barrio, Daughter In Law Byron Bay, Light Years, Loft, Belongil Beach Food Italian, Ciao, Mate!, La Casita, Frida's Field & Shelter
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