Mooloolaba is home to some of our favourite eats on the Sunshine Coast—whether they’re peppered along the main esplanade overlooking the ocean, tucked away near the Spit, or rewriting the culinary experience at the newly-revitalised Wharf precinct.
Given that Mooloolaba seafood is internationally-acclaimed, you can imagine how crazy fresh and delicious the dishes are that are coming out of some of these restaurants. But it’s not all just about the seafood, some of our top foodie finds are transporting your tastebuds to countries all over the globe including Southeast Asia, Italy, Greece, America and the Mediterranean.
So without further ado, here are the best restaurants in Mooloolaba right now.
Spero at The Wharf is the latest project of Sunshine Coast restaurateur Tony Kelly, who has delivered a string of successful local restaurants over the years. This time he has teamed up with chef Mitch Smith and restaurant manager Elyza Molloy, previously at sister restaurant Rice Boi, to bring you a Greek offering plucked straight out of Corfu Town in Greece. You can expect to find calamari, lamb moussaka, gyros, pork belly baklava and spanakopita on the menu, as well as introducing other delicious dishes, including confit lamb shoulder with a pomegranate glaze, tzatziki, lemon potatoes and olive oil. While the food is guaranteed delight, the decor is also certainly easy on the eye, with a show-stopping tiled bar laden with potted plants.
If you love modern Asian cuisine, Spice Bar needs to be on your priority list. This stunning restaurant, perched high in Mooloolaba, offers gorgeous oceanviews during the day, and at night, exudes a modern luxury making your dining experience something truly special. With a menu designed to share, it allows you to try multiple dishes and really sample the culinary delights of one of the best restaurants in Mooloolaba. Among our favourites are Hervey Bay scallops with soy ginger sabayon, edamame with yuzu salt, and lamb shank red curry. Delish.
Bella Venezia is a cornerstone of the Mooloolaba dining scene, opening in 1983. Having undergone a stunning transformation at the end of last year, Bella Venezia now offers a fine-dining experience to complement their existing lunch and dinner service. Boasting traditional flavours, popular menu items include the Linguine ai Gamberoni–Mooloolaba king prawns, fresh chilli, garlic, local cherry tomatoes, lemon zest, white wine, house made linguine and extra virgin olive oil; and of course tiramisu, with espresso-soaked sponge fingers, amaretti biscuits and mascarpone.
Channelling the essence of a Japanese izakaya dive bar, Rice Boi dishes up the goods when it comes to modern Asian street-style food. If you have a thing for baos then Rice Boi can hook you up with duck, pork or chicken sumo loaded buns. Or, if you’re after a heartier dish, you can’t pass up their chicken karaage ramen in roast chicken broth with baby corn, egg, nori, spring onion, bamboo and naruto. Given that Rice Boi is undeniably one of the best restaurants in Mooloolaba and super popular among the locals, the opening of Rice Boi ‘Upstairs’ has been a welcome addition. Open Thursday to Sunday, this second-storey bar offers the full menu, as well as delicious cocktails and wine, live music and a wicked view of the Mooloolah River.
If there’s one thing for certain, Via Italia take their cuisine very seriously—particularly when it comes to pizzas. Did you know that their sourdough pizza bases are made from a 120-year-old starter culture and organic flour, which enhance the slow rising process and allow the natural yeast time to breakdown and change the proteins? The end result is a more digestible, nutritional and tasty product. Deliziosa! Try the prosciutto cured leg ham, balsamic and rocket pizza, or trust the traditional Margherita with tomato passata, basil and buffalo mozzarella.
Pier 33 is the epitome of laidback luxe, with its Hamptons-inspired decor complementing the stunning Mooloolaba Marina. With a range of dining locations available, you can sit down and enjoy a meal in the restaurant, or find a spot on the lush lawn or outdoor settings and order snacks, signature cocktails and seasonally curated wines from their panoramic island bar. Regardless which menu you order from, fresh seafood is always the star here—particularly the oysters, which you can enjoy a la natural or dressed with flavours of sesame and soy, pickled ginger and cucumber. If you’re looking for one of the best restaurants in Mooloolaba for a special occasion, this could be it!
Frank And Lotti
Via Italia’s sister bar has recently opened with a dedicated cicchetti menu of small share plates influenced by their favourite cheeses and handcrafted cured meats. Along with their love of these simple, yet delicious, pleasures, they also know a thing or two about Italian wines, so you know you’re in for a real treat when dining at Frank And Lotti. They also host some great events, including a pop-up Mulled Wine Station over winter, Bubbles and Brunch in August, and a string of pop-up wine dinners, so keep an eye on their socials for the next offering.
Saltwater Fish & Chippery
When you think about heading to Mooloolaba for a bite to eat, quite often fish and chips will come to mind—enter Saltwater Fish & Chippery. This casual seafood restaurant has a charming nautical-themed decor and is situated on the deck at The Wharf. With locals and tourists drawn to the picturesque location and classic flavours, it’s here that you’ll find some of the best fish and chips on the Sunshine Coast, and of course the chip butty–piping hot chips sandwiched between two slices of fresh white bread lathered with salted butter. Alternatively, you can sit down and stay a while, ordering from their bistro-style menu with dishes such as blue swimmer crab spaghettini, seafood risotto and Mooloolaba prawn roll.
Born from a love of the American southern culture of slow-cooked soul food shared with the ones you love, Dirty Moes delivers unpretentious eats on the daily and is easily one of the best restaurants in Mooloolaba. So it’s no surprise you can come to expect ‘Low 'n' Slow’ platters of succulent, fall-off-the-bone meat. Wash it down with a glass of hand-crafted beer, whiskey or their famous sticky date espresso martini. Wednesday night is brisket night at Dirty Moes and every Thursday, they bring out the big guns with an epic selection of burgers.
Backlane Tapas And Wine Bar
Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main drag, you can find Backlane Tapas and Wine Bar. Focused on sourcing the best wine available locally and globally, Backlane is proud to have their finger on the pulse, so if you’ve heard about a trending varietal, chances are you’ll find it here. Meanwhile, their Mediterranean-inspired food menu has a fresh and local twist, with a range of small and large share plates available, including our favourite wine accompaniments—the cheese plate with fig paste, lavosh, muscatel and pear, and antipasto platter laden with cured meats, marinated vegetables, white anchovies and olives.
Image credit: Amy Higg for Urban List