We all know going out for a meal is good. But what could possibly make it even better?
What about sharing plates of amazing flavours with a pile of your mates where the most important part isn’t even the food, but the drinks, conversation, and socialising with your favourite people? Hello, tapas!
Tapas is the Spanish version of the Mediterranean philosophy of shared little plates to help keep you fuelled as you sip drinks over a long evening of barhopping and bitching with your besties.
Tapas-style dining is something we’re totally into so we’ve rounded up the best tapas on the Sunshine Coast. Go forth!
The Spanish invented tapas, so while little plates are ubiquitous in every bar and restaurant now, sometimes the original is the best. Ba Vigo offers heaps of traditional Spanish dishes, amazing flavours, and a brilliant wine list, spilling with options, including a few Spanish wines by the glass. If you’re after an authentic tapas experience, try a crisp, dry, ice-cold Spanish sherry to balance out the salty, fried Manchego cheese with flatbread. If you leave disappointed, I give you permission to hunt me down.
Where: The Dunes, 3/27 Cotton Tree Parade, Cotton Tree
Contact: 07 5479 1000
The team at Flux are so serious about shared dining, they’ve designed their whole menu around it. So round up the crew, order a cold cider from their impressive range, and work your way through the menu. The pan-fried chorizo with haloumi and barbecued corn, along with the sticky chicken ribs are our faves.
Where: Shop 3/255 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Contact: 07 5455 6540
The word “tapas” relates to “top”. The first tapas were just a simple piece of bread that was placed over the top of a glass of sherry to stop fruit flies getting into your drink. Eventually it evolved to the range of fried, spicy, and generally epic awesomeness that’s spread across the world. We can guarantee that there won’t be a chance for any fruit flies to get into your Royal Jamaican Ginger Beer before you polish it off, but just in case, we recommend the Drift‘s fried calamari with sweet chilli, in honour of the Andalusian roots of tapas.
Where: 30 The Esplanade, Caloundra
Contact: 07 5438 2611
Lemon and Thyme
Tapas lovers with dietary restrictions, rejoice! Lemon and Thyme (and your buddies here at Metropolist) have got your back. You will find a whole range of gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and paleo-friendly menu options, like Mooloolaba prawns with coconut chilli sambal. And with the tapas happy hour from 5-6pm on Sunday and Monday, you’ve got no excuse not to pop down and check out this funky spot.
Where: Shop 2/7 Venning Street, Mooloolaba
Contact: 07 5452 6939
Spice Bar always hits the mark when it comes to sending out nonstop quality goodies. Their Small Plates menu has gems like edamame with wakame salt—perfect for nibbling on while you keep up with the convo, or Mooloolaba prawn on betel leaf—ideal for impressing your date with your knowledge of Thai ingredients (fun fact, betel leaf is related to pepper!) Graduate to the large plates if you still have room, or kick back with one of Spice Bar’s famous cocktails.
Where: First floor, 123 Mooloolaba Esplanade, Mooloolaba
Contact: 07 5444 2022
Green Out Cafe
In the south of Spain, bars will offer tapas, but in the north, particularly in the Basque region, you will often be served pintxos (“pinchos”). Green Out Café specialises in street food and pintxos, and we can vouch for the crispy and punchy jalapeno poppers with a cold beer. They’ll put hair on your chest for sure! For those with a sweet tooth, there’s churros with salted caramel dipping sauce. Totally irresistible.
Where: 22-24 Ocean Street, Maroochydore
Contact: 07 5309 6070
If you like your tapas with a view, head to the Bluff Bar at Alex Surf Club. Overlooking the beach, there are plenty of gluten-free options like crispy fried squid and grilled lamb lollipops. If you’re up for something a bit more substantial, the pulled pork sliders are to die for.
Where: Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club, 167 Alexandra Parade, Alexandra Headland
Contact: 07 5443 6677
One Up Bar and Bistro
While tapas are technically Spanish, communal dining has been a thing across just about every culture since humans started socialising, and Asian food culture is no exception. Shared plates are a big thing in Asian dining, and One Up Bar and Bistro know their stuff when it comes to delicious morsels for enjoying with everyone at the table. We love the sticky, sweet lamb ribs, and the light, fresh Thai chicken meatballs.
Where: 6/121 Mooloolaba Esplanade, Mooloolaba
Contact: 07 5478 2742
The Spanish have tapas, the Greeks have mezze, and the Italians have cicchetti—fabulous little bar snacks to accompany your beer, wine or cocktail. The simplest things are often the best, and Locale’s frittelle—fried, salted pizza dough —is as simple as it gets, and totally hits the spot with a cold pinot grigio. The salumi plate is a cut above any you’ve ever tasted, with some of the best handmade Italian cured meats available on the Coast. Locale’s famous pizzas are also available at the bar. You can share those too, right?
Where: 62 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads
Contact: 07 5447 5111
iS tapas bar
Yep, iS Tapas Bar the one with the horse. This iconic tapas bar on the river at Noosaville is unmissable, and it’s a local staple for a good reason! Check out their fusion flavours, like prawns with lime, garlic and fino sherry, or paprika salted calamari with chilli jam. The perfect spot to order a carafe of sangria and let the afternoon float on by.
Where: 249 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Contact: 07 5447 1818
Everyone’s favourite village on the Coast, Sunshine Beach is home to some of the most chilled and stylish drink and dine hotspots. Marble Bar is a great spot to grab a glass of wine, kick back with a few plates of snacks and people watch. We can’t go past the BBQ duck quesadilla. Delish!
Where: 40 Duke Street, Sunshine Beach
Contact: 07 5455 3200
The only problem with tapas is that sometimes, you only get a glimpse of the best dishes before your tablemates scoff them! Miss Moneypenny’s overcomes this by offering share boards for two. So you only have to fight off one other person to get to the jamon (that’s ham to us monolingual types), pickled chillies, and chorizo.
Where: 6 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads
Contact: 07 5474 9999
Dilemma: it’s late Sunday night, your best mate is in town for a flying visit, and you’re craving a night out and some Mediterranean nibbles. Where’s a pair of social butterflies to go? Solution: The Piano Bar in Maroochydore is open until late every night, serving up authentic mezze, live jazz, and a great wine list. And when we’re talking about three-cheese-stuffed fried olives, then it’s hard to resist them on any night of the week.
Where: 22-24 Ocean Street, Maroochydore
Image Credit: Miss Moneypenny’s