Travel

The Urban List Guide To Newcastle

By Ally Parker - 31 Oct 2015

best restaurants in newcastle

Newieeeeeeee mate! We’ve done the hard yards for you, scouting out the best and brightest places to eat, drink, do, stay and be merry in the great town of Newcastle. It’s just a cruisey two hours north of Sydney, which is plenty of time to listen to all of ABBA’s greatest hits or whatever you cool kids are listening to these days. 

Eat

Doughheads

We’d easily trek to Newcastle for these gourmet doughnuts alone, in fact we know some Sydneysiders who have. The team at Doughheads aren’t messing around—your eyes will light up like a kid in a poorly supervised candy store with one glance of their Instagram. These guys tick all the boxes: baked fresh in-store? Check! Endless supply of Nutella? Check! Donuts that can, and should, be worn like an engagement ring? Big check. Prepare to embrace maple bacon, peppermint crunch, salted caramel and more in the biggest of mouth hugs. Visit their Instagram for more but be sure to put a drool guard over your phone. 

Blue Door Café

Now that we’ve well and truly gorged ourselves on the above. It’s time to pare back with a dish or two of pure and simple, fresh food. Located within the Fred Ash building on Wheeler Place, Blue Door Café serve a breakfast and lunch that will practically undo the last decade of open-fridge snacking. Go for an easy smashed avo with tomato, feta, sea salt and lemon on toast or step things up with the green breakfast bowl—kale, quinoa, poached eggs, mushroom, avocado, haloumi, seeds, nuts and lemon. 

The Bowery Boys

Named after the badass 1840s Old New York gang—who conveniently owned most of the butcheries and smoke houses—The Bowery Boys of Newie may have left their swagger at the door but their ownership of charcuterie has (thankfully) stuck around. Priding themselves on a job well done, all produce at this restaurant in Newcastle is local, fresh and seasonal with cocktails, created, mixed and bottled in house. You’re in for a treat with pretty much anything on either the day or night menu but we recommend the cured meat board and/or the ricotta gnocchi with baby basil and one of 23 choices of Amaro liqueur. 

The Tea Project

Few problems cannot be solved (or at the very least helped) with a cup of tea and The Tea Project easily take out top position in this highly competitive field. Toted as the humble café’s cooler cousin, The Tea Project is cosy, warm and filled with staff who are really, really into tea. We’re talking twin filtration of the water alone (to remove the chlorine, sediment, bacteria and heavy metals), temperature control, brew time variation, astringency accuracy and a bunch of other stuff Year 10 science rudely did not teach us. They’ve only recently opened, so make sure to head to their Facebook to give them some love. 

Subo

One of Newcastle’s hatted restaurants, Subo offer a seasonal, set five-course menu that has to be seen to be believed. At time of writing this highly tailored menu features pan-seared prawn with white cut spatchcock (with macadamia, chili, cucumber and onion) and roasted white river veal cutlet (with cauliflower, truffle and crispy rigatoni). Every feature down to the garnish is selected with great care, making Subo the place to visit for the fancy foodie who appreciates a job well done. 

Restaurant Mason

After receiving a chef’s hat all of their own (in their first year too) Restaurant Mason haven’t showed signs of slowing down. Open for lunch and dinner, each dish or accompaniment at RM is crafted to a tee. Try the goats cheese tortellini (with date puree, globe artichoke and almonds) for lunch with a side of duck-fat roasted potatoes and the 36-hour beef short rib (charcoal grilled with brassicas, heirloom beetroots, buffalo curd and horseradish) for dinner. We predict many more hats for RM (we’d give the one off our heads if it carried the same gravitas). 

Drink

Red Baron’s Berlin Bar

There’s little we like more in this world than smooth jazz, subdued lighting and a cosy nook. In fact, we’ve petitioned for said theme to rock The Block next time ‘round. What used to be a run-of-the-mill medical centre has been transformed into a dark, sultry and straight-up fun bar in Newcastle. Tapas-style dishes brought by bow-tie clad wait staff are the perfect mix of European flavour—and neck accessory eye-candy. If vodka-laced salmon, Yiddish forshmak (herring) and wild boar soup sound like your cup of tea then prepare to sprawl over lounge-style furniture, drink in one hand, snack in the other, at this unassuming (yet tip top) bar.

The Koutetsu

A newie for Newie? Pardon while we hold our nerd joy in check at the proposition. The Koutetsu is, you guessed it, the new kid on the block for Newcastle’s growing social scene and we’re oh-so pumped. Taking the dim lighting theme and running with it to it’s inevitably sexy end, Koutetsu make us want to light a cigarette, brush off our blacks and recite edgy poetry. What took three years of planning for owners Chris and Christoph has resulted in a finely tuned drinks menu, a bar made from recycled bricks and old ceiling joints and all the snacks you can handle till midnight. Win. 

The Basement

Limited to a tidy 60 patrons, The Basement is Newie’s best kept secret for a date night or gathering with a couple of your best buds. Proving that exposed brick and steel can, in fact, be sophisticated, The Basement is the subterranean expansion by upstairs owners Ground Floor Café. Settle in for a tea-infused negroni or a passionfruit peacock cocktail while give the menu a once-over, you’ll need a mo’. The Basement, people-pleasers that they are, offer three vegan dishes (a veritable smorgasbord) and thirteen vegetarian options reminding you to not only get five a day, but that you really can win friends with salad. 

Parry Street Garage

We’re heart-eye emojiing all over Parry Street Garage. Pizza, bar and a cool Chesterfield couch? We might never leave. Transformed by architect Jason Elsley (Derive Architecture & Design) and Luke Kellett (Headjam), you’d never guess Parry Street Garage used to be a lot closer to ‘garage’ than its current configuration. We’d advise an Italian bottle beer, dolce pineapple cocktail (white rum, Amaro Montenegro, pineapple, lime and pomegranate syrup) or negroni, as well as any (see: all) of the pizza offerings. Meet you there and no, we’re not splitting meals.

Do

Visit the Newcastle City Farmers Markets

We know where we’ll be on a Newcastle Saturday: the showground for the Newcastle City Farmers Markets where all sorts of produce is available fresh and a-plenty. Whether you’re searching for hormone-free, free-range eggs, fresh, pasturised milk, old-fashioned cheese or organic oysters, you’ll come up smiling. If you want your food a little more on the pre-prepared side of things, head for Bills Organic Bakery, Hunter Valley Pasta Co. and Mill Creek Vineyard. 

Hire a bicycle and explore the foreshore path

We’ve already packed our bum-bags (Jared Leto wore one, it’s cool okay?) and SPF50 we’re so pepped for a peddle. Bikes can be rented at Crowne Plaza or just outside the Maritime Museum (in Honeysuckle—a suburb and likely, the next big celebrity baby name) with helmet and lock in tow. Rolling in at $11 for one hour, $22 for four house and $33 for 24 hours, these bad boys are a great way to take in the sights and/or atone for one too many trips to Doughboys #noregrets. Visit www.boomerangbikes.com.au for more info. 

Complete the newly opened Anzac Memorial Walk

The Anzac Memorial Walk officially opened in April of this year—just in time for the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing. The walk reaches 450 metres from Strzelecki Lookout to Bar Beach with 160 metres of bridge. Four thousand steel silhouettes of returned services personal also pay tribute to the men and women of World War I at the end of the walk. So lace up your sneakers and prepare for not only a great view but great heart. 

Embrace Renew Newcastle

With the noble aim of redeveloping Newcastle’s CBD, Renew Newcastle is a standup social enterprise giving artists, designers and creatives the chance to display their work and pretty-up the city. Born out of frustration in 2008, Renew Newcastle rent empty spaces in the CBD on a thirty-day basis, moving creative people in and letting them do their left-brain thang. Filling the ground floor of a former David Jones, The Emporium is perhaps one of the shining stars of Renew. Local makers filling the space include furniture and jewellery makers, artists and designers among many others. So head on down to Hunter Street, check out the wares and get your art on.

Stay

The Lucky Hotel

Guess who just got a new lick of paint? Our friends The Lucky Hotel, that’s who. Sitting super close to Newie’s beaches and baths, The Lucky Hotel features modern furnishings across 28 brand new rooms including standard deluxe, terrace and superior suites. Rooms are (thankfully) equipped with Wi-Fi but if you need your Pinterest fix quick smart, each suite includes a quote about luck painted by local artist Brett Piva. The downstairs bar has also been spruced up with an inverted drum kit light installation and an American style BBQ saloon fit out. This, coupled with luck-centric room signage means you’ll have Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ in your head for at least 80 per cent of your stay.

Crowne Plaza

Not only does the Crowne Plaza sit squarely on Newcastle’s wharf with easy access to just about everything, but those bikes we mentioned earlier? Right out front. Now that we’ve looped in the sporty folk, we’ll let you in on why Crowne’s such a prize spot. Featuring outdoor pool, Seasalt bar and restaurant, a designated quiet zone, fitness and wellness facilities and most important of all, complimentary Wi-Fi, Crowne Plaza is—and always will be—our slightly-better-than-our-normal home away from home.

Novotel 

It doesn’t get much closer to beachfront than this, guys. Sitting on the eastern edge of the CBD and just shy of the Esplanade, Novotel Newcastle is perfect for the tourist who finds themselves repeating, “so much room for activities!”.  Novotel offer easy access to Newcastle’s baths, ocean, parklands, golf courses, bars and eateries but if you prefer to kick back and enjoy a night in, Novotel’s Bistro Dalby works a treat. The Novotel also have an on-site fitness and wellness centre (including sauna and jacuzzi), golf course and a weekend high-tea—just make sure to explore the outside world while you’re there ‘kay? 

For more information on Newcastle, head to Visit NSW.


Image credit: Jackielyn Powell

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