Now that restaurants are reopening, there’s never been a better time – or reason – to explore regional NSW. Discover the best restaurants and cafés to eat at across the state, from fine-dining in Byron Bay to pizzerias on site at boutique wineries on the South Coast and a spot specialising in local produce on the banks of the Murray River. Start planning your food-focused road trip with our guide now.
Image credit: Kara Rosenlund.
The hotel and restaurant that put the tiny Tweed Coast town of Cabarita Beach on the map, this hotspot puts the “barefoot” into “barefoot luxury”. Seafood rules in the Mykonos-flavoured dining room, whether in the form of lobster tail accompanied by the freshness of celery, apple and green garlic or as mahi mahi baked in local kelp.
21 Cypress Crescent, Cabarita Beach
Image credit: Pipit restaurant in Pottsville.
The laid-back North Coast town of Pottsville got the restaurant it deserved last year, with the arrival of Pipit, helmed by top chef Ben Devlin (formerly of Paper Daisy at Halcyon House). Pull up a chair overlooking the enormous open kitchen and watch the crew conjure magic from the wood oven and grill in the form of locally caught seafood – look for the likes of grouper served with fresh greens – and using native plants and seaweeds foraged from nearby fields and shores.
Shop 4, 8 Coronation Avenue, Pottsville
The little sibling of acclaimed restaurant Fleet in the North Coast town of Brunswick Heads swings Mexican with easygoing charm. This restaurant by the river is the place to chill over tacos al pastore (that’s spit-grilled pork) and wood-grilled stuffed jalapenos, swigged down with the in-house beer brewed with ancho chilli, coriander seeds and pineapple juice.
5/3 Fawcett Street, Brunswick Heads
Raes on Wategos
The luscious Miami-style glamour of this luxe hotel overlooking Wategos Beach, a stretch of Byron sand beloved by locals and visitors alike, is enhanced by its resident restaurant. Raes Dining Room is the place to linger over a that reflects the Byron Bay sunshine with dishes such as a creamy burrata bright with finger lime and basil puree and Pyengana cheddar mousse with the galvanising addition of leek oil.
6-8 Marine Parade, Byron Bay
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Image credit: Marina Neil.
A smart little surprise awaits in Newcastle’s west. This cosy, red-brick, plant-bedecked restaurant packs plenty of wow factor across a five-course set menu that switches with the seasons. This winter, think fried silken tofu with brassicas and sorrel sourced from nearby Cooranbong, and white polenta cake soaked in locally-grown mandarin.
551D Hunter Street, Newcastle West
It takes some serious moves to stand out from the Hunter Valley pack and Muse has managed that trick effortlessly over the past decade. The restaurant at Hungerford Hill winery combines the slickest surroundings and service with assured modern cooking using locally sourced ingredients, such as chicken from nearby Little Hill Farm and heirloom vegetables and edible flowers from the chefs’ own gardens. The ethereally plated Muse coconut dessert is a must-try menu fixture.
2450 Broke Road, Pokolbin
“Estate grown, estate made” is the ethos of this Hunter Valley winery favourite that produces its own eggs, honey and even lamb on its one-hectare kitchen garden and orchard. Settle in for a Mediterranean-accented sustainable whirl through the farm and the immediate region (the garden supplies 90 per cent of the ingredients used; the other 10 per cent is sourced locally to reduce the restaurant’s carbon footprint)– and make sure to save room for the mighty cheese board.
1238 Milbrodale Road, Broke
The classic cooking of chef Tony Worland suits Tonic’s location in the heritage-rich village of Millthorpe, in the heart of the Orange wine region. Opened 17 years ago and barely putting a fork wrong since, this is the home of double-clothed tables, rabbit terrine and crisp-skinned pork belly with apple chutney. The menu changes seasonally and highlights impressive local produce, such as lamb from nearby Cowra and venison from local supplier Mandagery Creek.
Corner of Pym and Victoria streets, Millthorpe
This former coach-house turned must-visit restaurant on any Blue Mountains visit still retains atmosphere in its old bones (pro tip: aim for a table by the open fire in winter). On the food front, Asian flourishes turn traditional into contemporary – look no further than a Vietnamese steak tartare or the nori fries with a sirloin steak.
1259 Bells Line of Road, Kurrajong Heights
An aptly named restaurant in the Italian-hearted Riverina region, Limone is the jewel in Griffith’s dining crown. Chef Luke Piccolo beds his menu in the produce from his parents’ nearby farm and adds well-judged flourishes to the Italian canon, from using native pepper in the cacio e pepe to pairing miso with slow-cooked pork.
482 Banna Avenue, Griffith
The Argyle Inn
Set your GPS for the historic town of Taralga, near Goulburn, where this 1870s-era pub has been remade into the undisputed leader of the area’s reinvigorated local food scene. Take a seat in the rustic-chic dining room for a set menu based on ingredients from owner Hugh Wennerbom’s farm, including the acclaimed “hen” and mushroom tortellini.
80 Orchard Street, Taralga
Rick Stein at Bannisters
Image credit: David Griffen.
The amiable British TV star has long championed the appeal of Mollymook on the South Coast and its vast ocean views through his restaurant at Bannisters hotel. Whether he’s on site or not, the menu is guaranteed to deliver seafood excellence, including grilled local scallops on the shell, an impressive selection of rock oysters from around NSW and the signature fish pie.
191 Mitchell Parade, Mollymook
Go casual with the Pizza Bar or take it up a notch in the dining room – this boutique vineyard and farm in the lush South Coast hinterland is a haven for families and fine-diners alike. The restaurant offers stunning views of the estate, Burrill Lake and the Budawang mountain ranges with your poached prawns and sweetcorn veloute and Wagyu rump steak with frites. Be sure to leave extra time post-lunch to tour the property, including peeks at the brewery and fromagerie on site.
58 Washburton Road, Ulladulla
The ideal restaurant by the sea, Il Passagio in Bermagui sources its fish from the trawlers pulled up on the wharf just outside, supplemented with trips to nearby markets. The result is a full-throated celebration of all things Italian sung in a South Coast key: prawns twirled with saffron spaghetti or rugged ricotta fritters in a zesty local cumquat sauce.
Shop 5, 73-79 Lamont Street, Bermagui
The River Deck
Image credit: Danii Forde.
Nestled in parkland on the curving banks of the Murray River only a short walk from the centre of Albury, The River Deck gets top marks for location and follows through with a menu to appease even the pickiest member of the café intelligentsia. Start the day with buttermilk pancakes and move on to ploughman’s platters and cassoulet for lunch.
48 Noreuil Parade, South Albury
Top image credit: Pipit restaurant in Pottsville.