Akash Arora serves up Australia’s hottest new restaurants.
Byron Bay, NSW
Food: This Mexican taqueria offers a slice of Central America in Byron Bay, with hand-pressed corn tortillas, whole woodfired octopus and new ceviches every day. Chef Evan White and partner Amelia Stokes are at the helm, with regional seafood at the heart of their menu.
Drinks: A concise wine list, plus cocktails, homemade sodas, freshly pressed juices, Mexican coffees and a range of tequilas and mescals.
Space: White walls with bright splashes of colour, along with subtle Mexican motifs and plenty of palms and cane.
Location: About 15 minutes’ drive from the centre of Byron Bay.
Shop 12a, 3 Clifford Street, Suffolk Park
Food: Fried sardines with polenta chips and spaghetti chitarra with vongole, mussels and calamari are just a couple of dishes you can expect on head chef Domenico De Marco’s debut menu, which shines with distinctive Italian flavours.
Drinks: Co-owner Andrea da Como has curated a tight list of 40 Victorian and Italian wines. Ditto the beers – a small list from both regions.
Space: The restaurant is split into two areas – one’s dark and moody, the other’s warmer, with timber and olive tones.
Location: The happening end of High Street, about 20 minutes’ drive from the CBD.
242 High Street, Windsor
Food: Modern Chinese cuisine is at the core of head chef Jason Margaritis’ (ex-Spice Temple Melbourne) menu at this fine-dining restaurant, where dishes range from Peking-style duck with quandong glaze to char siu pork with mangrove blossom honey.
Drinks: Sommelier Penny Grant is behind the list of about 100 wines, while Aaron Clark has designed the extensive cocktail menu.
Space: Soft-toned furniture and tables with brass detailing complement the white high ceiling with its intricate detail.
Location: A heritage-listed space on the corner of George and Elizabeth streets in the CBD.
171 George Street, Brisbane
Food: A steak restaurant that only serves one cut of meat – the revered Florentine T-bone, or bistecca alla Fiorentina –weighed and cut tableside then cooked over fire in the open kitchen... that’s the nature of this specialised eatery that also offers a cast of 20 sides.
Drinks: There’s a wine store on site, where diners can choose from an extensive range to enjoy at the bar or their table.
Space: Marble, timber and terrazzo combine to create an indisputably Italian vibe.
Location: On Bridge Street, a short walk from Wynyard or Circular Quay. Enter via Dalley Street.
4 Bridge Street, Sydney
Top image: Chupacabra