The dynamic dining culture in the Blue Mountains celebrates old and new. And, as Carla Grossetti discovers, the best way to explore the region and enjoy the views is to use food as a focal point while weaving around the villages.

Cider house rules

Nestled deep in the folds of Bilpin you’ll find Tessa and Shane McLaughlin, founders of Hillbilly Cider. Here, chief cidermaker Shane (who is also treasurer of Cider Australia) grows "apples at altitude", resulting in a product that is one of the most highly awarded craft-cider companies in Australia. Hillbilly has a brand-new Cider Shed where visitors can sample apple cider, pear cider and a vintage apple cider that is a great alternative to sparkling wine. Shields Orchard, 2270 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin

From little things big things grow

The Blackheath Growers' Market hosts more than 60 stalls with a wide array of regional foods on the second Sunday of every month. From fruits and vegetables to free-range eggs, meats, bread, cheeses, olive oils and wines, this market is a happy hub for the community. Corner of Gardiner Crescent and Great Western Highway, Blackheath

All fired up in Bilpin

Bilpin Afire is all about fire and char, with everything from pizzas to the best seasonal produce cooked to just-blackened perfection over a wood-fired grill. This humble little restaurant – owned by one of Neil Perry’s first apprentice chefs, Michael Jaggard – also has a raw bar and a larder selling local artisanal products. 2488 Bells Line of Road, Bilpin

Down-to-earth dining at Leura Garage

Eco warriors unite at Leura Garage, a hippie-meets-hipster hangout with a regional food and wine focus. Revheads with a conscience will appreciate the environmentally friendly space, converted from an auto-repair shop to a restaurant with Scandustrial décor and car-themed art. A long black will help fire up the engines. 84 Railway Parade, Leura

A hallmark high tea

Get your pinkie finger primed for high tea at the Hydro Majestic, where you will enjoy a selection of petite sandwiches, housemade pastries and scones with clotted cream and jam, plus your choice of tea or coffee. While the Hydro serves decadent sweet creations, it also turns tradition on its head with the hugely popular Eastern High Tea. Linger a little longer to enjoy those magnificent Megalong Valley views. 52-88 Great Western Highway, Medlow Bath

Give Lilianfels some love 

Serious gourmands must factor in a detour to Darley's, located at Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, the only hatted restaurant in the Upper Blue Mountains. Darley's is all about fine dining, old-world charm and tinkling jazz (next summer, the resort is expected to open a low-key Asian street-food eatery called Miss Lilian). 5-19 Lilianfels Avenue, Katoomba

Echoes of the past

Enjoy lunch with spectacular views at Echoes Boutique Hotel & Restaurant, which occupies prime real estate overlooking the mountains and rumpled Jamison Valley. Grab your posse for pre-dinner drinks at this Echo Point institution and watch the sunset bruise the sky with shades of pink, purple and blue. 3 Lilianfels Avenue, Katoomba

On the Silk's road

A modern French menu with a Moroccan twist has kept Silk's Brasserie humming along beautifully for more than two decades. Housed in a 100-year-old heritage-listed Leura legend, the restaurant is warm, cosy and congenial – no wonder it’s an established pit stop. 128 The Mall, Leura

The rise and rise of Hominy Bakery

Use your loaf. Pick up a signature sourdough at Hominy Bakery (02-4782 9816), a charming little bakehouse where you will stand cheek by jowl with locals getting their fix. Be prepared to queue for a chunky beef pie. 185 Katoomba Street, Katoomba

Get some greenery

Ask Siri to steer you some 45 minutes down the Bells Line of Road to Tomah Gardens Restaurant, where you can enjoy chef Sean Moran's rustic fare after poking around the sprawling botanic garden. Order the Murray cod fillet baked in paper with spring onions, zucchini and watercress. The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah 

Pop into Il Postinos

Housed in a lovely heritage-listed post office, Il Postinos in Wentworth Falls caters to caffeine-crazed commuters, as well as locals who like to kick back in the courtyard and enjoy Italian-inspired eats, such as brekkie bruschetta. 13 Station Street, Wentworth Falls

Sweet valley highs

Walk up an appetite trudging along the Six Foot track, which takes three days to complete, then reward yourself with a trip to The Megalong Valley Tearooms, where you can carb-load with scones, pies, cakes and other baked treats. 824 Megalong Road, Megalong Valley

The allure of Leura

The annual Leura Harvest Festival takes place in May and turns the village into a kaleidoscope of autumnal colour. Up to 90 stalls will line Leura Mall, selling seasonal food and promoting eco innovation in the region. Don't miss the chook show and the popular jam-making competition.

For the eco-minded

Operating from an old Art Deco building, Palette Dining is a kitchen-garden restaurant that has sustainability at its heart. The salads served at the Katoomba stalwart are sensational and you can feel smug in the knowledge that the restaurant is committed to recycling its waste and using responsibly sourced produce. The Niagara Building, 92 Bathurst Road, Katoomba 

Put your foot on the brakes

Join Anne Elliott on one of her slow-food tours of the Blue Mountains. From the hugely popular chook tours to the coffee trail and annual chestnut expedition in April, Slow Food Blue Mountains builds networks between grower and eater, agriculture and market.

Chocoholic heaven

Chocolatier Adam Preen specialises in handmade chocolates using only the finest Belgian couverture and locally sourced premium-grade ingredients at the Blue Mountains Chocolate Company. Indulge in a mug of hot chocolate served atop a candle that melts the choc into the milk as you drink it. It’s the perfect fuel for a walk to the Three Sisters, which is five minutes away on foot. 176 Lurline Street, Katoomba

The secret is out

Local bean hunters have been Insta-blabbing about Anonymous Cafe for years. It's where to go to get your caffeine fix and settle those cravings. It's not so anonymous anymore. 237-238 Great Western Highway, Blackheath

Bottoms up at Dryridge Estate

Pause at the Wine Pavilion Door (a posh name for a cellar door) at Dryridge Estate to enjoy views of the bony sandstone escarpment looming over the Megalong Valley floor. The boutique vineyard is worth a visit as it pioneered viticulture in the Blue Mountains and is the only licensed producer of local mountain wine. Chin-chin. 226 Aspinall Road, Megalong Valley

SEE ALSO: A Food and Wine Guide to Bendigo and Central Victoria


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