Having spent years in the shadow of its showier neighbours – the glitzy Gold Coast to the north and bohemian Byron Bay to the south – the Tweed, which hugs the NSW-Queensland border, is finally having its moment as a foodie destination.
Spooning the Great Dividing Range and stretching to the Coral Sea, this genetically blessed shire in a lush volcanic caldera ticks all the boxes: a temperate climate, World Heritage-listed natural sites and easy airport access.
But the major drawcard? Food. Everyone here – farmers, chefs and market stallholders – has a preternatural obsession with all things organically grown, ethically made and locally sourced. Whether you’re passing through or staying for a while, be sure to check out these gourmet offerings.
For the best breakfast: Choux Box
Opened in 1993, family-owned café Choux Box is a Kingscliff institution. Locals love its beachfront possie, slick monochrome makeover and chef Tony Clarke’s brekkie fare, which includes the regulars plus signature dishes such as pan-tossed halloumi with tomato, avocado and poached eggs. Afterwards, take a stroll along the newly revamped foreshore.
For lunch: Lolita’s Mexican Cantina
Head chef Armando Icaza is committed to sharing his Mexican origins in the colourful and casual Lolita’s Mexican Cantina restaurant. They serve up mezcal and tequila cocktails, plus stellar tacos and share plates that marry traditional flavours and cooking techniques with local produce such as tortillas and corn chips from Dona Cholita in Burringbar.
For local produce: Tucker
The all-day breakfast and lunch menu at buzzing eatery Tucker offers “nostalgic Australian tucker”, with a rollcall of regional delights, such as Blackboard coffee, Shroom Brothers mushrooms, Bread Social sourdough and Jack Sprat’s meats. Get in early to snap up a seat in the breezy courtyard.
For the best Japanese food: Izakaya Potts
With its wood-panelling, kitchen counter seating and binchotan grill, the authentic Izakaya Potts restaurant will transport you to provincial Japan. Start with spicy edamame and yakitori skewers, move on to deep-fried eggplant with miso and charcoal-grilled Wagyu and finish with a quenching Suntory pilsner.
For picnic supplies: Murwillumbah Farmers’ Market
Every Wednesday from 7am early risers snag the region’s freshest fare at low-food-mile market, Murwillumbah Farmers’ Market. The 30 or so stalls offer organic produce, wood-fired bread and edible flowers. Linger with locals over live music and a turmeric latte – GF and DF, of course.
For the best views: Mavis’s Kitchen
Picnicking atop Mavis’s “secret hill” in the presence of majestic Mount Wollumbin is an almost spiritual experience. The 10- hectare property has an award-winning restaurant but the picnic hampers are so good that celebs such as pro surfer Joel Parkinson have choppered in just for them. They’re a treat at $95 for two people but come packed with local produce, from Salumi Australia’s traditionally cured charcuterie to ethically produced cheese from Nimbin Valley Dairy.
For the best cocktails: Paper Daisy at Halcyon House
Euro-nautical chic meets Aussie coastal cool at fine dining restaurant Paper Daisy at Halcyon House. Set back from the beach amid tropical pandanus trees, it’s the perfect spot to salute the sun as you sip classic cocktails made modern with herbaceous botanicals – try the Native Fashion with pepper-infused bourbon, Bénédictine and orange bitters. Bar snacks, like the prawn sanga with avocado and potato crisps, will help soak it up.
Image credit: Pat Suraseang