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.
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, this family-owned café 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 haloumi with tomato, avocado and poached eggs. Afterwards, take a stroll along the newly revamped foreshore.
For the best coffee and tea: Fallen Leaf
If, as rumour has it, Burringbar is the new Bangalow, then this espresso and tea bar has something to do with it. The whole-leaf, small-batch tea and smooth, hand-roasted Moonshine coffee back a small but perfectly formed menu at this rustic, repurposed bakery.
For lunch: Osteria
All plywood ceilings, perforated steel and recycled timber, this Italian-style osteria has serious eco cred. Wholesome dishes (falafel bowl with ancient grains, mushroom bruschetta with kale) go hand in hand with a hip drinks list: kombucha, kefir and coldpressed juice. Add a playground, daily specials and chilled music and your afternoon is sorted.
For local produce: Tucker
The all-day breakfast and lunch menu at this buzzing eatery 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, kitchencounter seating and binchotan grill, this authentic izakaya will transport you to provincial Japan. Start with spicy edamame and yakitori skewers, move onto deepfried 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 this low-food-mile 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
Image credit: Pat Suraseang.
Picnicking atop Mavis’s “secret hill” in the presence of majestic Mount Wollumbin is an almost spiritual experience. The 10- hectare property has an awardwinning 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 this fine restaurant awash in blue and white. 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 pepperinfused bourbon, Bénédictine and orange bitters. Bar snacks, like the prawn sanga with avocado and potato crisps, will help soak it up.
For the best dinner: The Bombay Cricketers Club
Run by the hospo heavyweights behind Osteria and Taverna, this temple of casual dining is worthy of worship. If the Indian-fusion menu reminds you of renowned Melbourne restaurant Tonka, it’s because that eatery’s former head chef consulted on it. Come on Sunday for the plant-based banquet ($30 per person) and don’t leave without trying the Bombay Alaska with meringue, spiced pear and tamarind.
Top image credit: Hayley Williamson.