Eating at the Gold Coast is no longer a mere pit-stop to refuel between tumbles in the waves. Queensland’s glitter strip is quickly adding culinary excellence to the menu. Funky coffee shops, quaint cafes and trendy fine-dining restaurants have stepped up to the plate to offer travellers tasty fare beyond the long-standing fish’n’chips joints and the staples of the Surfers thoroughfare. Here’s a guide to some of the best bites on the Gold Coast.
Best for: seafood with a sea view
50 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads
For fresh seafood you don’t have to catch yourself, The Fish House is the place to go. Fresh, inviting, central and unpretentious, it was built from scratch in character-laden raw brick and white plaster on the sceney Burleigh foreshore. The stylish and bright interior is inviting but the views outside moreso. Get a seat by the window for dreamy stares out across the surf and sweeping sands through a frame of tall Norfolk Pines. On the menu, the catches are prepared every which way. Fish pie, spaghetti with bug or sea urchin, chargrilled swordfish, crustacean risotto, prawn cocktail and classic fish and chips all feature. There’s also a raw and smoked selection, various cheeses and deserts as well as a great list of matching wines.
Best for: hearty Greek fare
2235 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach
For that warm, full stomach feel, don’t miss a trip to Hellenika. Serving modern takes on traditional Greek cookery, the setting is modern, warm and inviting and incredibly social, spilling out onto the pavement in a flurry of lively chatter. With plates designed to share, the menu is all-embracing, including a long list of Mezedes. Char grilled octopus and calamari, grilled sheep milk cheese, lamb cutlets, pork belly, spicy Greek sausages, meatballs and vine leaves offer just a taste of the range. Larger plates are available too, including spanakopita, souvlakia and moussaka, as well as various salads and sides. Greek dining wouldn’t be the same however without a starter. The olives and anchovies, cod roe dip and feta and pepper dip do a fabulous job of that.
Best for: delicious organic treats
2364 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach
Travelling with a dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, raw, vegan or vegetarian friend? That’s where Vivre a Vie comes in. A wholly organic bakery and cafe channelling a warm and inviting European feel, there’s something to suit everybody’s tastes and sometimes fiddly dietary requirements. Even those who boast they “can eat anything” will find plenty of ‘normal’ as well as ‘alternative’ indulgences. But seriously, who could resist salted caramel sourdough dounuts? There’s also freshly baked breads, cakes, muffins, cookies, raw treats and French pastries, all best washed down with an organic brew of coffee or fresh juice. For something more filling, the all-day breakfast and lunch menu is tempting to say the least.
Best for: splashing out on designer dishes
Palazzo Versace, Sea World Drive, Main Beach
If you can’t afford to spend the night at Australia’s only Palazzo Versace hotel, perhaps you could pretend over dinner? Vanitas is worth splashing out for. Recently touted as the world’s most fashionable restaurant by Harper’s Bazaar, it offers elegant insight into the world and style of iconic designer Gianni Versace. From the elegant artwork and cutlery to the furnishings, everything screams ‘Versace’. The exotic palm-fringed hotel pool views through floor-to-ceiling glass windows set the scene for an exquisite line-up of gastronomic flair. Choose between a degustation and an a la carte menu, including dishes such as coral trout with octopus and fennel, suckling pig with morcilla and grape pickle and a delicious peach melba. It goes without saying the wine list is extensive.
Best for: a moody funky setting
2460 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach
It’s not just the funky setting that makes Bonita Bonita such a gem. This modern Mexican taqueria and bar has the whole package: tasty food, warm and charming ambiance and an easy-to-find location on the Gold Coast Highway. Decked out in artistic grunge style, the moody interior is set off by lots of candles, low-hanging lights, funky pillows, wall art and many imaginative Day of the Dead and Frida Kahlo references. Menu highlights include the mulled Bonita sangria, fresh ceviche, pork ribs, chargrilled corn, snapper tacos, beef tostadas and to top it all off with a bang, the caramel flan with chilli sauce.
Best for: multicultural market flavours
23 Hillcrest Parade, Miami
Fridays and Saturday nights sees Miami springs to life in a colourful bustle of global foods, market stalls and live music acts. The first street food market on the Gold Coast, it a fabulous spot to simply stroll and soak up the atmosphere between bites. Curries, stir-fries, burgers, nachos, pizza, bratwurst – you name it. It’s all here, from bite size to plates full, and the communal tables make for a casual, festive atmosphere perfect for dropping in without plans. There’s also a dedicated dessert hall brimming with sweetness and a license venue selling boutique beer and wine. Held in the Rabbit and Cocoon arts precinct, the open-air market kicks off at 4pm on Saturdays and 5pm on Fridays, and usually winds up around 10pm.
Best for: a never-ending feast
7 Staghorn Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Bazaar is bringing the buffet back. Long-frowned-upon – unless the commute is an easy bleary-eyed shuffle downstairs from your hotel room – the buffet comes to life in true modern fashion at the QT, which puts on an overflowing spread of fine fare for both breakfast and dinner in a funky and quirky setting. Breakfast has everything you could possibly wish for – and more – but dinner tends to be a more sophisticated affair. The dress code says it all: “dress to impress”. The array of global flavours includes freshly steamed Asian dumplings, pig on the spit, fresh seafood, fine Italian pizza and pasta, organic salads and steak done exactly how you like it.
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