Border-bubble bites – eat your way through Byron Bay’s best restaurants
The border bubble has finally burst and the best of Byron Bay and its surrounds is yet again being presented to us on a platter. Whether you’re in town for the day, plan to kick it beachside for a salty staycay or you’re escaping the city for the rolling hills of the Byron Bay hinterland, it’s always best to plan your visit around food. From the must-try long-standing institutions to tasty newcomers and lesser-known eating spots, here’s a handy guide on where to eat in Byron Bay.
Image credit: Jess Kearney
A non-negotiable must-do when in the Byron Bay region. Experience Harvest properly with a (very) long lunch or dreamy dinner and feast your way through the kitchen’s inventive expression of the region’s bounty, which highlights produce from local artisans, Harvest’s own gardens, and foraged, native and wild ingredients from the local area. To the left sits Harvest Deli, a wonderland of charcuterie, cheese, wine, deli favourites, condiments, pantry essentials, pastries and fresh daily bread (baked in Harvest’s own historic 118-year-old bakery), and the Wild Harvest line of products, produced by resident forager and wild-food researcher, Peter Hardwick. There’s plenty to see, eat and explore while you’re there.
Opening in September 2020, Frida’s Field – located on a working cattle farm in the quaint hinterland township on Nashua – is a destination dining spot serving the property’s own sustainably grown ingredients across Saturday long lunches and soon-to-launch Friday dinners. The contemporary, country-style dining concept is a joint project between Edward and Jeanie Rawlings, owners of the Frida’s Field farm property, and long-time Icebergs chef Daniel Medcalf. On Frida’s menu, you can expect to see wagyu-Angus raised in surrounding paddocks and fresh produce plucked from its on-site gardens and orchards. Diners have to pre-book tickets to each sitting via the website.
You should definitely start your di Vino journey with the house-made focaccia (and thank us later). The Italian diner, which you’ll find on Fletcher Street, celebrates the best of the land and sea with a menu of small plates (think Ballina king prawns with spicy ‘nduja) and handmade pastas like tagliolini verdi with spanner crab, cherry tomatoes, smoked butter and saffron. Sip your way through Italy’s best drops by the glass or bottle while you’re at it.
Tucked in along Bay Lane behind the pub, Supernatural is all about natural and organic wines, ethical produce and spirited cocktails. The laneway bar and eatery reopened in August 2020 with a refreshed vision – expect new bites like Moroccan lamb cutlets, charred octopus with ‘nduja and scallop ceviche with apple, fennel and preserved lemon, underscored by its ever-extensive collection of wine from home and across the globe, and new must-try cocktails like the native-ginger-infused bush margarita.
Image credit: Sean Fennessy
Raes Dining Room
Overlooking the sparkling Wategos Beach, the Dining Room at iconic five-star hotel Raes is the ultimate beachside dining spot. Head chef Jason Saxby offers both a three-course a la carte and five-course degustation, with a slight Mediterranean lean that’s driven by the finest produce from the immediate region. For a more casual affair, there’s the sun-kissed Cellar Bar (walk-ins only, open seven days from midday until sunset) serving seafood, bite-sized snacks and grapefruit negronis.
Beach Byron Bay
Nestled in the strip of bushland that borders Clarkes Beach is long-standing institution Beach Byron Bay – a go-to spot for seaside dining and sipping with a view. Settle in for a breezy lunch while gazing at the bronzed beachgoers, or listen to the subtle hum of the rolling waves at night while enjoying the likes of wood-grilled octopus, spanner-crab ravioli and sweet finishers like guava cheesecake with champagne meringue. If you’re making a beeline for the sand, you can grab coffee, pastries and quick bites from the kiosk en route.
In true Byron style, this list effortlessly flips from high-end fine diners to a hidden gem tucked away in an industrial estate. Authentic Greek eatery Kouzina, located on Acacia Street, is a local favourite for big, fat Greek dinner feasts (Thursday to Saturday) and casual lunches (Thursdays and Fridays). Start with mezedes like dolmades, dips and kolokithokeftedes, then work through mains like village pie, papoutsakia, chicken souvlaki and lamb stifado. Save room for coffee and Greek sweets.
Tacos with freshly pressed corn tortillas, punchy snacks, finger-licking share plates and proper margaritas – Suffolk Park’s Chupacabra is where you’ll find the true tastes of coastal Mexico. There are snacks like chicharron (pork rinds) and street-style corn on the cob with hot sauce, a raft of tacos to choose from, plus vibrant mains like grilled watermelon with pepita mole, slow-cooked lamb barbacoa and reef-fish wings in agave and jalapeno butter.
Image credit: Barrio Byron Bay
From the team behind Harvest Newrybar, neighbourhood eatery Barrio (located in the Habitat precinct) offers relaxed all-day dining, starting with daily bakes, coffee and sandwiches, before evolving into vibrant salads, smoked fish and grilled meats. If you’re in the mood for a cocktail, while away the afternoon over a margarita, negroni or smoked pina colada.
Craving an Asian-food fix? Bang Bang’s lively vibe and menu of Southeast Asian bites will curb that, quick smart. Starters (known as ‘little bangs’) like prawn toast with XO mayo and Moreton Bay bug buns act as a moreish prelude to mains like crispy, sticky pork belly with master-stock caramel, wok-tossed pad Thai, Bangkok-style fried rice and fragrant curries. Keen sippers can pair their bites with Asian-inspired cocktails and ice-cold beers.
The coffees start pouring at 6:30 am, kicking off a day of brunching and lunching in the sun at The Roadhouse. With new ownership at the helm, The Roadhouse has your morning covered with brews, breakfast, freshly baked muffins and pastries, which then flows into lunch and rotating daily specials (steak and provolone sanga, anyone?). After dark, a woodfired aroma billows through the air – that means it’s pizza time at The Roadhouse, featuring good wine and beers aplenty.
Need a coffee hit? There are a couple of newbies in town – plant-based cafe Vagabond (from the owners of the ever-popular Combi on Byron’s Fletcher Street) is the most recent arrival to the Habitat hub, serving coffee, smoothies, breakfast, lunch and almost-too-pretty-to-eat cakes. There’s also Daily Counter Byron Bay, a sleek new caffeine spot in the industrial precinct (sibling to the venue of the same name in Brunswick) armed with Allpress Espresso, bagels, jaffles and baked sweets.
Want more? You’ll find arguably the best karaage and temaki outside of Japan at unassuming eatery Japonaise Kitchen, while if you prefer a little bit of (literal) elevation, find the staircases to Balcony Bar & Oyster Co. and Loft Byron Bay. For a bite and a beer (straight from the source), the Stone & Wood Canteen at its Byron Bay brewery is open daily – it’s run by the 100 Mile Table crew and slings beer-friendly eats like beef-brisket burgers, mustard-chicken terrine with pickled zucchini, relish and sourdough, and crispy pork belly.
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