The round up: the biggest foodie openings of the year
Well, we made it. The year’s end is imminent and that’s got us feeling more than a little nostalgic. Despite intermittent lockdowns and dining restrictions, the Gold Coast’s dining scene continued to flourish. New eateries popped up with surprising regularity, from sophisticated tipple temples to sandwich bars, a bounty of beach bars and pool-side sip spots, it’s been a big year! We’ve compiled a list of stand-outs from the past 12 months. While not an exhaustive selection, it’s a snapshot of the diverse array of arrivals we had the privilege of checking out this year.
Paloma Wine Bar, Burleigh Heads – If you’re a foodie, it’s pretty likely you’re already well-acquainted with Restaurant Labart. Last month, we had the pleasure of meeting its spirited younger sibling – Paloma Wine Bar. In many respects, Paloma is the opposite of Labart. While Labart takes diners on a carefully curated journey through a set menu, Paloma is the kind of place you can pop in on a whim for a pre-dinner wine, enjoy a relaxed bite, or settle in for a nightcap. Hitting the sweet spot between sunset dips and post-dinner drinks, the spunky newcomer offers an extensive (and we mean extensive) selection of by-the-glass wines means that visitors can step out of their go-to wine comfort zones.
Cross Eyed Mary, Coolangatta – Kicking the year off with a delicious bang was Cross Eyed Mary. Transforming the hole-in-the-wall space formerly occupied by Tasca on Coolangatta’s Griffith Street into a charming pasta-and-wine bar that is modernising tradition with good, honest fare, crafted cocktails and some seriously impressive sips of vino. Do yourself a favour and jump over here to make a booking, stat.
Cali Beach and Saké Sisters, Surfers Paradise – Since opening in September, Cali Beach has welcomed more than 25,000 people through its doors to party poolside and make the most of everything that the impressive lifestyle and leisure precinct has to offer – including four pools, VIP cabanas, sun lounges, multiple bars, volleyball facilities and a moonlight cinema. One notable absence from the extraordinary line-up has been its signature dining offering, but earlier this month we got a taste of Saké Sisters, and friends, it did not disappoint. The modern Japanese restaurant is set to become the jewel in the Cali Beach crown with executive chef Marcelino Papio Jr. (affectionately known as JoJo) at the helm.
Lucia, Tugun – If the beachside suburb of Tugun is not yet on your culinary radar, it’s about to be. Lucia completely transformed the former Craft House along Golden Four Drive into a Spanish-inspired tapas bar that sets the scene for long, leisurely lunches and spirited sundowners. The dreamy new sip spot is the handiwork of Oli Frost, the visionary behind Burleigh’s popular speakeasy NAÂMi, Mediterranean marvel Maman and burger joint Milky Lane in Surfers Paradise, and is here to whisk you away to San Sebastian with a tapas menu that celebrates bold and authentic Spanish cuisine. The open-air beer garden adorned with flowering bougainvillea and olive trees is the kind of place you could easily (and merrily) while away an afternoon in the sunshine with a jug of sangria.
Kurrawa Beach Club, Broadbeach – If there’s one thing we Gold Coasters love, it’s brews with a view, so it’s not surprising folks have been quick to embrace this sandy newcomer. Take in views of the rolling waves while you make your way through the selection of summer-inspired snacks from the container kitchen – think prawn and Moreton Bay bug rolls with Kewpie, skin-on fries and crisp fried halloumi with watermelon, balsamic and lemon balm. The bar is brimming with a homegrown lineup including bevvies from Granddad Jacks, Black Hops Brewing and Hard Fizz. Kurrawa Beach Club is here for a good time, not a long one, with the trial set to wrap up on January 30, so you’d better hop to it.
Fizz HQ, Burleigh Heads – Late last month, the Gold Coast welcomed what is being hailed the world’s first immersive seltzer brewery on Hibiscus Haven (in between Paddock Bakery and Common Ground). The impressive new HQ features a rotating series of FIZZ flavours on-tap alongside a tantalising turquoise-hued FIZZ flavoured cocktail collab with Mr. Consistent as well as ‘Fizz Bowls’, which are probably meant for sharing but we’re not here to judge.
Tommy’s Italian, Currumbin – Undoubtedly one of the year’s biggest new openings was Tommy’s Italian. The 120-seat trattoria revived the much-loved 1920s building that formerly housed The Beach Shack in Currumbin to bring a touch of luxe to the beachfront strip. Known for sharp but casual service, coupled with a sense of familiarity and warmth, Tommy’s has been the talk of the town, which is no surprise given its ownership team featuring Tom Torchut and Ronnie Tarabay’s, the former owner of The Fish House. In true Italian fashion, the modern a la carte menu showcases exceptional local produce cooked simply. The culinary team pay respect to the traditional Italian way, while bringing some exciting new flavours and techniques to the fold.
NAÂMi, Burleigh Heads – It’s been a busy year for Oli Frost who also opened NAÂMi in May. If you know, you know – that’s the general gist behind this clandestine watering hole. Designed to transport you to the bustling backstreets of Vietnam, everything has been consciously crafted to linger in your memory long after you’ve left – the way all of the best far-flung adventures abroad do. There are a dozen tastebud-tingling concoctions to wet your whistle including the Naami No. 5, which is unreservedly one of our favourite cocktails ever.
Freddy’s Chicken Shop, Burleigh Heads – An ode to the old-school milk bars of the 1970s, Freddy’s has found its way into our collective hearts and hands. The eatery is the handiwork of Burleigh Pavilion’s Ben May, Rob Domjen and Guillaume Zika alongside keen surfer Paul Surman, who would often reminisce about the days you could come out of the surf and hit up the local milk bar with sandy feet and salty hair for a classic burger and chips, meet people and have a laugh.
Surfers Pavilion, Surfers Paradise – It’s hard to beat a sunset session with a killer view to accompany your well-earned afternoon aperitif, and that’s precisely what you’ll find at Surfers Pavilion. Let’s be honest, they had us at ‘dedicated frosé bar’.
AWOL, Burleigh Heads – When it comes to craft brews on the coast, we truly are spoilt for choice with plenty of top-tier bars and boozers slinging their own signature swill. Lynchpins to the local sipping scene is Black Hops, who opened the doors to its first brewery back in 2016 and has since gone on to open a massive brewery and taproom in Biggera Waters and up the M1 in East Brisbane. Never content to just kick back and enjoy the fruits of their labour, the beer-loving trio delighted us once again with a tastebud-tingling new addition to the family called AWOL. We could tell you all about it, but the best way to experience this brew-tiful sip spot is to book yourself in for a tour – do that here.
Palette and The Exhibitionist Bar at HOTA, Bundall – The next-level venues opened in April and have been tantalising tastebuds ever since with Palette’s modern Australian cuisine and The Exhibitionist Bar’s crafted cocktails and sensational views. If you’re yet to check them out, consider this your official invitation.
The Brooklyn Wine + Tapas, Varsity Lakes – It’s not often you discover a venue that is equally as sophisticated as it is approachable, as worldly as it is familiar, and refined as it is relaxed, but The Brooklyn Wine + Tapas is all of those things. The stunning new sip spot has recently opened in Varsity Lakes and it’s already leaving an impression on locals. The impressive new venue is the second from husband-and-wife dream team Shaun Dunn and Leisa Provost, who also own the neighbouring Oscar Italia. While Oscar was envisaged as a congenial neighbourhood eatery, The Brooklyn Tapas + Wine is here to elevate the entire dining experience – from the moment you step foot through the doors to the moment you leave.
Panchos, Mudgeeraba – Okay, so this one technically isn’t a new opening, but it would be remiss of us not to mention the new-look Panchos. The colourful cantina has turned the page on an exciting new chapter with locals Lachlan Cuskelly and Madeleine Norton at the helm. Oh, and before you ask, yes, they have EFTPOS!
Goya, Broadbeach – If you’re not one to contemplate starting your morning until you’ve detoured via your regular caffeine dealer and strongly consider brunch the most important (and delicious) meal of the day, then you’ll want to pop Goya Cafe to the top of your must-try list, stat. The former Sens Coffee at the base of the Meriton has been transformed into a beautifully minimalist Japanese-inspired cafe with top-notch eats and some serious hip-hop vibes. Utterly cool yet approachable, Goya is so much more than a pit-stop to caffeinate.
Harris Farm Markets, Isle of Capri – Harris Farm Markets has been connecting families and farmers for 40 years, and the famed local supplier opened the doors to an enormous 1500-sqm space at Capri on Via Roma in November. An epicurean wonderland, it’s stocked with the freshest fruit and veg from local farmers, a grocery section brimming with boutique and locally made products, a dedicated cheese boardwalk that features more than 400 cheeses (not a typo), a premium butcher that encourages nose-to-tail consumption and a fish market that supports a sustainable model. Byron Bay and Tweed Heads’ Bread Social also forms part of the venue’s cornerstone offering with an impossible-to-resist array of baked goods for you to devour daily.
Scott’s Luncheonette & Bar, Palm Beach – Scott’s specialises in three things – really excellent sandwiches, coffee and wine. The quaint 42-seater is the handiwork of Perry Scott, who has shaken and stirred sips for some pretty famous faces around the world. The all-white venue boasts the kind of low-key, breeze-in and breeze-out vibe that can take you from early morning to early evening and is definitely one for the must-try list.
Honourable mentions: As you’d probably expect, whittling down this year’s openings to a succinct list is a near-impossible task. While all of the above venues are incredible, there are plenty of other newly open locales that are well worth a visit, too. Agave Rosa is dishing up Mexican with an Asian twist, while Palmy’s Costa Taco is keeping things fresh and authentic. Tropic Vice in Nobby Beach is pioneering ‘Florribean’ fare and Two Yolks in Burleigh is raising the bar for burgers. Against the Grain Distillery is tickling tastebuds with small-batch spirits and froth fiends will love BOBs Beer and Madocke Beer Brewing Company. If 2021 was the year of the sandwich, hit up O Bagel in Broadbeach, Milk Money Espresso in Robina, Tarte Bakery & Cafe’s new takeaway window and Aperitivo Cafe & Panini Bar in Currumbin. Mr Kojima is the definition of a hidden gem and Uncle Su has your Cantonese craving covered. Apres Surf found a new home in Burleigh Heads, Broadbeach welcomed a LGBTQIA+ lounge bar called Chameleon and Surfers’ long-standing Persian restaurant Shiraz moved to a sizeable new venue. Spice Kitchen and Bar in Broadbeach is showcasing modern Thai cuisine and you’re in the mood for a Lebanese feast, check out Jaybriells.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Gold Coast dining guide with more than 870 places to eat, drink, shop and play.