Great southern land – eat your way through the best restaurants in Byron Bay and surrounds
Great southern land – eat your way through the best restaurants in Byron Bay and surrounds
Great southern land – eat your way through the best restaurants in Byron Bay and surrounds
Great southern land – eat your way through the best restaurants in Byron Bay and surrounds
Great southern land – eat your way through the best restaurants in Byron Bay and surrounds
Great southern land – eat your way through the best restaurants in Byron Bay and surrounds
Great southern land – eat your way through the best restaurants in Byron Bay and surrounds
Great southern land – eat your way through the best restaurants in Byron Bay and surrounds

Great southern land – eat your way through the best restaurants in Byron Bay and surrounds

There ain’t nothin’ like a roadtrip, especially when the destinations are this delicious. We’re buckling up and heading south – join us on a journey through Byron Bay’s best restaurants for your eating and drinking pleasure.

Bar Heather
It’s all about natural vino and wine-friendly snacks at Bar Heather, which is brought to you by a crack team of hospitality veterans and sommeliers-turned-wine-importers-turned-co-owners, Tom Sheer and James Audas. They are also the masterminds behind ethically minded wine distribution company Lo-Fi Wines and Luna Wine Store, a bottle shop that’s become a popular honey hole for folks seeking low-intervention sips from small-scale producers. At Bar Heather, they’re funnelling their fascination for natural wine (and a good chunk of their own cellars) into a 60-seat restaurant and bar that’s a little bit Byron Bay and a little bit Paris. Helming the kitchen is chef Ollie Wong-Hee, who includes restaurants such as Ester and Sixpenny in Sydney and, most recently, Franklin in Hobart on his esteemed resume. Ollie Smith (previously of 10 William St in Sydney) has come onboard as Bar Heather’s sommelier, crafting a list of rare and characterful wines from around the world, which will rotate as frequently as Wong-Hee’s food menu.

Pixie Food & Wine
Pixie Food & Wine is the latest culinary offering from renowned restauranteurs James Sutherland and Kim Stephen, who have also brought us Light Years, Moonlight and Frankies. The Italian sip-and-snack spot combines Byron’s laid-back beach vibe with the refined aspect of city dining, delivering a modern and coastal twist to traditional Italian cuisine. “We noticed a gap in the market for a venue that, while being sympathetic to beach culture, has a level of sophistication that you would expect in Sydney or Melbourne,” Pixie’s co-owner James Sutherland said.

Moonlight Hibachi & Wine Bar
Seemingly a world removed from the bustling, neon-lit streets of Tokyo, restauranteurs Kim Stephen, James Sutherland and Robbie Oijvall, have sought to deliver a curated and intimate style of dining that showcases a modern take on traditional hibachi – one of Japan’s oldest cooking traditions. Here, flavours from classic Japanese cuisine are reimagined into unexpected and punchy dishes like watermelon sashimi, which has been dehydrated, roasted and dressed with yuzu-infused EVOO, shiso and sesame to resemble the texture of traditional fish sashimi. Accompanying the menu of fare is a strong selection of biodynamic wines that were picked according to the lunar cycle, a nod to a holistic method of winemaking from the 1920s that is believed to result in a better-tasting bottle of wine. You’ll find Moonlight Hibachi & Wine Bar tucked into Bay Lane behind an illuminated crescent moon.

Light Years
From humble beginnings in its original location tucked away off Bay Lane, Light Years has both expanded (there are venues in Burleigh Heads, Noosa and Newcastle) and evolved, with the owners reimagining the entire Byron Bay dining experience, starting with a sophisticated new space in the Jonson Lane precinct. While the brand’s core sense of fun can still be found between the pages of its food and drink menus, the setting reflects a kind of coming-of-age moment. The elevated new menu stays true to the classic Light Years style of share plates that facilitate group dining, with highlight dishes including a prawn brioche bun with yuzu tartare, and ‘hot and tingly’ barbecue lamb ribs.

The Smoking Camel
Taking over the original Light Years space, this fun and colourful Middle Eastern oasis puts a modern spin on traditional Levantine cuisine, leaning on flavours from Lebanon, Turkey, Israel and beyond. The latest venue from the team behind both Light Years and Moonlight, The Smoking Camel serves up a playful menu that starts with a stellar mezze section, boasting traditional dips like hummus with harissa oil, babaganoush and smashed falafel with green goddess tahini, alongside shawarma-spiced cauliflower. For the main affair, you’ll find barbecue plates of baharat-spiced beef with sumac onions, lamb-rump shish with dill zhoug and shawarma-spiced chicken with toum and pickled chillies.

Neighbourhood eatery Barrio (located in the Habitat precinct) offers relaxed all-day dining, starting with house-baked pastries, coffee and sandwiches, before evolving into vibrant salads and a menu of daily creations by chef Daniela Mairoano. From Thursday to Sunday, trade extends to evenings, serving up a Mediterranean menu with a fun Italian lean – think handmade pasta, small plates, and wood-fired meats and veggies. Hot tip – order the tiramisu.

Beach Byron Bay
Perched atop the sand dunes overlooking the magical Clarkes Beach, Beach Byron Bay is a go-to for elevated dining, where ocean views and sensational seafood dishes jostle for your attention. Beach is co-owned by Ben and Belinda Kirkwood together with Fink, a leading Australian restaurant group, which includes OTTO Brisbane, OTTO Sydney and Quay among its stable. In the kitchen, husband-and-wife team Karl and Katrina Kanetani, alongside Cauã Melo, showcase hyper-local seasonal produce from the Northern Rivers region and surrounds. Out the front, the Beach Kiosk slings grab-and-go bites like breakfast rolls and fresh sandwiches.

Raes Dining Room
Nestled within the boutique hotel Raes on Wategos, this elegant dining space serves up superb Mediterranean-influenced fare by chef Jason Saxby, just footsteps from the famed Wategos Beach. Diners can choose from a three-course a-la-carte menu, or sample all of Jason Saxby’s greatest hits with the tasting menu. Down on beach level, the Cellar Bar serves more casual bites like lobster-tail brioche rolls to the walk-in crowd.

The Hut Byron Bay
The Hut Byron Bay is a dreamy 18-kilometre hinterland drive away from Byron’s coast, located in The Old O’Possum Creek Public School – an historic building that has been converted and modernised while still retaining many of its heritage features. The share-style menu is inspired by long Mediterranean lunches, with a focus on Southern Italian and Greek flavours. Much of The Hut’s menu is determined by the morning’s market finds and trawler catches, resulting in considered dishes bursting with the flavours of the Northern Rivers. Lunch is served Thursday to Sunday, and we hear tables have a tendency to linger well into the evening – perhaps The Hut’s top-notch list of sips has something to do with it?

The Roadhouse
Locals are spilling out of the Roady from 7:00 am, with spot-on coffee and Spanish-inspired day-starters like jamon and pesto bruschetta, and salsa-topped breakfast tacos, served daily. From 4:00 pm Wednesday to Sunday, The Roady turns into a tapas bar, slinging a raft of cocktails alongside contemporary Spanish eats like escabeche with pickled mussels, gazpacho, and sobrasada with goats cheese and olives.

Tokyo Doll
Neon-lit beauty Tokyo Doll, located in the Mercato on Byron precinct on Jonson Street, fuses traditional Japanese cuisine with flavours from all corners of Asia, with a strong focus on high-quality sushi and sashimi. Alongside trawler-fresh sashimi, ngiri and ceviche, and the expertly crafted sushi, you’ll find bites like Toyko Doll Fried Chicken, and a fish curry loaded with Asian herbs. Sip on sake, shochu and umeshu, select from a series of fun wines, or go straight to heavy hitters like the Tokyo Martini with sake and melon brine.

Bonito at Hotel Marvell
Bonito is the signature dining offering at the newly opened Hotel Marvell. At the helm is award-winning chef Minh Le, who has fused his heritage and passion for seafood and plant-based cuisine, creating sense-enlivening dishes that reflect the venue’s ethos of sustainable and responsible dining. Begin your culinary journey with the organic sourdough slathered with house-cultured miso butter, followed by oysters dressed in a Japanese dressing and adorned with tobiko, and Hiromasa kingfish glazed with a spiced soy sauce and served with shallot relish and Petuna trout roe. 

Harvest Newrybar
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.

Lovers’ Lane
An ode to food, natural wine, cocktails, and dancing, the bar-restaurant hybrid is the latest gastronomic offering from the crew behind Penny Lane restaurant in Canggu. There’s a tight list of cocktails and a hefty wine list to work your way through, which can be accompanied by small plates like smoked-fish rillettes, cheeseburger sliders with mac sauce, and punchy charcoal chicken with chilli oil and a herb salad.

Bang Bang
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 seeuw, Bangkok-style fried rice and fragrant curries. Keen sippers can pair their bites with Asian-inspired cocktails and ice-cold beers.

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, a hidden gem tucked away on Acacia Street in the industrial estate, 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.

No Bones
No Bones Byron Bay is a plant-based eatery with an ethos that ethical food should still be delicious. Offering fresh coastal fare in a laid-back setting in the centre of town, No Bones also has a top-notch drinks list to pair with its delectable bites, with as much local, organic, and spray-free produce used as possible. Expect plates like crispy fried ‘chicken’ with kung-pow sauce, roasted peanuts and charcoal-miso aioli, oyster-mushroom souvlaki with almond skordalia, and watermelon carpaccio with kombu caviar, avocado cream, yuzu, ginger, togarashi crackers. Finish strong with a slice of acai cheesecake, complete with wattleseed biscuits, blueberries and acai caviar.

Three Blue Ducks
No trip to Byron is complete without stopping by The Farm. Set amid a sprawling 80-acre working farm, visitors have plenty of room to roam amongst the macadamia orchard and lush fields, which are planted with produce that makes its way onto each and every plate that comes out of the Three Blue Ducks kitchen. Roll out a rug and enjoy a picnic hamper or pull up a seat in the restaurant, which shines a light on the best local growers and producers. To cap off the week like a local, book in the for the famous Sunday Roast Dinner.

The Mez Club
If, like us, you are wishing you were hopping around the various Greek Islands, The Mez Club is the next best thing. It’s suitably bright, white and welcoming with a menu that takes you on a journey around the Mediterranean Sea, from the souks of Morocco to the stunning south of France, peppered with the fresh produce of Italy and the seafood of Spain. It’s the European adventure you’ve been dreaming of.

Costa Taco
The popular Palm Beach taco slinger has ventured into Byron Bay with an outpost in the thick of the action on Jonson Street. Here, locally sourced seasonal ingredients are used across a flavour-packed menu of traditional street-style tacos, and share plates like tostadas and street corn laced with chipotle crema. The quesabirrias – two cheesy grilled birra tacos served with consume dipping sauce – are worth getting your hands dirty for. As are the salsa-soaked wet nachos.

Owned and operated by chef Troy Lister, Jonson Street steakhouse Ember spotlights flame-licked fare, while celebrating choice produce from the Northern Rivers region. Top-tier cuts are sizzled to perfection on the Josper grill, served simply with condiments like chimichurri, mustards, butter and jus, and sides like truffle-shallot potato gratin, seasonal greens and skin-on chips. The wagyu cheeseburger, seared medium, is a popular sidestep from Ember’s stellar steak offering.

Want more? 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. For arguably the best karaage and temaki outside of Japan, head to Japonaise Kitchen and Chihuahua Taqueria for tacos inspired by the streets and marketplaces of Mexico. Heading to Bangalow? Don’t miss You Beauty and pizzeria Ciao, Mate!, although Bangalow could be a round-up unto itself.

Bar Heather image and Harvest Newrybar image credit: Jess Kearney
Pixie image credit: Parker Blain and Anson Smart

The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Gold Coast dining guide with more than 870 places to eat, drink, shop and play.


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