The Northern Rivers must-visit venues for your southern summer adventures
There ain’t nothin’ like a roadtrip, especially when the destinations are this delicious. Now that the silly season is over, we’re buckling up and heading south – join us on a journey through the Northern Rivers’ must-visit venues for your eating and drinking pleasure.
Saltwater Social Club
A new addition in the heart of Byron Bay, Saltwater Social Club is all about laidback coastal vibes. For sunset sips to relaxed dinners on balmy summer nights, Saltwater Social Club is the perfect place for rounding out a day spent on the sand with a refreshing beverage. The good times are fuelled by a nautical-inspired cocktail list, which includes the likes of the Tradewinds – Plantation pineapple rum, Kabosu Japanese citrus liqueur, lime and passionfruit – and the Dunebuggy, with Hendrick’s gin, St-Germain, lemon and a fresh cucumber. The laidback menu features starters such as Ballina king prawns, classic potato skins and confit garlic flatbread (with marinara or ranch dipping sauce), plus salads and pizzas made on a slow-ferment sourdough crust.
Rawa Byron Bay
Described as a ‘culinary experience’, Rawa Byron Bay is a four-course weekly pop-up that happens every Wednesday in the heart of Byron. With an intimate vibe and a focus on fresh coastal food, Rawa’s weekly changing menu is based on seasonal produce and is a true fusion of cultures. Whether you prefer oysters or oyster mushrooms, you’ll be catered for – each course has an equally delectable vegetarian option on offer (which we love!). Chef Pedro Andrade’s creativity is evident in each course right through to dessert – recent menus have included delights such as triple-layer shortbread with dulce de leche and mango mousse, and grilled banana with coconut cream and turmeric ginger caramel. Rawa is BYO, so bring your favourite vino to accompany your meal.
Masa Byron Bay
On your way into town you’ll find Masa, a bakery located in the Byron Bay industrial estate. Starting your morning with a coffee and a croissant pulled fresh from the oven is a ritual we would definitely recommend, particularly when the pastry selection is this good. If you prefer something other than the classic buttery croissant, Masa’s offering includes both sweet and savoury delights. The eclectic selection of the day is displayed along a polished-concrete benchtop and includes treats such as the lemon-myrtle and lemon curd cruffin with a toasted meringue swirl. Staples with a twist are also on offer, like the charcoal olive-oil sourdough.
Located hillside in Bilambil Heights, Ella’s Farm combines permaculture with picnics for all of your alfresco event needs. Ella’s Farm’s glorious gourmet picnics provide a chance to sit back, relax and enjoy the surrounds – whether you head there for an event, or just for a quiet afternoon. Each picnic commences with a farm tour, where you can explore the grounds while learning more about Ella’s Farm and its sustainable farming practices. Each farm feast also has the optional addition of a chemical-free wine tasting from local legends Ok. Wines. For the perfect present, Ella’s Farm offers gift certificates with your choice of activities included.
Bottle & Hoop
If you’re visiting Brunswick Heads, we suggest packing a picnic and whiling away an afternoon by the Brunswick River. Rather than lukewarm cheese and crushed crackers that are slightly worse for wear after the drive, Bottle & Hoop is here to deliver local and imported artisan cheeses, charcuterie and all of the extras. Located close to the centre of town, Bottle & Hoop offers quality small-batch goods with a story – think Barossa Valley goats milk camembert, perfect pet nats and pickled figs with caperberries. If you can’t make it to the bricks-and-mortar shop then we recommend jumping online and drooling over its range, which, luckily for us, is also available for delivery.
Who doesn’t love a brewery, particularly one with live music and food trucks? Opening in early 2020, Mullumbimby’s first brewery, Wandana Brewing Co., has quickly become a local favourite. Family (and dog!) friendly, the sunshine-soaked beer garden hosts rotating local bands and food vendors including pizza, burgers and South American seafood.
Combining all of the best things in life (in our humble opinion), Honour Espresso & Salumi Bar in Brunswick Heads provides the ideal spot for afternoon sundowners in the middle of town. Opening for brunch, lunch and its recently added weekend wine and salumi bar session from 3:00 pm, Honour is the perfect place to while away a summer afternoon. Honour’s salumi bar selection is focused on natural wines and antipasti, with its constantly changing small-plate selection including house-made capicola, pickles, tomatoes, ricotta and Ortiz anchovies. We love that Honour has committed to ensuring its produce is only sourced from nearby farmers markets, ensuring everything is locally grown.
The colourful gem of Elwood Cafe in Burringbar awaits you after a short drive south from the Gold Coast. Delectable breakfast offerings await – including the much-loved breakfast tacos made with fresh corn tortillas from Elwood’s neighbour Mercado Juarez (another Burringbar highlight). With house-blend beans supplied by Moonshine Roasters, Elwood is a worthy caffeination station along your southbound journey.
Brunswick Heads is blessed with some of the best eateries in the Northern Rivers – and Cadeau is no exception. With a top-notch wine list and a menu to match, Cadeau is like a little slice of Europe on the Australian coastline. The French-inspired fare is also complemented by a delicious snack menu and a Sunday roast. Recently celebrating its first birthday, Cadeau has quickly become a favourite for locals and visitors alike – and we can see why!
Just out of Bangalow sits the Eltham Hotel, a gem hidden in the Northern Rivers hinterland. The Eltham Hotel is a classic charmer of an old pub that has been recently renovated with care. As the sun sets, enjoy your sudsy sips below the festoon lights of the backyard beer garden. When you start to get peckish, the bistro serves up classic pub favourites with a twist, such as the steak sambo and the spiced cauliflower burger (which we 100 percent recommend trying). There is also a cracking specials list – keep an eye out for the deep-fried sandwich with mozzarella and ‘nduja in carrozza when ordering. For the vintage lovers, we recommend booking a night in one of the hotel’s five rooms, which come with different stories and are kitted out with locally thrifted finds.
Pottsville’s Pipit is the acclaimed solo venture from awarded chef Ben Devlin (ex-Paper Daisy) and his partner Yen Trinh. Pipit celebrates the best seasonal produce from the Northern Rivers area, with local native ingredients brought to life through woodfired cooking. The open-plan space allows you to observe the seasonal menu preparation unfolding, which constantly changes depending on produce availability. The tasting menu is based on a concept of smaller plates, with offerings such as sour potato pastry with mullet roe and finger lime, jackfruit with duck ‘nduja, and bamboo shoot with mud crab and preserved yuzu. The wine pairings are carefully selected with a focus on Australian and natural drops.
Black Drop Cafe
The sleepy seaside town of Pottsville has more than its fair share of excellent establishments, with the newest addition being Black Drop Cafe. If you need quality caffeinating then look no further, with the team slinging Blackboard beans daily from 7:00 am. Its summer menu is fresh and delicious, with a range of breakfast and lunch bites perfect for refuelling after a day by the creek – think French toast with mulberry sorbet, passionfruit curd, toasted coconut and fresh mango or mouthwatering pan-fried chilli squid.
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