The year in review: 2020’s biggest openings
Wowee. What a year. We all went through it, there’s no need to remind you. What we care to focus on are the positives. Despite 2020 being the most difficult year ever for our hospitality friends, our fine city was still blessed with some phenomenal new cafe, restaurant and bar openings – a feat that should be celebrated. So while many of us are trying to forget most of the year that was, we’re excited to look back on the hospitality heroes that made this year one to remember … at least for our tastebuds.
Palm Springs, Burleigh Heads
The old two-storey Siam Orchid site perched on the corner of Gardenia Grove and the Highway underwent a pretty significant transformation this year, with a complete rebuild transforming it into Los Angeles-inspired cafe Palm Springs. Boasting a picturesque all-white rendered facade, cacti gardens and mid-century archways, this locale may have lured in guests with its eye-catching aesthetic, they kept coming back for its menu. Southern Californian-style eats such as an authentic breakfast burrito and a selection of stacked burgers, plus Insta-worthy golden, matcha and velvet lattes, three kinds of margarita, and a revivifying bloody Mary make Palm Springs a brunch lover’s standout.
Tarte Bakery & Cafe, Burleigh
Tarte Bakery & Cafe melds a little bit of London with a hint of Paris and a dusting of West Village New York to create a worldly wonderland of rustic baked goods, hand-made sweet treats, mouth-watering brunch bites and specialty coffee. It’s the latest project from Chloe Watts, the former owner-operator of Paddock Bakery, and has been a hive of activity since it opened. There’s a cabinet of eye-catching pastries like classic French canele, chocolate babka swirled with Nutella, and cinnamon-dusted cruller doughnuts, as well as an all-day menu of eats. Turkish eggs in spiced butter, anyone?
Split, Nobby Beach
Perched above Ally Chow on Nobby Beach’s popular dining strip, Split is a breezy and sun-soaked rooftop bar that boasts some great Mediterranean-meets-Bali vibes. The handiwork of pals Stevie Filipovic (from the Light Years group) and Jeff Bennett (from Three Blue Ducks), Split is a free-spirited hub where guests can boogie to a toe-tapping mix of experimental dance tracks while feasting on a menu of eats underpinned by some tasty Croatian influences. Devouring serves of Mama Filipovic’s dusted calamari, garlic-and-rosemary marinated chicken and grilled flatbread with dips – enjoyed with a hot-pink jalapeno margarita or one of five different kinds of spritz – sounds like a great way to spend a summer afternoon, don’t you agree?
La Bella Cellar, Burleigh Heads
One of the coast’s best new bars might be trickier to find than most, but believe us when we say the search is worth it. Hidden behind a white-washed facade on Deodar Drive (and marked by a set of tiny initials and one lonely cactus), La Bella Cellar literally surrounds its guests with wine. The cosy space packs a serious punch in terms of its inventory – a 60-bottle cellar features predominantly Australian drops, while the speakeasy-style restaurant specialises in Italian-inspired plates and perfectly crisp pizzas. Head barman Aaron Howard is shaking up some seriously unique cocktails, too, with textural and aromatic concoctions helping complete La Bella Cellar’s sensory experience.
Precinct Brewing Co., Miami
The Gold Coast’s craft-beer scene continued to grow in 2020, and the arrival of Miami-based Precinct Brewing Co. will likely be looked back on as a significant addition to the local brewing landscape. Hidden in plain sight in a former workshop on Christine Avenue in Miami, the graffiti-covered brewpub is a comfy and approachable place to sip and socialise, with a sleek industrial fit-out contoured by cascading greenery, festoon lighting and impressive brewing equipment to eyeball. Precinct Brewing Co. features 12 taps (plus four direct-pour tanks) dispensing five main Precinct-brewed drops alongside some rotating guest beers, while non-beer drinkers can enjoy local, sustainable wines, a range of Mr. Consistent cocktails and Fizz Hard Seltzer. An on-site kitchen pumps out a mix of beer-friendly share plates and pizzas – think serves of crispy fried chicken, white- and red-base pizzas and cured-meat platters.
Las Palmas, Palm Beach
Dreamy coastal vibes, crafted cocktails and Latin American bites – these are the three pillars that lift Las Palmas up into the upper echelon of 2020 openings. Those that step through the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it doorway (located two doors down from Sisterhood Coffee) will find a stunningly bright and welcoming space that has been accentuated by timber, rattan feature lights and a popping turquoise floor. The menu, while rooted in some Cuban influences, is drawing upon a host of wider Latin American inspirations. Seafood takes centre stage with the likes of tuna tartare and king-prawn anticucho, while the haloumi-stuffed empanadas and charcoal-grilled steaks have had diners salivating. A 200-strong spirit collection filters into Las Palmas’ cocktail list, which makes good use of Australian produce to hone in on the best seasonal flavours. All in all, a striking addition to the Palm Beach scene.
Maman, Burleigh Heads
Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours collide at Maman, Burleigh’s slick 50-seat restaurant and bar. Featuring an all-white interior offset by pops of colour courtesy of blue-hued murals and hand-painted ceramic wares, the restaurant (operated by Oli Frost, Matt Poole and Oli’s mother and aunty, Karen and Elizabeth Fines) is a venue that values sharing. The menu boasts simple, produce-driven dishes that pair well with uncomplicated cocktails and clean, organic wines. Spinach-and-fetta pie with pepperonata sauce, chermoula-crusted salmon with Moroccan eggplant, lamb kofte with hommus and Moreton Bay bug rolls with iceberg, harissa and lime mayo are stand-out dishes, while the drinks list offers thirst-quenching options like an orange and torched-rosemary gin and tonic, the tropical-gin-infused pink lemonade, natural and organic wines, spirits and tap beers.
Robina locals’ screams (and dreams) for more quality coffee, grab-and-go bites and all-day eats have been heard – Parkway is here! The new caffeine dispensary and all-day-brunch spot is the latest venue from the team behind popular Palm Beach hub Third Base, bringing you top-notch brews and crowd-pleasing fare seven days a week. Parkway offers an all-day menu that takes you from breakfast classics through to hearty lunch dishes – and there’s also a cabinet brimming with tasty sandwiches, baked treats and molten toasties for those on the go. The owners are also in the process of acquiring a liquor licence for Parkway, which will eventually see the space open for evening trade and events – watch this space!
A new spot for morning sips and sleek snips landed in Tugun in early August, giving southern locals a handy new go-to spot to get caffeinated. Byron Bay’s Moonshine Coffee is pouring here daily, along with a bunch of coffee alternatives and sweet baked snacks by Currumbin’s Fuel Bakehouse. If you’re in the market for a beard trim or moustache touch up, there’s an on-site barber on the shearers available for bookings and walk-ins.
Burleigh Baker, Paradise Point
After making a name for itself in Burleigh Heads, famed bakery Burleigh Baker – which is renowned for its artisan sourdough, high-quality fermented breads and delicious baked goods – has brought the goodness north with a second venue in Paradise Point. The new northern iteration of Burleigh Baker features its award-winning sourdoughs and an expansive range of artisan breads, sweet and savoury pastries, fresh sandwiches, specialty coffee (by new local roaster Handsome Coffee) and a menu with a handful of dine-in and takeaway breakfast options. Just head to The Esplanade and follow your nose.
Hunky Dory, Palm Beach
Looking for good quality fish and chips? Here you go. Hunky Dory is a popular Melbourne fish and chippery, which made the move to Queensland in mid-2020 (the Palm Beach location is its first) with a tastebud-tempting selection of fresh seafood. You can choose from fried packs, loaded with flake fillets and guilty pleasures like dim sims, potato scallops and fried calamari rings – or opt for something lighter with the signature grilled fish served with either rice, salad or chippies. Plant-based folk can also get their fix here, with ‘fishless fish’ options across the menu. Oh, and you can grab some booze if you’re dining in!
Common Ground, Burleigh Heads
While it was originally pegged for a late-March opening (thanks, COVID), Common Ground finally opened its doors in late June – much to the delight of Burleigh and Miami locals. The leafy new brunch spot is located the original Burleigh Social site, which was occupied by Burleigh Co-Op until late last year. Local hospitality duo Euan and Bella Lovell (also part owners of Broadbeach bar Fig & Frankie’s) and Matt Tranter have reinvented the iconic premises with an entirely new identity. There’s an all-day menu (set to expand as restrictions continue to ease) with dishes like truffle-honey mushrooms and poached eggs with goats cheese roasted macadamia on rye bread, as well as coffee by local roaster Social Espresso. This spot gets lots of sunshine, so get on down there and soak it up.
Miss Mee, Nobby Beach
Taking the Nobby Beach space formerly home to Hellenika, this newly opened Southeast-Asian dining spot and rooftop bar is the latest venture from the owners of Burleigh’s Justin Lane. The site has been completely transformed from the ground up – think neon lights, hot-pink furnishings and plenty of personality splashed throughout. The menu takes a slight Thai lean, favouring group feasts with five- and eight-course banquets the best way to experience all of the favourites. To sip? Don’t look past the boozy bubble tea!
The Whisky Lounge, Mudgeeraba
Whether you’re a certified whisk(e)y connoisseur, are a wannabe whisky drinker trying to navigate the game or you fall neatly in between the two categories, Mudgeeraba’s new home of drams, nips and top drops, Whisky Lounge, will take you on a personalised sipping journey across the globe. Nestled along Railway Street in Mudgeeraba’s village precinct, the quaint bar is lined with an ever-growing collection of more than 130 different whiskies from around the world. The vibe is intentionally casual and, given it operates under a small-bar licence, there’s no food – but you’re more than welcome to BYO snacks or takeaway meals from nearby eateries.
Baskk Italian, Kirra
After a pandemic-induced hiatus, popular Kirra restaurant and bar Baskk reopened in early July with an entirely new identity. It’s now Baskk Italian – Kirra-Coolangatta area’s newest pizza, pasta and insalata-slinging eatery. Simple, honest and traditional Italian food made using quality all-local produce is what it’s all about for the new Baskk Italian. Expect snacks like warm, fluffy focaccia with n’duja, pastas like 12-hour slow-cooked ragu pappardelle, plus Naples-style pizzas and eye-catching desserts like the giant profiterole sandwich (hello) filled with fior di latte gelato and doused in hot chocolate fondue. Bellissimo!
Coda Bar & Dining, Broadbeach
Gracing the dining strip beneath The Phoenician in Broadbeach, Coda Bar & Dining is an exciting second venue from the team from neighbouring Italian carb haven Don’t Gnocc It. The 5o-seater opens for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Sunday, armed with a contemporary European-style menu of smaller plates and larger dishes that traverse land and sea – think gin-cured salmon with avocado mousse and horseradish creme fraiche, fried green olives with ‘nduja and arrabiata sauce, grilled saganaki with honey, roasted walnuts and pomegranate molasses and fun sips like tiramisu espresso martinis topped with boozy sponge fingers.
Wildflower Gin, Burleigh
This brand-new distillery opened just a week before lockdown – so the first product to come out of its facility was actually hand sanitiser. Fast forward to better times (now) and Wildflower is going gangbusters with its flagship signature dry gin, produced locally at the distillery on Scottsdale Drive. While it’s not a bar or tasting room just yet (it’s in the plans), you can head on down and chat to the team and pick up your own bottle straight from the source. Given the small-batch nature of the brand, we can expect to see some exciting limited-edition gin releases to come out of the Burleigh Heads distillery over the coming months – along with some tasty aged bourbons and whiskies!
Bonnie’s Cafe, Ashmore
We love a hidden gem. Quality cafe-style eats are few and far between in the coast’s industrial areas, which is exactly the market that Bonnie Cullen is aiming to capture with her namesake venture Bonnie’s Cafe in Ashmore. Here you can load up on half-kilo servings of slow-cooked meats, sub-style sandwiches with lip-smacking fillings and stacked pickle-topped burgers with buttery brioche buns – all best sided with old-school gravy-smothered chips.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Gold Coast dining guide with more than 870 places to eat, drink, shop and play.