Less than an hour and a half south of the Gold Coast, where the Commonwealth Games are about to be held, and the home of Bluesfest, which takes place this weekend, Byron Bay is a hotbed for innovative gastronomy and creative enterprises. The landscape is constantly evolving and flourishing, yet within the much loved laid-back coastal and country environment that has thrived for years. The food scene has a strong focus on producing unique quality from locally sourced ingredients- and the fantastic flavours in the dishes the region’s restaurants are serving up reflects a clear drive behind this successful and important focus.
Explore Byron Bay on your next road trip or east coast adventure and taste your way around the region’s exciting food destinations. To help with choosing where to try, we’ve wrapped up five places to add to your Byron Bay foodie bucket list.
Habitat at North Beach is opened in December 2017 is a new approach to the modern village community – an innovative concept in living and working both leading the charge with the socially and environmentally minded ethos. Habitat is just a five minutes’ drive from Byron Bay, but also can be reached via the world’s first ever solar panelled train which runs between Byron Bay and North Beach daily. Barrio restaurant at Habitat is the village’s relaxed all-day dining establishment. Barrio meaning “neighbourhood” in Spanish is designed to feel like a home from home, takes its influence from the wood-fired oven and charcoal grill. Experimenting with bright colours and bold flavour, Head Chef Francisco Smoje’s cooking is authentic, working with traditions but also bringing a new palate of flavour to the Byron Bay dining scene.
Dishes to try: Grilled beef rib with chimichurri, wood roasted pumpkin with brown rice, feta, baked ricotta and roasted capsicum.
Award-Winning Charm: Harvest
Newrybar, a 15 mins drive from Byron Bay, represents an established Byron community that was built around the original bakery, which is over 100 years old. The area was reinforced in last 11 years by award-winning Harvest restaurant, artisan delicatessen, and boutique shops. At Harvest, seasonal food is sourced from artisan producers and the restaurants own edible gardens, sitting alongside Australia’s native and wild ingredients. Harvest have received multiple accolades over the years; most recently, a hat in the Good Food Guide 2018, Best Small List (50 Wines) by Gourmet Traveller Wine 2017 and Delicious. 2017 – NSW Top 100 coming in at number twenty one.
Dishes to try: The baked sweet potato and macadamia cheese with Davidson’s plum; ballina prawns with pickled seaweed, dooja lime and kelp butter; roast celeriac with cumin eucalyptus, ricotta gnudi, fermented grains, and the braised sugarloaf cabbage with pandanus vinegar and shaved parmesan.
Classic: Three Blue Ducks
Three Blue Ducks at The Farm offers the perfect family friendly destination long lunches and afternoon hang outs. While producing a sophisticated rustic hangout space with upbeat funky music, it retains that classic farm feel and laid back vibes. It is no wonder Three Blue Ducks has become such a foundation in Byron’s restaurant scene because once guests enter, they’re given the invitation to be fully immersed in the farming dynamics creating a connection between the food on the table and the ingredients sourced and produced.
Dishes to try: Kinkawooka mussels yellow curry with turmeric, lemongrass, Farm greens, Nimbin Valley rice, shallots & charred lime; Fish of the day served with zucchini lambeh, roast peppers, Farm squash. A hint for the sweetooths – indulge in the Tiramisu with savoiardi biscuit, Cultur’d crème fraiche, Single O espresso sauce, cake srcap truffle and cacao.
Fine dining: Fig Tree
At the modern Australian restaurant in Ewingsdale, Fig Tree, you are taken on a unique culinary degustation experience. Residing in a beautiful quaint farm house with the dining area occupying what appears like a former open living room, guests sit down to a set table and a complimentary sparkling wine. The service is exceptional and highly personal. Within a few minutes the chef comes to the table and talk to you about what you can expect from your tasting degustation – a set menu where the choice of dishes is completely out of your control.
Dishes to try: Fig tree’s degustation menu is ever-changing but here’s a tease at the sample menu – Mahi mahi, fennel and dill, Binna Burra beef, parsnip carrots, Ballina prawns with pippies, sweet corn and beach greens.
Unique: Doma Café
About a 20 minute drive from Minyon Falls, is the quaint town of Federal. On the main street is a general store, a coffee shop and roaster called Moonshine Coffee, and a modern Japanese and Australian fusion joint called Doma Cafe. Since 2012, Doma has been operating from within the rustic walls of a renovated timber house, set amongst a lush garden courtyard, serving fantastic food you’d only expect from a swanky city restaurant. That is what makes it so enjoyable – you get the delightful contrast of countryside charm and laid back vibes, while served delicious combination of contemporary Japanese and western food. It makes this cafe a real gem in the heart of the hinterlands, and one worth stopping by on a day trip or on your way to Lismore or Nimbin.
Dishes to try: Miso eggplant and quinoa salad; chicken katsu burger; Japanese style hash browns; French toast loaded with fresh fruit and bacon; and the Soba Noodle Salad with truffle oil.