Raes, Byron Bay, New South Wales © Raes
Top places to eat and drink in Byron Bay
Soak up the vibrant foodie scene in Byron, Australia’s hipster heartland.
By Carla Grossetti
Whether you’re on a beach getaway with the girls or a surf trip with family friends, Byron Bay has become the New South Wales capital of coastal cool. But there’s a lot more to this hippie-chic village than surf, sun, sea and sand under endless blue skies. Base yourself in Byron Bay for a short break and you will find plenty of great places to eat and drink, too.
"Eating and drinking your way around northern New South Wales is one of the best ways to appreciate the Byron buzz."
Three of the best places for brunch in Byron Bay
Byron Bay has one of the country’s most exciting cafe cultures. It’s also big on brunch. Channel your inner hippie for vegan toasties, or a seasonal ‘nourishing bowl’ at Combi, the beach shack-styled cafe a stone’s throw from Main Beach.
Rely on the local coffee snobs when they tell you to head slightly out of town to The Roadhouse. Sit outside and soak up the relaxed vibes at The Roady where, after indulging in an oat latte, you can fuel up on potato rosti with avocado, chilli jam and vine tomatoes.
Pick up a croissant and a long black from Suffolk Bakery to enjoy while watching the waves roll in at nearby Broken Head Beach. Alternatively, nab a stool on the wrap-around deck to shoot the breeze with impossibly hip locals at this bakery-cum-cafe.
Be sure to try: The spicy Thai chicken pie at Suffolk Bakery.
Keep it casual for lunch in (and around) Byron Bay
You don’t need to have a man bun or piercings to enjoy a bacon and egg roll at Top Shop, but it helps if you want to feel a sense of belonging in Byron. Enjoy a post-surf lunch at Top Shop in the 100-year-old cottage that was once a milk bar, and then lounge on the lawn for the better part of the afternoon.
Experience a brewery tour followed by a few brilliant brews at Stone & Wood Brewery in the heart of Byron’s industrial estate. Order a few fruity IPAs to pair with a carefully curated brewer’s board of local cheeses, cured meat and pickles from the Canteen, catered by 100 Mile Table’s Sarah Swan.
Those wanting to avoid the crowds in Byron should definitely detour to Doma in Federal. The owners of Doma, which has sister eatery Qudo in Bellingen, have Japanese heritage so expect exceptional poke bowls and sashimi and a range of rakkenji (fermented breads).
Be sure to try: The house-smoked kingfish sashimi and slow-braised yuzu miso pork belly at Doma.
Top spots for dinner in Byron Bay
The delight of the Sunday night family BBQ dinner at Three Blue Ducks is heightened by the fact you might see one of the chefs collecting the oddly shaped potatoes that are now on your plate from the grounds of the working farm. Get a taste of the Byron Bay good life at this rustic restaurant, which lives up to the hype.
You can trace the origins of more than 80 per cent of the ingredients on your plate to within a three-hour drive of Forest, at the Crystalbrook Byron. Indulge in native rock oysters followed by the signature seafood platter at this ‘restaurant with rooms’, the name of which nods to the crayon-green rainforest surrounds.
All your cares will evaporate on arrival at Raes Dining Room, which is recognised as being one of the best regional restaurants in Australia. Snap some photos of the beach-chic space, those spectacular beach views and the three-course a la carte menu or six-course tasting menu prepared by Executive Chef Jason Saxby and you’ll be the envy of your Instagram friends.
Be sure to try: The sensational six-course tasting menu at Raes.
For cocktails and craft brews
All your cares will evaporate on arrival at MVP, which stands for both Mark + Vinny’s Place and Most Valued Producers. Enjoy Spaghetti & Spritz in the dining room downstairs or head straight to Mark + Vinny’s Big Deck on the rooftop for pizza alla Romana.
Chupacabra is the kind of place you dream about discovering on your travels. This taqueria like no other is brought to you by the Harvest Newrybar crew – another destination diner – and its focus is on coastal and Caribbean-influenced Mexican cuisine. Expect food as vibrant as the venue, which is perfect for a fiesta of tequila and pollo tacos.
The Balcony Bar & Oyster Co. is one of the best places in Byron Bay to enjoy live music. It’s also a lesson in understated simplicity where an afternoon well spent comprises a dozen oysters, a sea breeze and a couple of cocktails. When the sun sinks low in the sky, head down the nearby laneway to Supernatural for wines as funky as the music.
Be sure to try: Oyster hour at The Balcony Bar & Oyster Co. Shuck yeah.