MorMors, Merimbula, New South Wales © David Rogers Photography
The best places to eat and drink on the Sapphire Coast
From rustic oyster barns to community-focused cafés and waterfront pubs, here’s your gourmet guide to the Sapphire Coast.
By Carla Grossetti
It’s hard to whittle down your list of places to eat and drink while on New South Wales’ sparkling Sapphire Coast, which extends from Wonboyn in the south to Wallaga Lake in the north. But these noteworthy spots are the perfect start.
"There is nothing better than eating just-shucked oysters overlooking the lake from which they were plucked."
Best for Sunday Brunch
The Waterfront Cafe in Merimbula is particularly fetching in the morning, when Lake Merimbula is bathed in shimmering sunshine. Or enjoy the leafy surrounds of MorMors.
Folks who frequent Wild Ryes Baking Co. & Coffee Roasters in Pambula do so as much for the friendly atmosphere as for the coffee. But it’s the baked goods that deserve attention: think slow-fermented batards, sourdough, paninis and pasties. Come back at lunchtime for a barbecue angus pie.
A 20-minute drive south, Sprout Eden is part café and part grocer. Here, you’ll find whole foods grown by a collective of producers dedicated to sustainable farming. Order the Big Daddy Roll, packed with bacon, sausage and eggs from some of the happiest chickens in Eden.
Be sure to try: The caramelised onion and barbecue Angus rump pie from Wild Ryes.
Best oyster experiences
There is nothing better than eating just-shucked oysters on an open-air deck overlooking the lake from which they were plucked. Order a dozen natural Sydney Rocks from Merimbula Gourmet Oysters’ Oyster Barn and you’re sure to taste the pristine quality of the lake.
Wheelers Seafood Restaurant is a hallmark on the Australian Oyster Coast and one of the best spots to enjoy a taste of the sea. For an immersive oyster experience, book the farm tour, where you’ll meet the farmers and indulge in Sydney Rock Oysters before they ever hit the table.
Connoisseurs of oysters will enjoy slurping down a cheeky dozen on one of Captain Sponge’s Magical Oyster Tours. The tour sets sail down the scenic Pambula River with local farmer Brett ‘Sponge’ Weingarth before you shuck and taste oysters right on the water.
Be sure to try: The Angasi native oyster at Merimbula Gourmet Oyster Farm.
Best brew with a view
It’s not just the food on the Sapphire Coast that brings the crowds; the drinks scene is equally impressive. At award-winning North of Eden, gins are blended, bottled and labelled by hand. Sit indoors or outdoors at the rustic cellar door, fashioned from an old farm shed, and drink in the views over rolling pastures dotted with cows.
Longstocking Brewery & Oyster Bar offers an exceptional cellar door experience. Housed within Oakland Barn outside Pambula, the brewery makes dark ales, pale ales, lagers, pilsners and ciders all with the option of being paired with pizza.
Head to Tathra Hotel on a Friday night and you’ll find the place pumping with parched locals enjoying a few ales after work. Home to the Humpback Brewery, the pub speaks loudly of its location on the Tathra Headland; sit and sip a First Calf Pale Ale and keep your eyes peeled for passing whales.
Be sure to try: The Classic and The Connoisseur, both award-winning gins from North of Eden.
Best destination dining
Merimbula’s Valentina adds a whole new level of sophistication to the Sapphire Coast. And while you may be tempted to dwell on the dreamy décor – curated arches, soft colours and curves – clever dishes such as the whipped cod roe and spaghetti with crab will make you want to anchor here all evening.
Just a 10-minute drive away in Pambula, Banksia Restaurant sits at the intersection of food, wine, heritage and community. A sense of place is pivotal to this charming restaurant’s success, drawing in locals and out-of-towners alike.
Yet another dinner destination is Mimosa Wines. The chefs here trawl the Sapphire Coast for menu inspiration: think Wapengo oysters, a Tilba cheeseboard and market fish with Jervis Bay black mussels. Enjoy lunch on the deck overlooking groves of muted grey-green gums and vineyards.
Be sure to try: The crunchy crushed potatoes at Valentina.