Long stretches of beautiful beach, unique neighbourhoods and a seemingly endless list of things to do are enough to put the Gold Coast on any travel wish list. But, in addition to all that, there’s also an epic food scene! Whether you’re a coffee fanatic, sweet tooth or just someone who appreciates great food, there’s a spot to meet your every craving. Because life’s too short to waste on a bad meal here, in no particular order, are 22 of the BEST (and our favourite) spots to eat on the Gold Coast! Scroll to the end for your free pocket guide.
1. Jimmy Wah’s
Jimmy Wah’s serves up modern Vietnamese food in a comfortable setting, right in the heart of Burleigh on The Esplanade. You’ll definitely want to make a booking as we arrived right at opening time, having booked, and the place was immediately packed. When you get a glimpse of the menu, it’s easy to see why! The food here is best-enjoyed family-style, so you can sample as many tasty treats as possible. There are plenty of options for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free folk too! The food is incredibly fresh, packed full of flavour and absolutely delicious. Highlights include the steamed bao buns, Banh Mi with tempura soft shell crab and caramelised pork belly. Also, don’t sleep on the mocktails! Find Jimmy Wah’s here.
2. Paddock Bakery
One of my favourite breakfast or brunch spots on the coast, Paddock Bakery in Burleigh Heads is a must-try spot! The clever folk at Paddock set up shop in an old Queenslander home, transforming it and the surrounding garden into a relaxing destination for fantastic food. There are no bookings so either time your visit for a weekday or be prepared to wait if visiting on a weekend (trust me, it’s worth it). The menu is stacked with delectable options including their famous dippy eggs, doughnut french toast, pea and halloumi fritters or their iconic rustic avo. The food here is fresh, flavoursome and elevated by freshly baked bread, rolls and goodies. Not to mention, the coffee is fantastic too! Find Paddock Bakery here.
3. Goodness Gracias
Get your hands on some truly delicious plant-based goodness at Goodness Gracias, located in Palm Beach. Open Wednesday through to Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm, it’s a top spot for lunch and dinner. With limited seating spots inside and outside you may like to plan to grab your meal to-go and enjoy on the balcony of your accommodation, a gorgeous lookout spot or on the beach. The menu had my tummy doing happy summersaults with tasty treats including burritos, nachos and tacos with fillings like smokey chipotle jackfruit, plant-based mo’lay chicken, plant-based bbq beef and bacon and so much more! Find Goodness Gracias here.
4. Rick Shores
Iconic Gold Coast dining experiences don’t come fancier than a meal at Rick Shores. If views could kill, Rick Shores would definitely be in trouble! The dining room is perfectly positioned at Burleigh Heads, looking out over the coastline with uninterrupted views. Classy and cool it offers the perfect location to enjoy a truly delicious feast. Lucky, the food here lives up to the hype! The menu focuses on exceptional seafood paired perfectly with Pan-Asian flavours. Sink your teeth into their famous Moreton Bug Bay roll or sumptuous Ballina King Prawns, tuck into freshly shucked oysters, soft shell crab and cured Ora King salmon. Their set menu will take you on a tour of their best bites, including pork Xiao Long Bay, crispy whole Barramundi and even glazed roast duck. Just be sure to book or you’ll likely not get a table! Find Rick Shores here.
5. Doughnut Time
‘It’s always a good time!’ is the perfect slogan for one of our favourite spots, Doughnut Time. Shop fit-outs don’t get much cooler than this one, with a mouth-watering assortment of doughnuts sitting plump and pretty in the window, tempting you inside. It’s important you know that one is not enough so don’t be sure, stock up on a box of four or more to take home and enjoy with friends (or just by yourself while binge-watching your favourite show!) Tuck into their decadent concoctions including vegan options like the Fairy Godmother topped with buttercream frosting and colourful 100’s and 1000’s or the red velvet and cookie & cream topped Liam Hemsworthy (also vegan!). Sink your teeth into the Strawberry Cheese Bae, Time Tam Time, Caramilk or Slim Shady lavished with vanilla glaze and mini M&M’s. With a brand new gelato bar just opened, you’ll definitely satisfy your sweet tooth. Find Doughnut Time here.
6. Justin Lane Establishment
If you L-O-V-E pizza and pasta, you need to eat at Justin Lane Establishment, a spot famous for their incredible sourdough crust, wood-fired pizzas and delectable pasta. The restaurant has a super cool interior, though I definitely recommend booking a table so you don’t miss out or you can grab your goodies to go and enjoy at your accommodation or on the beach. They’ve got a range of mouthwatering pizzas to choose from and offer options for gluten-free and vegan folk too, as well as a yummy range of starters and desserts! We love the cocktails here and always look forward to sinking our teeth into that delectable pizza crust. Find Justin Lane Establishment here. NEED TO EDIT!
7. Social Brew
Located along James Street in Burleigh, Social Brew is quite the oasis. With tables and an abundance of booths spread out beneath a canopy of plants and twinkling lights, it’s a cosy and welcoming place to start the day. Dig into their iconic Social Stack with all the trimmings, Harissa Haloumi Burger, Breaky Burrito or tuck into one of their tasty acai bowls. I’m quite the acai bowl fanatic and loved their fresh, delicious bowl topped with loads of fruit. The coffee here is wonderful too, making it the ideal places to start your day! Find Social Brew here.
8. Gelato Messina
Don’t you dare think about visiting the southern end of the Gold Coast without putting a visit to Gelato Messina on your itinerary. I simply won’t have it! Proclaiming themselves the makers of Australia’s best gelato, I have to whole-heartedly agree with the Messina team. You’ll find the store on Marine Parade in Coolangatta open from 2 pm on weekdays and 12 pm on weekends, with doors staying open until 8:30 pm The flavours are insanely good with a range of must-try specials and classics like macadamia crunch, pistachio praline, pear and rhubarb and more. They have tasty options for vegans too (I recommend the chocolate sorbet and raspberry sorbet combo!) You’ll need two scoops, at least. Find Gelato Messina here and thank me later.
9. Balter Brewery
Started by 7 great mates who happen to include surfing legends Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson, Balter Brewery is a celebration of doing something you love just for the thrill of it. Lucky for us, in this case, ‘something’ happens to be beer! Head down to Balter HQ in Currumbin Waters, open Wednesday to Sunday from either 3 pm or midday until 8 pm to sample from the truly wonderful wall of brews. Be sure to check the Balter website for their schedule which includes food trucks, $5 tacos and tinnies specials, live music and more! Find Balter here.
10. Dune Cafe
You’ll find Dune Cafe overlooking the serene Currumbin Lagoon offering great views over the water, fantastic food and coffee and a quiet spot to unwind. Open daily from 6:30 am to 3 pm, Dune has a range of bites for breakfast through to lunch with options for kids, vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free folk. Their organic spelt pancakes, golden potato & quinoa hash and tasty granola bowl are ideal for the morning while the burgers, pulled pork tacos and lemon pepper calamari hit the spot for lunch. Find Dune Cafe here.
11. The Collective
Located in Palm Beach in a truly beautiful, open setting adorned with festival lights, murals, plants and the night sky above, The Collective is the perfect spot for dinner. The great thing about this spot is it brings together a range of different kitchens, giving you the ability to choose food from all different cuisines if you like! Enjoy handmade gnocchi from The Italian Job, dumplings from Umami, tacos from Tala, souvlaki from Mazi and burgers from Luckies Diner or simply max out on cuisine, if that’s more your style. Whatever you do, just be sure to book because The Collective is very popular. Find The Collective here.
12. Commune Cafe
Start your morning with a visit to nearby Commune Cafe, a fantastic local spot with great outdoor seating and a relaxed atmosphere. The coffee here is fantastic, so start with a few of those then get stuck into their breakfast menu. From classics like eggs bene and free-range eggs on toast to coriander corn fritters, cacao pancakes and shakshuka to a range of truly delicious superpower bowls (the ‘We’ve gone nuts’ Acai is amazing!) you’ll be spoilt for choice. There’s plenty to choose from for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free folk too. Find Commune Cafe here.
13. Francie’s Pizzeria
Lovers of wood-fired pizza will want to make a beeline for Francie’s Pizzeria in Coolangatta. One look at the menu and your tummy will be rumbling! Open 7 days from 5pm onwards, you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing your stretchy pants for this one. Start things off with small plates of roasted octopus, mussels or wood-roasted sweet corn then move onto one of their amazing wood-fired pizzas. There’s a regular and vegan pizza menu, both boasting a wide range of selections with gluten-free options available too. Shut up and take my money. Find Francie’s Pizzeria here.
14. Custard Canteen
Nestled below a canopy of trees, this cool spot near Talle Creek oozes relaxation with a wide range of seating options. From the same team who brought us Bam Bam Bakehouse, Custard Canteen is a dream come true for lovers of pastries and baked goods. The Portuguese custard tarts are a must-try as is, well, everything else freshly baked and on offer at the counter! The coffee here is fantastic and the menu boasts plenty of goodies like their Butter Boy Benny, served on a fresh croissant if you like, Crispy Shroom Burger, Karaage Chicken Slammer and Prawn Po Boy. Find Custard Canteen here.
15. Little Mali
A very cool, local cafe, Little Mali Espresso and Deli is the ultimate spot to start your day. With a welcoming, friendly and laidback vibe, you’ll feel right at home. Open daily from 5 or 5:30 am to 3:30 pm, you’ll want to get your hands on a coffee then make your way through their menu. For something light and refreshing, their smoothie bowls are unmissable. For something more filling, check out the deli cabinet or try something from their tasty breakfast and lunch menus. We love to get our food and drinks to-go and enjoy them on nearby Rainbow Bay. Find Little Mali here.
16. Burleigh Heads Fishmonger
Forget fancy restaurants, one of the best things to do on the coast is to visit a local fishmonger and enjoy a laid-back feast on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Personally, we love visiting the Burleigh Heads Fishmonger but there are plenty of others dotting the coast (read this guide by The Weekend Edition sharing where to find the Gold Coast’s best fish and chips for more inspo!). Then, wander down to a secluded spot under the shade of a tree and breathe in the fresh ocean air while savouring your lunch. For vegans, you may want to grab an Açai bowl instead! They’re a beloved favourite among GC locals so you won’t have too much trouble finding one (in fact, there’s a number of great spots on James Street in Burleigh Heads including one right next to the fishmonger). Find Burleigh Heads Fishmonger here.
17. Hail Mary
Located in beautiful Burleigh Heads, down an inconspicuous laneway off James Street, you’ll find Hail Mary serving up truly delicious Mexican fare! This place has a super cool fit-out with loads of greenery, peachy-pink paint and quirky modern touches, including a couple of vibrant neon signs, to finish it off. Incredibly popular, I’d recommend you book a table to make sure you don’t miss out as the menu is fantastic. Margarita lovers, like myself, should definitely try the mango margarita before tucking into tasty bites including nachos, tacos, tortas, burritos, enchiladas and more. With plenty of vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan options to choose from you may also like to take advantage of their Taco Tuesday, Burrito Night-Wednesday or Pineapply Thursday deals! Find Hail Mary here.
18. Cafe DBar
Great views and spectacular views combine to make Cafe Dbar a must-visit spot for breakfast or lunch. Open from 7 to 2 pm daily, you’ll find this gorgeous spot nestled on top of Point Danger, boasting panoramic views over world-famous surf breaks. The menu offers a range of delicious options suitable for vegans, gluten dodgers, vegetarians and littles ones. Try their plant-based BLT, healthy Brekky Bowl or Big Brekky to start your day or dig into a delicious burger, fresh salad and tasty smoothie for lunch. Find Cafe Dbar here.
19. Burleigh Pavillion
Trendy spots perfect for a sunset drink or four don’t come much better than the iconic Burleigh Pavillion. Perched high on the rocks, overlooking the water, this beachfront spot offers absolutely stunning views over the local area. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to nab a seat along the windows and spend a good few hours watching surfers paddle on to waves while you sip a frozen rosé, cocktail, glass of wine or an ice-cold beer. The food menu also offers up some great snacks to share including freshly shucked oysters, prawns on ice, wood-fired garlic bread (omg!) and guacamole with corn chips as well as mains, burgers, wood-fired pizzas and more. Find Burleigh Pavillion here.
20. Surf Life Saving Clubs
Beachfront spots don’t come much better than Surf Life Saving Clubs (SLSCs). Dotted along the coastline, they boast absolute beachfront views and the perfect setting for a cold drink or two. SLSC’s are an iconic part of Queensland’s past, present and future as well as an important part of the community. You’ll often find them serving up great meals at good prices including favourites like steaks, fish and chips and the good ol’ parmy (that’s Aussie for chicken parmigiana). There are plenty to choose from including Southport Surf Life Saving Club, BMD Northcliffe Surf Club, Broadbeach Surf Life Saving Club, Kurrawa Surf Club, Mermaid Beach AEME Surf Life Saving Club, Miami Beach Surf Life Saving Club and more!
21. Miami Marketta
Held every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 5pm until late, the Miami Market offers a laneway dining experience with 25 food vendors of all nationalities. From decadent cannoli and the thickest, plumpest lamingtons I have ever seen with my own two eyes to tender brisket, Mexican and Japanese fare, tasty yiros and so much more! There’s also a great rotation of events including Drag Queen Bingo, live music and the ever-popular rummage sale. Be sure to check out the official website for more info on upcoming events. Find the Miami Marketta here.
22. Lot 1 Coffee
For a delicious lunch in Surfer’s Paradise head directly to Lot 1 Coffee on Hanlan Street. The menu here is really well-priced, offering a great range of options for breakfast, brunch and lunch. Tuck into a refreshing ice bowl, indulgent peanut butter French toast or healthy spinach scramble or sample the double beef burger, chicken lemongrass salad or vegetarian falafel wrap, just to name a few. The coffee at Lot 1 is delicious too, with a few dairy-free milk options to choose from. Find Lot 1 Coffee.
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