If you love good food and great scenery, you need to visit North Coast New South Wales immediately! Also known as the Northern Rivers, this spectacular region boasts picturesque coastline, lush valleys, stunning mountains and gorgeous rivers. Spanning a huge area, from Newcastle to the Queensland border, there’s plenty to see, do and eat. To get you started, here, in no particular order are 29 places we’ve visited and loved! If you know of any others worth a try, share them in the comments.
1. Tweed River House, Murwillumbah
Set in a lovingly restored century-old grand river house overlooking the Tweed River, it’s no surprise Tweed River House was awarded a Chef Hat. The restaurant oozes old-world glamour and elegance, with owner Gregory greeting diners at the door, deservedly proud of the beautiful space he’s created. I recommend booking to secure a spot on the river terrace to take in views of Wollumbin (Mt Warning) while enjoying an incredible long lunch. Honestly, the food here is nothing short of spectacular. It’s beautifully plated, honouring the flavours of the region with each bite. Find Tweed River House here.
2. Sanctus Brewing Company, Townsend
Lovers of great food and fantastic beer better put this one on their list immediately! Located in a quiet industrial estate 20 minutes outside Yamba, Sanctus Brewing is an oasis you’ll want to visit time and time again. The kitchen here uses only fire meaning everything is insanely tasty including perfect wood-fired pizzas and treats like tender pork and juicy corn on the cob cooked on charcoal. Best of all, you can wash it all down with ice-cold craft beer. There’s live music and brewery tours and children and dogs are welcome too! Find Sanctus Brewing Company here.
3. Shelly Beach Cafe, Ballina
Located along Shelly Beach in East Ballina, this unsuspecting spot boasts sweeping ocean views and is open for breakfast and lunch 6 days a week. The food is vibrant, fresh and bursting with flavour, beautifully presented on the plate. Tuck into ricotta pancakes, breakfast tacos, tasty granola and more with plenty of options for those with dietary requirements. The coffee and service here are also fantastic! After enjoying your meal, explore the coastal walking path for some fresh air and sunshine. Find Shelly Beach Cafe here.
4. Karkalla, Byron Bay
A cosy, earthy and welcoming restaurant located on a quiet corner in Byron Bay, Karkalla is a love letter to native food. Owner Mindy Woods is a proud Bundjalung woman taking diners on a journey through indigenous culture with every bite. Expect incredible hospitality and familiar dishes brilliantly enhanced with some ingredients you may have seen but never tried and exciting, new flavours sure to delight like oysters with Davidson plum sorbet! This is a dining experience that will stay with you for quite some time! Find Karkalla here.
5. Tropical Fruit World, Duranbah
Before I visited I wasn’t sure what to expect from Tropical Fruit World and now I’ve been, I realise I’ve been missing out because it’s awesome! Set among the stunning scenery of Murwillumbah, visitors can explore the lush rolling hills of the farm on a guided tour and sample truly delicious fruits you’ve probably never seen or heard of before. There’s also a range of ever-changing events and workshops perfect for all ages. I loved getting to try new flavours, meeting the farm animals, soaking in the natural beauty of the farm and stocking up on the most delicious fresh produce to take home. There’s no doubt, Tropical Fruit World is a seriously underrated gem! Find Tropical Fruit World here.
Eat, drink and explore on a guided tour with Kiff & Culture! Perfect for those visiting without a car or anyone keen for an epic foodie adventure, Kiff’s guided tours take you to all the best spots from Brisbane to Byron Bay.
6. The General Store, Byron Bay
Established in 1947, this sweet spot is one of the oldest commercial buildings in Byron Shire! Grab a seat outside in the warm sunshine or get cosy inside the warm, welcoming interior. Here, everything on the menu is vegan friendly with a few dishes offering eggs and grilled haloumi. The coffee is fantastic and the whole place has a really cool, laid-back vibe. A must-visit for food lovers, the breakfast burgers are sensational and options like house-made buckwheat waffles topped with sticky date sauce and coconut ice cream look just as good as they taste! Find The General Store here.
7. Gather, Yamba
This lovely little cafe is the perfect place to start the day in Yamba. Step inside and peruse the cake cabinet, stocked full of freshly home-baked goodies like piping hot Portuguese egg tarts and espresso, and date and walnut cakes lavished with coffee cream. The breakfast menu is short and sweet offering beautifully prepared favourites like bacon and eggs as well as familiar bites with a unique twist like avocado piled high on sourdough with kale and spicy homemade kimchi. Find Gather here.
8. Foxy Luu’s, Byron Bay
Lovers of Asian street food best pop a visit to Foxy Luu’s on their Byron Bay itinerary, pronto! Located in a nook of shops set in a small plaza, you could easily drive right past it and think nothing of it but, boy, you’d be missing out. This low-key spot has an inclusive, well-priced menu of dumplings, salads, bao buns, soups and Goi Cuon but, personally, I think the real move is to go for their bento boxes which give you the chance to taste everything! Find Foxy Luu’s here.
9. Husk Distillery, North Tumbulgum
There’s no denying Husk Distillery is one of the Northern River’s best-hidden gems! When you arrive, you’ll be blown away by how beautiful the location is, offering wide-open spaces, exposed brick buildings and stunning views of Wollumbin (Mt Warning) and lush scenery. Husk specialises in Caribbean-style white rum made using pure sugar cane grown on-site. The result is a rum so fresh, smooth and delicious even I could drink it straight and that never happens. You could easily spend a beautiful long, lazy afternoon here trying different types of rum and their signature ink gin, perfectly paired with a bite to eat from their kitchen. Just be sure to decide on a designated driver in advance! Find Husk Distillery here.
10. The Top Shop, Byron Bay
Set in a 1950’s milk bar, Top Shop has a distinct locals feel to it and, in my opinion, serves up the best coffee in Byron Bay. With an all-day menu, you’re spoilt with plenty of tantalising options to choose from including granola, acai and omelette bowls, breakfast favourites like avo on toast, sandwiches and burgers. You can definitely get your hands on a well-priced bite here with food that’s fresh, delicious and unpretentious – it’s just good ingredients that taste amazing! Find The Top Shop here.
Did you know? The North Coast is home to the Bundjalung, Githabul, Yaegl, Gumbayngirr, Dunghutti, and Birpai people. Immerse yourself in the history and culture of our first nations people with unique local experiences here.
11. Zentveld’s Coffee Farm & Roastery, Newrybar
Take a guided tour through the lush grounds of Zentveld’s, located a short drive from Byron Bay. Here, you’ll get the chance to explore the crop-to-cup experience while basking in the incredible energy of the rolling green hills of the coffee plantation. Learn how the coffee is grown and what makes the plants here so happy they naturally produce less caffeine! Explore the grounds then tuck into a cup of Zentvelds single origin, organic coffee freshly roasted on-site. Truly a unique spot perfect for coffee-lovers. Find Zentveld’s Coffee Farm & Roastery here.
12. Harvest, Newrybar
Escape and unwind in the magical world of Harvest, located in Newrybar, a short drive from Byron Bay. Explore the lovely stores lining the quaint main street then wander into Harvest for a sun-drenched long lunch in a gorgeous setting. With a menu made to share, you’ll want to order a range of dishes to try like fresh oysters, bbq squid, roasted fish, pork neck and sumptuous bay lobster. The food here is truly wonderful, making it the perfect spot for a special occasion or spontaneous indulgence. After lunch, head next door to the deli to stock up on goodies made using the 119-year-old wood-fired oven on-site. Find Harvest here.
13. The Balcony & Oyster Co., Byron Bay
If you love a spot of people watching or just enjoy dining with a view, The Balcony & Oyster Co is the spot for you! Call ahead to book the perfect spot on the covered balcony where you’ll be treated to a birds-eye view of Byron Bay’s busy streets. Take your time with a long lunch or dinner, digging into exceptional freshly-shucked oysters, mouth-watering seafood and cuts of meat cooked to perfection on the grill including Bangalow pork and eye fillet. P.S don’t skip the potatoes if you’re a spud fan! Find The Balcony & Oyster Co here.
14. Tucker, Casuarina
Set near the beach in Casuarina, Tucker is a beautifully designed cafe serving up food that looks and tastes amazing. Spacious, airy and thoughtfully designed, you’ll find it hard to ignore the well-stocked cake cabinet and luscious loaves of sourdough lining the bakery shelves. The menu offers exciting bites like peanut butter and jam porridge, fluffy pancakes adorned with caramelised banana and crunchy, golden potato rosti dripping in hollandaise if you like. Find Tucker here.
15. The Farm and Three Blue Ducks, Byron Bay
If you find yourself in Byron, be sure to add a visit to The Farm to your itinerary! As the name suggests, it’s a farm but it’s also so much more. Wander the grounds yourself or take a guided farm tour to learn all about how the farm community works together and feeds the many animals who call the area home. Then, grab a bite to eat at Three Blue Ducks for a truly unforgettable dining experience. Serving up some of the very best food in Byron Bay, you’ll be spoiled for choice with a menu showcasing the very best seasonal, organic and sustainably farmed produce that, quite simply, tastes phenomenal. Find The Farm and Three Blue Ducks here.
16. Wild Thyme Dining, Murwillumbah
Visit the lush little town of Murwillumbah and peruse the stores lining the main streets, immersing yourself in this creative community before heading in to eat at Wild Thyme. Everything here looks vibrant and wholesome on the plate, treating your eyes to a feast before your tummy taps in! Sample fresh local ingredients and dishes inspired by different cuisines or take a tour of the mouth-watering pastries in the cake cabinet. Either way, the food is fantastic! Find Wild Thyme Dining here.
17. Taverna, Kingscliff
Serving up incredible Greek-inspired fare, Taverna is a Kingscliff must-do! The restaurant is gorgeous, exuding Mediterranean charm with white paint, touches of pastel blue and a lush bougainvillaea growing across the shopfront. Don’t worry, it’s not overdone or kitsch at all! Guests can sample a little of everything with the banquet menu or tuck into the a la carte menu, choosing from plates of chargrilled octopus, Keftedes, slow-roasted lamb shoulder, grilled swordfish and more. The food is, quite simply, divine. Find Taverna here.
18. Folk, Byron Bay
Byron Bay cafes don’t get much better than Folk, a spot that captures the spirit of a very special destination. Focused on house-made, homegrown food in an earthy, rustic setting you can tuck into fantastic vegetarian and plant-based eating made with love. The food here looks and tastes beautiful with tasty options like an organic cinnamon bagel with local honey, organic tahini and citrus granola, poached eggs with silverbeet mint pesto and delectable soba noodle salad, just to name a few. Find Folk here.
19. Tweed Eco Cruises, the Tweed
The Tweed boasts an abundance of stunning scenery and one of the best ways to experience it is with Tweed Eco Cruises. We’ve done two and loved them both! The crab-catching adventure allows you to get hands-on while the lunch cruise offers something totally laid-back and relaxing. Either way, you’ll be treated to fantastic local fare including the very freshest seafood, beer, gin and more from nearby spots and delectable nibbles. It’s the perfect blend of sightseeing, great food and drink and total relaxation! Find Tweed Eco Cruises here.
20. Lello’s Pasta Bar, Brunswick Heads
You had me at pasta bar. Right?! Located in Brunswick Heads, Lello’s is family-owned and operated, offering truly wonderful Italian food that’s sure to impress. The restaurant is understated and classy, creating a welcoming and relaxing ambience right from the get-go. The menu changes seasonally but let me tell you right now you do NOT want to skip the perfectly crispy garlic bread topped with sea salt. Of course, the pasta is fantastic, making very good use of local seafood paired with perfectly cooked, al dente noodles. Find Lello’s here.
21. Yulli’s Byron Bay
Fancy an entirely plant-based menu? A visit to Yulli’s in Byron Bay is absolutely essential. Combining 100% vegan food with modern Asian cuisine, you’ll be spoilt for choice whether you’re a meat-lover or not (just ask my husband). The food is that good. We loved ordering a whole bunch of stuff to try including kratongtong crispy wontons, san choy bow, pan-fried roti with massaman curry and delectable sticky pecan and date pudding! Simply put, everything on the menu is delicious and it’s one of our favourite spots in Byron. Find Yulli’s here.
22. Stone Studio, Kingscliff
For a great cup of coffee in Kingscliff, you want to make your way to Stone Studio. This lovely spot is located on a quiet corner right across from the beach and you could quite happily get your coffee and head off for a lovely walk on the waterfront. But, should you want to kick things up a notch, Stone Studio also offers pottery courses that involve wine and cheese! What more could you want?! Find Stone Studio here.
23. New Brighton Farmers Market, New Brighton
Held every Tuesday morning, the New Brighton Farmers Market is set along the river in New Brighton. With a distinct community feel, you’ll love exploring the fresh food stalls and checking out workshops, cooking demonstrations and more. If you’re just there to feast, you’ll want to visit stalls like Crabbes Creek Woodfire for incredible bread and pastries, Brunswick Seed Oysters for freshly shucked oysters or The Nomadic Kitchen for a plate of rustic Italian food you’ll be thinking about for months to come. Find the New Brighton Farmers Market here.
24. Butcher Baker, Bangalow
You’ll love exploring the gorgeous town of Bangalow and, once your hunger hits fever pitch, you should make your way to Butcher Baker for breakfast or lunch. Built on a love of meat, bread and beer there are plenty of options to tempt you, including those for the gluten-free and plant-based folk! Sink your teeth into the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger, crispy bacon avo salad, slow-roasted pork banh mi or whole roasted field mushroom open sandie. Find Butcher Baker here.
25. YoFlo, Byron Bay
I don’t know when we, as a society, decided frozen yogurt was over but I wasn’t at the vote and I wasn’t ready for it to end. There are no good froyo spots near where I live and it breaks my heart. Thankfully, the best froyo spot in the world is located in Byron Bay! At YoFlo they just get it right. There’s a good selection of frozen yogurt flavours including acai and dairy-free options plus you get to scoop your own quality toppings. If they ever close this place I’m going to have a meltdown. Find YoFlow here and do me a personal favour and pump a bunch of money through it so it never closes.
26. The Roadhouse, Byron Bay
Iconic spot, The Roadhouse, serves up beautiful breakfasts 7 days a week and incredible pizza after dark Wednesday to Sunday. I recommend trying both! The pizzas here are unreal using locally sourced ingredients atop a gloriously hand-stretched, biodynamic, two-day fermented base cooked to perfection in a wood-fired oven. For breakfast, try seasonal bites like coconut pancakes served with coconut yogurt, luscious berries and jam or an absolutely fantastic eggs benny piled high with smoked salmon. Find The Roadhouse here.
27. Byron Bay Farmers Market
Held in Byron Bay on Thursdays from 7-11 am and in Bangalow on Saturdays from 7-11 am, the Byron Bay Farmers Market is the perfect opportunity to truly taste the region. There’s live music, coffee and fresh juice to get your day started then you can peruse stalls offering plenty of good food to take home, back to your accommodation or to prepare a picnic with. Pick up fresh gourmet pasta, artisanal bread and cheeses, tempeh, miso and toasted granola to go or sit and enjoy a Japanese breakfast, delectable dumplings, breakfast bowl or just a big ol’ jam donut. Find the Byron Bay Farmers Market here.
28. Karrikin, Yamba
If you attempt to cyberstalk Karrikin, you won’t find a menu anywhere online and, really, that only adds to the excitement and enjoyment of dining there. With an ever-changing four-course set menu, all you need to do is show up hungry and ready to go! This sweet little spot is set inside an unassuming house on Coldstream Street in Yamba, serving up creative dishes that celebrate seasonal and local ingredients, offering a taste of the region with each bite. Find Karrikin here.
29. Bayleaf Cafe, Byron Bay
If you spot it from across the street, Bayleaf Cafe in Byron Bay just looks like the kind of place you want to get cosy and relax with a great plate of food. With a focus on local suppliers, ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients and only the freshest produce, it’s no surprise each plate is beautiful. The menu makes it hard to choose with items like braised octopus and noodle salad, house-made sweet potato flatbread topped with roasted veg and an out-of-this-world take on okonomiyaki. Find Bayleaf Cafe here.
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