cocktails at The Smoking Camel restaurant Byron Bay

Where to eat (and drink) in Byron Bay

Where to eat (and drink) in Byron Bay

Discover the best restaurants in and around Australia’s favourite beach town.

Words by Ute Junker

Photos supplied

Kingfish and oysters at Moonlight restaurant Byron Bay

It pitches itself as a hibachi grill and wine bar but the moody, monochrome space that is Moonlight does a lot more than what it says on the packet. Raw dishes such as kingfish that zings with ginger and yuzu vinaigrette is just as mouthwatering as the miso-glazed salmon yakitori. And if nothing from the biodynamic wine list takes your fancy you can also avail yourself of Japanese whisky, hot and cold sake or cocktails made with foraged ingredients including paperbark.

Beach Byron Bay restaurant Nikki To
Beach Byron Bay

Forget vinaigrette. If you want to add a zing to your next serve of oysters, take a leaf out of chef Alanna Sapwell’s book and top them with mandarin, fennel and chilli. It is just one of the clever combinations that Sapwell features on her menu, which also includes a memorable sweet and sour smoked beetroot with crunchy hazelnuts. The best-located restaurant in Byron, sitting on the beachfront at Clarkes Beach, could get away with serving adequate food; kudos to the team for delivering something this strong.

Bar Heather Byron Bay Jess Kearney
Bar Heather

Byron Bay’s main drag has long leaned more towards wheatgrass shots than good wine, but Bar Heather does things differently. In a town packed with airy open interiors, Bar Heather instead goes for an intimate bistro feel. Its wine list showcases an impressive range of natural wines and the snacky menu – put together by a chef fresh from Sydney’s acclaimed Sixpenny restaurant – is packed with standouts including a venison tartare teamed with roasted peppers on crunchy gnocco frito.

Village salad at The Smoking Camel in Byron Bay
The Smoking Camel

Created by the same team behind Moonlight, The Smoking Camel couldn’t be more different. There’s nothing understated about either the boldly-coloured interiors or the menu of Middle Eastern share plates. Start with sumac-spiced tuna kibbeh nayeh before swooping on some Baharat beef shish and shawarma spiced chicken fresh from the grill and a watermelon-shanklish-mint combo. The drinks list includes clever cocktails and a selection of craft beers as well as some nice Mediterranean reds.

Belongil Beach Italian Food

Maurice Terzini is in the pink. The restaurateur behind acclaimed Sydney venues such as Bondi Icebergs Bar & Dining and the zero-waste bar, Re., has given his Byron Bay restaurant a bright, breezy fit-out, complete with pastel pink chairs and tables. The menu delivers everything you would expect, from fresh pasta and risotto to perfectly-cooked seafood such as local sand whiting with oregano butter.

Karkalla Byron Bay

Indigenous ingredients shine at Karkalla, the restaurant helmed by Bundjalung woman Mindy Woods. Snack on some fried saltbush stems served with smoked chilli and bush tomato sauce to start. Follow that with a green curry of snapper and mussels sings with the addition of lemon myrtle, pepper leaf and saltbush, with a garnish of the succulent karkalla leaves from which the restaurant takes its name.

Paper Daisy, Cabarita Beach

Settle in for a long lunch at this poolside restaurant inside the beautifully-styled Halcyon House hotel. The award-winning Paper Daisy focuses on locally-sourced food, including fresh-foraged coastal herbs. Kick off with a cocktail and graze your way through a selection of entrees and mains. You can’t go wrong with seafood: kingfish baked in local kelp with sweetcorn, smoked onion and dried prawns is a good pick.

Three Blue Ducks at The Farm Byron Bay
Three Blue Ducks at The Farm

With five restaurants across the country, the Ducks have built a reputation for fresh, flavour-packed food and at The Farm, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it. You can book a table for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner or even for their crowd-pleasing Sunday roast. If it’s a sunny day, pick up one of their picnic hampers to enjoy on site – on this lush 32-hectares site, you have plenty of room to spread out.

Harvest restaurant Newrybar_copyright Destination NSW
Harvest, Newrybar

Newrybar, 15 minutes drive from Byron, consists of just a handful of buildings, and most of them seem to belong to the gourmet hub Harvest, which variously incorporates a restaurant (housed in a converted farmhouse), a deli and a shop. Local and sustainable are the watchwords here; the menu changes weekly depending on what’s available. The kitchen crew forages locally and breaks down whole beasts for nose-to-tail dining, while the wine list is 100 per cent Australian.

Pipit, Pottsville

Sustainable seafood is front and centre at Pipit run by Ben Devlin, the chef who first made his mark at Paper Daisy over in Cabarita. At Pipit, lobster is teamed with potato noodles and a Brazilian cherry chutney; creative sides include grilled sugarloaf cabbage with crab and macadamia cream. Well worth the 30-minute drive from Byron.


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