There’s a whole lot of deliciousness going on in the coastal Queensland city of Mackay! The region’s best-known crop is of course sugar cane, but the rich agricultural land and sub-tropical conditions actually produce a vast array of fresh foods, and a paddock-to-plate dining ethos is gathering some serious momentum. Here are eight amazing places to eat during your visit. Remember to book accommodation for your Mackay culinary short break at ChoiceHotels.com.
1. The Dispensary
Much of Mackay’s CBD dining scene centres around bustling Wood Street. If the weather is good and you fancy an al fresco bite, you can’t go wrong at The Dispensary. This very cool eatery/bar/café/place-to-be-seen does everything from great steaks to tempting tapas and there are weeknight specials (including a cracking roast night on Wednesdays). The vibe is stylish and sophisticated, and this is a great option for celebrating something special.
2. Fusion 128
Just around the corner on Victoria Street, Fusion 128 is another delicious culinary find. The venue is long and narrow and harbours a variety of nooks and crannies that will keep you well hidden from the world outside. The menu fuses Modern Australian with various Asian influences and even throws in a few European twists for good measure. The funky fit-out, warm welcome from proprietor David (who does magic tricks at guests’ tables!) and gooey chocolate tasting platter for dessert are all good reasons to linger.
3. Sorbellos Italian Restaurant
A stalwart of the Mackay dining scene for more than two decades and a firm favourite with locals, family-run Sorbellos serves up an extensive menu of pizzas, pastas, risottos, steaks, seafood dishes and salads. If you can’t find something to tempt you on this menu, you’re not looking hard enough. The choice is vast – as is the wine list. Leave room for the tiramisu. You won’t be sorry.
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4. The Paddock and Brew Company
For a relaxed spot to chow down in town, it’s hard to go past The Paddock and Brew Company on Wood Street (just down from The Dispensary) – especially if you’re a confirmed carnivore. This Americana-inspired eatery offers plenty of outdoor seating and a menu of burgers, ribs, and a selection of seriously popular smoked meat platters. The interior is a mash-up of mid-west roadhouse meets industrial chic. Pull up a seat at the bar, which stocks an array of local and imported beers.
5. Coco Cubano
An old Havana-style cocktail bar is just what you expect to find on the main street in every regional Queensland town, right? Complete with wainscoting, wing-backed leather chairs and cigar-toting revolutionaries peering down from the walls, Coco Cubano is a great spot for a pre-dinner drink (there’s a bar right on the street), but it also does a diverse menu of tapas, burritos, fajitas and Cuban-style sandwiches. Check in for happy hour daily from 4 to 7pm.
6. The Old Station Teahouse
Many visitors to Mackay head out to Cape Hillsborough National Park to see the resident wallabies and kangaroos congregating on the beach at dawn. The other very good reason to visit Cape Hillsborough is the opportunity to drop by The Old Station Teahouse. The town of Marian’s former railway station building was relocated to its current location in the mid 1990s and is now a tea house set in lush tropical gardens and peppered with quirky antiques and rusting relics. High tea is the speciality, but a light lunch menu is offered (with a focus on the use of local produce where possible). Wood-fired pizzas are served on weekends.
7. Eungella Chalet
If you also plan to head up to stunning Eungella National Park, hang a left at the very top of the range and drop by the historic Eungella Chalet. Fine dining it’s not (think classic pub bistro), but the absolutely spectacular views of the valley below make this an awesome lunch stop. Lunch is served between 12 and 2pm, and dinner from 6 to 8pm. In between times, there are toasted sandwiches and a fair coffee on offer.
8. Pinnacle Pub
Blink and you’ll miss the town of Pinnacle on the Mackay Eungella Road, but your olfactory sense may alert you to the presence of something special. The humble Pinnacle Hotel is renowned far and wide for its amazing pies, and having tried one in the name of research I have to agree that it’s a reputation well earned. The squarish pinched pastry cases come with a variety of fillings, and you can add chips, mushy peas and gravy as required. Go with a big appetite.
Need a place to stay?
Comfort Resort Blue Pacific is located in Mackay’s Northern Beaches. Choose from a variety of self-catering villa-style accommodation options, some just metres from stunning Blacks Beach. For a relaxed local dining option, enjoy the tastes of Italy at Little Antonio’s Kitchen.
Comfortable, contemporary and within easy reach of the airport and CBD, Econo Lodge Beachside makes an ideal base for enjoying everything Mackay has to offer. The Harrup Park Country Club is a short drive from the hotel and offers bistro-style fare and a variety of evening specials.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.