The Gold Coast may not be the capital of Queensland, but it sure is the capital of lifestyle.
From coast to country, the Gold Coast’s dining offerings are just as diverse as its population. You can glam up to visit world class restaurants or enjoy casual eats overlooking the water and still have change from $20. Here’s a guide to great places to eat on the Gold Coast, to suit every budget.
Cheap and cheerful
The Paddock Bakery (Burleigh Heads)
Situated in a beautifully restored 75-year-old cottage, The Paddock Bakery is the ultimate coastal bakehouse and cafe. It’s loved by locals for its casual style, and diners sit in the shaded gardens indulging in baked goods and brunches. At the Paddock’s heart is its wood-fired oven, where flames lick at one of the best sourdoughs on the coast. Bread is a foundation element of many of the cafe’s dishes, from the nostalgic Dippy Eggs, to our favourite, the Purple Toast – a lavish mix of beetroot, za’atar, Meredith goats’ milk feta and honey roasted walnuts, served on house made 7-grain sourdough. Be sure to leave room for one of the Paddock’s fine pastries.
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Red Hot Cod (Burleigh Heads)
Great food and service win loyalty, which is why Red Hot Cod was voted the Gold Coast’s Best Fish and Chips for 2021 by readers of the Gold Coast Bulletin. Whether you buy a rock bottom $5 fish and chips lunch or splash out on fresh snapper, sweet potato chips and a Greek salad, your seafood will be Australasian, wild caught (except for the salmon), and the sides freshly handmade. Vibrant poke bowls are made to order and we love their Bali bowls in cooler weather. Walk across the street to the park to eat your catch overlooking Burleigh Beach. There’s nothing like it.
Cycho’s Buffalo Wings (Southport)
Ex-flight attendant Cyrus (aka ‘Cycho’) continued to soar when he started Cycho’s Buffalo Wings – a food truck and then restaurant serving upmarket wings and burgers to Southport diners. The wings are the main attraction and you can indulge in a gastronomic journey around holiday destinations like Italy, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines (Cyrus’ birthplace). Cycho’s also does bao, burgers, hotdogs and loaded fries, and offers combo deals like a burger or hotdog, wings and chips for $20 (at the time of writing). It’s the tastiest 20 you’ll ever spend!
The Collective (Palm Beach)
Part bar, part collective of five restaurants under one roof, The Collective has been pumping since it opened in 2016. Every group diner’s dream, you can order from five menus in one: Italian, Asian, Mexican, Greek or American. Individual diners can even order dishes from different menus! This spacious two-level venue has a bar on each level, and there’s plenty of room for a business lunch or intimate date to be happening downstairs while a hens’ party enjoys its own space upstairs. With such diverse cuisines on offer, The Collective’s menu caters well for modern dining preferences, making it a local’s ‘go to’ venue for extended family dining.
Izakaya Midori (Reedy Creek)
When top Japanese chef Fumiyoshi Iwasaki became vegan, what evolved was exceptional. Midori, meaning ‘green’ in Japanese, owned by Chef Fumi and his wife, may be in an obscure location, but the food in the Gold Coast’s first plant-based Japanese restaurant (and the first and only vegan izakaya), sees diners travelling from Brisbane and beyond to eat there. From gyoza to sushi and curries to ramen, Fumi puts his own vegan spin on well-known dishes, while also creating new ones. Among his spectacular creations is the signature Midori Ramen, a deep rich green plant-based soup containing ramen and vegan pork mince. It’s not only deliciously addictive, but also Insta-worthy!
Top End dining
Just like its namesake (a rare Japanese citrus fruit), Kyomi reflects both the elegant blend of East and West on a plate, and the palate profile of fresh, citrus flavours which permeate the menu. With inventive and spectacular presentation, expect to be surprised by each dish in the izakaya-style degustation as it arrives in well-moderated succession. Looking too beautiful to eat, seared scampi dressed in a mist of edible flower petals and tiny batons of apple and mizuna are guarded by their shells around the plate. The addition of foie gras brings a complex richness to the intriguing balance of flavours. With internationally trained chef Chase Kojima at the helm of a passionate and extremely skilled team, no details are left to chance here. Kojima even designed most of the tableware himself. It’s no wonder that Kiyomi continues to reign at the top of the Gold Coast’s elite foodie scene. It’s an experience not to be missed.
The North Room (Mermaid Beach)
Dining at The North Room in Mermaid Beach feels like you have discovered a hidden treasure. This tiny, hatted restaurant is a labour of love for husband-and-wife team Tim and Shannon Stewart. We love to sit back and enjoy the parade of beautifully composed dishes that exit Chef Tim’s kitchen. A degustation at the North Room is food for inspiration. It offers the comfort of widely known ingredients and impeccably sourced produce, presented with a twist to entice and surprise both the eye and the palate. It’s a place where rhetoric meets practice, where service is genuinely informed without being stuffy. It’s a place where we’re so amazed at the quality, that we miss it already.
Burleigh Pavilion (Burleigh Heads)
The ultimate natural bird’s eye view of the Gold Coast has always belonged to Burleigh Hill. While a picnic on the hill is free for anyone to enjoy, the Pavilion holds pride of place closest to the sand. Downstairs, diners at Rick Shores can feel sea spray on their faces as they enjoy pan Asian bites. Upstairs is Burleigh Pavilion – a select but relaxed venue where locals gather for drinks and food overlooking the stunning coastline – and full-service restaurant The Tropic, which boasts some of the best seafood on the coast. This is the perfect spot for a long lunch watching the Gold Coast play on the beach beneath you. Alternatively, begin with drinks as you watch the sun set, then dine against an unsurpassed vista of the lit skyline of Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise. It’s well worth the indulgence.
Need a place to stay?
Econo Lodge Waterford is located within easy access of Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Ipswich. Guests can enjoy a range of multicultural local eateries, or head for the Gold Coast (just 25-minutes’ drive). Alternatively, the restaurants, cafes and bars in the Queensland capital beckon. This hotel’s location serves up the best of both worlds at an affordable price.
About the writer
Marj Osborne has been reviewing restaurants for over 20 years, formerly for Mietta’s Eating and Drinking in Australia, and more recently for her own blog — Good Food Gold Coast. Her work has also been published in Cafe Culture, Cove Magazine, the Gold Coast Bulletin and Blank Gold Coast. A researcher, teacher-librarian and former hospitality educator trained in vegetarian cooking and wine appreciation, Marj believes in positive living and thinking, and spending time enriching the body, mind and soul.