How Warrnambool became a top foodie destination on the Great Ocean Road

Wind your way along the spectacular Great Ocean Road and you’ll find breathtaking natural wonders, gorgeous beaches and adventure galore. But this slice of bounty has also inspired a local food scene where fresh seafood and produce take delicious seasonal attractions to new heights. 

One town that has put itself on the foodie map is Warrnambool, a destination where local passion, innovation and outstanding produce craft some outstanding delights for every traveller. From fish tacos to Asian street food and local craft beers, this evolving food scene has recently been getting some well deserved recognition.

Here are some local favourites that will keep you well sated at the end of one of the world’s most spectacular coastal drives.

1. Pavilion Cafe & Bar

Pavilion Cafe and Bar, Warrnambool. Image via Visit Victoria
Pavilion Cafe and Bar, Warrnambool. Image via Visit Victoria

With a deck that enjoys sweeping views of Lady Bay, Middle Island and the Southern Ocean, the Pavilion Cafe & Bar serves locals and travellers seasonally inspired breakfast and lunch dishes  with a gorgeous salty breeze. Sample some of the classics by the sea, from the beer battered local portland flake and chips to seasonal grazing platters. You’ll also find an excellent selection of local craft beers.

2. Simon’s Waterfront

Bespoke beverages at Simon's Waterfront. Image via Simon's Waterfront
Bespoke beverages at Simon’s Waterfront. Image via Simon’s Waterfront

Situated at the Warrnambool Surf Lifesaving Club, Simon’s Waterfront has been treating the locals to a treasured combo of delights for twelve years. From the thriving beer garden to the elevated ‘dining dome’ which looks over the expansive surroundings, you’ll find both land and ocean on the menu. Savour a Cape Grim Scotch Fillet or a ‘Pasture Plate Trio of Meats’, or sample the Tempura Lakes Entrance Flake and ‘Bad Boy Fries’. 

3. The Flying Horse Bar & Brewery

Opening its doors in 2008, the Flying Horse Bar & Brewery is a Warrnambool staple. Home to a host of family friendly spaces, including a dedicated dining area, this venue offers good food along with a variety of tap beers and ciders, including its own award-winning craft beers, including the Whale Ale and the Angel Ale. Of course, you’ll also find plenty of comforting pub grub on the menu, with the locally caught fish and chips, pork belly and sesame chicken just a few of the local favourites. 

4. Bohemia Bar & Cafe

Known for its breakfast and lunch menu, the Bohemia Cafe & Bar offers a warm and intimate ambience that is prized by many of its frequent patrons. This venue is also well known for its coffee, and is a great place to drop in for a brew to start the day. While you’re there you might as well enjoy a ‘Big Bro’ – a slap up main feature starring bacon, chipolatas, hash browns and toasted sourdough.

5. The Liebig

Take your tastebuds on a tour of some Asian street style food, with some popular stops in Japan, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand. The chefs at The Liebig know how to cook up a spice or two, with particular attention served to Northern Thai cuisine, as well as aromatic dishes from the Northeast. Try Pattaya Paradise – delicious barramundi served with chef’s chili sauce. For more fresh seafood the Marinara Hangover – a stir fry with flat rice noodles, seafood and Thai spices – also hits the spot. You’ll also find a strong Japanese influence on the menu, and you can dip in with one of Liebig’s bento boxes.

6. Cattleya Thai

Ok, so we just visited Thailand, but if we’re going there we can’t go past Cattleya Thai. Winner of the local favourite and traveller’s choice awards, this eatery has been serving authentic Thai food to Warrnabool for some time, with a winning mix of fresh seasonal herbs. Take a seat for the signature Chicken Satay or Panang Duck Curry. There are also good vegetarian options, such as the Tofu Ob Mo Din – tofu cooked in a clay pot with ginger, spring onion and vegetables.

7. Clovelly Restaurant & Bar

Helmed by Executive Chef Jonathan Parker, this plush and comfortable Warrambool experience takes local seasonal produce and delivers a rich modern Australian menu featuring well loved classics as well as fine dining. Open for breakfast as well as dinner, you’ll find plenty to choose from at Clovelly Restaurant & Bar, including a 16 hour slow roasted lamb rump. For those who are visiting town, this eatery is situated next to Flagtaff Hill and close to the Maritime Museum.

8. Pippies By The Bay

This award-winning restaurant captures the best of the region, serving seasonally crafted Modern Australian cuisine with outstanding views of the coastline from the balcony. From ocean to plate, enjoy the fruits of the sea with a Pippies Ocean Platter, or savour one of the many delicious fish dishes that include Roasted Barramundi, King George Whiting or local Dory fillets. There’s also plenty of land fare, such as pan roasted duck breast. Enjoy one of the many regional wines by the fireplace in the cooler months. View Pippies seasonal menu via their website.

9. Mister Brightside Pizza Warrnambool

You can’t taste your way through any town without trying a slice of the local pizza. Mr Brightside is a local establishment that cuts a great slice of satisfaction. Stick to traditional pizzas, such as the Quattro Fungi, Capricciosa and Pepperoni, or take a walk on the local side with some signature Warrnambool servings. Try the Rockstar Chicken or Otway Cider Pig – an adventurous outing featuring free range slow cooked pork cooked in apple and pear cider.

10. Proudfoots By The River

Bringing it back to where it all began, Proudfoots is the most historic venue on our list. Dating back to 1939, this iconic boathouse is perched by the Hopkins River and is a great place to immerse yourself in some local heritage charms. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you’ll find a menu that mixes a variety of flavours, from lamb gnocchi to seafood and Asian inspired dishes such as the Chicken Bao, in the heart of Warrnambool history.

11. Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve

Nature lovers should plan a visit to Hopkins Falls and the Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Formed by two ancient volcanic eruptions, the reserve occupies what is actually a partly flooded crater. The mix of wetlands and bushland harbours an unusually high degree of biodiversity and you’re likely to spot plenty of wildlife.

How do I get to Warrnambool?

Warrnambool is just over 250km away from Melbourne CBD. It takes around three hours to drive via the inland route or five and a half hours the Great Ocean Road. Train services are also available from Melbourne to Warrnambool, with stops along the way via Geelong and Colac. Find out more by checking V/Line services.

Find accommodation in Warrnambool

You’ll find good accommodation options in Warrnambool. The Comfort Inn Western is close to the beautiful Warrnambool Botanic Gardens, as well as the town’s restaurants and bars. Near the beach, Comfort Inn on Raglan offers convenient accommodation not far from the city centre. Located just off the highway, Comfort Inn Warrnambool International is also close to shops and restaurants. 

Book your next stay with Choice Hotels.

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