14 of the best Airlie Beach restaurants and cafes
With 74 beautiful islands as your neighbours and the Great Barrier Reef at your doorstep, it’s no wonder thousands flock to this stunning part of Australia every year for sun, sand and good times.
But beneath the obvious exterior of what makes this coastal nook so damn attractive, is a killer foodie trail ranging from seafood nirvana to organic superfood heaven.
Here are 14 Airlie Beach restaurants and cafes you can’t miss!
1. For the best seafood… Fish D’vine and Rum Bar
Not only will you be over-the-freaking-moon with this award-winning restaurant’s drool-inducing seafood offerings (ocean basket and seafood chowder anyone?), but Fish D’vine also boasts an impressive collection of over 560 rums!
Even if you’re not into rum, you’ll walk away with a new-found appreciation for the spirit (and hopefully a new fave beverage of choice). Bookings are essential!
You have to try their… Tempura battered local tiger prawns with Asian slaw and drizzled with soy and orange ponzu sauce entree, chilli mud crab, and retro banana fritters with spiced rum maple syrup, vanilla bean ice-cream and dark chocolate swirl to top it off.
Address: 303 Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach
Open: 7 days a week from 5pm till late
2. For the best pub meal on the beach… Montes Reef Resort at Cape Gloucester
This locals secret might be a little out of the way, but it’s well worth the 40-minute drive from Airlie that ventures slightly off the beaten track!
You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy lunch at the secluded, desert-island feeling Montes Reef Resort, but a booking is a must. Tuck into some fish and chips right on the beach at Cape Gloucester, then work it off with a lazy stroll and dip in the turquoise waters.
You have to try their… Anything seafood!
Address: 2248 Gloucester Ave, Hydeaway Bay
Open: 7 days a week for lunch 12pm-2pm and dinner 6pm-8pm
3. For a restaurant that is turning (Chef) Hats… Walter’s Lounge
What started as an afterthought quickly turned this cosy cocktail bar into one of the most acclaimed restaurants in town that to date is the first (and only!) ‘hatted’ restaurant on the Whitsunday Coast.
Load your fork with innovative flavour combinations such as pork sausages with honeydew & lemongrass textures, passion fruit, and minted navy beans or zucchini with blue cheese whip and truffle oil. All served expertly but with a side of the oh-so-typical, laid-back atmosphere of the Tropics that we love so much.
You have to try their… Local whitefish ceviche with avocado and corn crumb, salmon tartare with pickled cucumber, wasabi kewpie served with puffed wontons.
Address: 8/33 Port Drive, Port of Airlie, Airlie Beach
Open: Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30pm-late; Friday to Sunday lunch from 12pm-3pm and dinner from 5:30pm–late
4. For authentic Italian… La Tabella Trattoria
Impressive wine list with a knack for perfectly matching with your meal of choice? Check! A specials board that never fails to give your tummy hungry butterflies? Check! Beach views? Check! Real Italian coffee? CHECK!
For a taste of Italy in the tropics, book in for dinner or a long and lazy Sunday lunch at La Tabella Trattoria.
You have to try their… Darling Downs veal backstrap mushroom ragu with vegetable gratin, steamed broccolini, porcini oil and basically anything on their specials board. Mama mia!
Address: 6 The Esplanade, Airlie Beach
Open: 7 days a week from 7:30am till late (last dinner orders at 9:30pm)
5. For the best burger… Little Vegas Burger and Bar
Serving up authentic American street food and ahhhh-mazing burgers is Little Vegas Burger and Bar. This hot burger joint on the main strip (and one of the only late-night dining venues) has made quite the impression on this coastal town, with locals and tourists lining the streets at lunchtime to snap up a table.
Book in advance if you want to dive mouth-first into their spicy fish tacos, fiery chicken wings, beer-battered onion rings and mouth-watering burgers with a side of shoestring fries – don’t forget the ketchup! Wash it down with a cold beer or one of their yummy cocktails (we’re looking at you Redskin Cosmo and ‘Lionel Ritchie’), and you’ve got a meal good enough for the gods.
You have to try their… Cheeseburger spring rolls, Fried chicken waffles, Mac & Cheese bombs, Wagyu beef and blue cheese burger, the vegan ‘Viva Las Vegan’ burger… okay, pretty much everything on the menu.
Address: 3/259 Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach
Open: Friday to Tuesday from 9am-late
6. If you want a touch of cosmopolitan chic… Hemingway’s Airlie Beach
You can almost feel the presence of the literary great as you feast on oysters, gulp down fine wine, cast your eyes over the sea and finish your progressive dinner with an edible cigar served with Chantilly cream for dessert.
But the real charm is the chic, plantation-style interior paired with a relaxed atmosphere so typical for the tropics and seasonal menu featuring the region’s seafood and local produce that will make your taste buds dance in anticipation.
This beautiful waterfront restaurant is also an excellent spot to watch the sun set behind the rolling green hills of the bay. Did I mention the long list of cocktails?
You have to try their… Bush spiced kangaroo with horseradish carrot puree entrée and crab pasta with confit tomatoes, lemon, chilli and garlic and of course the oysters (after all, they were Ernest Hemingway’s favourite). The dessert menu changes daily so let the in-house pastry chef surprise you.
Address: Abell Point Marina, South Village, Shingley Drive, Airlie Beach
Open: Thursday – Tuesday from 12pm – 10pm; Wednesday from 5:30pm – 10pm
7. For scrumptious gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian dishes… Cafe One 3
Healthy, wholesome and quirky are the perfect words to describe what’s on offer at Cafe One 3. The lovely owners of this cafe use organic and local products to create their yummy homemade dishes and make a special effort to cater to all dietary requirements.
Even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, if you love trying new and exciting dishes, then this is definitely one cafe you shouldn’t miss. So, grab the little ones (fur babies included) and make yourself at home listening to chilled tunes and lapping up tasty treats.
You have to try their… Homemade kombucha and daily specials on offer.
Address: 13 Waterson Way, Airlie Beach
Open: Monday, Friday and Saturday from 6:30am – 1pm, Tuesday – Thursday 6:30am – 7pm.
8. For Airlie’s best-kept secret… Cool LaLa Modern Chinese & Asian Cuisine & Bubble Tea
Once you start, you can’t stop at Cool LaLa Modern Chinese & Asian Cuisine & Bubble Tea; with an attention to freshness and detail, you’ll get lost in their Asian-fusion, street-food-inspired menu.
Go to town on their homemade dumplings and spring rolls, followed by one of their flavoursome stir-fries made with seasonal and fresh local produce, washed down with a refreshing fruity bubble tea. And did we mention it’s BYO wine and beer?!
You have to try their… Taiwanese chicken bites (kind of like KFC popcorn chicken… only better), Korean kimchi stir-fried beef and paw paw salad to refresh the palate.
Address: 7/265 Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach
Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 5:30pm – 8:30pm
9. For a Sunday (or any afternoon sesh)… Denman Cellars Beer Cafe
With views over the marina, a selection of beers and ciders from around the world, and a menu that will turn even the most discerning diner into an indecisive mess (there are that many good options!), you wouldn’t want to end the day anywhere else but Denman Cellars Beer Cafe.
Order a round of chilli salt calamari and duck pancakes to start before moving on to the Brewers Board with Asian style chicken wings, house-smoked brisket and beer braised pork ribs. Pair this with a cold one, kick back and watch the sun go down.
You have to try their… Char-grilled garlic & rosemary kangaroo rump from the grill. And if you can squeeze it in, order the root beer topped with salted caramel and vanilla ice-cream for dessert.
Address: Shop G15, 33 Port Drive, Port of Airlie, Airlie Beach
Open: Monday to Sunday for lunch 12pm-3:30pm and dinner 5pm-late (last orders at 8:30pm).
10. For a restaurant that caters to everyone… Capers on the Esplanade
If you’re looking for a hearty meal with views to match, then this is your next stop. From a juicy steak or burger to a pasta dish or salad, it would be almost impossible not to please the whole family at Capers on the Esplanade.
Pop in for brekkie or watch the world go by as you enjoy a relaxed lunch or dinner, cocktail in hand, overlooking the beach. (Side note for seafood lovers: mussel madness is on every Thursday night – buy one pot and get the second free…. oh yeah!)
You have to try their… Corn fritter stack for breakfast and coconut seafood chowder.
Address: 16 The Esplanade, Airlie Beach (at the Airlie Beach Hotel)
Open: 7 days a week for breakfast 7am-12pm, lunch 12pm-2:30pm and dinner 5:30pm-9:30pm (on Friday and Saturday until 10pm)
11. For a local’s go-to dinner… Sorrento Restaurant & Bar
Perched right on the Bicentennial Boardwalk and overlooking the Coral Sea, Sorrento Restaurant & Bar has long been a favourite with locals who congregate here to people-watch during a long and lazy lunch, daydream while watching the sailing yachts fleet in and out of the harbour, or enjoy a cold beer to wind down at the end of the day.
Oh, and let’s not forget the sunsets that paint the skies in hues of orange, pink and purple.
You have to try their… Seafood platter and homemade pizzas (topped with chilli and garlic prawns, pesto, and parmesan or wild mushrooms, ham and drizzled with herb olive oil). They are loaded but still crispy – molto bene!
Address: Abell Point Marina, North Village, Shingley Drive, Airlie Beach
Open: 7 days a week from 10am – late.
12. For a laidback breakfast with your furry friend… Fat Frog Beach Cafe
Grab your pooch and head to the Fat Frog Beach Cafe for (all-day) brekkie or lunch with a view. This quirky cafe opposite Cannonvale Beach is a popular spot with locals and tourists for good reason; serving up healthy homemade dishes, Campos coffee, and yummy treats for little tadpoles (aka kids) and four-legged fur babies.
After scoffing down your meal, walk it off with a stroll along the Bicentennial Boardwalk.
You have to try their… Fish tacos with Asian slaw and grilled corn, and delicious baked goods!
Address: 44 Coral Esplanade, Airlie Beach
Open: Monday to Friday from 7am-2pm and Saturday to Sunday from 8am-2pm
13. For guilt-free treats… Bohemian Raw Cafe
With a rotating menu of fresh and nourishing meals like wraps and salads, delicious smoothies and ice-creams, and Naked Treaties bliss balls and raw cakes, you can spoil yourself with their tasty goodies without feeling guilty.
You have to try their… ‘I AM ZINGING’ superfood smoothie and Mango Dream acai bowl.
Address: Abell Point Marina, South Village, Shingley Drive, Airlie Beach
Open: Monday to Saturday from 7am-3pm; Sunday from 8am-2pm
14. For fine dining (and a divine degustation)… Clipper Restaurant & Bar
Picture this: A five-course meal featuring culinary delights such as tuna sashimi, reef fish with sweat pea and shallot cream, slow roasted Angus sirloin with potato-celeriac terrine and porcini jus, and sticky date pudding with brandy snap, ice-cream and butterscotch sauce all with uninterrupted views of the Coral Sea and Whitsunday Islands, poolside.
You have to try their… Degustation menu, duh! (But if that’s a bit too much to handle, their a la carte lunch and dinner menus are damn good too.) And if you want to surprise a loved one, book the private gazebo.
Address: 25 Oceanview Avenue, Airlie Beach
Open: Monday to Sunday from 6:30am-9:30pm