Where to eat on the Sunshine Coast
There’s a duty I uphold as a food-obsessed Sunshine Coast local that I don’t take lightly. A duty that sees me dedicating many hours to foraging, sniffing out, and taste testing my way from Caloundra up the coast, out to the hinterland and north to Noosa. It’s a tough job.
I pour over food blogs, devour any bit of nosh news that comes my way, and trawl Instagram like a deprived junkie scrolling and double tapping my way to my next hit of injectable donut or matcha latte.
So, it is with much pleasure and many tummy grumbles that I’ve compiled this (extensive) list of some of the best Sunshine Coast restaurants and cafes.
The next time you find yourself on the coast thinking “where will I eat?” you can just come right this way, my friend (that is, after you’ve checked out our wrap of the best breakfasts, best hidden coffee spots and best coffee alternatives). Bon appetit!
When you want a killer burger…
Ever since burgers on brioche became a thing, the humble takeaway fodder got a leg up in the gourmet stakes with designer-burger cafes and chains opening quicker than you could say “gluten-free bun”.
The ‘Dutch Oven’ tastes SO much better than it sounds (think beef, bacon, crispy fried onions and sauerkraut) and the chips with chilli aioli are an essential side. Settle in with a cold beer or Bundaberg Ginger Beer and roll out happier than a pig in mud afterwards.
Jimmy Fox in Noosaville also does a mean burger and Betty’s Burgers, also in Noosa, have developed an Instagram cult following with a menu akin to the USA’s Shake Shack.
In the middle of the coast, Hello Harry flies the flag for tasty burgers at a great price with plenty of options sitting at $10, from Louisiana pulled pork to Texan brisket and crumbed barramundi, and a daily burger special (as well as old-school ice-cream spiders) keeping butts on the colourful Tolix stools all day, every day.
When you’re in the mood for Japanese…
You may not be in the big smoke but that doesn’t mean you can’t expect melt-in-your-mouth sashimi right up to inventive fine dining with ingredients plucked straight from the kitchen garden.
Regional Restaurant of the Year (and awarded two chefs hats*), Wasabi in Noosa Heads compliments just-caught seafood with produce from their farm at Honeysuckle Hill. Splash out on their seven-course Wakeru share menu or leave the decisions entirely up to the chef with their seven or nine-course Omakase option.
Want something a little more low-key? Grab lunch or dinner at Cherry Blossom Tree, with locations in Mooloolaba and Maroochydore, or dine next to the fishing trawlers at Mooloolaba Spit at Sakana Sushi Bar. The chilli and garlic edamame are a must!
For a more beer-and-gyoza vibe, head to Junk on Ocean Street in Maroochydore with its street-food styling, delectable pork buns and cheap ramen.
When you’re in the mood for Tapas…
Take a trip to Spain at Ba Vigo in Cotton Tree where you can wash down pan-fried sardines, crisp-fried manchego and slow-cooked chorizo with a glass of Rioja and follow it up with a delicious Spanish-style pizza.
Up the road, Piano Bar in Maroochydore fuses Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern share plates in its far-too-easy-to-over-order menu, with a side of live jazz.
On Friday nights only, suburban secret Little Miss Saine in Point Cartwright opens its doors with a small but solid wine list, cocktail specials, and a great mezze board. Also try Flux in Noosaville and Mezze Bar in Mooloolaba.
When you’re in the mood for Mexican…
You’d be forgiven for thinking it was all Mexican takeaway chains on the Sunshine Coast, but head to Prickly Pinata in Cotton Tree on a Sunday afternoon and tuck into their ‘Tacos and Tunes’ and you’ll be singing a different, erm, tune.
Order up tacos and margaritas while watching the sun set over the Maroochy River and listen to chilled beats. From where you’d rather be indeed.
When you’re in the mood for Indian…
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Indian restaurants on the Sunshine Coast, but in-the-know locals will point you in the direction of hidden secret Curry Bowl, tucked behind Kawana Shoppingworld, or the not-so-secret Hathi on the Esplanade at Alexandra Headland.
Also check out India Today in Caloundra for Bollywood-tastic interiors.
When you’re in the mood for Thai…
While there are casual Thai eateries up and down the coast, if you’re looking for something a little more fancy, local food blogger Adele McConnell highly recommends Spice Bar in Mooloolaba. “Heck, I could eat there every night of the week. Spice Bar is modern Asian fusion, with a healthy take and packs a punch in the flavour department.”
We also love Pum’s Thai in the Big Top Shopping Centre in Maroochydore for a tasty (and cheap!) lunch, as well as Thai Lotus and Thai Season in Mooloolaba, and Phon’s Thai in Buddina.
When you’re in the mood for a cosy hinterland feast…
Those in the know will make a booking for the monthly seasonal dinner at Homegrown Cafe in Palmwoods (on the first Saturday of each month). With all produce sourced from a 150-kilometre radius, and most of it pulled from farms just up the street, coffee roasted out back, and beautiful cakes, this cafe consistently serves up the goods.
Tucked away from the main street of Maleny, overlooking Obi Obi Creek, Pomodoras on Obi’s slow food menu is comfort on a plate with mussels mariniere (best sopped up with crusty Turkish bread), braised beef cheek over housemade rosemary gnocchi, and a mushroom risotto taken to the next level with macadamias and truffle oil.
And when the temperature starts to drop, nothing beats a hearty meal by the fire at Gypsy’s Table or Wild Rocket @ Misty’s, both in Montville.
For a beautiful long lunch…
It wouldn’t be a long lunch without a glorious view and an interesting wine list to match, and Flame Hill Vineyard in Montville ticks both off the list, throwing wine tasting into the deal. They also offer picnic baskets (must be booked in advance).
Overlooking the working cattle property and vineyard, this homestead-turned restaurant and cellar door is the perfect Sunday drive destination with a seasonal-driven menu plucking the best local ingredients and creating gastronomical art works waiting to be conquered.
But for lunch with a water view, you can’t go past Sails in Noosa, Noosa Boathouse bobbing about on the Noosa River, and Ebb on the Maroochydore River, which coincidentally offers a killer lunch special with two courses and a glass of wine from $45.
When it’s date night and it’s your turn to book…
It would be amiss of us to compile any sort of food guide for the Sunshine Coast and not include Spirit House in Yandina, but that’s only because this award-winning restaurant – in a fairytale setting, tucked in tropical gardens with tables surrounding a beautiful pond – just continues to get better and better with age.
You’ll absolutely need to book in advance, especially if you want to dine on a Friday or Saturday night within the next decade (okay, we exaggerate a little), and whether you’re arriving as a duo or in a group, be sure to order the whole crispy snapper.
When you want to frock up for High Tea…
If authentic French pastries and decadent chocolates made with French butter and only the best possible ingredients make your ears prick up, set your GPS for Cooroy for morning tea at Maison De Provence.
Chef and chocolatier Eric Pernoud is fastidious about his work and it shows in every mouthful, whether you’re biting into a crispy yet gooey macaron, a strawberry eclair with pistachio mascarpone, or indulging in a Croque-monsieur.
But if deconstructed iced chocolates and salted caramel cheesecake stuffed donuts are more your cup of tea, make a beeline for TOME in Maroochydore’s Ocean Street where Alita Johnson’s creations have earned her the unofficial cake queen title of the Sunshine Coast (and 62k + Instagram followers to boot).
For a traditional tiered-platter high tea, drive to the hinterland to visit Elements at Monvtille, or stop in for scones and sticky toffee pudding at Flaxton Gardens. Bookings are recommended!
When you’re all about organic, vegan/vegetarian (and delicious)…
Organic, paleo, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian… whether you’re battling food intolerances or just want to keep your meal options clean and healthy, the Sunshine Coast does wellness right.
Head to Greenhouse in Caloundra for epic organic vegetarian burgers, raw cakes and supergreen smoothies; The Shak in Buderim for raw zoodles, Balinese black rice pudding, or herb and garlic roasted bone marrow; or enjoy the superfood pancakes and salads (that will change the way you look at sprouts for good) at Get Fresh Cafe in Cotton Tree.
At organic mecca, Kunara Marketplace in Forest Glen, their cafe doesn’t just dish up beautiful organic fare, but holds regular workshops to skill you up on everything from pickling and fermenting to making your own superfood chocolates.
Also check out Jampa’s Spirit of Tibet in Forest Glen, Cafe Nurcha at the Coastal Wellbeing Centre on Wises Road, and Gopal’s Vegetarian in Maroochydore.
When you’re looking for something a little different…
Locals were devastated when Little Lane Espresso abdicated from its Coolum premises earlier this year, but with the opening of its new incarnation, Hand of Fatima in Peregian, everything is good again in the world. Head here if you’re looking for breakfast with a Middle Eastern twist or flavour-packed salads with a difference.
A fab restaurant in its own right serving up modern Thai fusion, on weekends, the daytime menu shifts focus at Embassy XO to a $36 yum cha banquet special. Think 7-spice chicken ribs with chilli buttermilk and crab spring rolls alongside more traditional prawn shumai and BBQ duck buns. Mmmmm.
If you’re now craving dumplings, also check out Bunny’s Dumplings in Mooloolaba and Love Shack in Peregian.
*Australia embraces a chef hat system to rate restaurants which is our own version of Michelin stars. For more explanation, click here.