Labart-Burleigh-Heads

13 Gold Coast restaurants you can’t miss

It’s been a long time since The Pink Poodle was the height of culinary sophistication on the Gold Coast (if you can even remember that far back).

Metamorphosing from dining wasteland to a gourmand’s playground, the Gold Coast has award-winning fine dining options in spades. But there are also a bunch of down-to-earth, rustic and homely restaurants, cafés and diners that should definitely make the list next time you hit the GC.

Make a reservation at one (or all) of these Gold Coast restaurants for your next visit.

RICK SHORES, Burleigh Heads

Rick Shores

Photo by @imrickshores

Award-winning dining? Tick. Waterfront views? Tick. Great food? A given, considering the guys behind the aprons hail from some of the country’s top South-East Asian restaurants.

Ask any local about Rick Shores in Burleigh Heads and you’re guaranteed to cop an earful. Close enough to feel the salt spray, you won’t know what’s more impressive – the prime location or the flavour sensations blowing your mind, from bar snacks like the silken tofu with Sichuan eggplant sauce and crisp lettuce through to the finger-licking main roasted pork shoulder with apple teriyaki and red miso.

Labart, Burleigh Heads

Labart | Gold Coast restaurants

Sink into the Parisian-style seating, order yourself a cocktail or something from the natural-leaning wine list and find yourself humming along to the playlist while you peruse tonight’s menu. This is the neighbourhood local you wish you had at home.

Opening in 2018, Labart quickly shot into ‘best’ restaurant lists across the country and after one round of the Set Menu here, you’ll understand why. Don’t fill up on that Burleigh Baker sourdough with caramelised butter, as insanely good as it is.

The Tropic, Burleigh Heads

The Tropic Burleigh Pavilion | Gold Coast restaurants

You’d be hard pressed to find a hotter address on the Gold Coast right now than Burleigh Pavilion and on the ‘formal’ restaurant side, you’ll find a tight protein-led menu served with box-office views.

Start with crunchy fried school prawns and a bowl of burrata topped with persimmons and chorizo oil then go large with the house speciality dry aged rib eye on the bone (800g) to share.

Hyde Paradiso, Surfers Paradise

Hyde Paradiso | Best Gold Coast restaurants

LA comes to the Gold Coast with the opening of HYDE Paradiso atop Peppers Soul Surfers Paradise offering panoramic ocean views and swoon-worthy interiors.

Predominantly a glamorous drinking hole – hello, Bottomless Brunch on Sundays! – the tapas-style menu fuses Greek, Turkish, Moroccan, Lebanese and Italian cuisines. But if you’ve really worked up a hunger there are some heartier choices, like Portuguese chicken with chickpea salad, or whole baked reef fish baked with roasted fennel.

Iku Yakitori, Burleigh Heads

Look for the sign with a fish fighting a chicken and you’ll know you’re in the right spot. Push through the doors and come face-to-face with the coolest yakitori bar this side of Tokyo.

The little brother of Mermaid Beach’s Etsu Izakaya, expect casual bites high on flavour and an impressive whisky bar that could easily turn an early dinner into an all-night journey.

THE FISH HOUSE, Burleigh Heads

The Fish House | Best Gold Coast restaurants

Burleigh Headland and seafood go together like peas and carrots; like roast lamb and mint sauce; like meat pies and sauce (okay, you get the drift). Not unexpectedly, fish is the hero here.

At The Fish House, the onus is on the highest quality catches, prepared simply so you can still taste the ocean. Oh, and an A-Class wine list.

Book for lunch, order a bottle of crisp white wine and say yes to the chef’s menu.

SOCIAL EATING HOUSE, Broadbeach

This suave culinary hot spot garnered John Cusack’s Hollywood tick of approval, but to be honest we knew it was a winner well before then. The actor opted to dine at Social not one or two, but five nights running while filming on the Gold Coast. And it’s not hard to see why he was so smitten.

Impeccable service, a classy fit out, quality charcuterie and cheeses, and inventive Spanish-inspired share plates make Social Eating House a stand out in Broadbeach’s Oracle complex.

Hot Tip: Eat at the bar overlooking the buzzing kitchen for a slice of Manhattan living on the Gold Coast.

The Collective, Palm Beach

There are times when your crew just won’t be able to decide what they feel like eating. This is when you head for The Collective in the old Palm Beach post office and open yourself up to one big menu covering five individual kitchens with table service to boot.

With Italian, Mexican, Pan-Asian, Modern Australian and good ol’ down-and-dirty burgers in the mix, you can work your way around the world in one sitting.

HELLENIKA, Nobby Beach

Hellenika | Best Gold Coast restaurants

Photo by Hellenika via FB

Lamb shoulder. That’s all you need to know to add Hellenika to your list of must-try Gold Coast restaurants.

This Greek restaurant and rooftop bar in Nobby Beach not only has some of the best atmosphere and décor along the coast, it also has the juiciest, falling-off-the-bone lamb shoulder to be eaten. Ever.

Hellenika is on the side of one of the busiest highways in Australia, however, the unlikely setting makes the cosy and welcoming atmosphere inside even more surprising. It’s also one of the best spots for a long Sunday lunch, just be prepared to leave full!

BONITA BONITA, Mermaid Beach

Bonita Bonita | Best Gold Coast restaurants

Photo by Bonita Bonita via FB

Thank goodness Aus-Mex has gone as stale as a two-year-old Old El Paso shell and been removed from our dining repertoire. In its place, a funky-as-hell soundtrack, moody Day of the Dead decor and a killer menu from the ladies behind Bonita Bonita in Mermaid Beach.

Think scallops with hazelnut mole and chorizo crumb, piquillo poppers filled with melted Meredith goats cheese and slow-cooked lamb tacos followed up with sweet pumpkin empanadas with salted caramel. We’d say arrriba, but then we’d had to slap ourselves for being so cliché.

Neighbouring BonBon bar is the perfect spot for pre or post-dinner drinks.

KIYOMI, Broadbeach

Kiyomi | Best Gold Coast restaurants

Itadakimasu! World-class, fresh and inventive-as-Einstein Japanese is found in the form of Kiyomi on the lobby level of The Star Gold Coast in Broadbeach.

Chase Kojima of Nobu and Sokyo (The Star, Sydney) is the master of the menu here, with a lengthy selection of small bites, tempura, grill traditional sushi and sashimi taking you from tuna tataki with asparagus, enoki and tosazu leek sauce to cloud-like snapper tempura with coriander, chilli, black pepper amazu.

Then, if the sake selection isn’t hitting the right spot, dessert will smack you around the sweet tooth with the insanely good Goma Street signature stack (it involves sesame ice-cream and yes, you need to order it).

JUSTIN LANE, Burleigh Heads

Justin Lane | Gold Coast restaurants

Photo by Justin Lane via FB

Nestled down a lane in the surfing mecca of Burleigh Heads, Justin Lane suits the cool vibe of this area to a T. The bohemian set congregates here in big numbers on a Friday and Saturday night (expect to queue) for some of the best pizzas around.

There’s a rooftop bar and a cocktail list that keeps you going back for more. Don’t expect to linger though as this place is so popular a bill will be on your table by the time you finish your last slice.

MARKETTA STREET FOOD, Miami

Miami Marketta | Best Gold Coast restaurants

Okay, so it’s not technically a restaurant, but if you’re looking to eat out on the GC (and especially if you can’t decide on a cuisine that will keep your horde happy), take a stroll down a laneway in Miami and get in on the buzz that is Marketta.

Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening, the markets serve up everything from Spanish, Italian, Thai and French cuisine – as well as boutique local beer and wine, a dessert hall, Gin Parlour and live music.

You could be gobbling down dumplings for starters, filling up on fresh ravioli for your main and taking home a sinfully sweet French pastry for dessert (or let’s face it, eating it all in the one sitting because you only live once).

Still hungry?

What’s your favourite Gold Coast restaurant? Share with us below.