13 Gold Coast restaurants you can’t miss

Surf, sand and seriously good food. The Gold Coast has become as much of a gourmand’s playground as it is home to some of the most spectacular beaches and best surfing this side of the equator.

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 and cool dining precincts that should definitely make the list next time you hit the GC.

Make a reservation at one (or all) of these can’t-miss Gold Coast restaurants for your next visit.

Rick Shores | Burleigh Heads

Rick Shores | gold coast restaurants

Photo by @imrickshores

Ask any local about Rick Shores in Burleigh Heads and you’re guaranteed to cop an earful of high praise and fond memories. Close enough to feel the salt spray, you won’t know what’s more impressive – the prime waterfront location or the flavour sensations blowing your mind, from starters like aged beef tataki with soy cured egg yolk and smoked sriracha through to the finger-licking main of sticky pork belly with apple, sesame and ginger, and salted caramel parfait with brown rice miso and potato skin for dessert.

Unsurprisingly, considering the guys behind the aprons hail from some of the country’s top South-East Asian restaurants, Rick Shores boasts a long list of awards. It received a chef’s hat in the 2019 and 2020 Australian Good Food Guide and landed a prized spot on the Australian Financial Review’s Top 100 Restaurants list.

Social Eating House | Broadbeach

This suave culinary hotspot garnered John Cusack’s Hollywood tick of approval, but 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 you can’t blame him for being so smitten with the hatted restaurant and its Modern Australian fare.

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. The dishes are works of art on a plate that are almost too good to eat.

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

Labart, Burleigh Heads

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.

Another of the select few Gold Coast restaurants to earn a chef’s hat in 2020, since opening in 2018, Labart quickly shot into ‘best’ restaurant lists across the country. And after one round of the Set Menu here – which changes regularly depending on what’s in season, you’ll understand why. Insider tip: try not to fill up on that Burleigh Baker sourdough with caramelised butter, as insanely good as it is.

The Collective | Palm Beach

There are times when your crew just can’t agree on 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’ juicy burgers in the mix, you can work your way around the world in one sitting.

The indoor-outdoor vibe makes this the perfect place to set up for a leisurely lunch. When the sun starts to go down, the fairy lights come on and the rooftop bar offers a prime spot for sunset sips.

For more amazing bars you need to try on the Gold Coast, see this list.

The Tropic | Burleigh Heads

The vibe is buzzing over at Burleigh Pavilion, with locals flocking to the beachfront haunt at all hours of the day; but over on the ‘formal’ restaurant side at The Tropic, you get that epic view, minus the chaos.

It will be love at first sight when you spot the pretty pastel decor of pink terrazzo tables and seafoam chairs splashed around, which perfectly complement the stunning sunsets and rolling waves out the window.

The wood-fired pig bun is a signature here, as is the ultra fresh kingfish tartare and the splurge-worthy 800g dry aged rib eye on the bone. Vegans are well looked after too, with their own menu that will make even the most meat-loyal foodies jealous.

For dessert, it doesn’t get much more Queensland than wood-fired pineapple, stepped up to fine dining standards with vanilla rice pudding and lemon thyme.

Jimmy Wah’s | Burleigh Heads

Jimmy Wah’s keeps it classy yet coastal with its blonde wood furniture and a light-filled space. The menu is refined Modern Vietnamese with love and care taken with its elegant share-inspired dishes.

Start with fresh prawn rice paper rolls and melt-in-the-mouth braised beef short rib buns, then move onto soul-warming mains like market fish yellow curry and half chicken with morning glory, kaffir lime, tamarind and coconut cream. If you can’t decide what to eat, just utter two small words: Feed Me. That’s the chef’s cue to handpick seven courses on your behalf.

Joining fellow Burleigh neighbours Rick Shores and Labart, Jimmy Wah was awarded an AGFG chef’s hat for 2020.

Hyde Paradiso | Surfers Paradise

LA icon Hyde landed on the Gold Coast in 2019 atop Peppers Soul Surfers Paradise, offering panoramic ocean views and swoon-worthy interiors that draw a cool crowd day and night.

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 lamb ragu with homemade oregano fettucini.

Marketta Street Food Miami | Miami

Okay, so it’s not technically a restaurant, but if you’re looking to eat out on the Gold Coast (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).

Iku Yakitori | Burleigh Heads

Not the easiest place to find unless you’re in the know, look for the sign with a fish fighting a chicken. 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. Just be warned: things get a little crazy on Tuesday when yakitori is a mere $3 each.

Bonita Bonita | Mermaid Beach

For some of the best Mexican on the Gold Coast, Bonita Bonita in Mermaid Beach is where it’s at. The moody Day of the Dead decor, gritty vibe and killer menu are the brainchild of Gold Coast local Jessica Forras and partner Morgan Walsh who turned years of eating their way through the US’s thriving Mexican food scene into something unique and delicious here on the coast.

It’s unexpected Mexican that combines authentic flavours with the best quality produce and quirky touches. Think scallops with chorizo crumb, sticky agave and tequila pork belly, and chipotle braised beef taqueria followed up with sweet pumpkin empanadas with salted caramel. Everything is sourced locally, and the meat and poultry are all free range and hormone and antibiotic-free.

As you’d expect, the margaritas at Bonita Bonita are next-level good. Neighbouring BonBon bar also has all your tequila and mezcal tastes covered, with over 100 options.

Kiyomi | Broadbeach

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, yolk and negi ponzu to cloud-like snapper tempura with coriander, chilli and black pepper amazu.

Once you’ve finished the last drop of sake, move on to dessert for the insanely good Goma Street signature stack; it involves sesame ice-cream and caramelised white chocolate mousse, and yes, you definitely need to order it.

The North Room | Mermaid Beach

No two nights at The North Room are ever the same. Sourcing much of its ingredients from local farmers, like Traditional Owners Currie Country, the dishes are inspired by each new delivery of fresh produce that comes into its kitchen.

Native Australian ingredients like emu, quandong and salt bush feature heavily on perfectly presented plates, although it’s the slow braised beef short rib that chef-owner Tim Stewart is best known for.

The intimate dining room seats only 28, making this the perfect place for a romantic date night. For just $69 per person, the shared tasting style menu takes the decision making out of what to order.

Justin Lane | Burleigh Heads

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 on the Gold Coast.

The sourdough bases (better for your digestion and quite simply, delicious) are Justin Lane’s signature, and the toppings vary from Italian classics to a few unexpected heroes – like the pistachio pizza or the chicken with olive and ricotta tapenade.

The rooftop bar and cocktail list keeps you coming back for more. The passionfruit and chilli margarita is a crowd favourite and the eggplant chips with spicy arrabiata sauce are highly addictive.

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