If you are looking for a short, relaxing break, then I highly recommend the Gold Coast. There are beautiful beaches, shopping, and of course, many places to eat and drink.
The last time I visited the Gold Coast was 6 years ago, before my obsession with food started, before I even had Instagram or my blog. On that trip, we enjoyed going to the theme parks and beaches. Fast forward to this year, I have made a few trips to the Gold Coast – mainly to relax, try out the food scene and for the first time, visit Byron Bay and the surrounds.
Below, I list my favourite eats in the Gold Coast and beyond. I have listed them by area, so it makes it easier for you when you visit the Gold Coast!
Local & Co
First things first, BEST Nutella Thickshakes EVER!!!
Secondly, after reading great reviews on TripAdvisor and the fact that Local & Co was just round the corner from where we were staying in the Gold Coast, we just had to check it out!
We came here for lunch – it was busy, however we managed to grab the last outside table. They have an extensive breakfast and lunch menu, so you are spoilt for choice.
I ordered their ‘Healthy Start’ plate – roasted sweet potato cubes, housemade zucchini and quinoa fritter, housemade beetroot labneh, sliced avocado, free range poached eggs, dukkah and rye toast. It was delicious and I loved all the colours on the plate.
My sister and our friend also enjoyed their meals – the chicken burger with fries and pumpkin salad.
The food, service and atmosphere was great overall and our waitress (Jess) was amazing too!
Main Beach Bakery
Just down the road from Local & Co, you will find Main Beach Bakery. They sell all the old-school favourites – custard squares, jam and cream donuts, Boston bun, biscuits, pizza slices, gingerbread men, and so much more.
But, what they are most known for is their beautiful homemade breads and hearty pies. We loved their vegetarian pie and butter chicken pie.
They also make delicious extra hot coffee and sell cold drinks. If you are thinking of hiking for the day, I would recommend stopping by Main Beach Bakery to get a selection of their goodies for an awesome picnic lunch.
Address 24 Tedder Avenue, Main Beach
Open daily, from 5am – 5pm
Terraces Restaurant Seafood Buffet at Sheraton Grand Mirage
If you’re looking to eat your weight in seafood, then I recommend the Seafood Buffet at the Terraces Restaurant, inside the Sheraton Grand Mirage Hotel.
Walking in, I loved the restaurant’s decor and setting. Chic white furnishings with floor to ceiling windows displaying beautiful views of the hotel’s expansive pool. At night, the view is particularly nice with the sunset, the pools lit up and the guests dining under cabanas outside.
The seafood selection is plentiful – we loved the fresh oysters (natural, Kirkpatrick and Mornay), prawns, fresh salmon, smoked salmon, crayfish and mussels. As well as seafood, there is also soup, sushi, roasted meats, hot meals, freshly baked breads, salads, and many delicious desserts, like Pavlova, creme brulee, chocolate mousse, cakes, custard and various ice creams with your choice of toppings.
Aside from the food, service was friendly and efficient, with the staff clearing your plates as soon as you finished and got up for more food and water glasses constantly topped up.
Tip: We signed up to the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty rewards programme and received a discount when dining at Terraces Restaurant. Keep an eye out for their promotions here.
The Cardamom Pod
The Cardamom Pod at Brickworks is one of my favourite places on the Gold Coast and sadly, I only discovered it at the end of our trip! They serve wholesome breakfasts and lunches, like epic salads and acai and pitaya bowls, plus smoothies, juices, raw desserts and baking.
I had lunch here and it was ah-mazing. While I was keen to order one of their acai or pitaya bowls which look like works of art, I decided on their Nourish Buddha Bowl, which sounded right up my alley! It consists of sesame brown basmati rice, baby spinach, roasted sweet potato, marinated falafels, sprouts, cucumber, sauteed broccoli, carrot hummus, roasted nori sheets and peanut sauce. The meal was super filling, delicious and Insta-worthy.
I will definitely be coming back next time I am in the Gold Coast.
And thanks to The Cardamom Pod, I now love sweet potato!
Bundall Farmers Market
Bundall Farmers Market is one of my favourite markets of all time, for its beautiful produce, food trucks/stands and friendly stallholders.
There are over 80 stallholders at the market who sell organic and fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, coffee, breads, pastries, fresh pasta, coffee, olives, homemade jams and pickles, organic juices, flowers and so much more. There is a fruit and vegetable stand with the most beautiful presentation – highly recommend checking it out!
We arrived at the market around 7am – it is best to get there early as it is very popular! I started with a cappuccino from Three Sons Coffee Cartel. I loved their Mexican inspired coffee truck, with colourful seating and of course, strong, extra hot and delicious coffee!
Breakfast was from Mio Wrap – a French couple who make wraps using buckwheat crepes! I loved the idea of having breakfast in a buckwheat wrap – I haven’t found anyone in Auckland doing this, so it was pretty exciting to eat!
I thoroughly enjoyed their Mush Truffle Buckwheat Crepe filled with slice mushrooms, carrot, red cabbage, spinach, truffle oil and a free range egg. It was HUGE!
Followed by a Custard Filled Roll from a stand selling pastries, Nutella doughnuts, jam doughnuts, pretzel doughnuts and every other sweet treat you could imagine.
Then head around the market to check out all the stalls. I loved all the fruit and vegetables – so well presented and colourful! You will pretty much find every single fruit and vegetable at Bundall Farmers’ Market, so it is a great place to visit on Sunday to stock up for the week.
Isle of Capri
Edgewater Dining & Bar
Edgewater is a modern Australian bistro located on the Isle of Capri, a man-made island situated on the Nerang River. It has a beautiful setting, with views of the canal, local boats and the Surfers Paradise skyline.
We dined at Edgewater for my Dad’s birthday earlier this year. Their dinner and lunch menu is extensive, broken down into nine sections – breads, oysters and small plates to start with, followed by salads, burgers, pasta, risotto, ‘on the grill’ dishes, ‘the sea’ dishes and sides. Examples of dishes include: daily shucked oysters with your choice of four toppings, tortillas, meatballs, croquettes, soft shell crab salad, tempura crab burger, Tassie scallops, roast pumpkin risotto, crispy skin duck leg, grilled bugs and waffle fries.
To start, we enjoyed Oysters two ways – natural with fresh lemon and with soy, wakame (edible seaweed), sesame and lime. The second lot of oysters were our favourites! We also ordered ‘My Mom’s Meatballs‘ (pork, beef and lamb meatballs with a Parmesan crisp and ciabatta) as recommend by the waiter – unfortunately these were bland, which was very disappointing!
For our mains, we loved their Saltwater prawn linguine with garlic, spring onion, chili, lemon, roasted tomato and rocket. This was definitely the stand out dish of the night. Unfortunately, the Tasmanian Salmon Fillet was verging on raw and the accompanying fennel slaw was drenched in a creamy sauce (with no mention sauce on the menu), so it wasn’t enjoyable to eat.
Edgewater has a few hits and misses, however, the outlook and views are lovely. Next time, I would recommend having dinner elsewhere, but coming here for a few drinks and to try a few dishes off their tapas menu.
ESPL Coffee Brewers
ESPL is one of my favourite coffee places in the Gold Coast. While it’s not the biggest cafe, it does have plenty of outdoor seating and it’s the location that is the bonus… right across the road from Surfers Paradise beach! The sun just beams into the cafe – even early in the morning. I would recommend going to the beach for a swim, and then relaxing at ESPL with a nice hot coffee.
They also serve a small selection of treats – my favorutie being their chocolate caramel slice! In fact, the first time we went to ESPL, we striked up a conversation with the friendly front of house lady and discovered we were both from New Zealand. After many oohs and ahhs about the chocolate caramel slice, she gave us a few pieces on the house – a great start to our day!
Address 4 The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise
Open daily, from 6am – 6pm
Located opposite Budd’s Beach, Bumbles is a quaint cafe serving breakfast, lunch, baked goods, high tea and on Thursday nights, a three course dinner. The cafe is spacious with many seating areas – private dining rooms with book shelves, open dining spaces with fresh flowers in hanging jars, photographs on walls and quirky decorations throughout that make you feel right at home.
Bumbles also produces its own honey from its on-site rooftop beehive, hence the name and the menus illustrated with bees.
We came here for breakfast to try one thing only, their Fig Toast, served with labneh, homemade raspberry jam, dried apricots, butter and pistachios.
Bumbles makes their own Fig Toast, a unique blend of dried fruit, nuts and seeds. The accompanying condiments all worked well, and it was delicious. The coffee was nice too.
However, service was the downfall. Our waitress was aloof and we got the feeling she did not want to be there. This was such a disappointment!
My sister and I love burgers, so one night we ventured into ‘town’ to check out Betty’s Burgers. The name reminds me of the character Betty from Riverdale and the eatery Pop’s diner (also from the show) where I am sure they sell burgers. Anyway, we were pretty excited to try this place out.
We ordered beers (Fat Yak and Little Creatures Pale Ale), plus the Betty’s Classic Burger with Angus beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese and Betty’s special sauce and the Pork Belly Burger with slow cooked crispy pork belly, lettuce, tomato, pickles and sriracha mayo. Both were pretty tasty, but the pulled pork was the winner… especially when there is sriracha mayo involved!
Pork Belly Burger
We then had dessert, as they do a special one – ‘Design your own concrete’. Basically, you pick your ice cream (either dense chocolate or vanilla custard) which is then blended at high speed with your favourite mix-ins.
The hardest part is trying to choose your mix-ins (priced at $1 each). There are 28 different ones to choose from, for example, raspberries, Krispy Kreme doughnut, chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter cups, Persian fairy floss, passionfruit cream and many more. The ice cream itself is $5.50, so if you got all 28 mix-ins… well that is a $33.50 ice cream!
I chose the dense chocolate ice cream, topped with pretty much chocolate everything. It was the perfect sweet finish to our burger meal!
Located in Pacific Fair Shopping Centre, Comuna Cantina serves delicious Latin street inspired food and Insta-worthy drinks – think Nutella, Mint Slice and Tim Tam espresso martinis, lychee cosmopolitans and mocktails made with local and exotic fruits.
On our most recent trip, as soon as we had dropped our bags, we caught the G-link to Pacific Fair and sat down for a delicious lunch at Comuna Cantina. I had seen their amazing cocktails on Instagram, so I just had to order a sneaky one… introducing their Nutella Espresso Martini. It was out of this world.
We also ordered food – their Taco Bowl with spicy beef, black beans, quinoa, corn and pico salsa, guacamole and corn chips was seriously good!
I recommend Comuna Cantina for great tasting food and amazing cocktails!
The Cardamom Pod
As mentioned above, I also dined at The Cardamom Pod in Southport. However, this branch is slightly different. The food is still fully vegetarian, however it is Hare Krishna-style cooking and is served buffet style.
They serve hot and cold dishes, like hearty vegan lasagne, Asian curries, falafel, pies, rice paper rolls, burgers, nachos, wraps, fresh summer salads and an array of raw and gluten-free sweets. All of their produce is sourced locally and is organic where possible. They also serve smoothies, chai, coffee and cold drinks.
We ordered a range of salads and sat outside as it was a nice sunny day. We enjoyed their famous sweet potato, broccoli and tofu salad, the tempeh salad with raw mixed vegetables, the raw vegan and gluten free rainbow salad with cherry tomatoes, broad beans, carrot, snow peas and red cabbage. All were delicious and filling and you get a side of rice too.
Tip: I recommend spending the morning shopping at Pacific Fair, afterwards catch the G-Link tram to Broadbeach North, then it is only a quick walk to The Cardamom Pod.
Poke Poke in Mermaid Beach is one my places on the Gold Coast, serving deliciously fresh and delicate poke. Hawaiian for ‘to section’ or ‘to slice or cut’, poke is a raw fish salad which is fast becoming popular around the world. This year, so far, six poke eateries have opened in Auckland, as well as many restaurants serving this dish.
This casual eatery boasts an all-day poke-bowl menu, and I love the flavour combinations used. My favourite is their Tuna Me On bowl, with sashimi-grade tuna in soy and sesame, topped with avocado, shallots, crispy plantains and wasabi mayo over brown rice. So much goodness in one bowl!
They also do fresh salmon and tofu combinations, which are both spot on. If you’re not into raw fish, you can opt for grilled lemongrass chicken or chicken karaage.
And, if the above is not enough to tempt you, they also do poke bowls for breakfast! There are a bunch of different options, from the ham-hock poke bowl with edamame, avocado, kale, corn salsa, poached eggs and hollandaise on brown rice, to the ‘green rice’ bowl with baked field mushrooms, feta, pumpkin, spinach and a poached egg.
I also love Poke Poke’s super relaxed vibe, not to mention the tropical decor, and the friendly and welcoming staff. Definitely add Poke Poke to your Gold Coast list!
Address Corner Alfred Street and Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach
Open daily, from 8am – 8pm
After having lunch at Poke Poke, head just around the corner to Doughnut Time. It seriously made my day when I found out that Poke Poke and Doughnut Time were in the same vicinity… awesome!
You may have seen Doughnut Time on Instagram – it’s an Australian brand, with shops in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and more recently, the Gold Coast. They make amazing doughnuts, with crazy creations and some of their doughnuts are named after famous people, TV shows, films and songs. For example: ‘Stranger Rings’ (the Netflix TV show Stranger Things), ‘Brewno Mars’ (singer Bruno Mars), ‘Legally Blonde’ (the film), ‘I Pika Choose You’ (a Pokémon inspired doughnut), ‘The Milo Cyrus’ (Miley Cyrus) and ‘The Jack Sparrow’ (the character Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean).
We tried several doughnuts over the course of the week, our favourites being:
Flakey Af – a milk chocolate glazed doughnut, topped with flake pieces. This one is quite simple, but if you like Flake chocolate (like I do), then you will love this one!
It’s Always A Gay Time – a milk chocolate glazed doughnut, with crushed biscuits, golden caramelised crepes and filled with honeycomb custard. This is definitely the star on Doughnut Time’s menu – you will be transported to ultimate foodie heaven!
Liam Hemsworthy – a red velvet vegan doughnut, with cookies and cream frosting, crushed chocolate ripple biscuits and a vegan chocolate glaze drizzle. This doughnut is vegan, and tastes amazing!
Oh My Lorde – a vanilla and passionfruit glazed doughnut, topped with meringue, freeze-dried raspberries, raspberry powder and party curls. Although I like Lorde, I wasn’t a fan of this one.
L-R: Oh My Lorde and Liam Hemsworthy
Love at First Bite – a Nutella filled doughnut, dusted with cinnamon sugar. My second favourite, for its oozing Nutella centre.
Doughnut Time‘s flavours change regularly and keep an eye out on their social media pages for days when they do discounted doughnuts!
Address Shop 5, 2375 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach
Open Monday to Friday, 11am – 10.30pm, Sat & Sun, 10am – 10.30pm
Instagram / Facebook / Menu
If you’re not a doughnut fan, then I recommend heading around the corner to Heven-yah, a cute gelateria located in Mermaid Beach. It is a family owned business, run by two local sisters – very cool! They have a range of fresh flavours to choose from which change regularly. When we visited, the flavours on offer were: salted caramel, Belgian chocolate, hazelnut, stracciatella, coconut milk chocolate, buttered popcorn, cultured creme fraiche with raspberry jam and an orange and Aperol sorbet.
L-R: Hazelnut and Belgian Chocolate
We went for the more classic flavours and tried the Hazelnut and the Belgian Chocolate. Both were perfectly smooth and yes, tasted like heaven. The Belgian Chocolate was the clear winner out of the two.
Heven-yah are open late nights, making it the perfect spot for dessert after dinner.
We were on our way to walk around Burleigh Heads National Park and naturally, I was determined to get something yummy on the way – introducing Paddock Bakery. After seeing countless pictures of their homemade bread, baked goods, meals and acai bowls on Instagram, I just had to check it out.
Walking in, the cafe was incredibly busy and although the line was out the door, I knew their food must be good! Service however was quick, thanks to their efficient ordering system. I couldn’t go past their acai bowl, which turned out to be one of the best I have ever had. It is topped with housemade granola, blueberries, sliced banana and strawberries, pistachio crumble, fig and a baby meringue, was decorated beautifully and tasted ah-mazing. Perfect to fuel up on before our walk.
Next time, I’d like to come here for lunch and sit outside – they have a number of seating areas surrounded by trees, plants and flowers. Paddock Bakery has a great atmosphere too. Highly recommend!
We only spent a few hours in Burleigh Heads – after being picked up from the airport we had a coffee and checked out the beach. The second time, we walked around Burleigh Heads National Park, again had coffee and got a takeaway lunch. There are many eateries in the Burleigh Heads area that I wanted to try, but that will have to wait until next time!
If you have arrived in Burleigh Heads and are looking for a great coffee, then Nook Espresso is your place. It is a small kiosk, only serving takeaway coffee and a few baked goods. The bonus? It is right next to Burleigh Heads beach.
Address 43 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads
Open Monday to Saturday, from 6am – 4.30pm (closed Sundays)
Nestled in an arcade, I probably wouldn’t have found Social Brew, if it hadn’t been for following them on Instagram.
Walking in, the cafe was surrounded by plants – the most I have seen in my entire life! They have done it well though, which gives the cafe a tropical vibe.
Also loved Social Brew‘s use of the colour yellow, featured on the coffee machine, to the cups and saucers, takeaway coffee cups and menus. Yellow was my favourite colour as a child as it always made me feel happy, and that is how I felt about Social Brew.
And, the best part? Strong, extra hot coffee. Delicious too. If coffee is not your thing, they also serve wholesome breakfasts, lunches and a range of cold drinks and gourmet smoothies.
Social Brew is a hidden gem in Burleigh Heads and I will definitely be coming back to try their breakfast and lunch menus!
Govindas is a Hare Krishna cafe, serving pure vegetarian food. Their meals include Indian-inspired samosas and pakoras, kofta balls, lasagne, dhal, potato bake, shepherd’s pie, rice, vegetable curry, plus a range of salads. All of their dishes are made onsite, so everything is super fresh, with many of their fruit and vegetables grown on their farm in Eungella, New South Wales.
The food is buffet style and the price of your meal depends on how much you want to eat. The cafe is dine in and takeaway – we opted for takeaway as we were heading back to Main Beach. I got a medium salad plate, with three salads, mine included their tofu, broccoli and sweet potato salad, the kofta ball salad and Greek feta salad with capsicum, olives, lettuce and feta. It was very filling and very reasonably priced.
They also make their own desserts, like chocolate mousse, sago pudding, cheesecake, halva (semolina pudding), cupcakes and tiramisu, plus the mango lassi drink.
If you are in Burleigh Heads and looking for a nourishing and wholesome meal, then I recommend checking out Govindas.
Technically not in the Gold Coast, however, if you’re looking to get out of the city, head south to Byron Bay, a laidback and beachy area, which is only an hour and 30 minute drive away. Definitely spend a day here (ideally a Thursday), starting at the Byron Farmers Market, then having a coffee whilst people watching, browse the shops, have lunch and then spend the afternoon at Main Beach. Also, check out the lighthouse and keep your eyes peeled for Chris Hemsworth – he lives in Byron Bay!!!
Byron Bay Farmers’ Market
Held every Thursday morning, Byron Bay Farmers’ Market supports local producers and there are many goodies to choose from. When I say goodies I don’t mean my usual favourites (like chocolate and baked goods), but goodies like the biggest pineapples you will ever see, tomatoes in all shapes and colours, lady finger bananas (seriously the cutest), dragonfruit (fresh and dried), avocados so cheap it kills me, giant watermelons, juicy carrots, freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, macadamia nuts, prawns and so much more.
Everything is super fresh, organic and tastes amazing. Plus there’s music, food stands, and plenty of parking. I envy the locals in Byron Bay, because this market is one of my favourites.
If you can’t get to the market on Thursday, head to the Bangalow Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings (from 8am to 11am) which is only a 20 minute drive from Byron Bay.
We stopped at Bayleaf for coffee after browsing the Byron Bay Farmers Market. There are many coffee shops in Byron Bay, but we chose this one, as 1. It was busy and 2. For the decor, setting and chill vibe (plus it ended up being right next to one of my favourite clothing shops, Mister Zimi).
There coffee was great – but beware they don’t serve skinny milk (aka trim milk)!
We also ordered one of their homemade dark chocolate and raspberry muffins to share. It was still warm, straight out of the oven and melt in your mouth.
Service was quick and attentive. Will definitely be back to try their breakfast and lunch menus.
Having brunch at Combi in Byron Bay was an absolute dream.
Mainly because we don’t really have anything like it in Auckland. Their food is beautiful, fresh, organic, healthy, and most importantly, delicious. The menu has endless options, that I guarantee there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Firstly, the drinks. There’s organic fair trade Combi Coffee, herbal tea, fresh drinking coconuts (or the option to have your espresso in a fresh coconut), lattes, raw hot chocolates, iced coffees, kombucha on tap, organic cold pressed juices, nut mylks, milkshakes and my personal favourite, raw organic superfood smoothies.
My sister ordered their Peanut Butter Cup Superfood Smoothie ($12.50) which was actually a meal in itself! It consisted of organic peanut butter, banana, cacao nibs, coconut flesh, chia, raw fermented protein powder and housemade nut mylk. It was AMAZING.
Secondly, the food. On the menu, there are super bowls, such as chia, acai, dragonfruit, bircher and granola – all my favourite breakfast ingredients. Plus, sourdough and sprouted breads with your choice of toppings, lentil soup, avocado on toast, toasted sandwiches, raw pizza, raw zucchini spaghetti and a veggie burger. We were overwhelmed by the menu!
I ordered the Dragonfruit Bowl ($15.50), a blend of mango, banana and housemade nut mylk, topped with seasonal fruit, crispy coconut, chia seeds, cranberry, goji berries, activated caramelised buckini and garnished with passionfruit. It sounded dreamy on the menu… when it arrived at our table, it was the brightest pink I have ever seen, and eating it, well it was a dream. However, I would have liked more buckini on top to make it more substantial.
My Mum liked the sound of their Combi Organic Lentil Soup ($14) – homemade Middle Eastern slow cooked lentil and vegetable soup served with a side of sourdough toast. I was surprised seeing this on the menu as I thought Combi only did bowls and smoothies. However, this hit the spot!
Sweet tooths will also love their raw cakes and treats, like their signature raw caramel slice (gooey and delicious), mango and passionfruit cheesecake and raw donuts.
I also loved the decor and beautiful setting. Think pastel pink walls, wooden features, colourful chairs and cushions, pink menus, tropical fruit neon lights and loads of plants.
Highly recommend Combi if you are in Byron Bay!
Side note: I plan to visit the Gold Coast again very soon, so will keep this list updated!
Have you ever been to the Gold Coast? What eateries would you recommend?