The North Room
This casual-yet-refined highway-side gem wears many hats – it’s an intimate date-night spot, popular for group dining, and is ideal for soloists wanting bar snacks and sips. The dishes from chef and owner Tim Stewart shine a light firmly on the season’s best produce. The set menu is ideal for tasting your way through Tim’s modern-Australian creations, while The North Room regulars are always kept intrigued by one-off specials.
When you slide open the barnyard door, you’re immediately captivated by Etsu’s eclectic and cavernous interior, the smoking robata grills and, of course, that unmistakable Japanese charm. Work your way through Etsu’s raw selection of sashimi, oysters and more, before giving in to the aroma from the binchotan grill. The menu elevates with dumplings and tempura, before moving to bigger bites like buta no kakuni (pork belly) and marbled steaks. Be sure to get acquainted with Etsu’s cocktail offering and cap off the evening with a Japanese whisky.
In mid-2019, Lupo took a slight pivot from its original guise as a European-style bistro and gave itself a new identity as a neighbourhood Italian bar and ristorante. Plates of mortadella, coppa and salami are the perfect prelude to Lupo’s handmade pastas (think ricotta cappelletti with a mushroom brodo), best sided with a panzanella salad. Behind Lupo’s horseshoe-shaped bar you’ll find aperitif-style cocktails and a top-notch wine collection.
Glenelg Public House
Searching for a quality steak? This is where you’ll find some of the country’s best cuts treated with simplicity and cooked to your liking. The sides here are also a standout – think dirty sebago fries, truffled cauliflower gratin and roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and pine nuts. Not into steaks? There’s pillow-soft four-cheese gnocchi, baked snapper with broad beans and nduja, and plenty of smaller bites like grilled raclette with pear, fig relish and hazelnuts.
Bistro Lamp Deux
As the sibling venue to Bistro Lamp in Surfers Paradise, one of the coast’s longest-running Japanese establishments, Bistro Lamp Deux dishes up the same delightful modern Japanese fare that has been pleasing patrons for decades. If you’re a fan of sashimi, the chilli salmon carpaccio is definitely a standout, as is the tuna wasabi, the beef tataki and the signature okonomiyaki. Can’t decide? Opt for the chef’s tasting platter and allow head chef Jiro Umakoshi to create something spectacular.
For authentic Italian pizzas, you can’t look past Goccia. You’ll be greeted with a hearty ‘ciao’ before settling in for a night of traditional wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas and Italian wines. You’ll need a few visits to experience the raft of pizzas on offer – though, it’s always best to start with a negroni and antipasti (like smoked burrata with grilled vegetables) before making any decisions.
While most of Mermaid’s restaurants are over on the beachside, Lucky Bao dishes up the deliciousness from within the Markeri Street marketplace. Lucky Bao started out as a market stall serving up glorious steamed bao across the coast, and now delights diners with its modern-Asian fare on the daily. The baos are an obvious hit, but expect plenty more options like twice-cooked lamb ribs, tempura cuttlefish and Korean rice cakes. Be sure to give the cocktail list a nudge.
FuFu shifted away from its original identity as a pastel-hued American diner, transforming into a moody, dimly lit bar and restaurant, dishing up refined modern-Asian delights and a fun collection of cocktails. The tuna ceviche with yuzu, wasabi peas and pickled onion is the best place to start, followed by share plates like sweet-and-sour pork belly with chargrilled pineapple, tender beef cheeks served with ginger mash and the crispy Vietnamese-style crepe brimming with pork, prawns and a yuzu salad. Wash it down with a chilli-laced margarita or three.
Unassuming from the outside, Itoshin is one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it places – but inside it’s a haven for truly authentic Japanese fare. You’ll find trawler-fresh sashimi, made-to-order sushi and bubbling hot pots like local favourite Itoshin Nabe with thinly sliced beef sirloin, pork belly, diced chicken, tiger prawn, oyster, fish, scallop, chicken-and-duck meatballs and vegetables in rich chicken stock.
Tucked away along the Gold Coast Highway, Little Truffle delivers an intimate fine-dining experience. The impressive modern-Australian menu is influenced by the tastes of south-western Europe, creating a truly unique culinary offering in an elegant setting.
Bonus new opening –Project Tokyo: It’s one of the suburb’s newest additions (it arrived in July 2019) and is well worth putting on your hit list. Project Tokyo’s menu is designed to strike a balance between authentic flavours and innovation, featuring familiar classics (like delicately crisp karaage chicken) alongside lighter, more intricate plates like kingfish sashimi with jalapeno and yuzu. There’s also handmade gyozas, a tasty selection of made-to-order sushi rolls, yakitori, harumake (Japanese spring rolls) and more.
Honourable mentions: There is a lot more culinary goodness to explore in Mermaid Beach! Be sure to check out Italian gems like Italian Kitchen Company and Trio Romano, get your taco fix at Bonita Bonita, tuck into bowls at Muso Ramen & Gyoza Bar, and fill up on burgers and beers at Apres Surf or Easy Street Diner. Head over to our Stumble Guide to discover even more Mermaid Beach goodness.