Rubi Red, Nobby Beach
It’s not every day that the Gold Coast welcomes a venue from a Michelin-starred chef and Marco Pierre White’s head chef, nonetheless. In March, celebrated chef Michael Lambie opened the doors to Rubi Red in one of the Gold Coast’s most iconic and well-known locations – 2235 Gold Coast Highway (formerly home to Hellenika and most recently Miss Mee). Designed to intrigue and delight, the menu highlights some of Michael’s most famous Pan Asian dishes as well as a scattering of new creations to showcase the Gold Coast’s rich bounty of local and regional produce. Think freshly shucked oysters with red nam jim, kingfish sashimi, delightful dumplings and crispy fried Sichuan duck (one of Michael’s signatures).
Bringing breezy sips to Kirra’s famed foreshore, Siblings was one of the year’s first big arrivals and quickly earned a place in our hearts (and stomachs). The casually sophisticated sip spot transformed the former Pizza Hut into a chic beachside eatery that takes you from early morning coffees right through to late-night cocktails and nightcaps. The menu is loosely described as modern-Australian cuisine with a strong focus on fresh seafood and share plates.
Rise Bakery, Sanctuary Cove
If the first wave of post-Covid international holiday Insta snaps has you feeling pangs of jealousy, Sanctuary Cove has welcomed a French-inspired artisan boulangerie and salon de thé (tea room) that feels like it would be right at home along Boulevard de la Croisette in Cannes. The beautiful new bakery showcases a selection of traditional, well-executed French classics such as elevated croissants, pain au chocolat, fruit-topped danishes and soon-to-be kouign-amann.
La Luna Restaurant, Marina Mirage
Another early arrival was La Luna Restaurant. The latest offering from The Gennari Group headed by Patrik Gennari (Glass Dining & Lounge Bar, The Loose Moose, Roosevelt Lounge and Maggie Choo) La Luna offers a chic Mediterranean dining experience befitting its stunning location overlooking the Broadwater. The restaurant is the first stage of a much larger plan to create what is being hailed Australia’s first floating beach club. The 840 sqm floating beach club is currently being constructed offsite and is expected to open later this year. Suffice to say, we’re excited.
Suzy Korean BBQ, Burleigh Heads
If you’re fond of KBBQ, add this one to the very top of your must-try list, stat. Suzy came into our life like a wrecking ball and has us daydreaming about our next rendezvous. The quaint 42-seater has transformed the Gold Coast Highway-fronting space (next door to Mr Hizola’s) into an eccentric new Korean-inspired eatery. When it comes to the menu, Suzy is all about the experience – it’s interactive and fun, just be sure to bring your appetite for adventure.Burleigh Barrels, Burleigh Heads
The latest to join the coast’s clutch of sip-from-the-source breweries is Burleigh Barrels on West Burleigh Road. With cold beers and elevated pub-style eats, Burleigh Barrels has immediately become a popular respite for socialising, sipping and snacking. The striking venue encapsulates Burleigh’s coastal-cool, laid-back vibe with live music throughout the weekend.
Koko Cafe & Bar, Southport
If there was any doubt that Southport has emerged as a culinary hub, let this be all the proof you need. By day, Koko operates as a Japanese-inspired cafe with Melbourne’s ST. ALi coffee, and as the sun sinks, it morphs into Koko Sando Bar, which is dedicated to slinging sandos in drool-inducing combinations, yakitori and okonomiyaki.
Social Eating House + Bar, Broadbeach
Okay so this one isn’t technically a ‘new’ opening, but the beloved Broadbeach icon celebrated its tenth birthday with a complete floor-to-ceiling renovation, which has well and truly earnt Social Eating House a place on the list. The new-look offers a sense of familiarity and sophistication with new outdoor seating and alfresco space. As for the menu, the venue’s celebrated selection of modern Australian morsels remains largely unchanged, however, there are a few exciting new additions from time to time.
Clay Cantina, Coolangatta
We’ve been fans of Kristal Smith since the old Pop Taco days (if you know, you know), so when we heard she was extending Clay Cantina’s offering to include a lunch and dinner service, we were over the moon. Hidden down an unassuming Coolangatta laneway, it’s pretty likely you’ll smell (or hear) Clay Cantina before you see it. Authentic and utterly delicious, this is one taco-slinger that is well worth the search. Hot tip, enter via the laneway entrance on Chalk Street.
Butler’s Tea Room + Noshery, Burleigh Heads
The term people-pleaser tends to invoke negative connotations, in the case of Butlers Tea Room + Noshery, however, it’s a beautiful thing. The intention was to create a space that can be all things to all people – whether you fancy a quick break to caffeinate, a margarita and a double cheesey at 10:00 am or something in between. Extending far beyond the standard breakfast/brunch/lunch options, Butlers has upped the ante with an all-day menu that meanders from light bites of avocado sourdough and spanner-crab omelette through to fully loaded burritos. The drinks list is equally as considered with a palate-pleasing selection of Tavalon teas, iced teas (which can be spiked with your choice of spirit), cold-pressed juices, smoothies and loaded milkshakes.White Oat Distillery, Biggera Waters
It’s been a cracker year for the Gold Coast’s sipping scene, having also welcomed White Oat Distillery on the northern end. The slick space is a thing of beauty with communal timber tables filling the floor space underneath strings of festoon lights. A blush-coloured bar set against a matte-black tiled backdrop vyes for attention but, try as you might, your eyes will immediately be drawn to the brilliantly shiny copper-hued distilling equipment, which is capable of pumping out 4000 bottles of gin a day. The distillery hosts a rotating roster of food trucks and live music throughout the weekend so if you’re yet to check it out, do yourself a favour.
Pablito’s Mexican Cuisine and Tequilaria, Sanctuary Cove
From the team behind Tugun’s eternally adored Caracara Cantina comes a gorgeous new tequila-infused sip spot aptly called Pablito’s Mexican Cuisine and Tequiliaria. Born from an inherent love of tacos and tequila, the northern newcomer has settled snugly into its home at Sanctuary Cove’s The Marine Village delivering an elevated dining experience that showcases authentic, quality modern-Mexican fare.
MC’s Sandwich House, Burleigh Heads
While some eateries boast a menu that meanders over several pages, the newly opened MC’s Sandwich House on West Burleigh Road is refreshingly simple. The neighbourhood noshery specialises in three things – really excellent sandwiches, coffee, and sodas. Breakfast bites, which are available from 6:30 am until sold out, consist of two options – housemade sausage, scrambled egg and American cheese, or go sans sausage. From 9:00 am, the sandwich selection increases to five. There are no substitutions or extras, each sandwich is designed to taste exactly as it tastes each time you taste it. Be warned though, each one is available in limited quantities each day so if you snooze, you lose.
Kami, Burleigh Heads
Kami is from the same crew that brought us Magnolia Lane in Burleigh Heads. The nighttime noshery dishes up a delightful selection of Southeast Asian eats ranging from bao buns (karaage chicken, pork belly and shitake mushroom) to Cha Gio (fried rice paper rolls), karaage chicken, charred Asian greens and a Vietnamese salad that packs a spicy punch. KAMI is by no means a sit-down fine-diner, rather, it’s casual, fun and full of flavour.
Gods of the Sea, Marina Mirage
Whiling away an afternoon with a sumptuous seafood spread, wine and excellent company is something of a divine experience for us mortals. If you too enjoy sophisticated seaside dining, pull up a seat at the new Gods of the Sea at Marina Mirage. Alongside a sleek new look, the restaurant has debuted a brand-new 100-percent Australian ethos when it comes to the venue’s food and beverage offering. Absolutely every morsel that is featured on the menu is Australian made, caught or sourced, with a spotlight on supporting small artisan producers and small-batch makers.Cantina and Piatto, Mermaid Beach
Alexander Graham Bell once mused that when one door closes, another opens. In the case of Lupo in Mermaid Beach, however, when one door closed we were gifted two exceptional new eateries – Piatto and the newly opened Cantina. Both venues are owned and operated by the Pearce family, however, that’s where the similarities end. Piatto is a quaint Italian-inspired 16-seater, perfect for special dinners and date nights, while Cantina is a spirited and lively no-booking neighbourhood tapas bar.
Zephyr Kitchen & Bar, Nobby Beach
From the mastermind behind Tropic Vice, Jimmy Tantsis-Hall, comes Zephyr – a perfectly laidback-yet-sophisticated sip spot that is guaranteed to tickle your tastebuds. While Tropic Vice lends itself to daytime dining and spirited sundowners, Zephyr is envisaged as a dinner and drinks destination that transitions into a bustling cocktail and lounge bar as the evening rolls on. With casual bar-style seating lining the roadside as well as a clutch of low-set settings, Zephyr is equally as suited to intimate date nights, cocktail-filled catch-ups, and/or post-dinner tipples.
Santa Barbara Specialty Coffee, Hope Island
This northern newcomer has found a following of folk with an appreciation for specialty coffee and next-level toasted sandwiches. We’re talking seriously stacked Reubens, which are served with Thousand Island dipping sauce for a little added hint of sweetness, pesto chicken, and pulled-barbecue shiitake mushroom-loaded creations. Bring your appetite.
Isoletto Pool Club, Broadbeach
Perched on level six of the 53-storey residential and hotel tower, Isoletto Pool Club is every bit as dreamy as you hoped it would be. Exclusive to guests of The Star, including The Star Grand, The Darling and Dorsett Gold Coast, Isoletto Pool Club is the stuff of sun-dappled daydreams. Featuring an incredible 12-metre viewing wall overlooking the twinkling lights of Broadbeach alongside cabanas, plush daybeds and even ‘wet lounges’ built into the pool itself – Isoletto is the perfect place to sun, spritz, snack, and repeat. When you start to feel a little peckish, head to the gorgeous indoor-outdoor restaurant and lounge, which is serving light bites such as freshly rolled sushi, locally sourced oysters with mignonette dressing, and California prawn cocktails with avocado and dill. A crispy fried snapper burger and grilled chicken BLT lead the sustainable mains menu alongside nourish bowls, acai bowls and artisanal gelato flavours.
Tweed River House, Murwillumbah
Every now and then a venue comes along that is so delightfully unexpected that we can’t help but swoon. Tweed River House is that place. Originally constructed in 1907, the grand old girl has undergone many iterations over the years, setting the scene for countless happily ever afters and coming-of-age stories during her incredible 100-year lifespan. Now, the sprawling venue has undergone an incredible floor-to-ceiling restoration and has opened to the public to usher in a new era of elegance and establish itself as one of Northern New South Wales’ must-visit dining destinations. Just 30 minutes south of Coolangatta, Tweed River House is a gateway to another world.
Still hungry for more? Check out Seaside Kitchen & Bar in Burleigh Heads, Falafels Vegetarian Kitchen in Mermaid Waters, Cooly’s new basement bar called Metabar and the ultimate comfort food at Mermaid’s Pastel & Bossa.
Siblings image credit: Brooke Darling Photography