When you escape to the Sunshine Coast, days should flow and decision-making be kept to a minimum, so all you need to do is relax, take in the views and enjoy yourself. This invariably turns the spotlight to food.
To tap into the bubbling undercurrent of culinary creativity on the Coast, surprise your GPS – and tastebuds – with this local’s dining guide.
Related article: The Sunshine Coast’s Tasty Food Trail Site
Best start to the day
If you can’t already tell from the cyclists, surfers and bootcampers out in force from the crack of dawn, the locals here live by the maxim that morning is the best part of the day. That means breakfast is serious business, but diverting from beachfront café strips will net you the best eggs benny return. One place well off the tourist radar is Izba Espresso in Birtinya (near the new Sunshine Coast Hospital development). Don’t be deterred by the display village location – these kids netted a cult-like following before packing up their roadside shipping container and opening three new cafés across the coast and Brisbane. Once you wrap your mouth around their spicy pulled pork benedict with crunchy apple slaw, you’ll be the lakeside locale’s biggest advocate.
In the back streets of Mooloolaba, The Velo Project’s charming vintage decor complements their thoughtful breakfasts, like slow-braised borlotti beans topped with baba ghanoush, poached eggs and coriander yoghurt.
Further north, follow the steady stream of locals to a Noosaville industrial shed to discover the wholesome eats of Vanilla Food (we love the breakfast tacos and pink pitaya bowls), and kick-start your engines with a propeller coffee from Clandestino Roasters – they’re all under the same roof at Belmondos Organic Market.
Serious about coffee
While there’s a plethora of non-caffeinated options on offer for health-conscious hipsters (turmeric, matcha or dandelion latte, anyone?) a good brew is serious business here, particularly at Guru Life, in the lesser-known suburb of Rosemount, a 10-minute drive from Maroochydore CBD. This roastery and café, opened in January by the owners of The Pocket Espresso (more on that soon), keeps the coffee strong, the off-beat vibe high, and the vegan menu options on point. All-day breakfast will keep leisurely risers happy, too.
Similarly, the crew at Glass Coffee House & Surf Gallery in Cotton Tree like their Fonzie Abbott grind as strong as the fibreglass that coats their recycled tabletops – and, judging from the constant queues and weekend crowds, the locals do too.
In Sunshine Beach, you can easily while away a morning over excellent coffee at Costa Noosa Espresso, or take a detour to Eenie Creek Road in Noosaville to enter the beautiful land of Padre Coffee. They hold free cupping classes if you’d like to be able to tell your El Salvador beans from your Kenyan beans.
Then, donate your old surf threads and linger over a long black at Compound Secondhand Surf & Espresso in Coolum and, when you’re down Caloundra way, the views of Moffat Beach are made sweeter with a coffee from The Pocket Espresso.
Chews with views (and craft brews)
Hunting down the best back-street bandits is one thing, but with vistas as glorious as the ones available on the Coast, sometimes you just want to nosh with a panorama (and drinks list) to match.
Bob along with the tide of the Noosa River at Noosa Boathouse where chef Shane Bailey champions quality local produce like Cedar Street haloumi, Mooloolaba prawns and Gympie beef. Across the street, fine dining is accompanied by a list of 85 whiskies and boutique gins at Whisky Boy, with a fine selection of Australian distillers. Start with spreadable chorizo and flat bread, then do the ol’ halfway meal swap with your love if you can’t choose between the seafood risotto or pomegranate molasses-braised pork neck.
Up in the rolling green hills of Montville, Flame Hill Vineyard commands spectacular views out over verdelho vines from the deck of the cosy homestead, cellar door and restaurant. Start with a tasting so you can select your meal from the perfectly paired menu once you sit down.
Nearby, Brouhaha Brewery in Maleny is tucked, rather randomly, into a medical centre complex, but step inside and it’s pure urban craft brewery, with a sunny balcony to boot. With coffee milk stout and raspberry saison on the taps alongside the requisite IPA and pale ale, we recommend leaving the driving to someone else and ordering a tasting paddle.
When you can’t be bothered with ironing (or makeup), head to Marcoola Markets on a Friday night for a buffet of food truck treats from dumplings to okonomiyaki, gozleme to injectable doughnuts, and wholesome eats from The Sprouted Kitchen’s gorgeous vintage caravan. Arrive early because hungry young families can sell out a van quicker than a Justin Bieber concert.
On Ocean Street in Maroochydore there are plenty of casual eateries to choose from, but every Friday, Saturday and Sunday the gates beside Old Soul Whisky and Lounge Bar swing open for a Mexican street food party at La Canteena with all the essentials: margaritas, cold beers, tacos and wings. While in Noosa, El Capitano Pizzeria & Bar is a nautical-themed pirate ship of a restaurant and bar serving up a few nibbles to start – think pork and fennel meatballs and fried whitebait with green olive aioli – followed by 72-hour fermented sourdough-base pizzas.
In Yandina, huddled amongst the cane farms, Spirit House is destination dining at its finest. Stepping through the gates you’re transported to a sanctuary in south-east Asia, seated around a tranquil, water lily-studded pond, and handed a menu that never disappoints. Speak to anyone who’s been and gasps of “Oh, you have to have the whole crispy fish” will ensue.
If you prefer French cuisine, a luxury, picture-perfect homestead sitting pretty ona jacaranda-flower sprinkled estate, and two chef’s hats, then The Long Apron at Spicers Clovelly Estatewill be right up your alley.
But if you really can’t pull yourself away from bustling Hastings Street then make reservations at Locale – you’ll feel like you’ve slipped into a Roman wine bar as you start with cocktails and antipasti, and move on to house-made pasta and the likes of sage and prosciutto-wrapped veal tenderloin.
Or, let a celebrity chef do all the impressing for you, with the degustation at Peter Kuruvita’sNoosa Beach House. Cocooned above the buzz of the bar, which is attached to the Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort, you’ll indulge in Kuruvita’s signature, and mouth-watering, Sri Lankan snapper curry during the six-course journey, with or without matching wines. Related article: 48 hours in Shoalhaven