If you’re yet to visit Geelong, you really should pop it on your travel itinerary.
Already the second largest city in Victoria, Geelong is rapidly growing. Ideally positioned on the eastern side of Corio Bay, the ‘Gateway City’ plays an important role in relation to other regional towns, such as Ballarat and Warrnambool. For many from Melbourne, passing through Geelong means the natural beauty of the fabulous Great Ocean Road is in sight.
However, Geelong has loads to recommend it in its own right.
The esplanade on The Waterfront is a great spot for people watching on a sunny day. Should you fancy a swim, Eastern Beach is popular with families and tourists, whilst North Shore Beach (Moorpanyal Beach) is a well-kept secret. If you’re a surfer, Barwon Heads Beach and Thirteenth Beach are only a short drive away.
Geelong also has a number of museums and a great Art Gallery that hosts regular exhibitions. And the Geelong Botanical Gardens are well-worth a few hour exploring.
But what we’re really interested in here at Eatability is the many restaurants, bars and cafes that make Geelong such a superb place to eat and drink.
As you might expect, Geelong restaurants cover the full spectrum of dining options. From elevated fine dining to casual cafes where you can grab a sandwich. From superb local seafood to Mediterranean feasts and exciting Asian cuisine. And with local wineries and breweries on the doorstep, the drinks lists regularly offer something new as well. The best restaurants in Geelong offer all this, and more.
So join us as we investigate the must-try bars and eateries of this booming coastal town.
Location: 75 Little Malop St, Geelong, VIC 3220 Ph: 0409 749 489
We’re hitting the ground running as we open our look at the finest restaurants in Geelong. How come? Well, The Arborist is both a restaurant and wine bar. What’s more, they mix a rather good cocktail as well.
As the name suggests, there’s a rather elegant English Ash Tree thriving on the site and the restaurant has been built around it. Moreover, the influence of the tree can be found in the decor of the eatery itself. This is a smoothing space of lulling olives and earthy shades. It’s the perfect foil for the Mediterranean-tinged, Modern Australian food that the Arborist serves.
So what should you order? How about starting with the Potato & Salted Fish Croquettes, Whipped Cod Roe and Bottarga ($16.5)? A smart take on the much-loved Portuguese fritters, they are soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside and taste yummy.
From there, continue hopping around the Med with the punchy Baba Ghanoush ($18)or the Baked Haloumi ($19). We’ve eaten at the Arborist a couple of time and always include one of their fabulous salads in our meal. The Fried Cauliflower with Quinoa, Currants, Pine Nuts and Labneh ($21) dances on the palate.
Fortunately, if you’re feeling indecisive, The Arborist offers a Feed Me menu for $65pp. Just make sure that it includes the melting moreish Slow Cooked Pork Belly. One taste and you’ll get why we rate it as one of the finest restaurants in Geelong.
And to wash it all down? Well, we can never resist a the allure of an Old-Fashioned, but then that’s us!
Location: Steam Packet Place, Shop 10, 6/8 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong, VIC 3220 Ph: 0478 522 996
“At last, Bistronomy comes to Geelong.”
It’s a big call, and perhaps a tad dismissive of some of the other dining venues in the city, by La Cachette delivers a modern Bistrot experience with a bang.
Although small and simple – but chic – when it comes to interior design, La Cachette does what is does exceptional well. And that is create stunning, French-inspired dishes with skill and flare.
The Duck, Cockerel & Rabbit Pate en Croute is a harmonious marriage of mild game meats, presented in a crisp golden pastry. The Confit of Blue Eye, Haricot Coco and Saltbush Kimchi makes we wish more chefs were brave enough to use native ingredients in such imaginative ways. Even the Salad of Leaves, Burnt Honey & Mimolette is far from average. The savoury notes of the cheese perfect against the sweet honey.
And don’t get us started on the desserts…Honestly, if I lived in Geelong, I’ve be beating down La Cachette’s door regularly for their Salted Coconut Sorbet alone.
With a wine list that leans mainly towards France and Australia, there are plenty of great matches to try, Helpfully, the incredible team at La Cachette take the trouble to feature a couple of wine suggestions with each menu change.
All this and attentive service too. What more could you want?
Elchi Indian restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD is the latest venture by Geelong’s ‘Curry Queen’ Manpreet Sekhon
Location: 15 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong, VIC 3220 Ph: (03) 5221 6645
Geelong waterfront has some great eating spots and one that’s a big hit with families is the Wharf Shed.
With expansive windows giving views of the ocean and a large terrace if you want to breathe in the sea air, the Wharf Shed Geelong is casual dining at its best. That said, the attractive outlook means that this isn’t the cheapest breakfast in town.
The Nourish Bowl – walnut cream, summer greens, pickled watermelon rind, grilled peach, roasted beets, barley & house dukkah – opens at $26.5. And then you can add sides at extra costs. Similarly, the Three Cheese Nachos with tomato salsa, guacamole, sour cream & pickled jalapenos are $24 before you throw on the beef brisket ($7).
A far better option are the Katsu Prawn Bao Buns at $21 for 3. These tasty little pillows of Japanese flavours slip down very easily with a cold beer. The Wharf Shed Paella (430.5) is also a winner. Plump mussels, clams and prawns, given heat from chorizo and all balanced by a punchy garlic aioli.
For everything you need to turn out perfect pizzas at home – from pizza stones and ovens to wheel cutters – click here.
On the Kids Menu, there are popular options such as Toasties, Pizzas, Chicken Nuggets and Waffles.
But for us, the best time to visit the Wharf Shed pavilion is as the sunset is starting to wane. Kick back with a plate of Seafood Croquettes ($20 for 6) and a Passionfruit Mojito Cocktail ($19) and which the light dim on another beautiful day. As you stare out over the waves, you’ll understand why this is one of the top restaurants in Geelong.
If you take a trip down to the Mornington Peninsula, check out our guide to the Best Restaurants in Rye.
Location: Federation Mills, PH2, 33 Mackey St, North Geelong, VIC 3215 Ph: 0499 331 915
As far as venues go, 1915 certainly has the wow-factor.
This Mediterranean/ Modern Australian focused restaurant and bar sits in an impressive red-brick boiler house, beneath the much-loved North Geelong smokestack. The building dates back more than a century. Hence the name, we assume. High-ceilinged and spacious, the vibe is industrial chic, taken to the next level.
Food-wise, there’s plenty to tempt hungry diners. The Singapore Chilli Prawns ($22) have just the right amount of heat, whilst the Saganaki, Beetroot Relish, Almonds & Lemon ($16) is an earthy, salty delight. If you come with friends from Thursday to Sunday, you can order Wood Fired Chargrilled Chicken with Gremolata (S: $28/L: $45) or Whole Lamb Shoulder (S: $70/L: $120) to share. It’s a great excuse to get together for a long overdue catch up.
And if all of this is too much, simply go with the one of the 3 Trust the Chef Menus.
What’s more, the drinks at 1915 are definitely something to get excited about. Yes, there are beers and wines – as you would expect. However, if you’re a gin lover, you’re in for a real treat. The drinks menu includes selection of Gin Perfect Pairings – yum! Even better, Anther Gin lives right next door, so you can include a distillery tour or gin tasting to your visit to 1915, if you so desire.
Add to this the fact that 1915 is available to hire as a venue for private functions, and you have an all-round stunner of an establishment. It’s a worthy inclusion amongst our best restaurants in Geelong.
For sweeping vistas over Port Phillip Bay and great Modern Australian food, see our review of Jack Rabbit Winery on the Bellarine
Location: 66 Pakington St, Geelong West, VIC 3218 Ph: (03) 5221 1555
We stay in the ever-hip world of industrial chic for the next of our top restaurants in Geelong – Zigfrids. Only this time, the exposed brick-work and ceiling beams comes with some quirky op-shop furniture.
In addition, there’s both a beer garden for those long, warm evening sundowners and a cool mezzanine if you prefer to chill. The modern, informal interiors create an atmosphere where you can kick back, chill out and revel in stylish, idiosyncratic surroundings.
You’ll find simple, honest and yet refined food, with a huge emphasis on locally sourced produce and daily deliveries of the best meat, fish, shellfish, vegetables and dairy products on the south coast. Zigfrids has developed an enviable coterie of artisan suppliers and specialist food providers.
The waiting staff are excellent – unfussy, knowledgeable and attentive – and they clearly know their food.
At Zigfrids, the menu features Middle Eastern inspired fare. We love the perfectly charred Grilled Quail with lush, smoky Baba Ganoush. And who can resist a fragrant plate of Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder? Certainly not us.
Zigrid’s is owned by Donna and Richard Flanders who also have Beavs Bar. If you like live music, a fun atmosphere and great drinks, it’s worth checking out Beavs over on Little Mallop Street.
If the flavours of Arabia work for you, see our guide to the Best Middle Eastern Food and Restaurants in Melbourne
Editor’s Note: We’ve just learnt that Zigfrids has sadly closed. However, a new wine bar and restaurant, Meet Me At Marys has opened in the same location. We’re yet to dine there, but plan to soon and will post our review in the coming months.
Location: 6/8 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong, VIC 3220 Ph: (03) 5222 2666
We return to the vibrant Geelong waterfront for the next of our restaurant recommendations.
Combining a bar and restaurant with a function space, all in a groovy spot looking out to the water, Edge Geelong is a great choice for a relaxed lunch on a sunny day. Or perhaps, a few cocktails and snacks at the start of an evening out.
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The food reads like a hit-list of winning dishes. From BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders with Asian Coleslaw ($14 for 2) and Chicken Parmigiana with Garden Salad and Chips ($28) to Vanilla & Chocolate Chip Blondie with Coconut Ice Cream & Raspberry Compote ($14). At the Edge, it’s all about a good feed and chilled times. With this in mind, a section of their menu focuses on Share Plates – 4 for $49 or 5 for $59. It’s the perfect option when eating with a group of friends.
The cocktail list is short, but sweet and on a hot arvo, the Berry Fizzer ($20) – Great Ocean Road Raspberry Gin, Lemon Pomegranate Liqueur & Soda – goes down particularly easily.
If you’re looking for a lively bar and some tasty quick bites, Edge Geelong is worth investigating. It’s one of the best restaurants in Geelong.
If enjoying a drink outside appeals to you, see our review of the Best Rooftop Bars in Melbourne
Location: 90-92 Little Malop St, Geelong, VIC 3220 Ph: 0423 174 266
If you’re looking for an intimate date night venue or a quiet drink, then Piano Bar isn’t for you.
Instead, this is the place to hit if you want a fun, lively night out with a raucous group of mates. Especially if you’re in the mood to sing.
The concept here is very simple, and it works at treat if you’re with the right crowd. You take a request slip from the stack on the bar, write down the song you’d like to hear and the musician at the piano will play it for you. The result is singing, dancing and one of the most memorable evenings out that you’ll have in Geelong.
Apart from the regular piano man, the team also host various other musicians, plus a very popular Drag Trivia on Thursdays.
The food is pub fare, designed to share. Think things like Homemade Sausage Rolls ($14), Roast Cauliflower with Hummus & Dukkah ($14) and Crispy Chicken Strips ($17) with Slaw & Jalapeno Slaw. They also do a handful of Pizzas. In addition, there is a fully stocked bar with everything from beers through to whiskies.
Piano Bar Geelong has proved to be so successful, that there are now sister operations in neighbouring Colac, as well as in Ballarat and Bendigo.
As you would expect, this spot is incredibly busy come the end of the year with works’ Christmas functions and end of year parties, so book well in advance if you want to be part of the festivities.
For the finest Italian restaurants up the coast in Melbourne, see here.
Location: 16 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong, VIC 3220 Ph: (03) 8551 3110
As the name suggests, Le Parisien brings taste of the French Riviera to the Geelong waterfront.
The term ‘much-loved local institution’ is used far too frequently these days, but with Le Parisien, such a claim is totally justified. Jean-Paul and Lorraine Temple have run this flagship of contemporary French cuisine for more than 40 years – so they must be doing something right.
Of course, French food is not the only string to their bow, although it is the heart and soul of their menu. Given its beachside location, it’s no surprise that Le Parisien also offers a number of seafood dishes. Indeed, one of the restaurant’s most popular Mains is titled Our Famous Seafood Platter for Two (MP).
Other favourites are a Traditional French Onion Soup ($15) and Duck 3 Ways with Puy Lentils, Vegetable Bruinoise, Apple, Pickled Fennel & Cassis Jus ($42). This is also the place to get your fill of offal, if that’s your thing, with both Crumbed Brains ($18) and Pan Fried Kidneys ($18) gracing the entree section of the menu.
Just make sure that you leave room for the textbook perfect Chocolate Souffle ($22). One taste and you’ll know why Le Parisien makes our list of the top restaurants in Geelong.
Whilst you are in the region, why see our picks for the Best Restaurants in Apollo Bay?
Editor’s Note: We are sad to learn that Le Parisien has served its last Profiterole. We wish the Temples a long and happy retirement.
Location: The Pier Geelong, Cunningham Pier 10 Western Beach, Foreshore Rd, Geelong, VIC 3220 Ph: (03) 5222 6377
If you’re up for Asian Fusion invention and a slick waterfront location, then Wah Wah Gee is the eatery for you.
This dynamic venue has a fun, lively vibe and Pan-Asian food to match. No wonder it’s one of the most popular restaurants in Geelong.
Open with Wah Wah Gee’s take on KFC – their Korean Crispy Fried Chicken (3pc $19). From there, it’s hard to go past the Smoky Pulled Pork San Choy Bow (3pc $19). The crunchy Cos Leaves and soft, luscious meat go perfectly together.
Another great choice is one of their bamboo steamers of Bao Buns . Whilst Slow Cooked Pulled Pork (3pc $20) is a common option, here you can also have Thai Fish Cakes (3pc $20), Crispy Chicken (3pc $20) or even Asian Corn Cake (3pc $18).
For those with a bigger appetite, there are dishes like Wah’s Poke Bowl or their Thai Green Green – both with a selection of proteins.
And did we mention Wah Bah? Well, Wah Wah Gee has a funky bar, looking out over the water. It’s a get place to pop in for a drink at the start of the evening. As the sun goes down, there are few better spots to be in Geelong than sipping a Peach Please cocktail and partying with friends.
Looking for superb Asian Fusion food in the Victorian capital? Check out our recommendations.
Location: 93-95 Ryrie St, Geelong, VIC 3220 Ph: 0498 012 622
Fancy sampling the culinary delights of South America, but can’t afford the air fare to Buenos Aires? Then maybe you should book at table at the next of our top restaurants in Geelong – the wonderfully moody ALMA.
Here, the finest local produce is given just the right amount of prep and love to bring out its best.
We love an Empanada, and at ALMA Restaurant they do a fabulous Corn & Cheese one with Black Beans ($7). Another of our go-to dishes is the Salt Baked Pumpkin with Onion Jam, Crispy Chickpeas & Goat’s Cheese ($32). The combination of soft, sweet Pumpkin, sharp Cheese and crunchy Legumes is a revelation.
Given our opening recommendations, you won’t be surprised to learn that ALMA offers a fully Vegan Menu and plenty of straight Vegetarian choices. That said, there’s also lots for a devoted carnivore to enjoy, including a seriously good Sher Wagyu Rump Cap (350g/$70).
And as if all this isn’t enough to get you through the door, ALMA Restaurant has one of the smartest Beer and Cocktail Lists in town. The Plum Paloma ($20) with its fruity hit of Davidsons Plum Aperitivo is an especially memorable way to kick off a meal.
Editor’s Note: We are in the process of updating this article and will be adding to it over the coming weeks.