Ah the Goldie.
Running from Coolangatta on the Queensland side of the border with NSW, up to Southern-most suburbs of Brisbane, it’s famous for its stunning beaches. If you live on the Eastern side of Australia – and especially if you’ve felt the chill of winter come June! – the chances are you’ve holidayed in the balmy glow of a break on the Gold Coast.
Seaside suburbs such as Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and Burleigh Heads are synonymous with sun, surf and the Aussie way of life.
But the Gold Coast isn’t solely about the smell SPF 50+ and sand in your board-shorts. This dynamic city is also home to the theme parks Wet’n’Wild, Dreamworld & Warner Bros. Movie World. There are a wildlife sanctuaries and the natural beauty of the Gold Coast Hinterland plus a swathe of sporting activities if that’s your thing.
And of course, there are restaurants, cafes and bars to suit all tastes and budgets.
In fact, at the time of writing this, the Gold Coast has 23 hatted restaurants! From chic Modern Australian menus to cool Asian-inspired feasts and everything in between, the Gold Coast is a foodie haven.
So read on and we’ll guide you through what we consider to be some of the best restaurants on the Gold Coast.
Location: The Oracle Boulevard, Shop 137/3 Oracle Bvd, Broadbeach, QLD 4218 Ph: (07) 5504 5210
We’re kicking off our look at the best restaurants on the Gold Coast with a bona fide stunner.
Honestly, why don’t we hear the words ‘Casual fine dining’ more often in this country? Surely, it’s what us Australians do best?
Blinged up at the end of 2022, this 2-hatted restaurant manages to deliver on ambience, service and food, all whilst refusing to succumb to pretentious affectations.
The food is Modern Australian, and the menu showcases exactly how good our home-grown produce can be when prepared by skilled hands. Although the 12 Hour Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder, Cabbage Slaw & Jus ($47/85) is rightfully an essential of any meal at the Social Eating House, it’s not the only blinding dish on offer.
Eatability is quickly developing a bit of an obsession with Savoury Donuts. And the one at the Social Eating House + Bar – with Smoked Trout Mousse, Fennel, Caviar & Dill ($14 ea) – is simply exquisite.
Quail is still something of a rarity on Australian menus, but here it’s Fried with Malay Curry, Fragrant Herbs & Green Mango ($42). Yum. Similarly, flavoursome is the Chargrilled Moreton Bay Bugs, Brown Butter, Warrigal Greens, Black Garlic & Fennel ($65). The aniseed notes of the Fennel and warmth of the Garlic gloriously enhance the sweet Bug meat.
Dessert-wise, if you’re skeptical about the charms of a Burnt Onion Meringue, trust us and give it a go. At this venue, it comes with Strawberries, Creme Fraiche Ice Cream & Shiso ($23) and is the perfect palate-cleansing end to a meal.
And did we mention this spot’s funky vibe and hip fit-out? We must have been distracted by the fabulous food…
If you find yourself down in the Harbour City, check out our top Restaurants in Barangaroo Sydney
Location: Burleigh Pavilion, 3/43 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads, QLD 4220 Ph: (07) 5630 6611
The views are so good at Rick Shores that you almost don’t register how good the food is. Almost, but not quite.
Plonk yourself down at one of the picture windows and marvel at the glorious beach and rolling surfing unfurling before you. Angle your seat right and you may even get Surfers Paradise sparkling across the waves.
But whatever you do, don’t forget to dip into the delicious Pan-Asian menu. At Rick Shores, the food is designed to share. That said, you won’t want anyone getting their hands on your order of their much-lauded Moreton Bay Bug Roll ($22). The one in question is peppy with Sriracha Mayo, Gem Lettuce and a giving Brioche Bun.
Similarly, if you love your seafood and bold flavours, the Yellow Curry, Chargrilled King Prawn, Coconut, Coriander & Lime ($52) is a must-have. Just make sure you leave space for the Kimchi Fried Rice, Lup Cheong & Spring Onion ($21). When a Side dish is so good you’d happily eat it on it’s own for lunch, you know you’re on to a good thing.
But ultimately, as the sun sets on another blissful Gold Coast day, there are few better options than sitting beachside at Rick shores with a cocktail in hand. Just make sure you book WELL in advance. As one of the top restaurants on the Gold Coast view vistas to match, it’s popular and then some come sundown.
Location: 2440 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach, QLD 4218 Ph: (07) 5526 0944
Over on the delightfully named Mermaid Beach, there’s a surprise lurking behind a pair of white barn doors. Venture inside and you’ll find Etsu Izakaya – one of the finest Japanese restaurants on the Gold Coast.
This is a seriously cool bar with a chilled vibe and well-balanced sharing plates to match. The main design feature of the hip space is a curved wave of slatted wood running up one wall and across the ceiling. It adds to the feel of being in a very exclusive bunker.
Whilst the ambience is worth a visit alone, don’t underestimate the quality of the fare. Etsu does izakaya-style food with panache.
The Japanese are rightly known for the quality of their steel. And in particular, their knives. If you’re looking to upgrade your knives, click here for more information and prices.
One of the stars of their Raw Bar is the Salmon Usuzukuri ($22). An elegant, aromatic plate of Salmon slivers, White Soy, Truffle Oil, Sesame Seeds & Tobiko. For Agedashi Tofu lovers there’s a treat in the form of a locally made Soft Tofu w/ Walnut, Wasabi & Ginger Dressing ($14). And why have we never tried Tempura Halloumi ($14) before? Served with a Dashi Broth and Honey, it’s addictive.
Whatever you do, make room for the Miso Tooth Fish ($54) – deeply umami from it’s 48hr marinade. And then there’s the Twice Cooked Pork Ribs with their Spicy Miso BBQ Sauce ($30). You can thank us later.
All this plus Beers, Sakes and some fabulous Cocktails. The Boba Fett ($22) – Genmaicha Green Tea, Montenegro, Cointreau, Cranberry, Lime and Tapioca Pearls – is as much fun as you’ll ever get in a glass.
Yep, Etsu Izakaya is definitely one of the finest restaurants on the Gold Coast.
Read our recommendations for the top Japanese Restaurants in Brisbane
Location: Soul Boardwalk, Peppers Soul, Level 2/8 Esplanade, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217 Ph: (07) 5635 5728
Looking for a slice of the Mediterranean whilst enjoying the sunshine on the Gold Coast? Well, look no further than Hyde Paradiso.
Ideally situated 2 floors up within Peppers Soul Surfers Paradise, Hyde Paradiso is your all-day play ground, overlooking the beach. With killer views and a cool vibe, its the kind of place where you nip in for lunch and find yourself sipping sundowner Cocktails and grooving to the DJ 5 hours later.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. This oceanfront lounge does food and drinks for every time of the day. If you feel like Breakfast, then slip into one of their comfy chairs for their Garlic & Lemon Labna ($19). This light, summery dish makes the most of Confit Herbed Tomatoes, Poached Eggs & Chilli Butter with Artisan Bread. For the hungry, it’s hard to ignore the Crispy Spiced Chicken ($25) – Bubble & Squeak Patty, Poached Eggs & Chipotle Hollandaise.
By the time Lunch (and later) rolls around, the Greek, Italian and more-infused menu becomes a string of tweaked greatest hits. Lamb Skewer Flat Bread ($9) – Chermoula Yoghurt & Cucumber – is fragrant and the Moreton Bay Bug Roll ($16) – Brioche Bun, Avo, Harissa & Salsa – luxurious. The Butterflied Boneless Whole Grilled Market Fish (MP) – Green Chilli Verde & Smoked Roco – is a feast. And why haven’t more restaurants thought of pairing Fries with garlicky Toum & Chilli Oil ($12)?
As you may know, Eatability is a huge fan of a sunset Cocktail. And honestly, sitting up above the Esplanade of Surfers Paradise at Hyde Paradiso with passersby gazing (enviously) up at you is a great place to enjoy one. Make mine a Salted Coconut Margarita ($24) – 1800 Coconut Tequila, Triple Sec, Lime & Coconut – and I won’t want to move for an hour or 2.
Lastly, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12-2pm Hyde Paradiso does a Beachside Brunch (from $99pp). There’s flexibility on the drink options – depending on price – and the food is Mediterranean tapas to share. Yum!
Location: Circle on Cavil, Shop 11/3184 Surfers Paradise Blvd, Surfers Paradise, QLD 4217 Ph: (07) 5592 4343
We were planning to review La Diosa Mexicana, but unfortunately the much-loved Mexican restaurants closed in March 2023.
It’s a real loss to the Gold Coast dining scene. Chef Danny Azzi was a master of flavoursome Mexican food infused with a touch of his Lebanese heritage. And as for those Margaritas!
We’re hoping that La Diosa Mexicana – or at least Chef Azzi – reappears somewhere else soon. And we’ll be sure to let you know is that happens.
If you’re on the hunt for the top Mexican cantinas in Brisbane, see our guide.
Location: 2/2685 Gold Coast Hwy, Broadbeach, QLD 4218 Ph: (07) 5504 7413
Rustic, authentic – but most of all proudly Italian – Gemelli is one Broadbeach restaurant with plenty of happy, return customers.
The focal point of the welcoming trattoria is undoubtedly the huge wood-fired oven. Here, a skilled pizzaiolo toils, hand-stretching pizza bases and dotting them with various toppings, before committing them to bake in the flames. The pizzas at Gemelli Italian come both ‘rosse’ (tomato-based) and ‘bianche’ (no tomato-base) and all have a fabulously chewy, blistered crust.
Given a choice, we find it hard to resist the cheeky appeal of the Che Stupido ($29). With Fior di Latte, Leg Ham, Mild Salami, Fennel Pork & Chilli Sausage, it’s one for the carnivores. If you prefer something a little cheesier, then the Principessa ($29) – Fior di Latte, Gorgonzola, Provolone, Dried Figs & 24-Month Aged Prosciutto Di Parma – is like the best bits of a cheeseboard on a flavoursome dough base.
As you can probably tell, much of the produce used at Gemelli Italian is imported from Italy. And this devotion to quality extends to their pasta. Whether you order the Ravioli or the Spaghetti, all the pasta is made in fresh, in-house daily.
Our recommendation? The Rigatoni Ragu ($37) is a stand-out. You can taste all the love in the 8hr Slow-Cooked Oxtail & Pork Shin Ragu with San Marzano Tomato. However, if you want something a smidge lighter, the Spaghetti Ai Gamberi ($39), aromatic with Local Prawn, Zucchini, Cherry, Tomatoes, Chilli, Garlic and Sicilian Oil Olive is a winner.
Wash it all down with a glass of Sangiovese from Tuscany, but make sure you save a space for Dessert. The Gemelli Italian Nutella Bomba ($23) – Deep-fried Nutella Calzone – are famous for a reason!
Incidentally, the such is the success of Gemelli that they have opened further outlets in the area Gemellini, Roy’s & Bar Tano. They’ve even moved into Brisbane with Gemelli, Fortitude Valley.
For more on this last eatery more, see our piece on the Best Pizzas in Brisbane
Location: 1848 Gold Coast Hwy, Burleigh Heads, QLD 4220 Ph: 0427 205 313
Another chain that is slowly advancing across the East Coast is Light Years. The Asian Bar & Diner already has a strong foothold in Noosa, Byron Bay & Newcastle where it’s funky vibe, fun cocktails and zingy menu make the eatery popular with locals and tourists alike.
And it’s a similar story in Burleigh Heads. Ever since the crack team through open the doors on the trendy pastel pink outpost, it’s been busy. Honestly, it’s not hard to see why. With charming staff, a bubbly atmosphere and platefuls of vibrant Modern Asian food that is ideal for sharing, it’s a great place to book with a group of mates or for a family get together.
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The menu reads like a greatest hits of Asian Fusion favourites. Open with Wild Truffled Mushroom (4/$18) Dumpling with Black Vinegar, Sesame & Chilli. From there, maybe try the Prawn Toast Donuts (5/$20) paired with Yuzu Kosho Sweet & Sour Sauce, or the punchy Firecracker Chicken ($24). If you love shellfish, then the Singapore Chilli Prawns ($38) is a must. These beauties are a spin of Singapore Chilli Crab and comes with Dippy Baos – genius!
Of course, it’s often hard to choose when you’re dining at one of the top restaurants on the Gold Coast, so you can always leave it up to the kitchen. Smartly, Light Years Burleigh Heads offers 2 Feed Me selections – and both are filling and tastebud tingling.
Lastly, Light Years is also an ace spot for a cocktail. So hop up to the neon pink bar and order a Lola Paloma ($20). It’s sure you put you in a holiday mood.
As we said above, Light Years also has restaurants elsewhere. For more of about their venue in Noosa – and other great places to eat – see here. Meanwhile, to find out about Light Years Newcastle – and more dining options – click here.
Location: Shop c/2215 Gold Coast Hwy, Nobby Beach, QLD 4218 Ph: 0439 844 479
We’re staying with South East Asian cuisine, but heading up to Nobby Beach for our next recommendation.
And we’re not the only ones who rate Ally Chow. This is another Gold Coast eatery with an Australian Good Food Guides Chef Hat, so it had to make our list of the top restaurants on the Gold Coast.
At Ally Chow, you can travel from Vietnam to China, to Thai and more, all in the space of one meal. And with a menu purposefully designed to share, it’s a great place to visit with a few friends. Then you can really sample a range of dishes. And believe us – with food this good, you’ll want to.
The Coconut Milk Fried Free Range Chicken w/ Smoked Sriracha Kewpie ($25) is a fun play on a well-known fried chicken brand. As for the Duck Satay Roti with Housemade Pickles & Herbs ($22) – we could eat it everyday. From the Mains, the Burmese Style Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder Curry ($49) is divine, as is Allys Special Fried Rice with Char Sui Pork ($19).
Whether you go for one of the set Banquets or a la Carte, you’re sure to leave Ally Chow well-fed.
Finally, the team also offer a couple Bottomless Banquets. The first is the Chow Out which is the Chef’s selection, plus 2 hours of Thai Basil Caipiroskas for $99pp. The second is a Margarita Lunch Banquet which follows a similar format for $130pp. Us? Well, we’ve yet to meet a Marg we haven’t loved, so that would be our choice.
If you’re down in the Victorian capital and you’re hankering for pan-Asian fare, see our take on the Best Asian Fusion Restaurants in Melbourne.
Editor’s Note: We are in the process of updating this guide. Please check back for further recommendations