Maria Pandalai surfs the menu at eight Queensland eateries for delicious treats on the Coast
Sun, sand, surf? Not on my clock. That's not to say the Gold Coast doesn't do these things well but my mission was to search out the best food and drinks in Australia's favourite playground. Here's what I found...
Best breakfasts and brunches
Elk Espresso, 12 Victoria Ave, Broadbeach
Pretty as a picture, with vibrant plants galore and a meek elk portrait on the wall, the meals at Elk Espresso are equally as pretty, presented like Picasso masterpieces. The menu includes the classics and if it's uniqueness you desire, Elk Espresso has it covered. Who said you can't have pork belly benedict or a mango Weis Bar waffle for breakfast? The green chilli scramble with fresh herbs, goats cheese and lime was the finest scramble I have devoured. The cold-pressed juices and indulgent thick shakes hit the spot. Elk Espresso, across from Kurrawa Beach in central Broadbeach, radiates a hipster vibe. Walk-ins only so patience is key.
Cafe Dbar, 275 Boundary St, Coolangatta
Sitting on the QLD/NSW border overlooking Duranbah Beach, Cafe Dbar oozes laid-back atmosphere. The two-storey cafe, where you can rub shoulders with the surfer crowd, is perched on a hill at Point Danger so views of the ocean are phenomenal - sometimes resident whale and dolphins have been known to make an appearance. The popular menu choices are the mushrooms on toast, brekky burger and the Vietnamese omelette with its hero - the succulent blue swimmer crab - balanced with a green pawpaw salad. Be sure to try the fresh juices as regulars flock here for them. If that's not enough, you can visit the neighbouring boutique, Arche, which supports local artists and showcases unique items reminiscent of the sea. If it's a casual scene you want, that's what you're going to get at Cafe Dbar.
Best long lunches
Miss Moneypenny's, 50 Surf Pde, Broadbeach
Miss Moneypenny's will knock your socks off any day of the week, but if you're in the Gold Coast on a Sunday you're in for a treat. The legendary Bottomless Lunch includes a two-hour designated beverage package and a choice of a three-course set menu or seven-dish chef's signature selection. The event takes place from 12pm to 4pm with entertainment from 2pm and bookings are essential. Miss Moneypenny's emanates modest sophistication with its warm palette and edgy lines. The food, centred on modern Mediterranean is from executive chef, Adam Dundas-Taylor, who has worked with the likes of Jamie Oliver and cooked for Elton John's wedding. Situated in the happening area of Broadbeach, Miss Moneypenny's should be one to add to the itinerary.
The Collective, 1128 Gold Coast Hwy, Palm Beach
Bursting at the seams with five kitchens under one retractable roof, menu items at The Collective range through Italian, Asian, Mexican, Greek and American influences, as well as dedicated gluten-free and vegan menus. Complimenting the long lunches are the extensive cocktail and drink lists, from old-school favourites to the au lait martini – an espresso martini served in a crunchy waffle cone. The Collective is ideal for groups with its 300-person capacity, and with so much open space and natural light I couldn't work out if I was indoors or outdoors at this downtown Palm Beach location. The buzzing atmosphere with a market-style concept makes you want to set up camp for the night.
Orzo, 3 Oracle Blvd, Broadbeach
Orzo is contemporary and classy with its impressive Italian menu. Prosecco is the perfect accompaniment to any meal but served as a mignonette sauce on top of my natural oysters with pink peppercorn was bellissimo. As was my main of squid ink calamarata with white fish and shellfish ragu, heirloom tomato and garlic. There is also a five-course chef's tasting menu available if you can't decide on one dish. Among the other notable beverage choices, the Italian wine selection is one of the best I have seen with drops from Veneto in the north down to Sicily. The energetic area around Orzo in Broadbeach takes your spirits to the next level. Intimate and cosy, Orzo is the definitive rendezvous destination.
Salty Fox Rooftop Bar, Lot 5a, Terminal Drive, Bilinga
Two months' young and one of the rare rooftop bars with ocean views in the Gold Coast, Salty Fox is one to look out for. On the seventh floor of the Rydges Airport Hotel, Salty Fox is fast becoming a regular haunt for locals and visitors. The beverage list includes wines from Australia, New Zealand and the odd Italian and French grape varieties. The cocktail choices pack a punch with classics such as the Bloody Mary and Cosmopolitan, and more unique tipples like The Foxy Devil and GC Southside - the latter, made from Gordons Dry Gin, lime, elderflower, agave, mint and rosemary was particularly memorable. The quintessential venue for pre-dinner sunset drinks and tapas, Salty Fox sets a precedent for an unforgettable evening.
The Henchman, 6/8 Henchman Ave, Miami
Hidden in a back street in Miami, The Henchman is the ultimate choice for families, open from 7am to midday. There's loads of room for the kids to run amok on the astroturf in a relaxed environment, with an Insta-worthy oversized swing and tiger mural adding to the experience. The menu is modest with a selection of traditional meals, nourishing bowls and heavenly puff pastry jaffles. I couldn't help but laugh at the titles of the kid's meals such as I'm Not Hungry, I Wanna Go Home and I Don't Care. The Henchman screams fun and if the kids are having fun, so are the parents, right?
Salt Meats Cheese, The 4217, 10 Beach Rd, Surfers Paradise
Open for dinner only, Salt Meats Cheese teleports you to a charming Italian trattoria right in the heart of Surfers Paradise with a modern twist. The dangling grapevines and cured meats, complete with an Italian maitre d' and chef, can't get any more genuine. The 14 wood-fired pizza choices will have you drooling as soon as they hit your table and the luscious pasta is something out of this world. The truffle gnocchi is a standout with ricotta, brown butter, mushrooms and walnuts. If you want to get your cook on, Salt Meats Cheese offers authentic pizza- and pasta-making classes in which I learnt a thing or two - and your kids can as well. Be sure to book ahead.
CHECKLIST: GOLD COAST
Please check the latest border restrictions in each state and territory before travelling. For more information visit australia.com