So you’ve been attracted to the Gold Coast for her magnificent coastline, wide-open spaces and endless balmy days? Naturally you’ll be lured to her ample alfresco dining options too. And who wouldn’t? Whether you’re here for a good time or a long time, make this your must-do list of the Gold Coast’s best outdoor dining establishments.
Commanding one of the most enviable beachside locations on the Gold Coast, if not the entire country, the all-new Burleigh Pavilion is the icing on the cake for a hospitality revolution that’s been sweeping the city in recent years. After a staggering $9 million renovation, Sydney-based owners famed for the Manly Wharf Hotel and Bali’s Mrs Sippy have seriously knocked it out of the park with their latest project.
This totally casual and welcoming bistro slash bar slash beach club with capacity for upwards of 650 offers salty sea breezes, multiple bars, a Mediterranean-inspired menu at The Tropic restaurant, smooth beats, beautiful people and good times on tap. Boardshorts and thongs welcome.
Where: 43 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads
If there’s one dish that’s synonymous with outdoor dining on the Gold Coast, it’s Rick Shores’ famed Rick’s Fried Bug Roll. This restaurant’s busy kitchen has been known to pump out 1,500-plus addictive bug rolls each and every week. Come for a dining experience that’s refined but far from stuffy, reflecting the Coast’s laid-back and unpretentious outlook, and a contemporary Pan-Asian menu smattered with spiced mackerel, king prawn yellow curry and next-level desserts. One lazy long lunch on the outdoor terrace or ocean-side table at Rick Shores, and you’ll appreciate why a team of the country’s top food critics voted this venue as Queensland’s number one restaurant in 2017.
Where: 3/43 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads
Outdoor dining on the Gold Coast was changed forever when an enterprising development dubbed The Collective opened its doors in Palm Beach. This unique feasting destination is a hip and happening full-service marketplace with five kitchens under one roof, a massive retractable ceiling, two bars including one on the rooftop, and photo opps a-plenty. Before you curl up in anxiety over the ridiculously long menu, featuring cuisines from Italy, Mexico, America, Asia and modern Australia, we suggest starting with steamed bao buns and Bloody Mary mussels, washed down with jugs of Sangria and Pimms. And all just a street back from the beach, this is what life on the Gold Coast is all about.
Where: 1128 Gold Coast Hwy, Palm Beach
Yearning after dreamy memories of your last Greece summer escapade? Well, you can now rekindle the romance at Hellenika’s bold rooftop terrace. A slice of cosmopolitan Athens in the heart of Nobby Beach, come for mezze plates which are a modern twist on the classics from veal dolmades to saganaki, washed down with plentiful glasses of chilled vino or an Aperol Spritz. White on white décor and cheerful pops of canary yellow is the perfect backdrop to your weekend sunset session. If you’re on the hunt for some of the best outdoor dining on the Gold Coast, well, you’ve found it.
Where: 2235 Gold Coast Hwy, Nobby Beach
GOTHAM GRILL & ROOFTOP
Rooftop eating and drinking is a hot commodity on the Gold Coast; understandably for a city that enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine each year. So where do northerners head when they want to dine under the golden light of sunset’s magic hour with the breeze in their hair? To the rooftop of Gotham Grill in Runaway Bay, that’s where. Another feather in the cap of serial hospitality duo Chef Daniel and Ruggie Ridgeway, Gotham’s casual third level is the destination of choice for weekend cocktails, prawn rolls and thin crust pizzas, inspired by the Big Apple.
Where: 6 Bayview St, Runaway Bay
GARDEN KITCHEN & BAR
As its namesake suggests, Garden Kitchen & Bar is a sanctuary of greenery goodness. With a greenhouse-style setting inside and an expansive palm-lined deck outside, this hotspot is as lush and leafy as they come. If you’re looking for a more outdoorsy lunch, we suggest asking for a table in the sunny atrium and saying “hell yes” to the Champagne Luncheon special (lunch plus two hours of bottomless Moet & Chandon for $99 per head). On summer weekends, the barbecues light up in the Lawn Kitchen and a changing feast of noms from smoked meats to charcuterie boards are served up picnic-style on the Grand Lawn.
Where: 1, Casino Level, The Star Gold Coast, Broadbeach
CURRUMBIN VIKINGS SLSC
If you’re searching for outdoor dining on the Gold Coast without the fuss and fanfare, set your GPS for local favourite, Currumbin Vikings Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC). With uninterrupted views of the coastline from every table, you won’t need an outdoor seat to feel like you’re practically dining above the squeaky soft sand and crashing waves. While the interiors are simple and functional, you’re here for the quintessential surf club experience and million dollar views. Come for pub-style lunches of chicken parmigiana and fish ‘n’ chips, paired with a frosty local craft beer or classic schooner of Queensland’s favourite, XXXX. When in Queensland, right?
Where: 741 Pacific Parade, Currumbin
HIDEAWAY KITCHEN & BAR
Hidden in plain sight on the Gold Coast Highway in Broadbeach is popular Pan Asian restaurant, Hideaway Kitchen & Bar. Though it’s the rear alfresco precinct, with colourful umbrellas floating overhead, that’ll take you by surprise. Just like a hawker street market in Hong Kong, step past the non-descript façade of Hideaway Kitchen & Bar to uncover a bustling open-air eatery. Here happy diners chatter over duck pancakes, lamb shank massaman and whole fish tempura, fueled by ginger peach bellinis and sake cosmos. In the rare event of inclement weather, a large retractable roof ensures the party is not dampened, making this one vibrant hangout for dining in the great outdoors.
Where: 43 Nerang St, Southport
Dining in the great outdoors doesn’t always mean fancy menus and linen napkins, so do as the locals do on a sunshiny weekend and flock to the much-loved grassy knoll known as Burleigh Hill. A natural amphitheater overlooking the legendary surf of Burleigh Point, bring your picnic blanket and show off your perfectly executed cheeseboard skills. Not that organised? Grab some takeout fish and chips from Burleigh Fishmongers on James Street, or order one of Justin Lane’s famous wood-fired sourdough pizzas.
Where: Situated next to Burleigh Pavilion in Burleigh Heads
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