The Byron Shire is a delicious food bowl brimming with an abundance of fresh, locally grown produce and talented cooks aplenty. While the front gate of the region is the Farmers’ Markets, the front door is the bounty of good places to meet, drink and eat. Do try something unusual while you’re here and be mindful of public holiday and Sunday surcharges when planning your dining adventures.
If you’re on a budget, grab a troupe of cooked prawns and a bed of oysters from Freckle at the Byron Bay Seafood Market and head to the beach. Scroll down to the bottom for a checklist of popular and often very busy places you might like to visit, my tip is to go off peak for better service.
Here are just a few of my favourites posted randomly for you to try, lots of new Vietnamese style street food arriving including Light Years, Foxy Luu’s and an easy going Banh Mi place by down near the organic butcher on Jonson Street, prepare to queue at lunchtime. Great food at the brand new Barrio – more on that soon – so stay tuned by subscribing to my occasional newsletter here for updates. Pic Nelly le Comte, food by me, for Brookfarm summer campaign.
Just opened, the Byron Bay General Store, formerly Mac’s Milk Bar on the Bangalow Road, offers a range of local products to buy, ubiquitous smoothie bowls, hearty toasted sangas and a terrific Tradie’s Box for ten bucks with your choice of chicken or tempeh. Only in Byron eh?! Image source
The Food at Beach Byron Cafe just gets better and better as does the service. With one of the most enviable restaurant views in the Byron Shire this venue is a must-do for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The ultimate wedding destination or any excuse for a knees up!
Looking for a healthy spread for your breakfast, picnics, antipasto or cheese plate? Then pick up my newly launched product Black Betty Bam it’s a smoky, salty umami bomb that’s full of plant-based goodness, essential fatty acids and gluten free ingredients. $14.95 + courier delivery Australia wide Shop Online
The long awaited opening of Duk Chinese Eating House in Bay Lane last month did not disappoint with the locals flocking for chef Sarah Swan’s delicious food and business partner Jeremy Burn’s witty and efficient service. A concise menu offering Chinese BBQ favourites all washed down with Tsingtao, Stone and Wood Pacific Ale or a drop from Jilly Wine Co.*webimage
Over in the Industrial Estate you’ll find a bounty of good food to service the ever-growing community of businesses out there. For $12 you can grab n go with pick up this beauty – a raw Asian tempeh wrap made by Mumma Raw. Small selection, big flavour and some of the healthiest food around. Weekdays only. @the.wrapperie View map
At Byron Bay Cooking School, national and international events our inspiring team teaches participants to embrace all things healthy in hands-on private and corporate workshops. With amateur chefs to discover the secret to our food as medicine philosophy, classes deliver an experience like no other. Promising to leave participants aglow with abundant healthy recipes and lifestyle tips to take home, our events are a must-do for those seeking food for the soul.
In a town where smashed avocado or kale is the breakfast norm, 100 Mile Table dishes up the most refreshingly nourishing breakfast in the Bay including a heart-warming, gut healing congee in cooler months, this is Byron’s chicken soup for the soul. Whatever the weather, Sarah Swan’s food is lovingly created and dispensed by her team – the perfect pick me up on any day. Sensational events from formal fancy to pop up, and if you’re lucky, co-owner Jeremy Burn will regale you with great cheer. @100miletable View map
When my friend Anthony from Combi announced he and Penny were looking for a Byron site and could I help them, I was overjoyed! Their fun filled wholesome honest tucker is dished up with great style and soundtrack. Combi has won the hearts of Elwoodians and Byronians alike. Healthy food with plenty of choice for surfers, Mums, kids and yogis. Look out for Bow Wow when you visit – you can’t really miss her! @wearecombi View map
Home to my Byron Bay Cooking School events, this resort has just open the new dining room and bar – and what a triumph it is! There’s something for everyone here whether it be Happy Hour, Chef Gavin’s Farmers’ Market dinner on Thursdays, exclusive gastronomy events, personalised spa treatments or you might be lucky enough to stay a night or two. The region’s premier events destination and is constantly booked for conferences, weddings and makes the perfect media famil location. @thebyronatbyron View map
When our friends at Brookfarm announced they were building a distillery on the macadamia farm amongst the rainforest they have lovingly regenerated over decades, we all cheered ‘You Bewdy’! Little did we realise just how grand scale the project is. With a whole lot of awards already in their swag for Brookie’s Gin, CBD is a must do tour of the region, and of course there’s plenty to taste! #webimage @capebyrondistillery View map
The journey to Fleet is like sailing to a home you never knew you needed until you arrive. Astrid and Rob will typically welcome you in like the long lost Odysseus and Josh will dish you up a banquet on request like no other you’ve ever tasted. A memorable standout dish was a manicured, plump fillet of sardine, salt cured and steeped in vinegar was served with wholemeal sourdough and Fleet’s cultured butter. Fleet is an indelible signpost in our Australian culinary history as it redefines how we eat and drink. Worth the wait to get in if you’re booking in advance and worth every cent. @fleetrestaurant View map
Once upon a time, a shabby beach shack lived on the roundabout headed out to Cabarita Ocean Health Retreat, where I was Head Chef for a few years. The old Hideaway Motel has undergone such a transformation to become Halcyon House with its feature restaurant Paper Daisy. Chef Ben Devlin’s relaxed food embraces local and native ingredients and is brilliant. The Miami-meets-Montauk-meets-Martinique decor makes this my favourite restaurant in all of the land. Book for Sunday lunch and then pop into Fleet on the way home if you’re coming back to Byron. Drop in for breakfast, coffee, bar menu and cocktails most days. *This restaurant is technically in Tweed Shire. @paperdaisy View map
My love for a certain dish in our local pub is well documented. Imagine half a roasted, semi-boned, crispy skin chicken with tarragon butter, chats and greens and you’ll soon know why this is my non-negotiable, feel good food. All the comfort of home with a restaurant touch makes this Byron’s best pub tucker, and at around $24 bucks, it’s a bargain! Go for Friday night raffles if you’re keen to win the meat tray, go for the free live music seven nights per week, or go for the great food. Just go. @therailsbyronbay View map
Recently opened and bursting with fresh Asian flavours into the Woolworths Plaza, Foxy Luu’s is an easy going, welcome addition to Byron. Lots of different dumplings and buns to choose from, coconut based salads and jumbo rice paper rolls on offer. @foxyluus View map
From fragrant pho to banh mi you’ll find it here at the very new Light Years. Ensconced in what was once the dingiest outdoor ‘dining’ area around, Light Years has installed the most delightful garden that will make you want to sit and sip all day. 12 hour broth for the pho and a terrific wine list including a bottle of French fizz for $85 is sure to be winner amongst locals and tourists alike. @lightyears View map
The site at 111 has undergone many a makeover in the 10 years I have lived in Byron Bay. Recently it reopened as Jonsons, resplendent with a well needed overhaul and now shines with new space and the air of a familiar place where the locals can gather and the visitors meet. On today’s visit I have devoured a small plate of the most tender calamari I have ever had, so good that I ordered a small plate of crispy duck breast. Excellent. Jonsons is a short stroll from my home, with great food, good wine, tap beer coupled with a lovely sunset street vista – what more could a local want? @jonsonsrestaurantbar View map
Finally we have some authentic Malay food to write home about like this not-so-humble Rendang, a culinary chameleon that varies in technique and flavour from region to region. This is my all time favourite dish and while most people sadly know poor concoctions of a wet curry loosely based on Sumatran recipes, this authentic Malay Rendang uses different spices and is beautifully laced with kaffir lime. A rich, dry coconut curry as thick as velvet with flavours smooth as silk needed nothing else. You’ll love yours with roti or coconut rice however. A bowl of heaven here in Byron. All hail the mighty Rendang King of Curry!! @tasteofmelakabyronbay View map
Everybody loves a good dimmy. What I miss the most about Melbourne is Chinatown, Quan88 and the Supper Inn, so if you’re yearning for that yum cha feeling visit Red Ginger for a quick snack of grab ‘n’ go dumplings, or sit and take your time with complimentary jasmine tea, then wander around the store and collect a few ingredients to make your own at home. Gorgeous gifts, homewares, tea selection and so much more. @redginger View map
On Marvell Street, in the new development that fronts on to Bay Lane that is rapidly becoming food central you’ll find the just opened Barefoot Chook. This full flavoured Portuguese style roasted chicken shop is the bomb – and a bargain. Free range rotisserie bbq chicken with your choice of lemon ‘n’ herb, piri piri or garlic will set you back a mere $6 for a quarter chook. Add to that old school, full flavour scallop spuds as a bit on the side or choose hot chips, sweet potato chips, brown rice or mushy peas and a healthy dollop of side salads and you’re all set for around $15 depending on your choices.
My friend Sarah knows a thing or two about crisp and crunch. So much so that she was finally enticed to go pro with her secret cracker recipe and the local market cheered! Byron Bay Crackers are savoury crackers that are handmade in small batches. They hand roll and hand cut each cracker before baking them in the oven to crispy perfection. See also Sarah’s Byron Bay Food Review #webimage
Welcome to the ultimate lesson in health and wellness, as taught by Me! I’m a Le Cordon Bleu Master, Chef and Clinical Nutritionist, at Byron Bay Cooking School and nationwide events we teach participants to embrace all things healthy in our hands-on private and corporate workshops. Worldwide culinary and wellness incentives are also on the menu. @chefsamgowing View TripAdvisor
STOP PRESS! Byron Bay Cooking School has been awarded Culinary Experience of the Year 2018 – Oceana.
The above are my current favourites with more to come, and you might also like these great places….
Bay Leaf 87 Marvell St, Byron Bay
Beach Byron Bay 2 Massinger St, Byron Bay
Beach Hotel 1 Bay St, Byron Bay
Byron Fresh 7 Jonson St, Byron Bay
Doma Cafe 3-6 Albert Street, Federal
Fishmongers 9 Bay Ln, Byron Bay
Fishheads 1 Jonson St, Byron Bay
Folk Byron Bay Lot 1/399 Ewingsdale Road, Byron Bay
Harvest Restaurant 18-22 Old Pacific Highway, Newrybar
Kinoko 7/23 Jonson St, Byron Bay
Milk and Honey Mullumbimby 5/59a Station Street, Mullumbimby
Miss Margarita 2 Jonson St, Byron Bay
Mrs Birdy 19 Beach Ave, South Golden Beach
Orient Express Eatery 1/2 Fletcher St, Byron Bay
O-Sushi 15/90-96 Jonson St, Byron Bay
Rae’s On Wategos 6-8 Marine Parade, Byron Bay
Safya 1/8 Fletcher St, Byron Bay
Sparrow Coffee 1b Byron St, Byron Bay
St Elmo 22 Fletcher St, Byron Bay
Table View 30 Mullumbimbi Street, Brunswick Heads
Thai Lucy 2/4 Bay Ln, Byron Bay
The Balcony Bar & Oyster Co. Jonson St & Lawson Lane, Byron Bay
The Beet Byron Bay 90/96 Jonson St, Byron Bay
The Mez Club 4/85-87 Jonson St, Byron Bay
The Northern 35 – 43 Jonson Street, Byron Bay
The Roadhouse Byron Bay 6/142 Bangalow Road, Byron Bay
The Stockpot Kitchen 21 Byron Bay Road | Bangalow Bowlo, Bangalow
The Top Shop 65 Carlyle St, Byron Bay
Three Blue Ducks at The Farm and Bread Social 11 Ewingsdale Road, Ewingsdale
Town Restaurant 33 Byron St, Bangalow
Trattoria Basilico 30 Lawson St, Byron Bay
Spa treatments, treats & tonics
For the best musculo-skeletal massage Tonic Massage clinic image below is highly effective for chronic muscle pain – and they do HICAPS rebates for private health funds. Fab. You’ll find them underneath my mate Raffy’s La La Land, in the arcade near Byron Bay Medical Centre. (02) 6685 5993
At Go Vita in Byron Bay the massage room is within the shop and on the street, so you’ll need to tune out of street sounds. Practitioners are world class here.
69 Jonson St, Byron Bay (02) 6680 7464
Where to get bendy & blissed
I go to Bikram, just in the cooler months and am currently loving every minute of each class at at Bende (pictured above. For easy going yin yoga with an ocean view I go to Beach Yoga and Massage. Ananta yoga has a raft of dedicated practitioners and a variety of classes to suit all levels.
Guided by leading spa expert Marionne De Candia, her highly trained therapists specialise in all forms of massage and skin care therapy, with some market leading anti ageing products available on request. (02) 6685 5366
In case you’re wondering, Samantha Gowing is a green tea drinking chef, nutritionist, mentor, author, blogger and former judge for the Restaurant & Catering Association NSW. She also holds a Diploma of Nutritional Health Science and a Master of Gastronomic Tourism degree from Le Cordon Bleu. This is an unsolicited, often updated blog post for the purpose of happy eating and healing in the Northern Rivers. No chefs were harmed in the process.
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