When I first went to the Sunshine Coast, I wasn’t all that impressed with the food options. There needed to be more variety, and the standard did not compare to Brisbane, let alone Sydney or Melbourne. However, I love the Sunshine Coast and have continued going there for years because of its beaches. Since my first visit in the early 2000s, I have been delighted to see the region undergo a culinary revolution, with innovative new chefs and a focus on sustainable, local cuisine significantly elevating the region’s dining scene. From sophisticated fine dining to cosy cafes and beachside al fresco spots, there are plenty of places now to go for an exceptional meal. Whether you’re exploring the bustling dining areas of Mooloolaba and Noosa, the quiet country towns of Palmwoods or Yandina or the rolling hills of the Hinterland, my recommendations for the top 10 Sunshine Coast restaurants has something for everyone.
Bella Venezia is easily one of the best restaurants on the Sunshine Coast. A well-known Italian restaurant on the Esplanade in Mooloolaba, it has been a favourite spot for locals and tourists since 1983. The restaurant has an excellent reputation and won first place in Australia’s ‘Top Everyday Eats’ competition in Tripadvisor’s 2021 Travellers Choice awards. Although the restaurant has undergone renovations in the past year, its menu has remained mostly unchanged from its early days. The menu is extensive, and choosing a favourite dish is hard, but I love the Sous Vide Lamb Rump, which goes well with a nice glass of Shiraz. For those with a sweet tooth, their Lemon & Vanilla Panna Cotta is sensational too! Tapping into its Italian influence, the restaurant recently added an al fresco dining area on the Esplanade, making it a perfect spot for a special occasion or a romantic date night.
For a complete Noosa experience, a lengthy lunch at Rickys is a must. Located on the beautiful Noosa River, just a short distance from the main street, Rickys offers both comfort and modernity in a charming dining setting. Most of their produce is sourced from their own Maravista Farm in the Noosa Hinterland, which includes a trio of vegetable plots, thriving citrus groves, a herd of cattle and even a private bee colony. Therefore it is sustainably sourced, while the farm is committed to ensuring all food wastage is converted to compost. Standout dishes on the menu include roasted duck breast and their 250g sirloin, while seafood lovers should enjoy their freshly shucked oysters and gin-cured kingfisher. At the same time, those with a sweet tooth are spoilt for choice, with passionfruit souffle, affogato and vanilla & dark chocolate cremeux being among the most popular options.
Nestled within the lush Maleny rainforest in the Sunshine Coast’s Hinterland, The Tamarind is a highly acclaimed, hatted restaurant twice recognised by the National Good Food Guide. Its menu features contemporary Australian cuisine with an Asian twist, skillfully crafted by Head Chef Dan Jarrett. Here, they expertly pair local produce with sweet, sour, and spicy flavours to create a delightful fusion of traditional and modern dishes. The restaurant offers a five-course tasting menu or a three-course a la carte option for sharing and enjoying together. Each course is paired with a perfectly matched wine. Don’t miss out on the steamed buns which come with a delightful whipped roe, and be sure to try the impressive Wagyu beef tataki. The restaurant also serves breakfast and lunch if you can’t make it for dinner, but you will still need to make a reservation. Whenever you visit, request a table on the deck that overlooks the beautiful gardens.
If you are looking for the best restaurants on the Sunshine Coast, you can’t miss the Spirit House. This award-winning restaurant is set in a beautiful tropical garden in Yandina, about a half-hour drive from Noosa and Mooloolaba. The contemporary Thai restaurant is renowned for having a famous cooking school where you can learn to create your own culinary masterpieces. However, you really should try the sensational creations of the restaurant’s incredible chefs. The restaurant used to offer ‘shared’ dishes but now has shifted focus to single-plated meals. Diners can choose one item from each entree, main and dessert section and should be prepared to be blown away. Our recommendation for mains is the Palm Sugar Charred Squid, which provides an unforgettable world-class taste experience that you shouldn’t miss. Bookings are essential should you want to come here.
Rice Boi is a terrific spot for those searching for a lively dining experience bursting with rich flavours. Located at The Wharf Mooloolaba, this dynamic restaurant boasts a contemporary Asian street food-style venue with trendy and innovative decor, stunning water views, and delicious food options. Always freshly sourced from local providers, their menu includes mouth-watering dumplings, bao, and savoury curries. Most notably, their crispy eggplant chips make the perfect snack for many diners, while their dumplings are a must-try speciality. Be sure to arrive early for a prime seat on the deck overlooking the water, or head upstairs to the bar for a spiked bubble tea and a selection of tasty bites. The upstairs section is a relatively new addition, taking the form of a Japanese Izakaya vibe in a dive bar setting. It offers incredible views of the Million Dollar mansions along the Mooloolah River, the full Rice Boi menu and an extensive cocktail and wine list.
Nestled within the Spicers Clovelly Estate in Montville, The Long Apron is a two-hatted French-inspired restaurant known for its exceptional cuisine and service. Undoubtedly one of the top dining destinations on the Sunshine Coast, The Long Apron is big on sustainability. They use fresh, seasonal produce from their on-site vegetable garden and have also taken other eco-friendly initiatives, such as partnering with Enviro Sand for an innovative glass-to-sand program. They even have a 100% paper-straw policy which is cool too. Served in an upscale dining room with vintage and elegant decor, you can choose from a two- or three-course a la carte menu or indulge in the five-course tasting menu. Their slow-cooked ham hock omelette is one of their signature plated dishes for breakfast, while at dinner, the beef sirloin with truffle and chive pomme purée is spectacular. For dessert, be sure to try their signature beeswax sorbet, which is made from their very own honey bees.
Gusto is a lovely riverfront restaurant with a modern European-style bistro feel that opened in Noosaville in 1999. For over two decades, they have forged a reputation for serving consistently delicious seasonal and contemporary Australian cuisine that uses only the highest quality locally sourced produce. The restaurant is relaxed and casual, with a breezy verandah overlooking the river. Its menu features an excellent range of dishes to suit all tastes. Some of their popular offerings include BBQ king Mooloolaba prawns, Kingaroy pork chop and K’gari spanner crab spaghetti. If you can’t make it for dinner during the week, Gusto has terrific lunchtime specials and a bottomless Saturday lunch or Sunday roast (the pork, when they offer it, is exceptional!) for diners to enjoy.
Flame Hill Vineyard is a picturesque restaurant and cellar door located in Montville, a lush town in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The property overlooks a working cattle farm and winery, providing guests with an authentic paddock-to-plate experience. The restaurant serves award-winning dishes, including those featuring grass-fed Angus beef from their farm and fresh herbs and vegetables grown in their kitchen garden. Additionally, all their wines come from grapes hand-picked from their sprawling vineyards in Montville and the Granite Belt. Flame Hill Vineyard also sources seasonal ingredients locally to supplement what it can’t produce on its farm. Open for lunch on their Deck and Terrace from Thursday to Sunday, between 11:30 am and 3:00 pm, the vineyard’s stunning backdrop of rolling green hills and sea views make for an unforgettable wining and dining tasting experience, which you will be raving about for years to come.
If you’re looking for a unique and affordable dining experience on the Sunshine Coast, Honeysuckle is the place to be. This restaurant in Buderim offers traditional Yumcha share-style meals that you won’t find anywhere else. Inspired by East Asian flavours, Honeysuckle was named Best Yum Cha on the Sunshine Coast by Qantas Magazine in 2021, which is high praise indeed. Their extensive lunch and dinner Yumcha menus offer something for everyone, including separate vegetarian menus and a dinner banquet menu. Diners can indulge in delicious East Asian-inspired dishes like Mooloolaba prawn milk bun with cashew satay, Thai coconut soup, sweet and sour eggplant with pineapple, and Korean rice cakes. All at prices that won’t break the bank. While the food is outstanding here and brought out very quickly, the service is exceptional too, which makes for a fabulous dining experience overall.
Nestled in a prime location on the waterfront in Mooloolaba, Pier 33 is renowned for being one of the best restaurants on the Sunshine Coast. Previously a yacht club, the restaurant boasts a charming Hamptons-style ambience and serves up delectable seafood sourced directly from moored fishing trawlers in sight of your table. In addition to the seafood, the menu features locally sourced produce that changes with the seasons. Be sure to try their famous Mooloolaba prawn roll, which is sensational. Alternatively, indulge in some oysters or whatever was freshly caught that day. To top it off, the restaurant also offers an inventive selection of cocktails in a stylish waterfront setting complete with a terrace. Book a spot on it at sunset for a truly magical dining experience.