Byron Bay has come a long way since its surfie heyday in the 60s. Beach shacks have become mansions, celebrities are spotted on the streets, and Byron Baes is a thing (if you know, you know). Yet Byron still holds its lustre, attracting us to its pristine beaches and lush hinterland by the hordes.
While you might be planning a trip to this pocked of NSW for the sun, sand, and surf, it’s worth booking a restaurant or two while you’re there. Love it or hate it, Byron is bigger these days—which means there are plenty of A-class restaurants around town.
From bustling Greek restaurants in Byron’s industrial estate to long, leisurely lunches on 120-acre farms, Byron and its surrounds may just have some of the best restaurants in NSW.
Here are the best restaurants in and around Byron Bay. Hot tip: book before you get there.
Best Restaurants In Byron Bay
Raes Dining Room
As one of the most famous holiday destinations in the country, Byron is bound to attract some of Australia’s best culinary minds. Across from Wategos Beach, one of the region’s best swimming spots is Raes Dining Room at the ultra-chic Raes on Wategoes hotel. From executive chef Jason Saxby, this light and coastal eatery plates up modern Australian with plenty of Mediterranean influence. If the relaxing beach surroundings and effortlessly luxe interiors aren’t enough for you, maybe dishes like a Davidson plum glazed free-range pork scotch fillet or spanner crab and sweet corn agnolotti will be. Book here.
For those who’d prefer to breeze in for an afternoon spritz paired with finger lime-topped oysters, drop into the Cellar Bar & Terrace after a dip at Wategos.
In stark contrast to the scene-y vibes of Raes is Kouzina—a charming Greek paradise in Byron’s Arts & Industry Estate. Here, it’s all about community and home-style feasts. The taverna-style restaurant offers a $60 three-course banquet, with loads of veggie options. The traditional Greek dishes change seasonally, but you can expect classics like calamari skewers and Greek salad to be on high rotation. The space is laidback, exuding Greek island vibes, and the leafy courtyard is an ideal spot for balmy nights. Oh, and did we mention it’s BYO? Book here.
Also located in this part of Byron is sleek Meditteranean restaurant Barrio. The moment you step foot into Barrio’s open plan, industrial-style dining hall, you’ll be hit by the smoky aromas coming from the woodfire oven and open-flame grill. A counter full of fresh produce greets you on arrival and everything here is smoked, cured, and pickled in-house. The ever-changing menu utilises what’s in season but, to give you an idea, you could be feasting on dishes like eggplant escabeche, charcoal-roasted fish, kangaroo tataki, and local baby octopus and chorizo with XO. Book here.
Daughter In Law
Rule-breaking Indian feasts in a colourful, neon-lit restaurant in the middle of Byron? Count us in. Acclaimed chef-owner Jessi Singh has restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and around the US—and now he’s opened his “unauthentic Indian” restaurant, Daughter in Law, on Fletcher Street. The menu here is a slightly more coastal version of Singh’s signature fare that encapsulates the Byron Bay lifestyle with an emphasis on seafood, vegan, and gluten-free fare. Think Skull Island prawn cocktail with green apple and Bombay cocktail sauce; scallop crudo with curry coconut, lime, and chilli; and Colonel TSO’s Cauliflower—a must-try Indo-Chinese style cauliflower that’ll send your tastebuds reeling—are just some of the delectable dishes you can sample at the vibrant venue. Book here.
No Bones is hands down some of the best vegan food we’ve ever tried and worth a visit the next time you’re in town. They artfully crafted imitation meat items not even to the point that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, but where you know the difference and think it actually tastes better. Seriously incredible stuff. Menu highlights include “chicken” skewers and “calamari”. It’s also smack-bang in the middle of town, just a couple of streets back from the beach, making it a convenient lunch spot in between all the swims and shopping. Book here.
This popular Byron eatery has gone on to open three more venues along the East Coast, which should be indication enough that it’s worth a visit. The OG Light Years restaurant is tucked away in a Byron backstreet just a stone’s throw from Main Beach. The intimate indoor/outdoor space is casual and colourful, making it a fun spot for a boozy dinner with the crew. Asian fare is the name of the game, with share-style dishes such as mud crab, prawn, and scallop dumplings; chilli caramel pork bao; kingfish ceviche; turmeric and coconut fish curry; and mi goreng-spiced fried chicken with “firecracker sauce” particular highlights. The food comes out thick and fast, so we recommend hitting up nearby natural wine bar Supernatural afterwards to keep the good times going. Book here.
Best Restaurants Around Byron Bay
Fleet is a super-tiny 20-seater perfect for foodie party bookings…that is, if you can get in. Run by veterans of the famed Loam restaurant in Victoria, it showcases the best of the region. Everything here right down to the plates is locally sourced and the menu is hyper-seasonal and basically designed around whatever it is you want to eat. They’ll guide you through the options and suggest Aussie wines to go with it so prepare to be well looked after. Bookings open three months before, so put an alert in your calendar.
There’s no wonder this place is good. It’s the brainchild of Luke Sullivan and Matt Rabbidge, the duo behind locally loved boozer The Eltham, and Melbourne chef Nick Stanton of Leonardo’s Pizza Palace fame. So, expect plenty of fun, vino, and fantastic Italo fare at this Bangalow spot. The cosy restaurant is decked out with leather booths, warm timbers, and artworks, olive green panelling, and wine bottles lining the walls. There’s also a sunlit courtyard out the back, with red-and-white checkered tablecloths echoing old-school Italian trattorias. Food-wise, you’ll be tucking into inventive pasta dishes, woodfired pizzas, and more classic Italian nosh. It reserves limited tables for walk-ins, but you’re better off booking over here.
Yucatan comes to Brunswick Heads; this authentic Mexican cantina comes by way of the renowned Fleet folk—so you know it’s going to be good. There’s a wicked margarita menu, local beers, tasty antojitos (street snacks) like tostadas and wood-grilled jalapeños stuffed with pork sausage and queso, and tacos served up on house-made corn tortillas. La Casita channels an outdoor eatery in Tulum, beachy feels go together with splashes of orange and tiled feature walls. It’s a laidback Latin eatery offering good food and cocktails that taste like an endless summer, which is precisely what you want on a trip to Byron, right? Book here.
Farm-to-table restaurants aren’t in short supply in the Northern Rivers region (ahem, Harvest and The Farm), but we reckon you should pay Frida’s Field a visit if you have to pick just one. It’s “a celebration of the abundant Northern Rivers produce and agriculture”, housed in a revamped barn located on a 120-acre farm in the lush area of Nashua. Run by the Rawlings family (who own the farmland) and head chef Alastair Waddell, Frida’s Field is the ideal long lunch spot. In fact, it’s only open for communal-style lunches every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (and Thursdays over the busy summer period), offering a set menu of three starters, a main, three sides, and dessert over a three- to four-hour sitting. The menu changes every six or eight weeks to keep with the seasons, and the wine list focuses on small-batch, minimal-intervention, and local vinos. Book here.
For those looking for easygoing, beachside all-day diners, add Shelter to your must-visit list. Located directly opposite Lennox Head Beach, this airy restaurant serves up top-quality coffee, inventive brekkie dishes, and exceptional lunch and dinner fare—all in an unassuming beach shack. Sit at the window counter for sundowners paired with ocean views, or nab one of the outdoor tables to soak up some sun. The kitchen sources ethical, sustainable, and local produce to serve up dishes like brioche french toast and XO scrambled eggs for brekkie, and mafaldine with basil, kale, and stracciatella; mussels with coconut and turmeric; and market fish with fennel, white bean, capsicum, and pandan come lunch and dinner. Book here.
Keen for more stellar restaurants worth travelling for? Check out the best restaurants in Adelaide.
Image credit: Raes Dining Room, Raes Dining Room, Kouzina, Barrio, Daughter In Law Byron Bay, Light Years, Fleet, Ciao, Mate!, La Casita, Frida’s Field, Shelter