In Food + Drink

New Restaurants Heating Up Byron Bay’s Dining Scene

From an eco-focused bar at the iconic Beach Hotel to a new member of the Three Blue Ducks brood, here’s where new to eat in Byron.

Byron Bay is one of Australia’s best-loved holiday destinations – an international tourism mecca adored by celebrities, backpackers and spiritual nomads alike. However, life at the top isn’t without its challenges. To keep things fresh and exciting, the town has to always stay ahead of the curve, striking a delicate balance between reinvention and nostalgia.

Thankfully, the dining scene can always be relied upon to deliver the goods. From an eco-focused bar at the iconic Beach Hotel to a new member of the Three Blue Ducks brood, here are a handful of the new restaurants to know about when it comes to Byron Bay dining.

Chupacabra, Suffolk Park

Latin American cuisine is king in Byron at the moment, with new Mexican, Argentinian, and Peruvian restaurants all staking their claim to a piece of the Byron pie. One of the note-worthy recent additions is Chupacabra, an authentic Mexican taqueria in Suffolk Park.

Named after a Latin American folklore animal known as the ‘goat-sucker’, Chupacabra brings a taste of coastal Mexico to Byron with light and wholesome dishes that look just as good as they taste. Tacos al pastor, pork shoulder with grilled pineapple; cochinita pibil, a slow-cooked pork served with sour orange; and daily ceviche special are just the start.

The drinks menu is thoroughly Mexican too, with a range of imported mezcals and tequilas, a signature Chupacabra margarita on tap, and a spin on the classic Michelada – a cocktail made of beer, lime juice, and an assortment of spices and other seasonings.

Green Room, Byron Bay

Byron’s long been known for its environmental beliefs, and that tradition continues at the Beach Hotel, which has ushered in a new era by ripping out its historically-profitable pokie machines and replacing them with Green Room – an eco-conscious bar and dining room.

More than just a name, Green Room is a reference to the bar and the Beach Hotel’s eco-friendly philosophy, which includes sourcing fresh produce and alcohols from across the local area, and diverting 90 per cent of its waste from becoming landfill.

The share-style menu includes wood-fired pizzas, a local burrata and Coopers Shoot tomato salad, freshly shucked oysters, and rye bites with salmon cured in local Brookie’s Gin.

Locura, Byron Bay

Three Blue Ducks is one of the rising stars of the Australian dining scene. Building on the success of their venue at The Farm, an 80-acre food and farming hub at the entrance to Byron, the Ducks recently opened their fifth venue, Locura, in the heart of the town.

Set in a minimalist-styled space overlooking Lawson Street, the late-night bar has an epic cocktail list including mezcal-based mules with kombucha, and homemade tepache – a fermented pineapple beverage made using leftover pineapple skins from juicing at The Farm.

Complementing the bar is a Latin American pop-up kitchen, which showcases the flavours of Mexico, Costs Rica and Peru with a small but well-balanced menu of share-style dishes such as red octopus ceviche, shredded achiote pork tacos, and pickled vegetables.

Loft, Byron Bay

If people-watching is your thing, Loft is where you want to be. Opened in November, this upstairs bar occupies an enviable location on Jonson Street, overlooking Bay Lane and the Beach Hotel, with glimpses of the rolling waves of Main Beach and beyond.

The bright and breezy venue boasts a generous cocktail list of beachy classics, plus an inventive dining menu that’s all about snacks and sharing. Pan-seared scallops with citrus, cauliflower and paprika; a crispy prawn milk bun, lightly toasted and topped with battered prawn, chilli and mayo; and duck schnitzel sandwich are a few of the stand-out dishes.

Open from midday till midnight, the bar makes a perfect spot to drop in after a quick dip at the beach, or for a lazy long dinner and drinks on a balmy night.

The Kingswood, Brunswick Heads

Opened last November, The Kingswood is a new restaurant with an old soul. Located in the sleepy beach town of Brunswick Heads, just 15 minutes north of Byron, this old-school eatery is winning fans with its vintage surf styling and classic Mediterranean menu.

Drawing from Spanish, Italian and French influences, Head Chef Alessandro Pizzolato serves up simplicity and generosity with a hearty splash of Mediterranean flair. The dining area spills out onto the pavement – a perfect spot for long lunches and candlelit dinners.

The wine list is carefully curated by owner Donna Hingston, with a focus on natural and low-intervention wines sourced from both Australia and old-school wine regions around the world and is complemented by a similarly diverse craft beer and cocktail menu.

Though it’s been a holiday hotspot for more than 30 years, Byron shows no sign of slowing down – and these five restaurants are just a handful of the fantastic new additions. No matter how many times you visit, there’s always something new to taste and discover.

(Lead image: The Kingswood / image: supplied)

Published 01 March, 2019