Newcastle is a city climbing the ranks of the culinary ladder.
There has long been chatter of Newcastle’s burgeoning dining scene. From casual cafes to plant-based pubs, it’s time to discover the city’s foodie prowess for yourself. Follow along with our guide to the best spots to eat and drink in Newcastle.
Goodfriends Eatery, with its beautiful, earthy interior and floral arrangements of dried ferns, cotton stems and pampas grass, creates an oasis of escapism. It’s menu is mostly plant-based (with the exception of eggs) and packed with fresh, simple ingredients that change with the season. Salads are popular, as well as an array of in-house baked goodies. Head in early to get your hands on muffins, croissants, banana bread, and one of the cafe’s famous scones. The coffee is just as good as the food, with Seven Miles Coffee Roaster supplying the beans for the brew. Stop by on a weekend to take advantage of the cafe’s bottomless batch brew offer for all the caffeine you can handle in one sitting.
Phillip Gameson and Hayley Sinkinson opened Praise Joe in Tighe Hill at the start of 2019 after spending a number of years working abroad (Phillip even scored a gig cooking for Her Majesty The Queen while living in London). The successful duo, who are also chefs, partners and owners, serve up a range of loaded toasties, a delicious selection of golden-flaked sausage rolls (try the beef, bacon and cheese combo), and all manner of sugar-laden treats – think Biscoff and Nutella scrolls and salted caramel brownie cookies – to keep you coming back for more. But it’s the coffee that the regulars queue for. The team use Pablo and Rusty coffee beans to brew up one of the best cups of coffee in town. Praise Joe was also the first café in Newcastle to introduce the use of the reusable Huskee Cup (made from discarded coffee husks) as a sustainable alternative to regular ceramics.
A bar? For breakfast? Hear us out. From 6.30am to 2pm daily, Talulah Bar‘s all-day menu features a winning combination of brekkie staples, tapas-style eats and of course, cocktails. The ricotta hot cakes promise to be an unforgettable start to the day – how often do you get hot cakes topped with rose whipped mascarpone, rose petal sherbert, berries and pomegranates, a nut crumble and drizzle of spiced honey syrup? Don’t go past it. The Nourish Bowl is another crowd pleasing option on the menu if you’re after something a little more on the healthy side.
Queen’s Wharf Hotel provides fine food and a front row seat to the panoramic beauty of Newcastle Wharf. A lunchtime balcony table is the best way to make the most of the fresh air and views, best enjoyed with a plate of tasty seafood. Fish and chips, swordfish, mussels and spaghetti marinara are just the tip of the iceberg, with plenty of other menu items bound to impress.
Many of the pubs of Newcastle are being revitalised by way of multimillion-dollar upgrades, and The Prince of Merewether is no exception. Careful renovations have brought just the right amount of modern improvements to the iconic pub to ensure it maintains the charm of the 19th century building it’s housed within. Add to this the standout food and drinks menu – expect a selection of creative, modern Australian dishes including a mix of charcuterie plates, tender and juicy steaks, and a dedicated pizza menu – and it’s plain to see they’ve managed to create the ultimate neighbourhood local.
The Flotilla is the third Newcastle dining venue from ex-Silverchair musician Chris Joannou and his business partner Zack Scholtz. Channelling the momentum from the duo’s previous ventures (The Edwards and The Criterion), Flotilla was designed to mimic the style of Abbot Kinney Boulevard and Venice Beach in California. Australian produce is championed in just about every dish, with local producers, such as Newcastle Green’s, Branxton Meats and Shane’s Seafood, all making a regular appearance. Ninety-eight percent of the wine list is also Australian, with a big emphasis on natural varieties, served alongside a small selection of French wine.
What initially started as a small market stall now operates within a warehouse-sized restaurant, slinging up to 45,000 burritos and 35,000 tacos a year. The menu is reminiscent of a Californian-style Taqueria, and is loaded with all the authentic Mexican favourites – from carnitas (slow pulled pork), pollo (chicken), suadero (beef) and soyrizo (crumbled soy tofu). If tacos aren’t your jam there are plenty more options to choose from, including nachos, guac and corn chips, burritos and even their famous Tortilla Soup (with chicken, veggies, tomatillos and spices, thickened with house-made corn tortillas).
The vibrancy of Lebanese culture and cuisine can be felt and tasted in every mouthful of food at Downtown Beirut. From 11am daily, diners line up to feast on the likes of falafel, kibbi, loubi beans, spinach pockets and lamb cutlets, all served with a side of signature smoked rice. No matter what you order, patrons are guaranteed to leave satisfied thanks to the generous-sized portions. Come hungry and come early.
The residents of Islington are no strangers to really good Italian food. In fact, there has been an Italian restaurant occupying the Pino’s Italian address since 1970. New owners in the early 2000’s ushered in a name change from the original Giuseppe’s moniker, but the food has remained top-notch over the decades. Authentic Italian aroma’s fill the kitsch space, as hip-hop soundtracks hum in the background. On the walls you’ll find mirrors, chalk-clad blackboards and other precious mementos. The entire Pino’s menu is vegan, and we recommend starting with a traditional bruschetta and arancini balls to share, then move on to the gnocchi al arrabiata and pasta alla vodka. It’s also imperative you leave room for dessert; the carob and caramel panna cotta is worth waiting for.
Housed within an old Methodist building that dates back to 1903, Babylon oozes 1920’s vibes with its high ceilings, exuberant chandeliers and vaulted accents. Seemingly endless rows of spirits line the walls behind the bar, but the speciality here is whiskey. You’ll find hundreds of varieties from all around the world to choose from. Alternatively, there is a large selection of craft beer available on tap and a well-crafted cocktail list to choose from.
It might not look like much from the outside, but that’s all part of the charm of this secret bar. Once you’ve managed to locate the entrance, prepare to be impressed with a large range of Australian gin and Japanese whiskey. Order from the cocktail menu or request your own creation. Opt for a small banquet of steaming gyozas, wasabi peas and edamame to accompany your drink and prepare to stay tucked away in this unassuming bar for a few hours.
Perched on the headland at Merewether, the Beach Hotel has recently become the newest addition to the portfolio of celebrated local publican, Andrew Lazarus. The recently renovated space provides panoramic views out over Dixon Park and Merewether Beach combined with a bustling coastal vibe, a sophisticated cocktail list and a delicious range of classic pub fare – think burgers, steaks, chicken schnitzel, ribs and a wide selection of pizzas to share.