The climate in Coffs Harbour and the bounty that it yields has led to some phenomenal food and drink experiences.
With a focus on local, seasonal produce, often set in spectacular surrounds, cafes, restaurants and pubs in Coffs Harbour are luring road-trippers to bide their time a bit longer to experience new culinary adventures.
Coffs Harbour Cafes
There’s a bit of a jaunty thrift-shore nautical vibe down at Old John’s on the Jetty Strip, which is quintessential Coffs. Framed portraits of Jesus alongside an eclectic mix of art adds to the ‘lunchtime at Nannas’ air, especially when you’ve got a toasted sanga in hand. Warning: it’s a challenge to only stay for one coffee and not try the amazing bacon and egg roll with homemade relish.
Address: 360 Harbour Dr, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
Old John’s is quintessential Coffs.
Pansabella Food & Flowers
Order a bunch of the freshest of blooms and then head next door to the French-inspired café for coffee and food. Inspired by a pre-Covid trip to Paris, Pansabella is part-florist, part-providore and you should stay here long enough to knock back a Portuguese tart and a piccolo. The name Pansabella is a portmanteau of owner Kristy Mulhall’s mum’s nickname, Pansy, and the word ‘bella’ meaning beauty, which nods to her travels in Italy.
Address: Coffs Central Shopping Centre, Shop R49, Harbour Dr, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
Enjoy one of Sandra’s Portugese tarts.
It’s the holy grail on a road trip: classic fish and chips, not too fancy, well prepared and wallet-friendly. White Salt in Woolgoolga is a casual neighbourhood café that has a relaxed atmosphere and has been given a clever refresh, with cinnamon and turmeric hues. The menu, at a glance, might seem fairly simple, but there is a lot of technique and skill in cooking a really wonderful piece of fish in a light-as-air tempura batter and serving it with a side of hand-cut chips.
Address: 70 Beach St, Woolgoolga NSW 2456
White Salt on Whoopi Beach
Surf Street Cafe
This laidback joint overlooks Emerald Beach and South West Solitary Island beyond and, when it comes to great locations, can go toe-to-toe with many places dotted along the Coffs coastline. Chuck a kaftan over your bikini and enjoy eggs cooked to your liking on Turkish toast at the Surf Street Café while enjoying the vast views over the Pacific. If the sandbanks are working, the beach can get some good lefts, so wax up your surfboard.
Address: 104 Fiddaman Rd, Emerald Beach NSW 2456
Enjoy a Surf Street burger while enjoying the vast views.
Coffs Harbour Restaurants
Fiasco Ristorante and Bar
In Italian, the phrase far fiasco, literally means to ‘make a bottle’, and this buzzy corner bistro has made many a bottle of passata to pair with its artisanal pasta from The Art of Flour. Fiasco Ristorante and Bar, located in the Jetty precinct, does a great line in comfort food and, in addition to its pizza and pasta, offers hefty mains such as, the daily cut of Jack’s Creek Black Angus Beef.
Address: 22 Orlando St, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
Fresh pasta from Fiasco Ristorante and Bar.
Surf Club Restaurant & Bar
The relaxed attitude and slow pace of life in Coffs Harbour is on show for all to see at the Surf Club Restaurant & Bar where almost every table scores a view of pristine Park Beach. Look straight out to sea from your table at the laidback surf club and you’re likely to see whales breaching (from May to November) and muttonbirds nesting on nearby Little Muttonbird Island. Sit out on the open-air sun deck, kick off your shoes and enjoy surf club classics such as a super-fresh surf ’n’ turf.
Address: 23 Surf Club Rd, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
Almost every table scores a view of pristine Park Beach.
In the heart of the Jetty Strip, Lime Mexican is always busy, serving mean mojitos and inventive Mexican street food that would be right at home in both Texas and Tijuana. Although the décor is light and bright, the ubiquitous Dia de los Muertos-inspired mural and colourful sombreros suggests this is a place for fun and celebration. Expect text-book favourites such as beef nachos, tacos with pulled pork or chipotle steak, and fajitas with chargrilled chicken.
Address: 368 Harbour Dr, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
Expect text-book favourites from Lime Mexican
63 First Avenue
While the name of this restaurant and bar reads more like flag-flappin’ Manhattan, it is in fact a reference to its actual street address in sleepy Sawtell, a beachside suburb on the fringes of Coffs Harbour. And while the menu at 63 First Avenue, located one block back from the pretty beach, has a definite American twang in dishes such as Smokey Joe beef sliders and the Reuben with slow-cooked silverside, it also offers a global greatest-hits list that roams from Italy to Southeast Asia.
Address: 63 First Avenue, Sawtell, NSW, Australia 2452.
63 First Avenue has a definite American twang.
Think Coffs Harbour and what springs to mind? The coastline, of course. But savvy food-focused travellers have also discovered the community treasure that is Shearwater Restaurant, located on a curve of Coffs Creek. Those lucky enough to score a table overlooking the water can choose from a seasonally changing menu that includes natural oysters, salt and pepper squid and ravioli with roast pumpkin and ricotta. Pick up some bagels stuffed with Bellingen ham to go.
Address: 321 Harbour Dr, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
Discover the community treasure that is Shearwater Restaurant. (Image: Destination NSW)
Latitude 30 Yacht Club deserves a guernsey for its unbeatable location and the fact its diners can enjoy seafood that has been sourced from the trawlers moored directly outside the venue. The restaurant is the product of executive chef Marcus Blackwell’s passion for seafood that extends to his childhood growing up off the coast of Scotland. Latitude 30 is located in the Marina Village.
Address: Unit 8-9, 1 Marina Drive, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
Enjoy seafood that has been sourced from the trawlers outside the venue.
Coffs Harbour Pubs
The Pier Hotel
The Pier Hotel was built in 1905 to cater for weary travellers journeying by land and sea up and down Australia’s East Coast. A century on, that core demographic remains unchanged, and the pub located on the Jetty Strip is as popular as ever. The cosy country pub, which beautifully blends the old and new, is light and bright and a brilliant spot to enjoy pub grub such as chicken parmigiana and steak sangas.
Address: 356 Harbour Dr, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
The Pier Hotel was built in 1905.
The Toormina Hotel
The menu at The Toormina Hotel reaches far beyond the average pub lunch with items such as the buffalo chickpea burger, and autumn harvest bowl two veggie-forward dishes that steal the show. Check the chalkboard for daily and weekly specials such as Friday Fish Day and Tacos and Margaritas on Thursdays. There’s a warmness to The Palms, and the airy interiors at the smart bistro invite lazy lunches. That and the fact it has one of the largest playgrounds on the Coffs Coast.
Address: 13 Minorca Pl, Toormina NSW 2452
The Toormina Hotel reaches far beyond the average pub lunch.
Seaview Tavern Woolgolga
The Seaview Tavern is a family-friendly hotel that makes the most of its expansive open-air beer garden, which is festooned with fairy lights and kitted out with umbrellas. Everyone here seems to order the schnitzel (voted one of Australia’s top five), which is included in one of the rolling daily specials for $15. There are also pub classics such as loaded bean nachos and salt and pepper squid which pair perfectly with a middy of Byron Bay Brewery beer.
Address: 51 River St, Woolgoolga NSW 2456
Make the most of the expansive open-air beer garden.
For more great travel tips and itineraries read our Ultimate guide to Coffs Harbour holidays