Dining at this Sapphire Coast gem of a town delivers a fair few surprises.
Whether it’s fish and chips, pizza or pasta, cocktails or oysters at a next-level fine diner, Merimbula restaurants are an example of regional dining done right. In fact, exemplary Merimbula restaurants such as Valentina, Dulcie’s Cottage, Bar Superette and Sunny’s Kiosk are putting the seaside village on the map. Here is the ultimate guide to 15 of the best Merimbula restaurants.
1. Sunny’s Kiosk
Best for: Narooma tuna tartare.
You can hire a boat from the edge of the pier where Sunny’s Kiosk sits to make sure you work up a sufficient appetite for the small plates and booze on offer here. But calling the neighbourhood eatery a kiosk is kind of understating what’s on offer.
Sunnys Kiosk is perched at the edge of the pier near Top Lake, Merimbula.
The low-fi venue, full of vintage artworks, retro finds and eclectic furniture, is located at the edge of a pier overlooking the body of water locals call Top Lake.
Taste your way around the menu at Sunny’s Kiosk.
And it’s run by Tess Podger (who oversees the wine) and partner Matty Johnston (ex-Cutler & Co, Melbourne and Madalena’s, Fremantle) who looks after the food. The eatery morphs into a wine bar on Friday and Saturday nights in the warmer months. Arrive via a meander along the Merimbula Boardwalk. It’s Merimbula’s best-kept secret.
Have a tipple at sundown.
Address: 68 Lakewood Drive, Merimbula
Open: Breakfast and lunch 7.30am–2pm Thu-Mon; Dinner Fri-Sat 4pm–8.30pm (warmer months only)
2. Bar Superette
Best for: Confit lamb ribs with assorted local vegetables and a glass of Margan ‘Breaking Ground’ Rosato.
Bar Superette is a great example of a mind-bogglingly good bar in Merimbula. This narrow bar and takeaway wine store and deli is more Melbourne than Merimbula. And its name is a nostalgic nod to the small supermarket that sat on the site in the 1960s. Bar Superette is led by Ryde Pennefather who runs the wine bar alongside business partners Cam Charnock and Nick Parkinson.
Pull up a stool at Bar Superette.
Ryde has a lot of community support and is seemingly mates with most of the shaggy-haired surfers sitting at the bar. Once you’ve been fed and caffeinated at one of the great local cafes, head to this bar for clever cooking, assured service and great natural wines. Ask the sommelier to suggest a bottle of wine and fine cheese and salumi from LP’s Quality Meats for your picnic hamper. Or help yourself and grab a bottle to sip at Bar Superette or take home.
Savour a delightful bottle at Bar Superette.
Address: 16/20 Market St, Merimbula
Open: Tue-Sun noon–9pm
3. Banksia Restaurant, Pambula
Best for: Pineapple crespelle with star anise ice cream.
Locals are heavily invested in Banksia, housed in Pambula’s Old Bank, which is known for its farm-to-table cuisine. Co-owners chef Huw Jones and partner Renee have made Banksia a beacon for its three-course set menu with matched wines.
Enjoy a hearty meal at Banksia Restaurant.
White tablecloths and polished service set the tone inside the weatherboard cottage, where you can expect staples such as snapper and scallop pie with leeks, and Champagne brown butter or the veal fillet and crisp-pressed brisket with creamed spinach and a bordelaise sauce.
Treat yourself at Banksia Restaurant.
Address: 22 Quondola St, Pambula
Open: Wed-Sat 5.45pm–10pm; Sun 11.45am–4pm
Best For: Blue swimmer crab aglio e olio with crunchy crushed potatoes.
Walking up the stairs to this beautifully realised restaurant provides the first clue that Valentina is something special. Since opening its doors in 2021, Valentina has wooed locals with its devotion to seasonally driven dishes. It’s also helped establish Merimbula’s reputation as a great destination for dining. Locals have a lot to thank Valentina’s owners Diane McDonald, Kirsty Pongratz and Ashleigh Cotter for. The restaurant retained its Good Food Guide hat with head chef Ashleigh Cotter (ex-Brae) at the helm. And it was nominated as one of five of the Best Regional Restaurants in NSW for a multitude of good reasons.
The elegant interiors of Valentina Merimbula are to die for.
Bring a crew, if you’ve got one, or sit with your Valentine at one of the sleek tables near the floor-length windows to enjoy signature dishes such as whipped cod roe and flatbread, and spaghetti with crab. Dine alone if you want the crunchy crushed potatoes as they are too good to share.
Try the linguine alla marinara at Valentina.
Address: 5/2 Market St, Merimbula
Open: Lunch, Wed-Sun noon–5pm; Dinner Tue-Sun 5pm–11pm.
5. Merimbula Aquarium and Wharf Restaurant
Best for: Seafood linguine with garlic, herbs, chilli and wine.
You know the fish is fresh when you see the local anglers wandering across from the wharf to sell their catch. In addition to the freshly caught wharf-fresh catch, Merimbula Aquarium & Wharf Restaurant sells Broadwater Oysters, which are some of the best available on the NSW South Coast. Stop by the aquarium and see the local and tropical marine life after lunch so you don’t feel guilty when devouring your seafood platter for two.
Address: The Wharf, Lake St, Merimbula
Open: Breakfast Wed-Sun from 10am; Lunch Wed-Sun from 11.30am; Dinner Thu-Sat from 6pm.
6. Dulcie’s Cottage
Best For: A big, fat Dulcie Burger with ground beef, cheese, bacon, onion, pickles, tomato, ketchup and secret sauce.
Yes, you can order a cheeky dozen Broadwater Oysters as an entrée at Dulcie’s Cottage if you’re up to the task. But you can also order a casual cheeseburger from the 50s’ food van while chatting up your crush around one of the communal tables on the deck at Dulcie’s.
Dulcie’s Cottage evokes rustic country charm.
The sister venue to Valentina owned by Diane McDonald and Kirsty Pongratz has struck a chord with locals who converge here for cocktails and live music. The original weatherboard cottage was built in 1925 by Arthur and Dulcie Goodsell and this era is honoured in the framed photos of the Goodsells, and carefully curated mix of bric-a-brac and taxidermy.
The restaurant’s interior has a vintage feel.
Address: 60 Main St, Merimbula
Open: Noon–11pm Mon-Thu; noon–11.30pm Fri-Sat; noon–10pm Sun
7. Bar Monti
Best For: Pizza topped with thin slices of potato, rosemary, fetta and truffle oil.
James Sverdrupsen (ex0Restaurant Hubert) and his wife Kat added to the seaside charms of Merimbula when they moved back to Merimbula in 2022 to open Bar Monti. Bar Monti is now one of the top recommendations for places to eat in Merimbula. Especially if you like homemade pizza and pasta, which is best enjoyed with family and friends in the atmospheric courtyard.
The menu at this traditional Italian joint won’t surprise you but it stands out for its simplicity. You’ll find classic antipasti such as arancini, calamari fritti and focaccia. And pepperoni pizzas, pork and veal lasagne and spaghetti with Italian sausage. It’s all worth a try. Given the location – main street Merimbula – the crowd is a mix of locals and tourists. Bar Monti makes for an easy informal night out.
Address: 6/11 Merimbula Drive, Merimbula
Open: From 5pm Thu-Mon
8. Wheeler’s Seafood Restaurant
Best For: Fresh oysters from The Oyster Bar followed by Narooma yellowfin tuna.
One of the best ways to savour the South Coast is to follow the Gourmet Coast Trail, which has a special Merimbula Weekend Getaway curated with food-focused road-trippers in mind.
Book dinner at Wheeler’s Seafood Restaurant.
Wheeler’s Seafood Restaurant is one of the highlights on the itinerary and a must-do when in Merimbula. Enjoy a signature seafood platter, which includes oysters from the Wheeler’s own farm, at this architecturally designed building which includes an oyster bar and takeaway window.
Wheeler’s Restaurant is the place to dine on seafood.
Address: 162 Arthur Kaine Drive, Pambula
Open: Bookings for lunch Wed-Mon noon–2pm; Bookings for dinner Wed-Mon 5.45pm–8pm
9. Kitty’s Bar + Dining
Best For: Korean fried chicken, gochujang sauce, pickled daikon with Kewpie mayo.
Kitty’s is one of the gems on the Sapphire Coast. The playful space, within Club Sapphire, reflects the laid-back attitude of the seaside neighbourhood. There’s a small, ever-changing menu of pan-Asian share plates such as bao buns stuffed with pork belly, slaw, hoisin and crackle, pot stickers, and Thai-style fish cakes as well as Kitty’s killer cocktails.
Kitty’s Bar has added a touch of class to Merimbula’s wining and dining scene.
The elegant bar is named in honour of Kitty Travers, the inaugural president of the Merimbula Imlay Women’s Bowling Club. Raise your Sundowner Spritz to Kitty for inspiring the type of jumping joint that Merimbula was missing. She would have loved it.
Vegans are catered for at Kitty’s Bar.
Address: 119 Main St, Merimbula
Open: Wed-Thu 5pm–9pm; Fri-Sat 5pm–10.30pm
10. The Oyster Barn at Merimbula Gourmet Oysters
Best For: Oysters, prawns and crays
The oysters that arrive on a platter at Merimbula Gourmet Oysters will be a mix of Sydney rock oysters and the Angasi or flat oyster. The fact the flavour and quality of these briny bivalves is dependent on the pristine waters of Merimbula Lake gives visitors a deeper appreciation of the pristine environment.
Enjoy oysters while overlooking the leases where they were grown at The Oyster Barn.
Head down a corrugated road just off the Princes Highway and follow the signs to The Oyster Barn, where second-gen farmers Pip and Dom Boyton are renowned for their oysters.
The Oyster Barn’s award-winning oysters can’t be missed
Address: 49 Oyster Track, Millingandi
Open: Wed-Sat 10am–3pm
11. Tidal Restaurant & Wine Bar
Best For: Celebrating the merroir of the Sapphire Coast with dishes like blue swimmer crab ravioli
There’s all kinds of cheffing wizardry on show in the kitchen at Tidal Restaurant & Wine Bar (formerly Stillwater), on the banks of Merimbula Lake. The seafood-centric restaurant is the place to go for a dozen locally farmed fresh oysters or mains such as locally trapped snapper with roasted carrot cream and bouillabaisse jus. The location of Tidal Restaurant & Wine Bar is as memorable as the food, making this one of the best places to eat in Merimbula.
Dine on flavourful seafood dishes at Tidal Restaurant & Wine Bar.
Address: 23 Beach St, Merimbula
Open: Lunch Thu-Sat 11.30am–2.30pm; Dinner Wed-Sat 5pm–late
12. Longstocking Brewery
Best For: The Diablo wood-fired pizza with a tomato coulis, buffalo mozzarella, chilli, Tabasco, garlic and red onion
Entering the Oaklands Barn is like opening Pandora’s box. It’s where you will find a garden centre, a red double-decker London bus that is now a pop-up chop-shop (read: hairdresser’s) and the biggest small-batch brewery on the Sapphire Coast.
Enjoy oysters and a glass of chilled rose at Longstocking Brewery.
The rule of (green) thumb here is there are no wrong choices: stop to browse from the garden centre gift store, which includes Jones & Co. pots and planters, get a minty new mullet, and then kick back in the courtyard of Longstocking Brewery, one of the best spots for a middy near Merimbula. The wood-fired pizzas are also hugely popular.
Longstocking Brewery is popular for its wood-fired pizza.
Address: 3546 Princes Highway, Pambula
Open: Wed noon–6pm; Thu noon–8.30pm; Fri-Sat noon–10pm; Sun noon–6pm
13. Hotel Australasia, Eden
Best for: Quattro Formaggio pizza with a rocket and parmesan salad on the side from Pikes Bistro
This grand old hotel reopened in 2022 in nearby Eden after being seamlessly restored with modern additions. It’s now one of the best places to stay on the Sapphire Coast. And while the eight luxuriously appointed heritage rooms are a draw, the wining and dining are also on point.
Stay for three nights so you can pinball between Pikes Italian Bistro, the John Hines Bar and Circa 1904 and work through the menus, which are driven by locally sourced seasonal ingredients. The charming dining room housing Circa 1904 is set to open its doors in 2024.
Bring your family to lunch at Hotel Australasia. (Image: Destination NSW)
Address: 144 Imlay St, Eden
Open: All-day dining 11am–till late; John Hines Bar 7 days a week.
14. Mimosa Wines, Murrah
Best for: Bermagui flame cockles with cucumber, oyster and lemongrass
This winery restaurant is a little off-the-beaten-track. The destination diner between Bermagui and Tathra is surrounded by hills blanketed in vivid green vines and the bush beyond. There’s accommodation onsite so you can stay and play once you’ve wound your way from Merimbula to Mimosa Wines.
The restaurant interior of Mimosa Wines is classy and airy. (Image: Cassie Abraham)
The striking architecturally designed restaurant overlooks the vineyards, which produce top-notch estate wines. Enjoy a set menu of three or six courses created by Michelin-trained chef Jan Semmelhack with wines sourced from Australia and NZ.
Dine with scenic views at Mimosa Wines. (Image: Cassie Abraham)
Address: 2845 Tathra Bermagui Road, Murrah
Open: Thu noon–2.30pm Thu; Fri noon–2.30pm; 6–10pm; Sat noon–3pm, 6–10pm; Sun noon–3pm
15. Club Sapphire Pacific Bistro
Best For: A fully loaded slab of Texas parmigiana topped with BBQ sauce, ham, bacon, chorizo and cheese.
Club Sapphire Pacific Bistro hits the spot for a casual club feed. If you’re staying in Merimbula, you can pop in for a game of barefoot bowls followed by lunch or dinner at the casual eatery.
Pick from an array of cocktails at Club Sapphire Pacific Bistro.
Club Sapphire has cultivated a loyal following on the NSW Sapphire Coast. Expect classic club grub such as a scotch fillet steak and chips, garlic chilli prawn linguine, chicken parmie and haloumi and sweet potato fritters.
Pair your drinks with pork belly and oysters.
Address: 119 Main St, Merimbula
Open: Mon-Thu 10am–10pm; Fri-Sat 10am–11pm; Sunday 10am–10pm