If you’re going to Merimbula, here are the best places to eat and drink.
Whether you’re in the mood for a fancy degustation dinner, simple street-style burgers, a seafood platter or some of the best oysters on the NSW South Coast, Merimbula and surrounds has got you covered.
The seaside town of Merimbula serves up some of the South Coast’s freshest seafood. (Image: Destination NSW)
Best restaurants and bars
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 dining. It’s also helped put Merimbula on the map as a great destination for dining.
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.
Merimbula Aquarium and Wharf Restaurant
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.
Dine on freshly-caught seafood at Merimbula Aquarium and Wharf Restaurant. (Image: Destination NSW)
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.
The sister venue to Valentina 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 Goodsill and this era is honoured in the framed photos of the Goodsills, and carefully curated mix of bric-a-brac and taxidermy.
Wheeler’s Seafood Restaurant
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. 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.
The oysters at Wheeler’s Seafood come straight from their farm. (Image: David Rogers Photography)
Kitty’s Bar + Dining
This brand-new bar and restaurant definitely makes the cut when we’re talking 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.
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.
Merimbula Gourmet Oysters
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.
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, which reflect the quality of the pristine waters of Merimbula Lake all around.
The best way to experience Broadwater Oysters is by opting for the Tide-to-Table tour, which offers the trifecta of a farm tour, where you will learn all about commercial oyster farming, learn how to shuck the shellfish, and then, finally, savour a cheeky dozen of the best Sydney Rock oyster specimens at a table overlooking the pristine waters of Lake Pambula.
Foodies will find this farm tour particularly compelling, and gain a new appreciation of this delicacy, which start life in the hatchery as miniscule spats and take about three years to grow.
Wonbyne Rock Oysters
Kel and Caroline Henry are the husband-and-wife team behind Wonboyne Rock Oysters, located on the banks of beautiful Wonbyne Lake on the Sapphire Coast. You will find the couple, most likely wearing rubber boots and bibs, pootling about on their punts and working the chain-mail tumblers that are barnacled with bivalve molluscs until they reach maturity which takes about three years. These are some of Australia’s most prized oysters, so head here during the harvest period to get the most out of your tour.
Merimbula is a hotspot for oysters and oyster farms. (Image: Destination NSW)
Best spots for coffee, breakfast and brunch
This buzzy café serves breakfast, brunch and lunch, with highlights including doorstop-sized burritos stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon, Swiss cheese, spinach, charred corn, capsicum, red onion and coriander salsa.
MorMors is located in Merimbula Plaza and spills out onto a leafy courtyard that is perfect for ONA coffee and catch-ups. The holy grail here are the jam donuts from Wild Rye, in nearby Pambula (see more below).
Bar Beach Kiosk
Customers at the Bar Beach Kiosk are encouraged to be chilled and friendly thanks to the vibes being put down by the staff manning this shoebox-sized café. Sit here long enough and you are bound to meet all manner of sea-changers, from corporate casualties to ageing surfers lured by waves that are well-suited to long-boarders.
If you’re in the mood to mingle, sit at the bar overlooking the break, or lounge on the lawn beside laidback locals over a lunch of smashed peas and whipped feta on Wheatley Lane sourdough.
Note the cafe is open between the September school holidays and the June long weekend.
Sit at the bar overlooking the break in this shoe-box-sized café. (Image: Bar Beach Kiosk)
This Merimbula stalwart does what it says on the tin. Nourish will awaken your appreciation for the art of making coffee with alt milk as the line-up of quality lactose-free liquids here is impressive. Enjoy a creamy oat milk latte or a super-food smoothie and then peruse the shelves where you will find everything from Pukka tea to sugars and spices and soothing ministrations using turmeric and medicinal mushrooms. The wholefoods cafe also sells racks of upcycled fashion.
Best spots for lunch
The Oyster Barn at Merimbula Gourmet Oysters
There’s nothing fancy about this farm gate in Merimbula, which gets a guernsey above as one of the must-visit oyster farms near Merimbula on the South Coast. But The Oyster Barn deserves special mention as a destination for lunch, as it offers everything a seafood lover dreams of, namely the very best fresh oysters. Order the signature seafood platter piled high with delights such as prawns, oysters and scallops, and settle in for the arvo over a brew or two.
Thai Noodle House
Thai Noodle House hits the spot for a casual takeaway. If you’re staying in Merimbula, you can pop in and pick up your order from this casual eatery, which has cultivated a loyal following on the NSW Sapphire Coast. It’s a cheap and cheerful spot for signature Southeast Asian dishes such as tom yum goong, roti duck wraps, beef salad, salt and pepper calamari and chicken satays.
Thai Noodle House serves up all your favourites, including satay skewers.
Tidal Restaurant & Wine Bar
There’s all kinds of cheffing wizardry on show in the kitchen at Tidal Restaurant & Wine Bar (formerly Stillwater), which is located 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.
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.
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.
Cap off a long day gallivanting ’round Merimbula with a middy at Longstocking Brewery. (Image: Destination NSW)