From bakeries to bistros to hip cafes in heritage buildings and spaces with their own market garden, Bowral’s cafes are a celebration of Southern Highlands produce.
Of the many joys that Bowral offers visitors – from getting out into that gorgeous Southern Highlands nature to exploring its vineyards and trawling for antiques – cafe hopping is right up there.
The centre of town is easily walkable and whether you’re in the market for specialty coffee, artisan pastries, a brunch of champions, lunch paired with local cool-climate wine, afternoon tea or all of the above, you’ll find it here.
This pretty corner cafe forms part of Bespoke Letterpress’s flagship building, meaning you can stop for coffee and a seasonal spot of breakfast, brunch or lunch before browsing for boutique letterpress stationery, artfully printed the old fashioned way.
Delicious menu options might include whipped ricotta on sourdough with strawberries and honey; scrambled eggs with goat’s cheese, zucchini and herbs on sourdough; and a roasted beef sandwich with horseradish and watercress salad served on a milk bun.
Just down the street from The Press Shop is the thriving Green Lane shopping and dining precinct, home to all manner of culinary, retail and horticultural delights including Plantation – a light, bright and plant-filled cafe serving Double Roasters coffee, fresh pastries and an all-day menu.
It’s located next door to its sister venue, the popular restaurant and wine bar Harry’s On Green Lane.
Decked out eclectically with a covetable floor-to-ceiling book shelf occupying one wall, Harry’s is open daily for lunch (and on Fridays and Saturdays for dinner too).
Enjoy double Roasters coffee, fresh pastries and an all-day menu at Plantation. (Image: Elise Hassey)
Also on Green Lane is Bowral institution Dirty Janes – a vintage emporium and antiques market that is worth a stop for browsing alone.
But its in-house tea salon, Your Vintage Occasion, is the place to head for high tea when in town. Bowral famously feels a little bit English in character – it became the summer playground of Sydney’s gentry in the 19th century, after all – so channel the spirit of eccentric aristocracy as you sip on Highlands Tea Company brews from fine bone china cups and nibble on pinwheel sandwiches.
Scones – the headline attraction, served with generous dollops of jam and cream – come in all flavours: from classic to rose to white chocolate and cinnamon. Book ahead on weekends.
Dirty Jane’s is the place to go for high tea.
For your fix of artisan baked goods, look no further than Flour Water Salt.
This family-owned bakery and cafe in the centre of town has honed its cornerstone offering down to a fine art: its sourdough contains just three ingredients – organic flour, purified water and Australian sea salt – and everything else on offer here is approached with the same focused passion.
Choose from a concise selection of breakfast or lunch dishes including melt-in-mouth pastries, flaky golden pies and freshly made sandwiches.
While you’re here, stock up on some jars of seasonal small-batch jam, raw local honey and – wait for it – homemade dulce de leche. Flour Water Salt also has bakeries in Milton and Kiama.
For more baked goods made with passion, also check out the award-winning Gumnut Patisserie, which has stores in Bowral, Berrima and Mittagong.
For your fix of artisan baked goods, look no further than Flour Water Salt.
A few doors down from Flour Water Salt on Bowral’s main drag of Bong Bong Street, South Hill Kitchen is all about beautifully presented food made with fresh ingredients from its own organic market garden, located down the road in Moss Vale, or from local suppliers like Maugers Farm in Kangaloon for meat.
Try a breakfast roll with bacon and free-range eggs on sourdough or a Reuben sandwich to write home about with corned beef, Swiss cheese, house sauerkraut and market garden pickles.
Pair your meal with Allpress coffee or a glass of local wine. South Hill Kitchen also makes its own baked treats daily and its Portuguese tarts and almond croissants are a cult hit – so get in early.
South Hill Kitchen is all about beautifully presented food made with fresh ingredients.
For a health-conscious breakfast, lunch or afternoon snack head to RAW & WILD Market & Cafe on Bowral’s main street.
The eatery is an open space that leads onto an outdoor terrace at the back of a wholefood store and even its more decadent menu items are guaranteed to be made with the cleanest of ingredients.
Pick from an all-day breakfast menu that includes ricotta pancakes with cinnamon poached pear, berry compote and pistachio and coconut crumble or a lunch menu featuring the likes of potato and leek fritters and Mittagong train tunnel risotto.
There’s a kids’ menu too, afternoon grazing options and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays.
Tucked just off the main street, Grand Bistro is based in one of Bowral’s most iconic buildings, the Grand Hotel.
Inside, it has espoused a fresh country modern feel with plenty of plants, green and flaxen tones throughout, and local artwork and Slim Aarons prints on the walls.
True to its owners’ Sydney roots (they previously ran Flat White Cafe in Woollahra and Madam Char Char in Surry Hills), coffee here is from the Grounds and served alongside a range of teas, milkshakes and more.
The all-day menu reflects chef Damien Monley’s twice-weekly trips to the local market and includes breakfast options like tomato and avocado bruschetta or za’atar poached eggs with braised silverbeet, toast, lemon, pinenuts and sheep’s milk feta, and lunches like a seven-hour lamb sandwich with relish, caramelised onions, rocket and aioli.
Grand Bistro is also open Friday and Saturday for dinner.
Enjoy classics like tomato and avocado bruscetta with char-grilled bread, tomatoes, avocado, sheep’s milk feta, mint and basil at Grand Bistro.
This hip little spot on Bong Bong Street has fast become a local favourite since opening in 2018, serving excellent coffee and a rainbow of alt lattes – matcha, turmeric, chai and even red velvet.
Food options are fresh and vibrant and feature the likes of crispy chicken burgers stacked with goodness and a Buddha bowl of avocado, barbecued veggies, house salad, ferments, pickles and falafels.
Save room (there’s always room) for house-made treats: a chewy chocolate brownie, fluffy scone or a slice of cheesecake with a twist – Caramilk and baklava have both made the line-up lately.
Allumer serves excellent coffee and a rainbow of alt lattes.
OK, so we’re cheating with this one – it’s a five-minute drive down the road in Mittagong, not Bowral – but it’s 100 per cent worth the pit stop.
The Boston is housed in a stone-and-ivy-clad building that dates to 1880. It has a pretty courtyard out back and an interior that marries a folksy heritage feel – think unfinished wood and exposed brickwork – with clean, contemporary lines.
Open Tuesday to Saturday, it does a good line in specialty coffee and delicious hearty dishes artfully presented.
Think house-made smoked baked beans, a warming roast tomato, red lentil and chorizo soup or oven-roasted mushroom toast with kale, eschalot salad and almond.
If you’re lucky there will still be a fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon doughnut (filled with raspberry jam, lemon curd or custard) waiting for you to bag for the road.
The Boston is housed in a stone-and-ivy-clad building that dates back to 1880. (Image: Abbie Melle)
Much like Berrima’s famous Berkelouw Book Barn (10 minutes’ drive west of Bowral), La Palette in Moss Vale (15 minutes south) is a bit of a destination spot – and a little more under the radar at that.
This French-inspired, paddock-to-plate cafe and cellar door is part of Mount Ashby Estate, a winery that occupies a former dairy farm and, with Holstein cattle still grazing the surrounding fields, is rustic charm personified.
It sits adjacent to the Sally Beresford collection of antiques and objet d’art that doubles as a showroom for beautiful French farmhouse tables, based in a historic (circa 1918) Produce Store that has been relocated from Bowral.
Set yourself up in La Palette at one of these grand provincial tables – preferably near the open fireplace if it’s a cool day, or outside on the lawn if it’s sunny – and tuck into homemade soup with crusty bread, a cheese or charcuterie plate or something a little more decadent like twice-cooked gruyère soufflé with fine herbs and salad and an apple tarte tatin with ice-cream to finish.
Set yourself up by the fireplace at La Palette on a cool day.