February 16, 2023
5 mins Read
While this coastal town’s eateries won’t be vying for Melbourne’s culinary crown anytime soon, that’s not to say you can’t eat well (or drink well) in Airlie Beach. Whether you’re just passing through and looking for somewhere to enjoy coffee or dinner, or you’re spending a few nights in town and drawing up a full-blown eating itinerary, there’s a number of solid cafes, bars and restaurants to choose from – if you know where to look. Here are seven of Airlie’s best.
For a caffeine fix look no further than Fat Frog Beach Cafe. This highly rated local favourite is known to serve a mean flat white, made with Campos Coffee, but you’ll have to venture a little off the beaten path to find it: from the town centre it’s a 30-minute walk, or a five-minute drive to this Cannonvale Beach cafe.
It’s also a great place for brekkie or brunch, with choices ranging from pikelet stacks with bananas and ice cream to breakfast panna cotta with granola and fresh berries, or a classic fry-up. And with gas strut windows lining the cafe’s frontage, you can enjoy the sea breeze as you devour breakfast with a side serve of sparkling water views.
Address: 44 Coral Esplanade, Cannonvale, Qld 4802
With its straw outdoor parasols, palm tree wallpaper and smoothie bowls served in coconut shells, there’s a bit of an air of Bali to this marina cafe. The focus at Bohemian Raw is squarely on healthy and fresh wholefoods – think raw desserts, poke bowls with kingfish sashimi and organic soba noodles, and sourdough loaded with avocado, house-made beetroot spread, feta, pumpkin seeds and rocket. The same philosophy extends to the drinks menu too, which features fairtrade organic coffee, ayurvedic herbal teas and probiotic beverages.
Address: Abel Point, Shingley Dr, Airlie Beach, Qld 4802
Secreted away in the Whitsunday Sailing Club, lies 20 Degrees South. With its whitewashed interior and a sizable balcony offering stellar views of the marina, this bar and restaurant is a plum spot for a relaxing sundowner, or a meal. Open for lunch and dinner, expect a mix of both surf and turf on the RSL-style menu, from seaside staples such as fish and chips to a bone-in ribeye steak with mushroom sauce. Or go all-out and order the seafood tower, complete with Sydney rock oysters, scallops, calamari, tiger prawns, mussels and more; you are on holiday after all.
Address: 11 Ocean Rd, Airlie Beach, Qld 4802
From hearty breakfasts to more refined tapas-style dishes come lunch and sundown, Paradiso delivers. There’s more of a Mediterranean flavour here than at most other local options. Share jamon croquettes, marinated olives, wagyu bresaola, and mushroom and gorgonzola arancini with friends while sipping on an espresso martini and soaking up the lagoon views from the tables that spill onto the street. Those seeking a more substantial feed can order one of the stone-baked pizzas, a pasta dish (might we suggest the chilli prawn and chorizo linguine), or a seafood paella for two.
Address: 287 Shute Harbour Rd, Airlie Beach, Qld 4802
Located high above Airlie Beach, this bar and restaurant promises panoramic views and plenty of decadent ‘dude food’: burgers, chicken wings, racks of ribs and tacos, to name a few. But the menu does also feature a smattering of other, slightly less indulgent dishes, should you so choose (a jackfruit curry, a roasted beetroot salad, or some steamed mussels, perhaps). And if you can’t quite make up your mind, then go for Anchor Bar’s ‘can’t decide’ platter, which features a little of both. Grab a chilled glass of rose, pull up a pew under one of the deck’s parasols, and relax to the sound of live music at this convivial, laid-back spot.
Address: 5 Golden Orchid Dr, Airlie Beach, Qld 4802
Pasta, pizza, risotto, bruschetta, antipasti: when only Italian fare will do, book a table at Sorrento Restaurant & Bar. This kid-friendly, seafood-leaning Italian restaurant overlooks the Coral Sea Marina (book ahead for a table on the breezy balcony). Those in the market for cheap eats should stop by between 3pm and 4pm, when Sorrento offers a two-for-one special on pizzas. And if you’re here for dinner leave space for the house-made tiramisu, which wins rave reviews.
Address: 22 Shingley Dr, Airlie Beach, Qld 4802
Slinging seasonal, fruit-driven cocktails made with locally grown fruit, The Garden Bar Bistro is your best bet for a refreshing drink in town. Try the bar’s signature Mother of Dragons – a vivid fuchsia concoction made with rum, chambord, sugar syrup, fresh lime, and local dragon fruit. If you fancy something a little more low-key then opt for this marina bar’s ‘teaser boards’ that feature either four different gin and tonics, or four different espresso martinis. The food menu here is refreshingly light too, featuring fresh fish tacos, ceviche, a seafood platter and a Mediterranean vegetable pasta, among other dishes.
Address: Coral Sea Marina, Shingley Dr, Airlie Beach, Qld 4802
For more great travel tips and our itineraries read our Ultimate guide to Airlie Beach.
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