Fish and chips on the beach, contemporary riverside dining or cocktails with an ocean outlook? It’s your call in Townsville.
From beachfront diners that make the most of their ocean views and tropical surrounds to inner-city laneways and waterside precincts bursting with new ideas and flavours, here’s where to brunch, lunch, dinner and drink in the buzzy North Queensland city of Townsville.
Breakfast and brunch
Operating out of the upstairs of a distinctive salmon-pink heritage building complete with Art Deco ironwork on its namesake balcony, this Flinders Street spot in the city centre is a Townsville institution.
Stop by for all-day breakfast: choose between everything from avocado on toast and chilli baked eggs to mascarpone-drizzled poached pear and granola, and Belgian waffles with ice-cream and caramelised banana. The Balcony Restaurant also serves lunch and high tea.
Located in Townsville’s redeveloped Northtown the City pedestrian mall, stop here for great coffee in the morning – serving Espresso di Manfredi brews – and a vibrant line in breakfast made with local produce. Head here first thing on a Sunday to grab a sunny spot on the verandah before perusing the adjacent Cotters Market, a long-running farmers’ market selling everything from fresh herbs to cronuts.
Run by a coffee connoisseur who cut his teeth behind a Bezzera Vittoria Alata lever machine in Melbourne, The Quarters – just round the corner from MJ & Co – is where to go in Townsville for a serious caffeine fix. Using a custom blend made by Veneziano Coffee Roasters, the coffee here is rich and strong and each cup is best accompanied by a sweet treat – like a Portuguese custard tart.
Cosy cafe Betty Blue and the Lemon Tart is one of the CBD’s most popular brunch spots – for good reason. Check out the Betty’s specials board, which runs the gamut between dishes like cinnamon waffles with rocky road ice-cream, and a Mediterranean plate with chorizo, caramelised onion, sun-dried tomato, crumbly feta and baby spinach in scrambled eggs served with a thick wedge of doorstop toast. Be sure to peruse the well-stocked pastry cabinet too. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Set your sights on the dining hub of Palmer Street in South Townsville to make an occasion of breakfast. Established by renowned chef Matt Merrin in 2010, this sweet spot overlooking the CBD and Ross River has scooped many awards and chef’s hats over the last decade for its modern take on North Queensland cuisine.
It’s open for lunch and dinner as well as breakfast, with a creative menu to kickstart your day that includes apple and nut crumble pancake with vanilla ice-cream and strawberries, and Asian chicken omelette with chilli jam, herbs, snow peas and fried shallots. Mimosas and Bloody Marys are served from 10am to pack an extra punch to your morning.
Seaside foreshore The Strand is where you’ll want to be when it’s sunny (which is most of the time here – Townsville enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year, one of the highest averages of any Aussie city). In a breezy spot at its northern end lies Odyssey on the Strand, a relaxed Greek restaurant where you can enjoy ocean views along with hearty Mediterranean fare.
Its lunch menu includes mezze platters and toasted sandwiches, and traditional meals like moussaka, spanakopita and lamb souvlaki straight from the grill served with charred pita bread, chips, Greek salad and tzatziki. Also open daily for breakfast.
Head 30 minutes west of town into the Hervey Range for some scones and a spot of pioneer history. Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms operates out of a heritage-listed building that began life as the Eureka Hotel in 1865, just a year after Townsville was founded.
Dine outside in the peaceful gardens overlooking the quaint corrugated iron-clad structure or sit inside to soak in its atmosphere among original hand-adzed slab timber walls. The tea rooms serves a breakfast and light lunch menu of pies, toasted sandwiches and quiche with fresh garden salad, but it’s the scones and sweets – like cinnamon apple pie or caramel tart – you don’t want to miss. Book ahead for a traditional high tea for a taste of everything served with bottomless specialty tea of plunger coffee in china cups.
Note: Due to Covid-19, Herveys Range Heritage Tea Rooms currently has limited opening hours and bookings are essential. Check ahead.
Jutting out into the ocean on The Strand with serious surf shack vibes, the Longboard Bar & Grill is your go to for a long, lazy and sun-soaked lunch. Open all day and into the evening, it has a lunch menu for all comers with American and Mexican influences: think southern-fried chicken burgers, tacos, Hawaiian poke bowls and buffalo wings. Wash it down with a glass of signature Longboard pale ale.
See also next-door C-Bar for a similarly beachy atmosphere and an extensive breakfast and lunch menu.
For a wholesome lunch and good coffee, make a beeline for Townsville’s creative laneway precinct of City Lane where you’ll find Born Wild Wholefoods + Espresso. The menu at this funky and cheerful spot has something to suit all appetites, from burgers – Wagyu beef, falafel or chicken – to Buddha Bowls and daily salad, fish and curry specials.
The comprehensive drinks menu includes smoothies and juices of all persuasion and classic coffee options alongside alternative hot drinks like turmeric lattes and hot chocolate made with raw cacao, honey and coconut milk.
From the owners of nearby Jam Corner, hatted restaurant Bridgewater has become Townsville’s dining highlight since opening in 2018. Head here for modern Australian cuisine in a contemporary, coastal-inspired space overlooking the river.
Dishes include entrees of Townsville half-shell scallops with soy pumpkin, pickled fennel and candied ginger; mains like King George whiting, tossed Asian greens and mushrooms and desserts of caramel parfait, bee pollen crumb and glazed pear. Or opt for a five-course degustation with or without wine pairing.
Another gem within laneway precinct City Lane is this Italian restaurant with a difference.
Casually sophisticated and with a modern industrial vibe, Donna Bionda is a concept restaurant that imparts diners with snapshots of its namesake ‘Blonde Donna’s’ life alongside its menu of authentic Italian fare.
Here you’ll find wood-fired pizzas – topped with ingredients bursting with flavour like vine-ripened tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, fresh basil and sweet and salty prosciutto, simple and delicious seasonal pasta dishes and seafood mains alongside an extensive wine list.
Save room for the signature Nutella and caramelised banana calzone.
Miss Songs Asian Kitchen is part of $43 million redevelopment The Ville – a waterside entertainment precinct incorporating the city’s iconic hotel, casino and a raft of dining and drinking options. Here you’ll find Chinese dishes with a modern twist, all made using fresh and locally sourced produce.
The menu covers off everything from Peking duck to Hokkien noodles to Mongolian lamb hot plate to dishes ‘from the steamer’ – prawn dumplings or chicken and mushroom chilli wonton – and more. Or choose a banquet option if you can’t quite decide.
Sometimes all you want when you’re on holiday is the simply salty pleasures of fish and chips on the beach. Based in North Ward, Tobin Fish Tales’ ethos is based on serving fresh, high-quality seafood sourced sustainably and informing customers about the provenance of their meal – just ask for the story behind yours and the staff will happily oblige.
Choose your takeaway fish battered, crumbed or grilled with a scoop of chips or potato scallops on the side and head a couple of blocks away to The Strand to enjoy at a beachfront picnic spot in the balmy tropical evening.
The TapHouse Townsville in City Lane is where to head to sip craft beer in relaxed and friendly industrial-style surrounds. Its 10 taps rotate regularly with different brews from around Australia and have featured over 500 since opening in 2015. Among the many strings to its bow – the bar has won many accolades – the TapHouse is North Queensland’s first self-pour bar, meaning you can pour your own pint using some rather neat technology.
The TapHouse also has a good food menu of tapas and share plates, salads, skewers and burgers.
Don’t miss this funky little spot on Flinders Street for a nightcap or two. With bucketloads of atmosphere and vintage posters on the exposed-brick walls, Hooch & Fellow offers informal table service with friendly bartenders happy to share their passion for all things spirits.
It cocktail list rotates twice weekly and features both classics and concoctions with a creative twist and is complemented by a carefully chosen beer and wine selection.
To soak up those expansive ocean views that Townsville delivers in spades, head to the Watermark Beach Bar on The Strand. With its laid-back al fresco atmosphere and Magnetic Island firmly in its sightlines, it’s a bit of an icon in these parts.
From its central island bar it serves beer and cider on tap, signature cocktails plus a bar menu that includes pizzas and fresh prawn buckets.