March 09, 2023
8 mins Read
Host to more than 200 wineries, and responsible for more than 25 per cent of Australia’s premium wine, it’s fair to say that the Margaret River is something of a wine world wunderkind. But this young wine region has plenty more to offer beyond fine cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay: over the last two decades a number of overachieving restaurants have sprung up, the laidback local lifestyle and progressive restaurant scene drawing in a swathe of talented chefs from both Australia and abroad.
Paddock-to-plate dining is a local philosophy to live by, rather than a tokenistic nod here, and the menus take their cues from the seasons, the burgeoning local art scene and, of course, the house pours. Whether you’re after a memorable degustation dinner with a seamless estate wine pairing, modern Japanese food in a no-frills setting, uninterrupted beach views with your seafood supper, or a casual pub lunch in a sprawling local brewery, these Margaret River restaurants deliver.
There’s no shortage of fine dining restaurants to try in this little corner of WA, most serving Mod Oz food, and many housed within Margaret River’s winery estates.
Best for: fine dining, Modern Australian
On a balmy summer’s afternoon there are few better places to while away a few hours than Vasse Felix’s vine-covered sun-dappled balcony. The founding winery of the region, this local institution offers not just exceptional wine (might we suggest a glass of the blanc de blanc to start off proceedings) but also sensational Modern Australian dishes that resemble artworks on the plate, earning it a place among the best restaurants in the Margaret River.
Address: 4357 Caves Rd, Wilyabrup
Best for: water views, seafood
Bound by the ocean on not one, but three sides, the Margaret River is as well-known for its dramatic, high-contrast beaches and surfing as it is for its food and wine scene. With that in mind, a trip to Bunkers Beach House encapsulates both of the region’s major drawcards.
Devour uninterrupted views of the white sand and marbled waters from the restaurant’s deck, tucked away in the dunes, on the cusp of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. And, befitting its waterfront location, there’s a seafood leaning menu that’s earning a number of plaudits. Come weekends this Margaret River restaurant offers a breakfast menu too.
Address: Farm Break Lane, Naturaliste
Best for: fine dining, Modern Australian food
Dunsborough is lucky to call this restaurant one of its own. Beyond the impeccably styled interiors, which showcase a riot of natural local materials such as Yarri wood, limestone, worn leather, copper and terracotta, this Margaret River restaurant is a tour de force of Modern Australian food.
Established by chef-patron Aaron Carr – a man who spent more than two decades behind the burners at Vasse Felix – and the co-founders of award-winning winery Snake + Herring, Yarri, it seems, was always destined for success.
Address: 6/16 Cyrillean Way, Dunsborough
Best for: fine dining, sustainability
This boutique winery restaurant in the Margaret River has quickly risen up through the ranks thanks to the work of head chef Evan Hayter. In tandem with the estate’s owner, Ann Spencer, Hayter has transformed Arimia into one of the region’s most self-sufficient winery restaurants: the estate now proudly produces its own pork, trout, eggs, olives, olive oil, grapes, honey, marron, fruit and vegetables. And what isn’t grown or bred onsite is sourced exclusively from ethical and sustainable suppliers.
Address: 242 Quininup Road, Wilyabrup
Gone are the days that the Margaret River was ruled over by fancy restaurants: the region is now home to a far more diverse spread of eateries that won’t break the bank.
Best for: Japanese, seafood
Locally sourced seafood reigns supreme at this compact Japanese-inspired restaurant, hidden away in a shopping arcade. Don’t let the unassuming location and no-frills interiors fool you – there’s nothing low-key about the food served at Miki’s Open Kitchen.
Go all in with the ‘Miki’s Complete’ degustation menu, which spans eight courses and 24 different elements for a very reasonable $95 a head. The myriad morsels of food are best matched with the house sake.
Address: 131 Bussell Highway, Margaret River
Best for: share plates
Bringing a breath of fresh air to the Margaret River’s restaurant scene, this smart-casual Chinese-Malay eatery is a great way to punctuate a trip laden with Mod Oz cuisine and more rigidly designed degustation dinners.
Even the space itself is refreshing, all clean lines and white walls, imbuing a sense of Scandinavian minimalism. Part of the House of Cards winery in Yallingup, Chow’s Table offers a sharing plate menu, with dishes such as duck-fat-fried rice winning a legion of loyal diners.
Address: 5 Quininup Road, Yallingup
There’s a glut of great cafes and bakeries to choose from in the Margaret River these days. Here’s our pick of the region’s best.
Best for: breakfast, service
A rustic spot offering hearty home-cooked food, Yardbyrd is a frontrunner for brekkie, brunch or lunch. Swing by for something small (hello white choc and raspberry muffins) or linger for longer in the leafy courtyard with a breakfast burrito.
The consistently good coffee and super friendly staff supercharge this Margaret River cafe, ensuring that punters keep coming back for more.
Address: 10413 Bussell Hwy, Witchcliffe
Best for: coffee, breakfast
Few places can profess to making their own nut milks, but such is the commitment to great coffee (and chai, and tea) that Drift Cafe counts among them.
There’s nothing flashy about this tried and true Margaret River town cafe, and that’s part of the charm. Expect hearty servings of all your favourite breakfast staples, plus plenty of options for coeliacs, vegans, veggies and those following a dairy-free diet too.
Address: Shop 1/ 72 Willmott Ave, Margaret River
Best for: fresh produce, coffee
Go straight to the source at this award-winning farmers’ market, held weekly at the Margaret River Education Campus. Established in 2002, the Margaret River Farmers’ Market promises the finest seasonal produce, purveyed directly by local farmers.
Think fresh line-caught fish, plant-based cheeses, premium olive oil, grass-fed goat meat and a plethora of berries and brassicas. You’ll also find coffee and ready-to-go food in its midst.
Address: Margaret River Education Campus, Lot 272 Bussell Highway, Margaret River
Best for: baked goods
A local favourite, Yallingup Woodfired Bakery easily numbers among the region’s best. Owned and run by a German family that also operates two other regional bakeries, one of which specialises in gugelhupf, the Yallingup outlet sells croissants, scrolls, cakes, sandwiches, and sourdough, all made daily from scratch using stone-ground locally grown biodynamic grain, and baked in a wood-fired volcanic stone oven.
Address: 14 Balmoral Drive, Quindalup
In town for a good time, not a long time? Try out these bars and breweries for size.
Best for: cocktails, atmosphere
Heavy on atmosphere and mixing a mean cocktail, this American-inspired dive bar features many a nod to the 70s, loud music and a delightful mishmash of furnishings that make it feel like a local outlier.
With room for 50 pax, this intimate Margaret River bar is the cosiest spot to put away a drink or two: when in doubt order the cherry bomb, which has become something of a house signature.
Address: Lot 4/124 Bussell Highway, Margaret River
Best for: pub food, families
The Margaret River may be renowned for its sophisticated winery restaurant scene, but that’s not to say the region is one-dimensional. Perennially popular brewery Eagle Bay is a casual and convivial spot to go for warm hospitality as well as panoramic paddock views and classic pub food – think fresh and filling salads, woodfired pizzas and beer-battered fish and chips.
It’s the perfect spot for an easygoing long lunch with family. Or bring a few friends and sink a tasting paddle of Kolsch, IPA and experimental stouts while lapping up the sunshine at one of the outdoor picnic tables.
Address: 252 Eagle Bay Road, Eagle Bay
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