March 15, 2023
7 mins Read
The tiny town (pop. 6,413) of Dunsborough has long been a popular summer holiday getaway for Perthlings. Not only is it the northernmost gateway to the Margaret River, but this cruisy coastal destination has a fair few draws of its own…
A vast white-sand beach lapped by the glassy turquoise waters of Geographe Bay. A dramatically beautiful national park on its doorstep. And an increasingly diverse dining scene. From bush cafes to downtown breweries, stylish seafood joints and farmhouse eateries, there’s now a Dunsborough restaurant to suit almost every palate and occasion. Read on for nine of the best.
This laidback Dunsborough brewery is perhaps best-known for its preservative-free craft beers, but there are several more strings to its bow, from highly rated pub grub (pizzas, fish and chips, burgers and crispy squid) to crowd-pleasing classic cocktails, and a roster of weekly specials (the nightly jalapeno popper happy hour, is particularly popular).
Food and drinks aside, it’s the relaxed ambience that keeps people coming back to Occy’s for more: the friendly service, the warm welcome given to families and pups, and the spacious terrace seating under a canopy of string lights, right in the heart of town.
Tucked away in the bush, and less than a 10-minute drive out of Dunsborough, it’s a wildly serene cafe with a beautiful trail right on its doorstep. And thankfully Goanna Bush Cafe’s seasonal breakfast and lunch menu is a strong match for the beautiful setting, showcasing the best local produce that the Margaret River region has to offer.
There’s a smattering of Asian-inspired dishes, such as a char siu pork salad, and a spiced coconut rice with avo and a fried egg, as well more mainstream brunch classics, such as pancake stacks, beef brisket, and eggs on toast.
No list of Dunsborough’s best restaurants would be complete without at least a nod to Yarri. Captained by veteran chef Aaron Carr – the man largely responsible for bringing critical acclaim to the restaurant at Margaret River favourite Vasse Felix – it’s no surprise that this Dunsborough restaurant hits the mark time and time again.
From the ever-changing seasonal menu that marries modern techniques with hyperlocal produce to the super schmick interiors, the impeccably curated wine pairings, and the friendly yet knowledgeable staff that elevate the entire experience. It’s perfect for a special occasion, or just because.
The fast food joint that can do no wrong, Burgertron is ground zero for all your hamburger needs. Serving sizes are generous, the meat (and veggie) burgers are supremely juicy, the service is speedy, the fries are tasty, and the prices are more than reasonable. The beef patties weigh in at a whopping 180 grams a piece, made from local black Angus beef, but the southern fried buttermilk chicken is equally sought-after. The two veggie burgers can also be made vegan and the entire menu can be made gluten-free.
And while there are only two veggie options on the menu (one of which can be made vegan), they’re both heavy hitters. The only downside to this Dunsborough institution is that it’s geared towards takeaway orders, with outdoor undercover seating only.
Being impeccably styled isn’t the only claim to fame at this Dunsborough newcomer, open since early 2021. A deli-cum-bar-cum-bistro, Lady Lola is winning plaudits for its eclectically curated wine list, which traverses Australia as well as France and Italy and features mostly organic/biodynamic vineyards that specialise in small-batch wines.
Food-wise, expect a Continental share plate menu, with aperitivo served between 3pm and 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays (aka free snacks with drinks). Load up on moreish picky bits – cured meats, housemade focaccia, pork and pistachio terrine, local sardines – while dining al fresco in the private, 30-seat courtyard.
Facing off with a Coles car park, this Dunsborough restaurant may not seem all that on first inspection. But Blue Manna is perennially popular for good reason.
Though meat- and veggie-led dishes freckle the menu (hello tempura eggplant with miso mayo, Balinese suckling pork ribs and nasi goreng to name but a few), the real pull here is uber fresh, locally caught seafood, best enjoyed on the bistro’s leafy deck, which sits at its rear. Except for the Ora King salmon, every piece of fish that graces Blue Manna’s plates has been sustainably line-caught in the waters off the WA coast. Expect a menu laced with Asian twists, and a rather inviting cocktail menu to boot.
Peddling ‘classics with adventurous touches’ since late 2021, La Lah has taken over from where busy cafe Mealup left off, promising a trifecta of hearty all-day brunch dishes, strong coffee and friendly staff. The nasi goreng is something of a house speciality, but those who crave something a touch more quotidian in the early hours can savour a plate of eggs benny or an avo smash.
This family-run cafe likes to keep it local, with sourdough supplied by the bakers extraordinaire at Yallingup Woodfired Bread, and the bespoke house ‘Neighbourhood’ blend whipped up by local outfit Margaret River Roasting. Did we mention that this Dunsborough cafe is dog-friendly too? Not only are pooches welcomed here, but with their own dedicated section of the menu (think puppuccinos and ‘roo puffs) they’re basically treated like royalty.
A general store and cafe in one, Merchant & Maker is a bit of a gourmet emporium.
Order an iced latte and freshly baked cinnamon scroll to-go, and enjoy it with your feet in the sand at Dunsborough beach, just a five-minute stroll away. Or devour a Danish-style open rye bread sandwich with salmon rillettes at one of the patio tables under the shade of a parasol before heading inside to peruse the pots, plants and housemade pickles, preserves and pâtés.
There’s also freshly prepared take-home dinners on offer, and a plethora of premium, locally made, grown or harvested products to stock up on here.
Officially speaking this scenic Margaret River restaurant isn’t within the confines of Dunsborough – but it’s well worth the eight-minute drive. Located on a hobby farm, down an unsealed dirt road in Eagle Bay, the decor at Meelup Farmhouse is a masterclass in rustic coastal chic, all whitewashed walls, blonde bentwood chairs, light creeping through the bamboo pergola, and beautiful bush views.
There’s nothing fancy about the food here – no novelty techniques employed, try-hard minimalist platings, or challenging combinations of ingredients. Just satisfying serves of good, honest, wholesome food that’s been locally grown and lovingly prepared: grilled half-shell Shark Bay scallops with a creamy cauliflower puree, housemade sweet potato flatbread served aside a rainbow of veggies, and aged grass-fed beef ribeye crowned with a zingy chimichurri to name but a few. Open for brunch and lunch only, it pays to book in advance to score a seat at this farmhouse restaurant.
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