Luxury Escapes

Luxury Escapes Gourmet Guide to Queensland

Sea, sunshine and a superior restaurant scene – three secret weapons in Queensland’s mission to become the nation’s culinary capital.

If you’ve ever unwrapped the perfect banana, savoured the sweetness of an Imperial mandarin or feasted on a plate of juicy, ripe mango, you’ve tasted Queensland’s sunshine.

With a wealth of exquisite local produce, countless award-winning cheesemakers, two dazzling wine regions and a thunderous love of food, Australia's paradise state is a revelation – from countryside to coast.

Here, world-class seafood reigns supreme. Whether it’s scrumptious Moreton Bay bugs, a brimming bucket of king prawns or a ravishing plate of barramundi, you won’t find anything fresher or tastier than Queensland’s flawless catches.

And then there’s the restaurants. Brisbane’s brilliance is electric, agile and contagious, a mélange of trendy eat-streets and fine dining, highlighting local and seasonal ingredients. But the city’s heart belongs to its buzzing brunch scene, with cafés serving the extraordinary around every corner.

It’s not just Queensland’s vibrant capital. Whether it’s sashimi to rival Tsukiji on the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast’s famous Noosa Eat & Drink Festival, you’d be remiss not to visit each region’s crazy good restaurants. If you’re after bush tucker, Tropical North Queensland has you covered, with establishments in Port Douglas and Cairns committed to preserving and celebrating an Indigenous Australian culinary tradition that spans millennia.

Read on to discover your ultimate gourmet guide to Queensland.

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Featured escapes

Tropical North Queensland

Tropical North Queensland Map

Prawn Star, Cairns

Prawn Star is the definition of tropical dining: a fishing trawler that’s evolved into a seafood restaurant, anchored along Cairns’ waterfront. Offering a taste of the freshest seafood available, all served on the deck of an actual fishing boat, this is one of the city’s favourite spots. Order fresh prawns, mud crabs, oysters and any other tempting catch of the day, pick up an ice-cold beer or some local wine, and indulge in delicious fare as the sun sets on the waters of the Coral Sea.

Ochre Restaurant, Cairns

Ochre is the crowning jewel of Cairns’ food scene, an award-winning institution recognised as one of the most innovative restaurants in the country. Every dish on the menu pays homage to the diversity of Australia, and the menu is crafted using more than 30 native ingredients and only the best local and seasonal produce. If you’re keen to taste wattle seed, lemon myrtle sauces and riberry mayo as well as emu, kangaroo, and wallaby, you’re in the right place. Expect traditional delicacies with a twist, including wallaby fillet with three-tomato and olive confit, black mussels with lemon myrtle sauce and even a wattle-seed pavlova.

Dundee’s, Cairns Aquarium

Ever wanted to enjoy dinner under the sea, with manta rays and sharks swimming next to you? Dundee’s at Cairns Aquarium is just about as close as you can get. The restaurant features a stunning 70,000-litre saltwater aquarium brimming with colourful marine life. Executive Chef James Wort brings modern Australian fare to the table alongside some of TNQ’s finest seafood, all complemented by a vibrant drinks menu. Maybe the octopus salad with kalamata olives will tickle your fancy, or the softshell crab with papaya salad? If you can’t decide, we recommend the Dundee’s Tasting Plate, where the crocodile spring rolls are the star of the show.

Salt House, Cairns

Boasting unparalleled sea views and a prime location on Cairns Marlin Marina, Salt House is the perfect place to soak up the beauty of TNQ with a drink in your hand. Glamorous and cool, this bar, restaurant and pizzeria has everything you need for a good night out. Start by sipping cocktails on the deck’s daybeds before heading inside for a decadent dinner prepared on a custom-built, Argentinian woodfired grill. Seafood lovers can’t go past the wild caught barramundi with eggplant hummus, chickpea tabbouleh, harissa yoghurt, lemon and dukkah, while meat-eaters will be drawn to the lamb shoulder tagine with Moroccan spices, butternut pumpkin, couscous and spiced yoghurt.

Treehouse Restaurant, Mossman

The richness and diversity of Tropical North Queensland produce is saluted at Treehouse Restaurant. Tucked within Silky Oaks Lodge, less than a 30-minute drive from Port Douglas, the restaurant’s chefs use local seafood, nuts, chocolate, and equatorial fruits and vegetables to create contemporary Australian fine dining that refreshes and dazzles. You’ll be seated in an elegant, open-air environment, overlooking the Mossman River and surrounded by magnificent rainforest. Treehouse Restaurant also prides itself on its wide range of local craft, small-batch spirits and beers – perfect for those thirsty nights in the great wilderness beyond.

Nu Nu Restaurant, Palm Cove

Beachfront, barefoot, serving bodacious modern Australian cuisine – Palm Cove’s Nu Nu Restaurant is a sensation that’s both picture and palate-perfect. Framed by swaying palms and overlooking the striking Coral Sea, the menu is seasonal, sophisticated and laidback without sacrificing excellence. Nu Nu strives to excite every sense and is a must-visit for curious epicureans. The restaurant’s humble approach is best displayed in dishes such as “the best fruit we can possibly source,” a cheeky reminder of the region’s incredible produce, and favourites such as the wok-fried north Queensland mudcrab with chilli jam “and all the trimmings” should not be missed. Paradise never tasted so good.

Nautilus Restaurant, Port Douglas

If you want to push the boat out, so to speak, head to maritime-inspired Nautilus. A hidden pathway just off Macrossan Street leads the way to a grand open-air restaurant, set in an oasis of palm trees and tropical vegetation. There are two degustation menus at Nautilus, with both the five and seven-plate options serving up modern Australian brilliance. Sansho-peppered duck breast, crab and prawn brioche, roasted pork belly with Hokkaido scallops, and yellowfin tuna are just some of the delights on the menu. The restaurant, which is now over 60 years old, has served its fair share of big names, including the Clintons, David Bowie and Gough Whitlam.

Osprey’s Restaurant, Port Douglas

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a meal at Osprey’s Restaurant is worth a thousand bites. Elegant, innovative modern Australian dining meets unforgettable rainforest views as you dine high in the treetops, taking in the spectacular panoramic views of the shimmering Coral Sea and the magnificent surroundings of Thala Beach Nature Reserve. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Hervey Bay scallops, served tartare with native finger lime and crispy guanciale, or the spicy nduja gnocchi with cloudy bay clams. Please note that bookings at Osprey’s Restaurant are essential – this is a dining experience that shouldn’t be missed!

Rocco, Cairns

Perched high on the rooftop of Cairns’ iconic Crystalbook Riley hotel, Rocco isn’t just Instagram-worthy – it’s Instagram-necessary. The city’s highest restaurant offers an unforgettable view of the surrounding urban landscape and the shimmering Coral Sea, and boasts contemporary Mediterranean fare with an Aussie twist. Start with a mezze of sumac-cured salmon with harissa yoghurt and Moroccan chicken koftas, and move where your heart takes you. The bar’s empyreal cocktail selection is another draw, serving drinks that beg to be sipped and snapped. The high-flying atmosphere and expansive champagne menu make Rocco the perfect location to celebrate, well, anything.

The Little Larder

Serving modern Australian brunch fare and all the old breakfast favourites, this Port Douglas darling is an absolute delight. Try the pulled pork breakfast tacos, with scrambled egg, shaved Manchego cheese and lime, or let yourself be whisked away by the buttermilk churros waffles, perfectly crispy on the outside and slathered with chocolate ganache. When it comes to coffee, The Little Larder has you covered with a solemn promise that “whatever you love, we’ll make it happen”. This sentiment brilliantly encapsulates what makes this eatery so special – it’s the personal touch that sets The Little Larder apart.

Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast

Spirit House, Yandina

At Thai darling Spirit House, the destination is the journey. Step through thick jungle gardens, past a serene lagoon and into another world entirely, where the crimson walls of Spirit House strike the soul like lightning. Tucked away in rural Yandina, this old-school, fixed-menu eatery serves powerful plates begging to be shared among friends and family. Be delighted and surprised with dishes such as coconut soup of smoked salmon, served with a healthy dash of chilli oil, or the Malibu-infused strawberry parfait. Spirit House also offers Thai cooking classes, for those courageous enough to wrestle mortar and pestle.

The Tamarind, Maleny

Tucked within the luxurious Spicers Tamarind Retreat and surrounded by serene rainforest, The Tamarind offers haute Asian cuisine backed by brilliant Thai soul. Winning two coveted hats in the Australian Good Food Guide 2022, the menu blends the traditional and new to serve careful, profound plates that dance sensationally on the tongue. Though The Tamarind’s three-course à la carte is a treat, the tasting menu shouldn’t be missed – with dishes such as duck breast on pumpkin yuzu puree and grilled local Mooloolaba prawns complemented effortlessly by a brilliant selection of Australian and international wines. You’re guaranteed to remember every bite.

Bistro C, Noosa Heads

Serving modern Australian fare overlooking the glorious sands of Laguna Bay, Noosa Heads, Bistro C is an easy beachside favourite. Fresh, local seafood is presented with casual, confident care – pacific oysters naturelle, melt-in-your-mouth calamari and Coral Cove barramundi with black hummus are just some of the highlights. Diners craving breakfast and brunch will be ecstatic with Bistro C’s commitment to the morning meal – we recommend the corn and chive waffles with smashed avocado, and the gloriously decadent eggs benedict. Though the view of the coast is always spectacular, on cloudy days the restaurant has an ace in the hole – the house chilli coconut margaritas are sunshine in a glass.

Rice Boi, Mooloolaba

If you're craving authentic Asian street food with modern flair, Rice Boi’s got you covered. With extensive gluten-free and vegan options, this casual Mooloolaba eatery proudly describes its food as “dope.” It’s impossible to disagree – dishes are innovative, versatile, locally sourced and unbeatably fresh. There’s something delicious here for everyone – Fijian king prawn curry stands tall beside fried chicken sumo bao, kingfish sashimi, ramen and katsu curry fries. Rice Boi’s cocktail game is no slouch either, with yuzu, lychee and other underrated Asian ingredients rightfully taking centre stage with each sip.

Fish on Parkyn, Mooloolaba

There’s locally sourced, and then there’s Fish on Parkyn. Sitting opposite Mooloolaba Beach, the seafood restaurant runs a ‘dock-to-table’ model, sourcing its fresh ingredients from the ocean directly across the road. The menu is built around what’s come into the docks and complements the offering with locally sourced meats and vegetables for a true tribute to regional Queensland flavours. Enjoy the ocean-fresh catch of the day or go all out with the local seafood platter, complete with oysters, Moreton Bay bugs, Mooloolaba king prawns and Hervey Bay scallops.

Sails Restaurant, Noosa

Understated elegance and unwavering excellence in modern Australian dining make this upmarket restaurant a foodie haven – but it’s the unrestricted view of golden Noosa Beach that marks Sails out as unmissable. Over almost three decades of careful stewardship, Head Chef Paul Leete has constantly refined and reinvented, focusing on organic and sustainable produce, and forging a menu that is refreshingly uncomplicated. Take the opportunity to try the Moreton Bay bug, lightly poached and served with shellfish butter and a house-made Caesar salad.

Sum Yung Guys, Sunshine Beach

You’ll want to bring a posse to sample Sum Yung Guys – the mouth-wateringly delicious, Asian-inspired menu, makes it tempting to order just about everything! Masterchef runner-up Matt Sinclair has partnered with three mates to bring their love of Asia to Sunshine Beach, delivering a tasting menu that packs a punch. Dishes change based on ingredient availability, but can include Hiramasa kingfish, king prawn toast, shiso-pickled cabbage and southern Thai yellow curry. Cocktails are suitably curated to match the fiery flavours, with names like Pineapple Express, Yun & Yan and Kung Fu Eddy.



sAme sAme, Fortitude Valley

Situated in Ada Lane, next to newcomer The Calile Hotel, sAme sAme is Brisbane’s sizzling take on street-inspired Thai food. Spread across two levels, this artfully designed dining destination is striking and precise – blending a sense of effortless grandeur and intimacy throughout. Although the location is stunning, sAme sAme delivers on more than just aesthetics, with engaging service and an unrivalled dedication to Southeast Asian cuisine and contemporary Australian flair. Our picks include the soft-shell crab bao, twice-cooked lamb shank massaman curry and half-shell Hervey Bay scallops with chilli, garlic and black vinegar.

Greca, Howard Smith Wharves

If you dream of the Mediterranean and your favourite booze-oh is ouzo, Greca will feel like home. Overlooking Brisbane River in the city’s heritage-listed Howard Smith Wharves district, this casual taverna offers authentic, hearty Greek fare with an eye toward excellence and two arms open wide in hospitality. If you return the embrace, you’ll be rewarded with countless standouts, but the oven-baked lamb shoulder (served with Greek yoghurt) and divine house-made taramasalata can’t be missed. If you’re feeling adventurous, the bar offers Greek spins on cocktail classics, including a mastiha negroni!

Gerard's Bistro, Fortitude Valley

When other restaurants zig, Middle Eastern powerhouse Gerard’s Bistro cheerfully zags. Drawing deep from Lebanese, Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions, this Fortitude Valley restaurant’s fearless pursuit of flavour is as sharp and multifaceted as a diamond. Prices are modest and the menu is seasonal and designed to be shared, with a wide range of traditional and modern culinary techniques on display. Savour fermentation, flavour and smoke, and eat cliché-free – we especially recommend the Westholme wagyu, served with a pepita tapenade.

Montrachet, Bowen Hills

As one of Brisbane’s most acclaimed restaurants, Montrachet has held a special place in the hearts of Queensland Francophiles for more than a decade. An exercise in lovingly crafted Gallic gastronomy and seductive self-assuredness, this popular restaurant displays an unrivalled brasserie atmosphere and elegance that ensures diners have never felt closer to France. Delectable dishes include Black Angus filet de bœuf Iserved with frites & salade), double-baked soufflé with crab meat and Gruyère and apple cider-cured and cold-smoked Goulburn River trout, with accompanying fermented young vegetables.

Industry Beans

Open the menu at Industry Beans and you’ll find the pages are as bright, sleek and crisp as the roastery-café’s warehouse interior. The coffee comes first: flavour and origin breakdowns of signature espresso blends, followed by an all-day brunch menu of delights such as beetroot-dusted avo smash and pandan bubble waffles topped with banana coconut foam and blueberry sorbet. You’d be remiss not to try caffeinated jewels like the Taiwanese-style bubble coffee or Fitzroy iced, cold-brewed and infused with wattle seed and organic panela. Life-changing brews served quickly and confidently – now that’s what it’s all about!

Essa Restaurant, Fortitude Valley

Essa is a culinary Houdini, and each plate is an act of gastronomical magic. Mysterious, laser-focused on local produce and always exceptional, this James Street house of high dining opened to instant acclaim in 2021 and has been wowing diners with its always-changing, seasonal menu, intimate industrial space and technically remarkable cocktails ever since. Raw, woodfired, fermented, smoked and pickled flavours run wildly through the menu, and Head Chef Phil Marchant strives tirelessly to showcase the incredible versatility of the farmers, providores and hunters he works with daily. We recommend trying absolutely everything you can.

Gold Coast

Gold Coast

Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads

Balanced above the prime southern Gold Coast seashore, Rick Shores is a hotspot for laidback celebratory cuisine made with pace and precision. With a carefully curated Asian-fusion menu of contemporary flavours, this Burleigh Heads restaurant not only offers epic views of rolling surf just beyond the open windows, but some of the best Pan-Asian cuisine on the coast. You won’t leave wanting for more after the likes of fall-apart Madras-spiced lamb with curry butter and a nutty black rice dressing, and Rick's famous bug rolls – crisp-battered Moreton Bay bug served with bug-and-sriracha mayo in a squishy bun.

The Tropic, Burleigh Heads

Sunshine, surf, sensational seafood — three reasons why relaxed, produce-driven The Tropic is Burleigh Heads’ culinary shining star. Modern Australian cuisine blends effortlessly with Mediterranean style to create a menu that is fresh and fantastic, served overlooking the sparkling bay. The Tropic’s small, dedicated menu guarantees every dish is a certified banger, with luxurious Oscietra caviar rubbing shoulders with king prawn mafaldine pasta, and Goldband snapper cooked with fresh herbs, lemon and olive oil — every mouthful is simply divine.

Paddock Bakery, Burleigh Heads

Decadent baked treats, lovingly crafted by hand and forged in a traditional, red-brick woodfire oven — that’s what sets Paddock Bakery apart. In Burleigh Heads’ crowded world of brunch royalty, this bakery-café stands out with a heritage barnyard style and an old-school approach to getting things done. Bagels served with cultured butter, locally roasted artisanal coffee and crème fraiche scrambled eggs on the best sourdough toast you’ll ever taste are just some of the highlights. If you’re after something sweet, Paddock Bakery’s milk bar serves excellent milkshakes and smoothies — check out the frozen hot chocolate, made with five types of chocolate and topped with Paddock’s scrumptious brownie pieces.

Bam Bam Bakehouse, Mermaid Beach

If you've got a proclivity towards patisserie, Bam Bam Bakery’s modern twists on sweet French classics have you covered. While the croissants and cruffins shouldn’t be missed, the Mermaid Beach’s bakery also boasts a vibrant brunch menu that’s unafraid to draw on powerful Asian flavours to round out a diverse, tasty cast of classics. Try the Bam Bam Shrooms, four different varieties of stewed mushrooms topped with goat curd and served on a hearty slice of sourdough, or if you’re feeling naughty the bakery serves a mean mimosa. Make sure you don’t leave empty-handed — salted caramel eclairs and tiramisu tarts beg to be taken home and ruthlessly devoured.

Frida Sol, Palm Beach

Say ‘hola’ to Frida Sol, a boutique modern Mexican Taqueria & Tequila Bar, found in Palm Beach. Looking as though it belongs on a balmy Mexican beach, Frida Sol is littered with giant succulents and cactuses, bright artworks and copper adornments, while its polished wood floors are offset by industrial-chic concrete high tables and incredibly textured walls. Stacked full of Mexican classics with a modern twist, the menu has everything from traditional favourites such as grilled corn and beef cheek empanadas to market fish ceviche and sangria… lots of sangria.

Balter Brewing, Currumbin

What do you get when you bring together local pro surfers Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Bede Durbidge and Josh Kerr, and multi-award-winning Australian brewer Scott Hargrave? One of the country’s most popular boutique beer brands — Balter. Without question one of the coolest additions to the Gold Coast, Balter’s spacious Currumbin-based cellar door is open from Friday through Sunday. And for those who wish to bid farewell to the weekend in style, the renowned Sunday Sessions feature food trucks, exclusive beer samples, big tunes and great energy.

Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club, Coolangatta

Where locals and holidaymakers rub shoulders, Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club is the most southern club on Queensland’s coastline and perfectly positioned on one of the Gold Coast's only north-facing beaches. Once inside, you’ll find cold beers flowing and be tempted by the smell of sumptuous food wafting out of its dynamic kitchen. The menu is heavily focused on hearty pub classics and has something to suit the whole family, with everything from chicken parma to steak, burgers and pizza. The perfect location for that long lunch or cheeky Sunday session, Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club is the ideal spot to people-watch as you breathe in the fresh ocean air.