RESTAURANTS IN BYRON BAY
They say that the way to a person's heart is through their stomach, which is probably the case-and-point of why we have all fallen so head-over-love-struck-heels for Byron. My personal consensus (I’ve put a bit of thought into this) is that Byron is a foodie paradise, mainly due to the local fresh produce and also the calibre of chefs and restaurants in the area. With around 30,000 residents populating the shire and over 2 million tourists it has a small town mentality of ‘if you don’t produce quality everybody knows about it’ combined with the huge amount of tourist resourcing to justify investing in beautiful fit outs, top notch chefs and industry professionals who are willing to push the limits of cuisine (and just about everything else). Every time I have visited there has been somewhere new to try, so after a glorious day in paradise, what better way to farewell the sun with a great dining experience, from the multifaceted options at your fingertips.
Raes on Wategos
For something a little more on the fancy side of things, Rae’s is a little slice of Mediterranean heaven overlooking Wategos Beach. Rich with a colourful past, the history of Rae’s is just as much a draw card as its current standing. Built by and once the home of Byron eccentric Ruth Harris, rumours whirl that once upon a time Salvador Dali helped design elements of the house and renowned performer Liberence once played the piano there. In ‘94 high profile restaurateur Vincent Rae purchased the property and turned it into a guesthouse, entertaining the likes of Hollywood's elite (think Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow & co). Back to the present day and its had a coastal refresh and is now owned by Anthony Catalano and managed by his son. Sydney based interior designer Tasmin Johnson was tasked with the refurb and has done a beautiful job bringing light and air back into the space. It’s a beach house with an easy glamour to it. Luxurious yet contemporary, and this can be experienced from the hotel rooms through to the restaurant. With this new team heading up the restaurant and hotel, the food has definitely hit a happy peak. We were lucky enough to celebrate our Valentines Day with a dinner date here this year, and will always keep this special spot up our sleeves for those occasions (or anytime we can come up with a good enough excuse of why we need to treat ourselves). Kudos to head chef Jason Saxby, our taste buds thoroughly enjoy the experience. Don’t miss the Oysters, the Fraser Island Crab Spaghetti or the Lamb Shoulder.
Find it here: 6/8 Marine Parade, Byron Bay NSW 2481
New kid on the block Bang Bang opened in November 2018 and has burst onto the scene with all the hype and foodie cred a regular restaurant could only dream of. Walking past here night-in-night-out the oversized dining area was always full to the brim, which is my favourite indicator of a winner. When I had decided the popularity was sufficiently undeniable I then came across the good news/bad news of making a booking. Good news first, their online booking systems let you select which section of the restaurant you want to be seated at (how is this not a thing everywhere!) so I opted for a window bar seat - tres chic. The bad news, oh so much popularity means getting a table on on exact night, last minute is relatively impossible unless you want to eat at 5pm. Luckily time was on our side so I could hold off and opt for a quiet Sunday dinner (which was still actually super full by the time it came around). The cocktail list would have to be my favourite in Byron, purely for the vast variety and many limey-fruity concoctions which are my favourite flavours in a drink. The food, well the food can’t be beat if you love southeast Asian cuisine. To me, it was a Byron spin on Melbourne's Chin Chin.
Find it here: 4/1 Byron St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
The Mez Club
Ah The Mez, my old faithful. Always reliable for giving off those ‘could be in Europe, by the Med, on the coast, without the 22 hour flight or jet lag’ vibe. White textured walls with straw woven detailing and bohemian beachy Moroccan decor (I may have just made that aesthetic up), this restaurant is just as much about good food and drinks as it is home interior inspiration. This is the perfect spot for afternoon drinks (hello happy hour menu) and many nibbles, which sometimes in sheer quantity just turn into dinner. Imagine crispy halloumi drizzled in honey, pitta bread w/ hummus or tzatziki pairings, lamb kofte balls, slow cooked morocoan beef - the list and the ‘small plates’ keep on coming. I give The Mez my gold star for top notch cocktails too.
Find it here: 4/85-87 Jonson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481
Spanish for ‘neighbourhood’, Barrio is another new kid in the neighbourhood, more specifically the Habitat Precinct neighbourhood (how many times can I use the word neighbourhood in one sentence...? Four apparently). Just down the road from the heart of town the Habitat Precinct is a great new industrial area full of boutique favourites, with Barrio right in the centre of it all. Dishing up the best of Argentinian cuisine, don’t miss the empanadas (we had both flavours) to start or the charcoal piri piri chicken for a main, everything else in the middle or on the side is over to you. Add a great cocktail, hello ‘Smoked Pineapple Pina Colada’ and you’ll have a relaxed, yet lively Argentinian party on your hands.
Find it here: Industrial Estate, 1 Porter Street, Byron Bay NSW 2481
Another newbie smack bang in the middle of town, The Loft has taken residence in the old Hog’s Breath Cafe (I’m sure Byron’s backpackers will be missing this). Nowadays this hotspot is a fresh and fun cocktail bar, all in keeping with the Byron coastal vibe with whitewashed walls, tonal soft furnishings and rattan lights. Find a seat on the terrace which overlooks Jonson Street, order a drink and watch the mix of colourful characters passing by on the street below as the sun goes down.
Find it here: 4 Jonson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481