Mooloolaba has upped its game in the food (and drink) stakes and we're all winners.
1. Backlane Tapas & Wine Bar
Newcomer to the Mooloolaba dining scene, Backlane Tapas & Wine Bar on First Avenue is already generating a serious buzz from those who know their merlots from their malbecs. The winning wine and cocktail list is paired with an eclectic tapas menu featuring modern Mediterranean delights such as zucchini flowers and spanner crab, cuttlefish with black rice, buttermilk and romesco salsa, or piquillo peppers, smoked local fish with celeriac. The vibe is casual, the service convivial and the interiors are cool and modern. Open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 3 pm "until the lights are switched off" - it's the perfect spot for a late night tipple and nibbles.
2. The Dock
Since launching in 2017, The Dock Restaurant and Bar has become THE place for Friday night drinks, Sunday sessions and catch-ups with friends. The fit out marries heritage features, including vaulted ceilings, exposed beams, and reclaimed bricks and timber, with modern treatments such as the concrete-topped bar and exposed copper pipes. The menu features smoked meats, charcoal grill and fresh seafood - with plenty of options for your vegan and gluten-free buddies. Desserts? We're making a bee line for the peanut butter parfait, with stout, chocolate ice-cream and caramel popcorn. Book your holiday and then count the days 'til you're relaxing on the sprawling deck that overlooks the Mooloolah River.
3. Acai Brothers
If you could put sunshine on a plate, it would probably look like a bowl of superfood wow from the Acai Brothers. From raw treats, delectable smoothies and colourful breakfast bowls, Acai Brothers on River Esplanade is the place for on-the-go healthy eats. Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce ‘acai’ – just point at the menu and pick from a line up featuring ‘Chock treat yo self’ bowl, the ‘tropic thunder’ bowl or a ‘raw notella' bowl - and add three serves of fresh fruit. Totally delish and good for you to boot.
4. Three Little Stones
The eggs are organic, the coffee is cold-dripped and the almonds are activated. Welcome toThree Little Stones, a little restaurant with big reputation on bustling Mooloolaba Esplanade. And what’s not to love? With ocean views and a menu boasting local and seasonal fare - it’s no surprise this eatery is on every foodie’s radar. Grab a seat outside for breakfast and let the barista jump-start your morning with a cup of locally-roasted joe. Adventurous palates will relish breakfast choices including smoked ocean trout with potato quinoa hash, absinthe buttered kale and hollandaise, or, a ham and cheese brioche toasty with truffled béchamel. Lunch and dinner? It’s a tough call between the lipsmacking 16-hour slow-cooked beef brisket, or the tequila and lime-cured snapper – unless of course you’re a vegetarian - and then the big, raw salad is your go-to. Finish your feast with a paleo chocolate brownie and then stroll across the road to Mooloolaba Beach’s white sand and walk it all off.
5. TAPS Mooloolaba
Beer lovers will totally froth on this hip bar just off the main drag in Mooloolaba. Inspired by the European practice of ‘pour-your-own’ beer, purchase a $5 token and then pour as much - or as little – as beer as you like for the same price as a schooner. Sip and sample a range of craft brews including Four Pines Summer Ale, handcrafted Stone & Wood Pacific Ale and Germany’s Newstead Marzen. You’ll want to wash down your beer with more beer, but leave room for some ‘poutine’ (that’s Canadian for chips, cheese and gravy). These guys also bring a serious cocktail game to the bar with an extensive list of blends you can enjoy by the glass or teapot.
6. Spice Bar Mooloolaba
Spice Bar creates delectable Asian fusion cuisine that has been recognised in TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards as a must-do fine dining experience. The bar and dining area have spectacular ocean views that make the perfect backdrop to a session of unforgettable feasting. The delicious and exquisitely presented dishes make this restaurant a true foodie destination – make sure your phone is charged and your Instagram feed (if not your stomach) will soon be bursting with the kitchen’s colourful handiwork. Order share plates from the menu, or let the chef take you on a sensory journey with the celebrated degustation banquet featuring Mooloolaba prawns, Hervey Bay scallops, numbing chicken, and beef tatiki.
7. Augello’s Ristorante & Pizzaria
Augello’s Ristorante & Pizzeria in Mooloolaba has a cruisy vibe and is a great spot for a casual lunch with friends or a family meal. Dine alfresco on the deck and watch the parade of beautiful people on the Esplanade, or mosey upstairs to enjoy breathtaking ocean and beach views from the balcony. The restaurant serves top-notch Italian cuisine and you’ll find just-like-Nonna-used-to-make classic dishes and modern interpretations of traditional favourites on the menu.
TIP: Order the duck a l’orange pizza with fig-infused dough, apricot sauce, confit of duck, feta, pomegranate and candied rind - and you’ll see why Augello’s has taken out the “World’s Best Pizza” award numerous times.
8. The Surf Club Mooloolaba
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, The Boathouse Restaurant in Mooloolaba’s Surf Life Saving Club offers generous serves of hearty fare – all served up with a side of stellar beach views. Enjoy club classics such as chicken schnitty or fish ‘n’ chips - or feast on mod Oz delights such as sand crab and zucchini fritters with house-made relish, or prawn and pork belly salad with nim-jim dressing.
The bar boasts an range of craft, premium and imported beers, an extensive wine list and the friendly mixologists will whip up a cocktail for your Sunday session on the expansive deck.
TIP: 1. Fuel-up for a day of exploring with the all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast on Sundays from 7 am to 10 am. 2. The club’s courtesy bus will pick you up and drop you back to your accommodation.*
9. Coastal Cruises Mooloolaba
Coastal Cruises Mooloolaba deliver a quality seafood and cruising experience – in fact, if the fish was any fresher it would still be swimming! Your Coffin Bay oysters, Hervey Bay scallops, and Mooloolaba prawns are collected en route from the Mooloolaba Seafood Market, and are prepared in the kitchen as you relax and soak up some of the best water views on the Sunshine Coast. There's also an evening cruise that co-incides perfectly with cocktail hour. Seafood, sunsets and cosmopolitans on the deck anyone?
10. Parkyn Parade Seafood Precinct
Mooloolaba is home to the largest fishing fleet on Australia’s eastern seaboard and the Parkyn Parade Seafood Precinct is the place to source fresh seafood for your next seafood BBQ, picnic or Christmas lunch.
This bustling precinct is a working port - so there’s lots to see, do and eat. Stroll the shorefront and take in views of the sparkling waters from the marina, or, watch the fishing trawlers unload shoals of fish, crabs, and Mooloolaba prawns into the waiting kitchens and retail outlets that line the parade. If you don't feel like cooking, position yourself at one of the numerous seafood restaurants along the waterfront and dine on classic fish ‘n’ chips, sushi and sashimi, or a la carte seafood cuisine. It’s all good.
TIP: Wholesaler Rockcliff Seafoods will sell to the public in the lead-up to Christmas day. Avoid queues, order via email and simply pick it up from the warehouse on Christmas eve.