Whether you're a sun-riser or a star-chaser, Port Macquarie has a wealth of new eateries and foodie experiences for gourmands this Spring. Get your coffee served with salty air, join the locals in a buzzing burger joint and drink negronis after dark in a swanky Italian cocktail bar.
Salty Crew Kiosk has opened with an enviable position right on Town Beach and serves up tasty fare, good tunes and a beach vibe. Perfect for brunch after a surf or the 9km Coastal Walk, there's Clandestino coffee, Acai bowls, delicious salads, Mexican Tacos and raw desserts. The owners Chris and Leasa Harris will also be opening another new restaurant in September called Bill's Fishhouse + Bar. www.saltycrewkiosk.com.au
Cassegrain winery and The Cruise Terminal have collaborated to launch a new tour that visits two of the region's best attractions. The River Cruise and Winery Experience Tour includes a two-hour cruise along the Hastings River with morning tea, a behind-the-scenes guided winery tour and a gourmet lunch Seasons-Café restaurant at Cassegrain. Fridays 8.45am-2.30pm, $99pp. www.cruiseterminal.com.au
In the heart of town Bar Florian is a new retro Italian themed wine bar bringing a touch of European class to Port Macquarie. Owners Gino and Maree celebrate their Italian heritage with the finest cured meats, cheese platters, a variety of fine wines and music. The bar is named after Bar Florian in Venice, one of the oldest cafes in Europe. www.barflorian.com.au
If you want to escape to the hinterland The Byabarra will open on 24 September to bring a new café, bar, bakehouse and B&B to this picturesque village. Unwind on the balcony with stunning valley views, enjoy a long lunch with wine and then walk down to the river. www.thebyabarra.com.au.
Back in town the latest burger craze has hit Port Macquarie with Burger Rebellion. Its buzzy, open plan kitchen, huge selection of chilli sauces along with ice-cream sandwiches, beer, wine, cider and milkshakes are bringing the locals back in herds. www.theburgerrebellion.com.au
For fresh and healthy Japanese, Makimoto combines gourmet food with a fusion of traditional and contemporary design interiors. Enjoy quality sashimi, sushi rolls and udon noodles with your sake, and if you're dining alone there's a sushi bar. www.makimoto.com.au
Other foodie gems
- Free-range ducks at Burkharts Organic Bakery - fresh free-range ducks are now available at this family-run business with Michael Burkhart's daughter raising the ducks locally. Arguably the best bakery in town, renowned for organic bread, vanilla slice and gourmet pies using Scottish Highlanders beef they grow themselves. burkhardtsorganic.com.au
- Paint The Town Port – painting the night away with a cocktail in hand is the latest craze to hit Port Macquarie. The program of events features artists hosting step-by-step painting classes at local restaurants, cafes, bars and breweries. The cost is $35 for the class, canvas and supplies. paintthetownport.com
- The Latin Loafer – a new wine bar overlooking the Hastings River is a blend of Latin American and Spanish food, wine and cocktails. The tapas menu is perfect for sharing with friends as you kick back and enjoy art, live local music and a buzzing atmosphere. latinloafer.com.au
- Drury Lane Eatery – a couple from Sydney have brought their Surry Hills vibe with a coastal twist to this new eatery in the forecourt of the Glasshouse. The wholesome and creative menu features local Near River Produce, Bellingen smokehouse salmon and house-baked bread. There are specials including Chorizo Hot Dogs and Blueberry Cheesecake Macaroons. Open for dinner Friday and Saturday nights.
Port Macquarie has a thriving food, wine and beer industry with over 80 producers, seven wineries, three boutique breweries and award-winning restaurants and cafes. The valleys and mountains are watered by a network of springs, streams and rivers feeding into the mighty Hastings as it flows to meet the sea at Port Macquarie. Family farms produce milk, cheese, potatoes, blueberries, avocados, pork, beef, garlic, macadamias and strawberries.
What's on: From 28-30 October 2016 Tastings on Hastings is the region's premier food festival featuring celebrity chef dinners, cooking demonstrations and a huge outdoor food, wine and art festival. There is also the Wauchope Farmers Markets (fourth Saturday monthly) and Real Food Markets (every Tuesday).
Port Macquarie is a 4-hour drive North of Sydney or a 1-hour flight from Sydney and Brisbane with connections to the rest of Australia. Direct flights from Melbourne commence in November 2016 with JETGO. Call 1300 303 155 or go on-line at www.portmacquarieinfo.com.au.
By Gabrielle Brewer Greater Port Macquarie