Hungry? You’ve come to the right city. Newcastle is home to some of the North Coast’s most exciting (and tasty) restaurants and bars. Expect cool cafes, innovative breweries and distilleries, and dining rooms serving standout local produce.
From Chinese to Italian, fine dining to casual, you can eat your way around the globe in Newcastle. Flotilla remains one of the city’s hottest restaurants, showcasing an artistic and thoughtful menu that brings out the best in Australian fresh produce. The menu changes with the seasons, and you can watch chefs prepare dishes in the open kitchen. Subo also gets rave reviews for its small (but well-curated) menu, which changes twice a season and might feature steamed snapper with black and white fungus, or duck confit with rhubarb.
Try Bocados for Spanish tapas and pintxos in a space that is as fun as the food; and pop in to Antojitos for a raucous Californian-style Mexican-style – burritos, tacks, quesadillas, nachos – in a massive industrial warehouse. For a bold taste of Southeast Asia, you can’t go past Ginger Meg's – on Sundays, yum cha is available at lunch.
You’re beside the ocean, so it makes sense to indulge in a meal that heroes seafood. Scottie’s is a Newcastle institution that champions sustainable seafood, sourced locally where possible. Indulge in everything from mud-crab dumplings to sea urchin carbonara, as well as takeaway staples like classic fish burgers, king dory fish and chips, and salt and vinegar battered mussels.
You’ll find an eclectic mix of more than 25 eateries in trendy inner-city Darby Street, and you can wander from here to the inner-city suburb Cooks Hill . The leafy, bohemian quarter is full of quirky boutiques, galleries and funky cafes and eateries. Among them is Beach Burrito Co with its kickback courtyard and flavour-filled tacos and Mexican-inspired salads.
The Honeysuckle harbourside precinct is also home to an assortment of relaxed cafés, restaurants, pubs and bars offering stunning views over the Hunter River. Try Nagisa for top Japanese teppanyaki, Casa Nova for drool-worthy Italian, and Kingfish for seafood platters piled high with local produce.
To the west, spend some time roaming Hamilton’s lively pub and cafe scene, centred around the bustling Beaumont Street. Pull up a chair at Naka Noodle for dumplings and soup noodles, and Eight Buns for handmade dumplings and dim sum.
The Junction, near Dixon Park Beach and Bar Beach, is another popular area for dining and drinking. Just south of The Junction is the Merewether Surfhouse’s terrace bar and restaurant with its sweeping views of Merewether’s surfing beach.
Or you can just soak up the rustic surf-styled atmosphere from the cafes on the beach promenade. The views over Newcastle Beach are just as impressive from Rustica, where the Mediterranean cuisine comes with a seafood twist.
You can stroll between cafes in the Cooks Hill neighbourhood, including The Autumn Rooms, where there’s a rotating specialty coffee menu featuring beans sourced from around the world – the brunch menu changes with the seasons.
Good Brothers Espresso Shop takes caffeine culture seriously, and delivers excellent brews paired with interesting breakfast and brunch offerings. Xtraction Espresso also has a loyal following for its locally roasted coffee paired with bulging breakfast bagels. And Praise Joe serves Pablo & Rusty coffee as well as a great range of baked treats. Speaking of baked goods… follow your nose to Cake Boi in Hamilton for unbelievably good cakes.
Breweries & distilleries
Newcastle buzzes with small bars and craft breweries. Visit Earp Distilling Co. for a tour of the distillery followed by a gin tasting or cocktail in the bar – you can also become a distiller for the day at the on-site Spirit School. Everything you drink here is made using organic ingredients.
Just outside of town, Newy Distillery makes multi-award winning gins plus more than 50 flavoured, fruit infused and coloured vodkas. There are free tastings, or you can enjoy them in cocktails at the distillery’s pop-up bar at Westfield Shopping Centre in Kotara.
The Grain Store is a specialised restaurant that is focused on showcasing the best independent beer Australia has to offer on 21 taps. The food menu, meanwhile, has taken inspiration from the classic American diner with a own quirky twist.
You can take a tour of FogHorn Brewery before you choose one of the 16 beers on tap to sip. You can also get a taste for craft beer at Modus Mereweather, an eco-friendly brewery where 36 taps offer a rotation of the Modus core beers, including their non-alcoholic NORT range and limited-edition sour, lager and dark beers. And if you just can’t get enough, mark your calendar for the annual Newcastle Beer Fest every March.
Bars & cocktails
For cocktails, try the dark and moody Koutetsu, which also offers cocktail classes should you feel inspired by the oh-so-cool bartenders. Coal & Cedar is an award-winning speakeasy with a huge selection of whiskies on offer – you need a code to enter the underground space. And then there’s the sophisticated Market St Basement, which specialises in delish Italian food complemented by a carefully curated selection of cocktails, local and international wines as well as craft beers.
For a lofty perspective, head to the Rooftop at QT Newcastle, where you can sip gin and Japanese whisky while enjoying stellar views over the city – the hotel also has an excellent dining room, Jana Restaurant & Bar.
Step back in time at Uptowns, which celebrates everything ’90s and ’00s – but don’t expect any Pearl Jam tributes or Y2K throwbacks, this bar is about the NBA, sneaker culture, retro video gaming and hip hop. Head into the neon-lit bar for a round of Nintendo 64, themed cocktails, a plate of cheese smothered tater tots and a good vibe.
Food & wine tours
There’s a lot to choose from – why not let a local expert point you in the right direction Newcastle Afoot Walking Tours and offer small-group tours that take in the city’s most happening restaurants, bars and cafes. The former company offers an experience that not only sees you eat and drink your way around town, but also take a deep dive into regional history; if you’re a gin fanatic, you can also join a distillery masterclass.
For wine lovers, Newcastle is a gateway to Australia’s oldest wine region: the Hunter Valley. You can join a day tour, departing from Newcastle with Tex Tours and . You can also taste locally-made drops at , a cellar door and winery close to the harbour.
Fresh food markets
The Newcastle region grows exceptionally fresh produce and artisan makers create a huge range of gourmet delights. Meet the farmers and pick up some tasty fruit and vegetables at theeach Sunday – you can also pick up baked goods, local wines, cheeses and fresh seafood. For organic produce, head to the every Friday and Saturday.
If you’re in town on the first Saturday of the month, stop past the epic Olive Tree Market. This is not your usual community gathering of stalls – you won’t find any lavender pouches or white-bread sausage-sizzles here. Everything has been carefully curated to highlight the city’s (and country’s) standout makers, whether emerging and established artists, designers, ceramicists or artisan producers.