Where to eat & drink in the Hilltops

The rich soils, hot summers and cool winters of the Hilltops region make for spectacular produce, from cool climate wine grapes to lush red cherries. Here’s our guide to the most delicious ways to discover this region.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

May 2024 -
min read

Start the day at delicious cafes & bakeries  

Hussy Specialty Coffee & Kitchen in Young is a local favourite, thanks in part to the excellent coffee from Art of Espresso out the back. Tasty menu options include a mushroom and haloumi stack, slow-roasted pumpkin and feta on sourdough, or an indulgent croissant French toast. Don’t miss the cakes and sweet treats at the counter.  

S&AJ is another great option for breakfast and lunch with a huge menu and a kids' play area. The cosy Wilkies Cafe highlights international flavours, with dishes like huevos rancheros, Indian fish curry and a katsu chicken sushi bowl. For something quick and tasty, Wilders Bakery has been serving up fresh bread, pies and cakes since 1950. During cherry season, make sure you grab one of their award-winning cherry pies. 

In BoorowaThe Marsden General Store is from the same team behind the much-loved (and now closed) Pantry on Pudman. Set inside one of the main street’s charming heritage buildings, its overstuffed toasties are perfect for breakfast or lunch.

The Long Track Pantry put the tiny village of Jugiong on the map when it opened in 2006. Today, it has expanded from a small cafe to include a jam factory and tasting room, gelato bar and store selling all of its housemade goodies. If you’re driving to the Hilltops region from Sydney or Canberra, make sure to stop in at Clementine Bakery in Yass for a croissant or pastry with a coffee for the road. 

Relaxed meals at charming restaurants & pubs 

The Sir George in Jugiong is the quintessential country pub. Dating back to 1852, it has been exquisitely restored and is surrounded by sprawling gardens, perfect for a long lunch in the sun. Share the whole trout or 12-hour lamb shoulder, paired with butternut pumpkin, cauliflower or peppers cooked over coals. The wine list focuses on Hilltops vineyards and you can finish with a gin flight or something from the Whisky Lounge.  

Friends enjoying lunch outdoors at The Sir George, Harden

The Sir George, Jugiong - Credit: The Sir George

 If you’re driving home, Lickety Splits Gelato Bar is just next door for an on-the-go ice-cream. If you’d prefer to stay the night, the pub has beautiful accommodation in the heritage stables or the chic modern Black Barns. 

On a Friday or Saturday night in Young, The Cranfield is the place for dinner. This stylish restaurant and wine bar is inside the historic 1888 Masonic Hall and named after George Cranfield, a prominent local citizen and mayor of the town in the late 19th century. Serving a set four-course dinner menu that changes weekly, you can expect dishes like fresh pistachio risotto, Persian lamb shanks and salted caramel crème brulee. 

The Cranfield - Credit: Hilltops Council

The Cranfield - Credit: Hilltops Council

Taste local produce at orchards, markets & foodie festivals 

Mark your calendar for the first weekend of December to celebrate the National Cherry Festival in Young. There are endless opportunities to sample the town’s signature fruit, from fresh to pies, jams and liqueurs. Enjoy live entertainment, enter the cherry pip spitting competition and applaud as the Cherry King and Queen are crowned. 

The Young and Region Farmers Markets are held on the first and third Saturdays of the month and are always bursting with seasonal fruit and vegetables. You’ll also find honey, jams, pickles, baked goods and more. When in Booroowa, don’t miss the monthly local Rotary Community Market at the Old Court House grounds. Grab a sausage sandwich and browse the stalls for hyper-local food products.   

If you prefer to be more hands-on when selecting your produce, visit one of the many family-run orchards around Young to pick it straight from the tree. The cherry season runs from November to January each year and you can pick your own at Ballinaclash Wine and FruitAllambie Orchard and Cafe and Hill-Lock Orchard, among many others. Ballinaclash also has apricots in December and Hill-Lock has fruit like strawberries, figs and persimmons throughout the year. 

Explore cellar doors & breweries 

Grapes have been grown in the Hilltops since the 1860s, but the area has only recently been recognised as one of the state’s top wine regions. Around 20 vineyards dot the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, with high altitude, cold winters and hot summers producing excellent cool climate wines. The Hilltops Region Wine Centre, part of the Young Visitor Information Centre, is a good place to start with 10 local vineyards available for tasting.

For a little slice of Italy in the Hilltops, visit Freeman Vineyards. This small family winery has Australia’s only plantings of Rondinella and Corvina, northern Italian grapes that produce their award-winning Freeman Secco. If French wines are more your thing, winemaker Celine Rousseau at Chalkers Crossing has trained and worked in France’s most famous wine regions. 

Vine covered verandah overlooking vineyard at Freeman Vineyards, Kingsvale

Freeman Vineyards, Kingsvale - Credit: Freeman Vineyards

From the cellar door at Grove Estate Wines you’ll have stunning views over the rolling vineyards. Relax in the fresh country air as you work your way through a tasting of their finest varietals, including the award-winning shiraz. Pair it with a grazing board for a lazy lunch. Trandari Wines specialises in nebbiolo and shiraz, handcrafting premium wines using organic viticultural methods. Taste them at the Taubman and Webb Trading Post in Murringo. 

Around 25 minutes north of Young, Bulla Creek Brewing Co is set on a fifth-generation family farm. There are up to 10 beers on tap, a rotating selection of food trucks on the weekend and often live music. 

Pick up takeaway treats for home 

You won’t want to leave the Hilltops empty handed, so be sure to stock up on local goodies before you set off. Visit the Hilltops Region Wine Cellar and Jugiong Wine Cellar for local wines (if you haven’t already bought a case or two direct from the vineyard). Harden’s House of Honey has a huge range of the sweet stuff as well as honeycomb, beeswax candles, handmade soap and more. 

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