The Maroochydore restaurant and Mooloolaba restaurant scenes have taken off, so be prepared to be surprised by some delightful offerings. You’ll find some interesting Buderim restaurants too. Here are 15 places for you to whet your appetite for fresh Sunshine Coast farmed and fished produce.
Heading further north? Try these Noosa restaurants while you are there.
Photos above See, a must-try Mooloolaba restaurant.
Dining at The Nautical, Maroochydore.
Must-try Maroochydore restaurants
Located in aptly named Ocean Street, The Nautical focuses on locally sourced, sustainable seafood. They aim to source menu elements with a bare minimum distance from farm and fishery to table. I lunched here during The Curated Plate Food Festival to learn about what’s involved in sourcing and serving the freshest oyster and was delighted by the fresh seafood, local provenance and attention to detail. You’ll find Mooloolaba king prawns, Hervey Bay scallops, Morton Bay Bug and Kilcoy Black Angus. Yes, it’s not all seafood. The atmosphere is casual, with an open dining area that fronts the street, but there is nothing casual about the food. Only the best here. Tip: Go on Sundays for the $2 freshly shucked oysters.
Also in Ocean Street and inspired by Nonna Liliana, Lilianna’s Trattoria serves up the classic homestyle Italian dishes beloved by generations.
Freshly shucked oysters are a must-try at this Maroochydore restaurant.
Dining at Giddy Geisha. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Well-known chef, Tony Kelly, is one of the prime movers behind this reboot and has several restaurants under his banner, some located in the new Maroochydore City Centre. Giddy Geisha was buzzing when we visited for lunch on a Monday. Giddy Geisha is a particularly apt name as the cuisine bounces and borrows right across a comprehensive list of Asian favourites. The menu is an exciting mix of street food classics and modern Asian twists, and it’s flexible. The staff were happy to accommodate a request for less spice for one diner, and there’s a gluten-free and a vegan menu. The funky urban grunge decor with street art and banners reminds me of dining in an Asian food market with an open kitchen so you can see the chefs in action. The head chef is Alejandro Soto, who is also in charge of Rice Boi in Mooloolaba.
We ate 10-hour braised tender lamb rendang lamb in a creamy spiced young coconut sauce and baked Hervey bay scallops in their shell topped with shiso and doused in umami butter. There were crisp prawns and unctuous pork belly bites with finely shredded papaya and charred pineapple, Coconut beef spring rolls with coconut galangal mayo and soft Szechuan duck buns atop a tangy carrot ginger sauce and xo crumbs. Giddy Geisha is open every day from 11.30 am to 9 pm, which makes for very convenient dining. They also do takeaway.
Dining at Giddy Geisha
Truffled gnocchi was a knock out at Market Bistro
Next door to Giddy Geisha in the new Maroochydore CBD is the upscale Market Bistro. When it comes to Maroochydore restaurants, this one is much loved by locals for its house-made pasta, wide selection of dry-aged meats and export quality local seafood. It is styled as a quintessential European style bistro, and looking around the buzzing space, I’m getting classic New York vibes from the Art Deco curves, white marble and wood detailing.
The restaurant is owned and operated by hospitality veterans Tony Kelly, Luke Stringer and Peter Marchant, and it shows from the moment you step in the door. There’s a good selection of house-made pasta, dry-aged meats and some export-quality local seafood, with Mooloolaba prawns a favourite. Their wood-fired grill imparts a distinct flavour to signature dishes like the char-grilled calamari that oozes lemony flavours. The ravioli is silky smooth with a cheesy sauce that I can’t get enough of because it’s so delicious. I’ve chosen the truffle option, and there is a generous shaving over the top.
Our dessert, a Bread and butter pudding, is a cross between thick, soft white bread and a moist doughnut. Deep fried to give a crisp exterior, it comes with passion fruit curd sauce and cream to drizzle over the top.
Best tip: Grab their lunch special available Monday to Friday with an entree and main and a glass of wine for $45.
Also in Maroochydore’s new CBD, expect amazing Italian dishes, handmade pasta, pizza, line caught fish, and a carefully selected wine menu that includes selections from Italy and other international favourites at Bottarga.
Quail dish at Market Bistro.
Mooloolaba restaurant See’s BBQ Seafood Tasting Plate
It’s as close to the water as you’ll get in Mooloolaba, with an overwater table at See Restaurant at Mooloolaba Wharf. The menu is Modern Australian, with a focus on fresh seafood sourced straight from the trawlers that pull up in this safe harbour. And what a view it is, looking straight out across the water towards the canals of the Mooloola River. I dined on their BBQ Seafood Tasting Plate, which came laden with calamari, corn, king prawns, scallops and salmon, all expertly skewered and cooked over a hot barbecue plate. Delish!
Enjoying dinner at Rice Boi. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland
Home to Rice Boi, The Wharf has gone from a run-down shopping centre to the epicentre of relaxed and innovative dining. The modern Asian street food here is highly rated, and it’s no surprise this is another Tony Kelly Maroochydore restaurant venture. The décor is grungy and innovative with a Japanese Izakaya feel and lush water views. Must-tries include dumplings, bao, epic curries and a cold beer.
The Rooftop Bar
Positioned seven stories above the ground in Maroochydore Road, The Rooftop Bar has a bespoke menu designed to be the perfect accompaniment for cocktails and cool breezes. Filled with coastal delights, it is ideal for sharing or snacking.
Perched at the top of The Kontiki building in the heart of the new Maroochydore CBD, Circa is a relaxed mix of a rooftop bar, lounge and restaurant. Expect fine food, exquisite cocktails, and a champagne menu unmatched on the Sunshine Coast. Inspired by the decadence of the 1920s, the opulent booths offer 180-degree views of the Sunshine Coast Ocean and Hinterland.
Opened by the previous owners of Spice Bar, Mooloolaba, Kiki, which is also in Duporth Avenue, has excellent food and creative cocktails using Australian spirits. The award-winning interior flows seamlessly into a tropical garden with couches to banquette seating, high bar stools or tables in the garden.
Just a short drive south of Maroochydore in Birtinya, NightQuarter is a street food festival line up with fire shows and dodgem cars. You’ll often find concerts here too. It’s open every Friday and Saturday 4 pm to 10 pm.
The Boat Shed, Cotton Tree
There’s nothing new about The Boat Shed at Cotton Tree. It’s been in this enviable position at the mouth of the sparkling Maroochy River for as long as I can remember. This fantastic location on the banks under the shade of a sprawling Cotton Tree matches the contemporary Australian cuisine.
Deck Cafe, Mooloola River Fisheries
When you can see the trawlers sitting outside tied up on the wharf, you know your prawns will be the freshest around. You’ll find that at The Deck, upstairs at the Mooloola River Fisheries. It’s casual dining serving the same fresh, wild-caught seafood you can buy downstairs. The menu includes all your favourites, including fish burgers, salads with local tuna and fish fresh from the filleters downstairs. In a rush? Their take aways are awesome and you can eat them in the park opposite or on the beach with sand between your toes. Make sure you include a potato scallop! TIP: Try to hot and cold seafood tier for a fish out!
Fresh prawns at Deck Cafe, a prime Mooloolaba restaurant for seafood
The Boat Shed restaurant at Cotton Tree. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland.
Mooloolaba restaurants to try
With a long strip of beach to enjoy, it’s easy to have a relaxing holiday at Mooloolaba. What better way to finish a day here than with a delicious meal at a Mooloolaba restaurant?
Prawn Star Mooloolaba
Prawn Star Mooloolabah has opened on The Wharf Mooloolabah on Parkyn Parade with two restored fishing trawlers. The trawlers are open for dining every day from 11 am to 9 pm serving up fresh local seafood. I have dined at Prawn Star in Cairns and I loved their salmon sashimi, prawns and oysters. You can buy their seafood as platters or just cut to the chase with a large serving of your favourite bugs, crayfish, oysters or prawns. It’s a great place for groups of seafood lovers, not so great if you don’t eat seafood as there are no alternatives.
Kenilworth Bakery Mooloolaba
This is not a Mooloolaba restaurant, but you need to know about the Kenilworth Bakery at Mooloolaba. This place has everything from one-kilo doughnuts to artisan pies and dog treats. An offshoot from the famous Kenilworth Country Bakery established in Kennilworth in 1924, and there is a #1KGDONUT CHALLENGE that is so popular you really should order it ahead. Find it at The Wharf, Mooloolaba.
Flo’s Creperie Mooloolaba
Dishing up a little bit of France, family-friendly Flo’s Creperie is new at The Wharf in Mooloolaba. Try the savoury and sweet crepes but don’t miss the cocktail menu which rivals any inner-city bar.
Dining at Honeysuckle, a must-try Buderim Restaurant.
Buderim Restaurants to try
Just up on the hill behind Maroochydore and Mooloolaba, is the quieter centre of Buderim where you will also find some excellent dining.
If you are looking for yum cha, this is the place to go. Qantas Magazine says it’s the best on the Sunshine Coast, and I’m not going to argue with them. The menu marries together Asian flavours and local seasonal produce very well, with a range of classic dishes. You’ll find all your favourites on the many, from Pad Thai and Lamb Katsu to KFC (Korean Fried Chicken). The desserts are not to be missed either. Everything is beautifully presented, enhanced by thoughtful plate ware from local Peri Ceramics. TIP: The $58 Banquet Menu is very good value.
Harry’s on Buderim
Only a 10-minute drive from Maroochydore, Harry’s on Buderim can’t be beaten when you are looking for a great dinner. This iconic restaurant is positioned on the edge of the Buderim Forest Park and enjoys a tropical outlook. The restaurant offers contemporary Australian cuisine in a 141-year-old heritage-style homestead.
Dee Den, Buderim
Fresh aromatic flavours and a playful blend of spices in dishes designed to share is the food you’ll find at Dee Den. Loosely translated in Thai, it means the odd one out, which means the food here will always be a little different and never boring! Dee Den is located in an old Queenslander in Buderim’s main Burnett Street, next to Buderim Tavern. This modern Asian restaurant has a bar and dining inside and on the deck. I particularly like their well-thought-out menu guide, which helps you work out how many dishes you might need with seafood, pescatarian, vegetarian and plant-based options. It also includes date night conversation starters such as “Would you rather the aliens that make first contact be robotic or organic?”.
Hop in your car and head to into the Sunshine Coast Hinterland to dine at Mapleton Pub. It’s a stunning combination of one of the coast’s loved hatted chefs, Cameron Matthews, and produce from The Falls Farm. This food match made in heaven will see you eating at a 133-year-old pub enjoying produce picked fresh from just down the road. Expect pub classics like chicken snitzel, fish of the day and prime ribs along with share plates of wood-roasted octopus and beef tartare. It’s a gastronomic delight in a pub setting.
Great information not only for tourists but the locals too.