The Australian Good Food Guide asked me to write a piece about the regional food and flavours of Byron Bay in the lead up to the inaugural Byron Bay Fine Food and Beverage Festival. I decided to narrow it down to just 10 Things to Eat in Byron Bay Right Now – which was a tough task. This place we call home really does have it all when it comes to food. Byron Bay and the surrounding hinterland has some of the best food growers, producers and chefs you will find. It’s a foodie cornucopia! The Farmers’ Markets stock local gourmet and organic staples like cheese, coffee, fruit and vegetables and pasture raised meats. The dining scene includes a neat list of outstanding cafés, bars and restaurants where the chefs are friends with their growers and their customers. Then there are the pop ups, roaming restaurants and the calendar of endless food lovers’ events that would keep any legitimate foodie sated – almost. To give you a taste of the region, I have done the hard yards for you and put together my personal – and evolving – list of 10 Things to Eat in Byron Bay Right Now. Bon Appètit!
1. Congee – 100 Mile Table
You can keep your acai bowls, this simple, soothing bowl is my favourite breakfast in Byron Bay. On the menu at 100 Mile Table, tucked away in the Byron Bay Industrial Estate, should ‘The Congee’ ever slip off the menu there would be a commotion. It’s a ginger and chicken version topped with a fried egg if you are in the mood. You must enjoy it with the house made chilli sauce which packs some heat so add with caution.
2. Southern Fried Chicken – The Stockpot Kitchen
The Stockpot Kitchen is a family friendly bistro at the Bangalow Bowlo – a quick drive up the hill from Byron Bay. The bistro is famous for its Traditional Smokehouse BBQ and legendary Hamburgers but it’s the Southern Fried Chicken Night every Thursday that is a perpetual sell out. This golden and crunchy chicken has earned a reputation among locals as ‘crack chicken’ for its alleged addictive powers. The chicken is served with your choice of two sides. I can recommend the Crinkle Chips and Aioli with Kale and Apple Slaw combo or the Tater Tots and Aioli with Chow Chow.
3. Sourdough – The Bread Social
Traditional or Spelt and Walnut are my go to sourdough selections here, but all the artisan delights from The Bread Social bakery are ‘off the Richter Scale’ good. The bakery is out at The Farm in Ewingsdale where the bread and baked treats are sold on site in the Three Blue Ducks Produce Store. If you feel like something sweeter – try an oversized Portuguese Tart. They are bigger than your regular version – think the size of a pie tin. The blistered custard filling is unctuous and laden with vanilla while the pastry is buttery and golden. You’ll thank me later for this recommendation.
4. The Schnitty Sanga – Fleet
This is a sandwich like no other from one of the best dining establishments in the region: Fleet in Brunswick Heads. Josh prepares and crumbs veal sweetbread which is golden fried and served between rounds of soft, fluffy white bread with a lashing of anchovy mayonnaise. Enjoy it for a late lunch or snack with one of Astrid’s handpicked wines from the restaurant’s exceptional and fluid wine list or with a classic cocktail mixed at the bar by Rob.
5. Kombucha – Bucha of Byron
There’s Kombuchas and then there’s Kombuchas, if you get my drift. Some taste like dirty dishwater others taste like funky cold tea. Then there is the Bucha of Byron Kombucha – a light, sparkling version that’s refreshing and good for you as well! It reminds me a bit of a light ginger beer but it tastes even better. It’s available in bottles and on tap in many local cafés and restaurants and across the border as well.
6. Local Cheese – Nimbin Valley Dairy or Cheeses Loves You
Both of these local cheese businesses have weekly stalls at the Byron Bay and Mullumbimby Famers Markets. Soft goat cheeses are a speciality from Nimbin Valley Dairy and they also sell goat milk. But make sure you try their Blue Cow cheese – it’s my hands down favourite. Cheeses Loves You has a changing array of jersey cheeses, butters and milks. I love the dainty little creamy Brie cheeses wrapped in greaseproof paper or the Haloumi in brine, but if there is a hard cheese like the Tilsit, take a slice of that too.
7. Popeye Om Woodfired Omelette – Luscious Foods
Luscious Foods is one of the best kept secrets in Byron Bay. The Middle Eastern style café is in the Arts and Industrial Estate. The wood fired oven is the star and it’s hard to go past the Popeye Om Woodfired Omelette for breakfast featuring two eggs, homemade pesto, spinach, black olives, feta and caramelised onion served with tabouli, rocket, hummus and organic sourdough bread. For lunch try the Sabieek pocket- a wood fired pita bread filled with mango pickle, hummus, tahini, eggplant, free-range hard-boiled egg and tabouli.
8. Salumi – Salumi Australia
My favourite fermented food! From spreadable salamis like Nduja to sausage shaped Salame and whole muscle cuts like Pancetta, Salumi Australia’s award winning range is a locals’ favourite. My choices are the Salame Finocchiona – a garlic and fennel infused salami and the delicate Lonza – a Peppercorn and Juniper Berry cured and aged pork loin.
9. Roaming Restaurant – Francisco’s Table
Franciso’s Table is a popular roaming restaurant hosting pop up lunches and dinners in country halls and settings throughout the Byron Shire. Argentinian Chef Francisco Smoje and his partner Emma Byrne host the events. The dining style is shared tables and the menus always have an element of surprise. One thing you can be guaranteed of is an abundant experience based on local ingredients. For Francisco and Emma, Francisco’s Table is about sharing their passion for presenting local food and relaxed hospitality with their guests.
10. Pork Taco – Chihuahua Taqueria
Served from a little hole in the wall in Feros Arcade in downtown Byron Bay, these are some of the tastiest tacos you will find. The organic blue corn and white corn tortillas are from local business Doña Cholita. Chihuahua Taqueria also uses local, free range, antibiotic and hormone free meats while the fish is fresh daily and caught locally. The Cerdo or Pork Taco is my hands down favourite. It is abundant with rich pulled pork meat, balanced by a pineapple and roast pepper salsa and chipotle aioli. Plus, there is the bonus of some crunchy crackling for garnish. What’s not to love?