Everyone has their favourite café. Some of them are places only locals know about; tucked away places they share with friends. You know you’ve found one when people greet each other by name and you, the newcomer, score a subtle surreptitious glance.
They’re not necessarily the latest trendy spot, in fact they may be well established ‘under the radar’ performers. They’re gems with established menus, efficient service and a stream of coffees pouring out the door. You wish they were just around the corner from you…
Here are some of our favourite ‘secret’ cafes you may have overlooked:
Coffee Sisters 110 Monaco Street, Broadbeach Waters, Ph: 07 5538 5655
Our local, Coffee Sisters is a great place to enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat off the beaten track. Diners mostly sit outdoors under a vergola roof or umbrellas. There’s plenty of parking nearby, a play area for the kids, bike racks and dog tie up area to encourage a range of patrons.
One of Coffee Sisters’ main drawcards is the coffee, their own award-winning blend called “Sorella” which translates as ‘sister’ in Italian, roasted by Di Bella Coffee.
The food falls neatly into the ‘healthy eating’ category.
Meals are nutritious and inventive, paleo and gluten-free friendly and generous in size using free-range eggs and organic sourdough. The café draws both locals and a fitness-oriented clientele including cyclists. You may even glimpse a TV or sports star dining in a quiet corner!
Counter Eatery Cnr Gooding Drive & Ghilgai Rd., Merrimac Ph: 07 5525 3340
Counter Eatery adds to the Gold Coast’s long tradition of French restaurants hidden in unlikely places. With Chef David Humbert as co-owner, food in this Merrimac restaurant is a treat. Pastries, baguettes and brioche as well as the cakes are all made in house. Several are gluten-free.
“We wanted to do something different without being too extravagant,” David tells us. “We use old school techniques, and do everything by hand with a knife. The apple in our bircher muesli is julienned, not grated, so it keeps its texture. There’s no bacon, but our pork belly soaked in brine contains no nitrate. And there are no hash browns.” (To us, the potato and rosemary rosti, served with poached egg, confit salmon, poached egg and bell pepper hollandaise, blows hash browns out of the water.)
Double Barrel Kitchen Waterways Village Shopping Centre, Shop 4/64 Karbunya Street, Mermaid Waters Ph: 07 5526 0774
Double Barrel makes us feel immediately comfortable and embraced. The venue exudes warmth – the welcoming glow of wood offset by plants, as well the friendly greeting of the upbeat staff.
The Double Barrel moniker reflects the owners’ penchant for great coffee, a single origin or Supreme Roasters ‘DBK Blend’, brewed as a full bodied (read double-barrelled) brew, available daily from 6am.
The menu treads a middle line down the healthy eating pathway, balanced between protein and carbs, raw and cooked, hearty burgers and healthy salads, driven by local produce with an inventive twist. There are also raw and baked goodies in a cabinet to take and go, and kids even have their own menu.
Double Barrel Kitchen ticks all the boxes. It’s the café we’d love to welcome into our ‘hood.
The Good Wolf 110 Mountainview Ave., Miami Ph: 07 5607 0775
If there’s one café which encapsulates the way Gold Coast diners approach food, it’s The Good Wolf.
Based on their personal preference for different foods, husband and wife owner chefs Craig and Helen Pope have split their café’s menu into two: The GOOD Wolf menu (full of healthy dishes with vegan, vegetarian and raw options) and the BAD Wolf menu (overflowing with sweet treats, delicious snacks, mouth-watering burgers and more). The drinks menu follows suit, spanning from raw green smoothies to loaded thickshakes.
With epic burgers that win annual awards, the café draws patrons from all over the coast. This is a real ‘bang for your buck’ café, giving diners what they want: great food and value for money in a fully licensed venue open from brunch to early dinner.
Hidden Perk 15 Ikkina Rd., Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5520 6859
Hidden Perk is the ultimate hidden gem. Adored by locals, it’s a ‘destination’ café tucked away at the bottom of Koala Park. On a typical Saturday morning there’s a constant flow of locals arriving, catching up with friends or reading daily papers as they wait for their food or Di Bella coffee.
The café is long and narrow with most seating squeezed out onto the front pavement or onto the pleasant deck out back. With the kitchen under the pump, staff still smile and work, greeting customers by name, taking time for a quick chat.
Our meals were generous and tasty, priced to attract the locals, most meals being under $14. The coast’s most popular dish, Smashed Avo on toast pulls up at $10! There’s no better value than that on the coast.
Hot Shott 3/17 Tedder Avenue, Main Beach Ph: 07 5532 3275
Alice in Wonderland-like, animals peer down at our food from their place on the walls of Hot Shott, a key to chef and co-owner Kellie Rolfe’s food philosophy.
“I want to be playful and see what I can do with food,” she says. “When you play with all the senses you create a different experience…”
Sporting an all-day breakfast and lunch menu, Hot Shott’s dishes cross the boundaries of tradition and whimsy. There’s excitement as the theatre of food is played out, smoked trout emerging smoking hot from under a cloche (or avocado if you want a vegetarian version)!
“It doesn’t cost any extra to create a ‘Wow!’ factor,” Kellie tells us. What it does cost is imagination and a stepping up to the challenge of being different. No problem there. It’s great to see the injection of fresh life into Tedder Avenue!
Lakeview Espresso 100 Burleigh Street, Burleigh Waters, Ph: 07 5535 9082
Dylan and Kira Rackley took over the Lakeview General Store just over four years ago, transforming it into a chic espresso bar and café. With all food made in house, the menu changes regularly to use fresh, local and seasonal ingredients.
With both Dylan and Kira valuing healthy food, food preferences and intolerances are catered for without an issue. “Healthy indulgence’ is the café’s motto, we notice as we gaze over the raw and baked cakes, slices and muffins lining the counter and glass-faced cabinets; house made, just like the granola.
What they sell most of is coffee, organic and ethically sourced, roasted by Double or Nothing at Tyalgum, Dylan says as he pours me a milk-free latte, its froth rising slowly just like a Guinness. I’ve never seen anything like it!
Mudjira Village Eatery 3 Swan Lane, Mudgeeraba Ph: 07 5530 7660
Never underestimate the village. It may be on the ‘wrong’ side of the highway for some but there’s some real talent lurking below the hills if you seek it out.
Meaning ‘place of many stories’ Mudjira bears witness to Mudgeeraba’s spirit, the real sense of community left over from timber cutters and farmers of bygone days.
The café spans from the outside to the inside of Mudgeeraba Plaza, opening onto a charming garden-filled plaza strewn with tables, brightened by orchids, other flowering plants and greenery.
Mudjira’s menu offers lots of healthy choices, such as a Buddha bowl, Vege stack, and raw cakes to enjoy with a coffee. It’s a place you’d want to sit and relax; a place to meet friends and take your time.
Rockleigh 112 Griffith Street, Coolangatta Ph: 07 5599 1745
A street away from gleaming white sand you’ll come across the equally white-washed wooden shopfront of the café – fresh and bright yet earthy, reminiscent of the farmhouse where its owner Ben Moffitt grew up.
While Rockleigh’s all-day menu isn’t home-grown, everything is bought from farmers on the Tweed Coast, organic grass-fed meat from a local butcher, with jam, chutneys, sauces and peanut butter, preserved lemons, fermented and pickled vegetables all made in house.
The café’s signature dish is House-made crumpets with honeycomb, burnt pear, mascarpone, shaved hazelnuts and saffron honey. Though it’s a time-consuming three-hour process to activate the dry yeast and prove the dough, there’d be hell to pay if it was not available. Crumpets with butter and honey were never served like this on the farm, but the origins are there – homemade, grounded, real.
Stones Throw 1823 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads Ph: 07 5576 2504
Stones Throw’s ‘across the highway’ location means it’s sometimes overlooked. Yet it boasts great culinary talent in brother and sister duo Cameron Chartres (chef) and Melanie Windsor.
Fresh and healthy, this is a café with interesting twists in almost every dish, with the entire menu available as takeaway to the beach. Some of the standout dishes inthe seasonally changing menu include Coconut sugar-cured omelette with chilli sambal, green chilli and spring onion; Ricotta and raspberry baked pancakes with crème fraiche; Star anise braised short rib baguette, and Softshell crab brioche, with weekly specials keeping up local interest.
The brekkie bar is a neat touch, allowing patrons to build their own breakfast from chia pudding, muesli and granola, yoghurt and fruit to eat in or to go with a Fonzie Abbott coffee.
… So tell us…Where’s your hidden gem? Part 2 of Secret Cafes is on its way!