The Nobby Beach precinct has become a fertile breeding ground for restaurateurs. Avoiding the rent of more populous suburbs in the middle of the coast, prospective owners have headed south. Coffee shops and eateries now dot the Gold Coast Highway, accumulating in a worthy lump of eateries along the 400-metre-long Nobby Beach strip.
Nobby Beach may not have a pub, yet the suburb has a really diverse choice of dining in to some smart bars and eateries. Venture out to ‘Nobby’s’ (as this area of Mermaid Beach is affectionately known to locals) and you’re sure to find a dining venue or watering hole to your liking. With the area a favourite dining haunt for 18 to 35 year olds, you’ll need to dine early to get a park, book a table, or just take your chances. Walk back through the streets towards the beach, and you’ll find a couple of other venues. Here are some places to dine at for dinner at Nobby’s:
Shop 5, 28 Chairlift Ave., Nobby Beach. Ph: 07 5572 5572
Barchino is a local hangout which can be all things to all people: an early breakfast and coffee on the way up from the beach; a delicious lunch with friends, tapas with a drink, or romantic dinner at night, its mood changing according to the time of day. Barchino is known as a casual dining venue where simple food is done well, some dishes being surprisingly innovative.
The breakfast service begins early, with lots of options, ranging from tropical fruit salad, homemade bircher yoghurt muesli, avocado topped rosti stack with poached eggs and hollandaise, and generous fluffy omelettes, through to the all-day big brekkie.
Barchino is a popular spot for ladies who lunch, with great salads, light meals, vegetarian and gluten-free options available, wine by the glass (or BYO wine) as well as daily coffee and cake specials. But there are sturdier menu items as well, such as burgers and protein-based meals.
Dinner’s a seasonal menu featuring the signature tapas platter of hot and cold seafood, eye fillet steak in winter, duck, or a generous serve of twice-cooked pork belly.
Watch out also for deals at Barchino – dine on a Tuesday to Thursday nights when main meals are priced in the low $20 bracket, or between 5pm – 7pm on weekend nights for a 20% discount. (Check with the restaurant when booking for availability of these deals.)
1-2/28 Chairlift Avenue, Nobby Beach. Ph: 07 5527 7412
Bine is an upmarket venue for the ‘Over 25s’, a trendy but understated place that’s as relaxed and cool as the owner himself. Scott Imlach is well known on the Gold Coast restaurant and bar scene, having opened four venues on the Nobby Beach strip to suit every occasion – a Nobby hangout (Three Beans), a quiet dinner out (Barchino), drinks and bar food with friends – (Nobby’s Arc), or his present venue, Bine, a smart place to gather with friends to try something new.
Namely beer! Hence the name ‘Bine’, the climbing plant stem on which hops grow. With different brews doing a weekly rotation from the eight tapheads, and over 80 bottled beers in stock, the focus is squarely on showcasing Australian boutique beer; so many to choose from it’s enough to leave us ‘beery-eyed’. (Sorry!)
Beer like this can be a meal in itself, but it’s worth dipping into the menu of casual gastropub food, fresh and well-priced in generous sizes, much of it available to share. Order from the tapas menu to share (or not) by ordering a board of skewers, softshell crab or pork belly, or go the main event with a huge half back of chipotle BBQ ribs served with beer batter fries and salad, a bucket of prawns, or the mammoth pork knuckle. You’ll never go hungry again! As with Barchino, check Bine’s social media pages for specials and events.
4/2237 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach. Ph: 07 5575 3420
Inspired by the history of the Cambus Wallace, a ship that foundered off the Gold Coast in 1894, this classy nautically-themed bar is decked out in timeless wood, replete with nets, boating paraphernalia and even Long John Silver’s parrot. Along one wall Dylan Quirk’s moody mural of a frigate at war with a stormy sea reminds us that the sea is a cruel mistress indeed.
It may have been whiskey spilled on South Stradbroke Island’s rocks, but tribute is also paid to rum – the fuel of the Rum Rebellion. Less than a century later, explosives from the wrecked Cambus Wallace were piled together and detonated, nature compounded the damage, eroding the remaining narrow spit of land. By 1896 the tides had divided Stradbroke Island in two, changing the Gold Coast’s topography forever.
Food on offer at the Cambus Wallace is mainly generous share plates, charcuterie cheeseboards and sides. Share The Captain’s Table platter as you start your rum journey around some of the world’s best rum, (almost fifty in total), as well as single malt whiskies (hats off to the Cambus Wallace). In the moody half-light I stare into my Pussers British Navy rum, served in a cute tin cup and read the inscription:
“The wind that blows the ship that goes, And the loss that loved a sailor!”
It’s not hard to get into the mood of this place, dark and dusky as it is, to imagine the stormy seas not far from here which took the lives of five sailors on the Cambus Wallace.
2247 Gold Coast Highway, Mermaid Beach Ph: 07 5575 1418
Nobby’s ‘Little Twin’, is a more relaxed and intimate venue than its older more worldly-wise Broadbeach sibling. Feeling fashionably well-established, the venue yawns back lazily from the street, a deep narrow space which stretches in past the bar and high-seat dining to more comfortable tables towards the back.
As tribute to its heritage, all eyes are drawn to the kitchen rather than the bar, the huge pizza oven vying for focal point with an overhead charcuterie cabinet holding legs of prosciutto that hang languidly from its roof.
In a carefully age-adjusted venue, a modern take on the established Italian eateries of capital cities, the illuminated still life of hanging smallgoods is a stroke of brilliance. It’s a visual reminder that food is the priority here, accompanied by wine (rather than the other way around).
Divided into Antipasti, Pizze, Pasta and Dulce, the one-page menu carries no grand surprises. Then again, it doesn’t set out to do that. It’s essentially a pizzeria, pimped up with the Italian regional favourites we’ve come to love, cooked from the brothers’ nonna’s recipes. Here we see the place heritage holds in their heart: arrosticini from Abruzzo, polenta topped with 8-hour-cooked beef cheek ragu; magnificent arancini filled with asparagus, pea and reggiano, not to mention the fabulous pizza, pasta and bomboloni. As the aromas of Italy float out of the kitchen to bind our conversations together, somehow the world seems a whole lot more grounded and wholesome.
Eating is a very personal, intimate experience, especially shared with the one we love. Gemmellini captures that spirit beautifully with its lowered black ceilings, dimmed lights, sexy leather apron clad waiters. We’re whisked away to times past when extended families enjoyed this food around communal tables as we are enjoying it now. Our appetites and senses appeased, life is as it should be. How could we not fall in love with Gemellini!
2249 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach. Ph: 07 5572 6251
Following seven years in Palm Beach, Nam Sukhyum opened a second Hachi in Nobby Beach, adding variety to the already popular highway front strip.
It’s an ambient space with its two-piece floating ceiling and smart bar, the open kitchen showing off the chefs hard at work. Effective use of stone and wood together with a variety of seating options adds interest to the long narrow venue.
There are lots of izakaya (tapas) dishes to share, great value salads and stir-fried vegetables with meat and rice, or order one of the main courses such as the Bella Donna, which combines steak with tempura vegetables served over soba or udon noodles. Meals are reasonably priced generous serves, arriving promptly after the order.
Feeling hungry? Then why not splurge on a Hachi Gozen a feast of eight dishes (Tempura, Salmon sashimi, Karaage, Gyoza, Salad, Rice, Miso soup and a choice of teriyaki chicken, beef or pork), or a Hachi Hotpot feast for two.
Overlooked by an inscrutable samurai, the wait staff bring us obliging and cheerful service of the most genteel kind, our used chopsticks and plates whisked away unobtrusively as the wait staff glide past.
As expected, this licensed bar specialises in Japanese beverages: sake, shochu and umeshu (plum wine), whisky and beer, with Sapporo on tap. Hachi also allows BYO wine, giving us the best of both worlds.
Hachi is casual, comfortable and stylish; a very pleasant place to meet up with friends or to enjoy a good value dinner for two.
2235 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach. Ph: 07 5572 8009
One of our most highly awarded restaurants, Hellenika, takes pride of place in the middle of the Nobby Beach strip.
The word that best describes Hellenika at Nobby Beach is ‘smart’: smart top quality food, an interestingly eclectic international wine list, informed and efficient service, chic rustic surroundings, even smartly understated marketing. It’s classy in a solid, ‘know what they’re doing’ sort of way, filled nightly with people who know that at Hellenika they’re eating some of the best Greek cuisine in Australia.
Hellenika’s owner, Simon Gloftis, told us about his inspiration for opening the restaurant: “My godfather owned Vasili’s & Yanni’s in Kew. I always loved it as a kid – hanging around the restaurant, but I especially loved sitting in the kitchen itself as the food was being prepared. It all started from there and later on I kept travelling and growing in my love and knowledge of food, but I always wanted to own a Greek restaurant that felt warm and homely; one which felt inviting to be in, yet a place that was not a stereotypical Greek restaurant.”
Sourcing the highest quality ingredients means fresh and local wherever possible, otherwise further afield to get the type and quality needed: rigani cheese, olives and olive oil from Greece, and some of the seafood from other areas of Australia.
It’s some of the finest regional Greek food in Australia; dishes which will become your personal favourites: Slow cooked shoulder of Junee lamb, Char-grilled octopus, Dolmades, and Cypriot meatballs. Many dishes are cooked on the grill, dressed simply with the highest quality extra-virgin olive oil to allow the food to shine. Exceptional!
Level 1, 2223 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach. Ph: 07 5572 0588
Good street food is also good drinking food, at least it seems that way at MexiCali! Perched above a loudly displayed sushi joint, the tables and chairs on Mexicali’s verandah stand to attention like twisted hair braids. Ascend the stairway and you’ll find yourself in a funky joint filled with thirsty patrons as dry as cactus.
The gorgeous bar is the centrepiece of the restaurant. Fronted with a handmade mural by Byron bay ceramic artist Jai Visecik, each tile is a work of art in itself. At this beach bar you’re in good company, with the two queens of Mexico, artist Frida Kahlo and the Virgin of Guadeloupe, sitting beside you among the pineapples and banana fronds! The whole place carries an air of freshness and exuberant cheerfulness
There’s plenty to be happy about! Lots of great drink choices as well, including a well-chosen range of Spanish, Mexican and Californian beer, cocktails, and plenty of tequila. Feeling brave?
The menu holds Baja-styled Mexican dishes to suit the Aussie palate: Tacos with slow-cooked meats and fish with fillings of chipotle, red onion, jalapeno, guacamole, cilantro, Pico de Gallo, fresh chutney and lime; Nachos with corn chips smothered in pulled pork, black beans, tomatoes and avocado with a splash of chipotle; battered cheese-stuffed Jalapeno Poppers; Kingfish Ceviche marinated in lime with fennel and mint; Tostadas; and MexiCali quinoa salad. It’s absolutely yummy casual food – light, fresh and tangy – well suited to health-conscious beachgoers who love a good time, plus a real attempt to be true to the flavours and ingredients of this Mexican-Californian fusion cuisine.