Vegan Natural Treats. Byron Bay. Image via Shutterstock

Byron Bay, the home of beaches, tourists, bubbly locals and sensational bites.

But with so many options, and so little time, which should you choose? After a recent stint in the sun-drenched town, we’ve handpicked the top 10 picks for your next vacation. Each filled with personality, fresh produce and friendly staff, you can’t go wrong with these must-dine spots.

Mez Club

You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d jet-setted to a chic club in Santorini. Ivory hand-cut stone walls, raw timber and dashes of brass fill the beautiful restaurant and cocktail bar. A mix of bench seating, rattan and timber elegantly scatter around the restaurant, weaving together to create a sense of intimacy and grandeur at the same time. With sky-high ceilings, a loft, firepit, abundance of lanterns, palms and arches, you will truly be transported to a little slice of Byron Bay’s Mediterranean escape. The menu features a range of Meze from classics like scallops, grilled prawns and sizzling halloumi to market fish and short rib. The absolute stand out, the Giant Crispy Squid ($15). Probably one of the best squid dishes we’ve ever had. But if you struggle to choose (like us) opt for the Chef’s Tasting Menu ($50pp). And if we thought the food was good, the cocktails were great. For something sweet, you can’t go past the Too Easy ($16), made with vodka, vermouth bianco, orange bitters, raspberry, strawberry, lemon. Or if you’re after a little kick, the Pass Paloma ($17) made with tequila, ancho verde, jalapeno, cucumber, grapefruit, agave, lime will do the trick. Be sure to book, this one packs out.


 4/85-87 Jonson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481 | Website


Light Years

We would never have found this little gem. We asked a few locals where the best place for a delicious cocktail and trendy eats would be. They pointed us in the direction of Light Years – a modern take on Vietnamese, with an edgy and eclectic bar with neon lights, Barbie-pink walls, rattan hangings, tin cans and plenty of lush greenery filling the small and quirky space. Better yet, the food, simply put, is sensational. And an evening at Light Years isn’t complete without the Miso Caramel Fried Eggplant ($20) served with coriander, shallots, snake beans and sesame. It’s so good you’re convinced you can forever live without meat and solely on this dish. The Five Spice Roasted Duck Pancakes ($36) are a delight, jam-packed with flavour and the freshest of produce. The cocktails too are delectable.  We enjoyed multiple tippling sessions of the Lychee Rose Martini ($18), a mix of vodka, lychee liqueur, lemon, rose and elderflower for a floral and refreshing drop and The Pass ($18) a concoction of white rum, spiced rum, Licor 43, passionfruit, pineapple and lime. Light Years is a very popular little joint, so be sure to book. If you can’t seem to get a spot, check if you can squeeze in at the bar – it’s a little tight, but 100% worth it.


17 Lawson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481 | Website


Balcony Bar & Co

If you’re after a quintessential Byron vibe, with a dash of New Orleans, then you can’t go past the Balcony Bar & Co. Perched on the corner of Lawson St and Jonson St, in the centre of town, the beautiful wrap around Balcony Bar sits proudly, welcoming tourists and locals alike. Cosy corners, lounges and bright coloured or picture frame clad walls fill the quirking interior, making you feel like you’ve entered a cool summer beach house, meets New Orleans restaurant, with a dash of Nanna collectables. But we’re not just here for the decor, it’s the food & drinks we’re after. And they do both exceptionally well. To start, you can’t go past the Southern Fried Prawn Sliders (3 for $24) filled with spiced prawn, mayo and pickles, wedged between a seriously soft milk bun. The next must-have, the Southern Fried Fish Taco ($8ea). Absolute heaven. And the Salt & Pepper School Prawns ($22) makes for the perfect snack. Again, what’s an open balcony and delicious food good for without a special something in hand? A cocktail of course. The Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri ($18) is the perfect thirst-quencher.


7/3 Lawson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481 | Website


Byron Fresh Cafe

Here’s another you may miss, and definitely shouldn’t. The on-street split level eatery is crowded by typical Bryon favourites like Miss Margarita, The Loft and Beach Hotel. But this little gem packs a punch with sensational wine, creative cocktails, generous servings of moorish food all topped off with live music. Not only can you pop in for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just drinks, but their bakery selection is also filled with flakey golden pastries which are perfect to pick up and devour beachside. Our pick, an early evening, with a pinot in one hand and a fresh and flavoursome Asian inspired bowl in the other. Of course, we also explored the cocktail menu, and if you’re a fan of a bitter and frothy Espresso Martini ($18) have it here.


7 Jonson St, Byron Bay NSW 2481 | Website


Bayleaf

Again, this one was recommended by locals, but it’s clear tourists know about it also. Be prepared to line up. But, it is 100% worth it. Bayleaf is a cosy and creative space filled with a mix of textured tiles, wooden beams, hanging plants and a selection of delicious housemade products and coffee blends. And the breakfast is delectable. We opted for the Breakky Greens ($23) and we were not disappointed. A dressed mix of chopped raw broccoli, shredded kale, avocado, fresh chilli, buckwheat kernels, fresh herbs, toasted nuts, pistachio and seeds. From sweet, to creamy and crunchy the bowl has it all, plus two perfectly cooked poached eggs which ooze creamy yolk. Yum.


2A Marvell St, Byron Bay NSW 2481 | Website


Combi

This quintessential ‘hippie’ inspired, nature-loving and ‘positive vibes only’ cafe is simply a delight. Light-filled with hanging plants, giant palms, wooden stools and a pale blue surfboard perched upon the wall welcomes you in for a fresh and fruity treat, each of which are made on-site. From instagramable and vibrant acai and dragonfruit bowls to raw snickers bar and giant wedges of vegan cheesecake, you can’t help but order a few of the sweet and natural treats, whilst sitting back under one of their pale pink and cream fringed umbrellas. Even if you’re full, pop in for a quick treat or refreshing shake.


5b/21/25 Fletcher St, Byron Bay NSW 2481 | Website


Safiya

Another breakfast staple in Byron has to be, Safiya. This Egyptian all-day brunch hub sits proudly on the corner of Bay St, just seconds from the main beach. With the waft of freshly roasted coffee and the sight of beautifully presented dishes scattered on tables around you, it will be very difficult to choose your meal. For something sweet, you can’t go past the buckwheat pancakes ($19) which see several thick banana buckwheat and coconut milk pancakes topped with berry puree, coyo, nuts, seeds and seasonal fruit. For something a little salty, you can’t look past the kofta plate with turmeric rice ($24). This generous plate is adorned with smokey beef & lamb kofta kebab, tumeric, currant and almond rice and tzatziki and pita bread.


10/8 Fletcher St, Byron Bay NSW 2481 | Website 


Top Shop

This is a deceiving little cafe. The plain white exterior hides a bursting personality filled with jamp-packed rolls, moorish burgers, killer sandwiches, fresh acai bowls and fruity shakes. It’s a tiny star that delivers on flavour, service and blows expectations. We devoured the vibrant acai bowl ($14.50), the Carlyle sandwich ($16) with grilled chicken, sliced avocado, tomato, lettuce and aioli and the classic beef burger ($12.50) loaded with beef, tomato, lettuce, beetroot, mayo & sauce. Plus, we suggest to wash it all down with the dairy-free Raspberry Ripe ($7.50/$10) with frozen raspberries, banana, shaved coconut, coconut milk and cacao powder. This is the perfect spot for a quick bite to eat or to take away.

Topshop Cafe - Burger. Photographed by R.Cherote. Image via Hunter & Bligh

Topshop Cafe – Burger. Photographed by R.Cherote. Image via Hunter & Bligh


65 Carlyle St, Byron Bay NSW 2481 | Website


Three Blue Ducks

This farm to table sustainable kitchen sits pretty on The Farm, a renowned 80-acre must-see spot in Byron. You can pop in and dine at the restaurant, grab some fresh produce, something from the BBQ or wander the fields and enjoy a housemade picnic hamper which you can purchase on-site. Three Blue Ducks itself serves a variety of fresh breakfast dishes, as well as sensational lunches including the Brooklet Springs twice cooked chicken, tomato, cucumber, corn, barley, chermoula ($38)Miso glazed eggplant, whipped tofu, szechuan, ginger, coriander, peanuts, pickled chilli ($28) and Byron Bay burrata, eggplant escabeche, fennel salt, pangritata ($23). For fresh, authentic and tasty concoctions, Three Blue Ducks is an absolute must.


11 Ewingsdale Rd, Ewingsdale, NSW| Website


Harvest

We’ve saved the best till last, Harvest. Not technically in Byron, but Newybar, this restaurant has it all. From the stunning Queenslander styled restaurant with wide wooden balcony, a bakery with 116-year-old wood-fired oven, an artisan delicatessen with an adjacent edible garden. Showcasing the diversity of the wonderful local region Harvest Newrybar creates fabulous fresh food sourced from local artisan producers and the restaurants own gardens. The food is fresh, delicate and sophisticated, yet unpretentious. It’s class, but country. Whether you’re after breakky, a light lunch or an indulgent feast, you can have it here. We recommend the pulled lamb, cos lettuce, lime & peppercorn dressing ($22)salami, pickles, sourdough ($18), salad of peas, sprouts, nasturtium, milk curd, pickled shallots ($17) and a few oysters, kelp oil, pandanus vinegar ($4.5ea). The wait staff are passionate, friendly and make you feel right at home.


18-22 Old Pacific Hwy, Newrybar Village NSW 2479 | Website


 

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