The Margaret River region really does have it all. From world-class beaches and surf to an Aboriginal history stretching back 45,000 years, Australia’s south-west is a special part of the world. It’s also a place where visitors are spoiled for food and drink choice, with its restaurants, bars, cafes, cellar doors and breweries constantly raising the bar.

While veterans such as Vasse Felix, Cullen and Leeuwin Estate continue to deliver, plucky newcomers are bringing exciting new offerings to the region. Here are some addresses to add to your hit list.


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Chow’s Table

There’s a lot of modern-Australian cooking happening in Australia’s south-west. But modern Chinese food? Not so much. Or at least until Mal Chow opened his eponymous restaurant in 2018. While Chow clocked time at Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Tetsuya’s in Sydney, his first venture taps his own Chinese-Malay heritage for inspiration. The result is a modern dining room filled with diners feasting on pan-fried radish cake, Malay beef cheek curry and Sichuan mapo tofu. Local wines and Asian beers do a fine job of keeping the party going.

Bunkers Beach House

Travellers fantasise about a seafood restaurant by the water where the food is as good as the view, and Bunkers Beach House is a reminder that dreams do come true. Guy Jeffreys, the executive chef behind kitchen-garden restaurant Millbrook in the Perth Hills, brings his seasonal and local credo to this breezy Bunker Bay dining room that only serves West Australian seafood when it’s at its prime. A whiteboard menu lists the daily changing fish that’s being served raw as crudo, or cooked as fillets or on the bone. Fish-finger sandwiches speak to a sense of fun. Ditto a wine list that’s just as local as the menu.

Toastface Grillah
While Margaret River doesn’t want for top-end restaurants and bars, the region is also home to a growing number of casual, family-friendly dining options. One of its more recent arrivals is this Wu-Tang-inspired toasted sandwich spot that set up a down-south outpost last year. Sandwich options range from the classic – ham and cheese – to more adventurous constructs featuring chicken, kewpie, daikon and gochujang (a Korean chilli paste). While Toastface’s easy-going sangas are a welcome distraction any time of day, its address on the township’s main drag and early opening hours make it a fine breakfast option.


Rocky Ridge Brewing

Wine may have put Margaret River on the map, but the region is also home to a healthy craft brewing community. One of the more forward-thinking brewers in the region , Rocky Ridge is an off-the-grid bolthole with a focus on green thinking and collaboration (see an impressive track record of collaborative brews produced alongside other local businesses). Its cellar door in Busselton is the best place to taste and purchase limited edition brews as well as new releases, including a recently launched hard seltzer.

Dormilona Wines
Wine, of course, remains the Margaret River region’s calling card, although new-wave producers are helping shift the planet’s perception of – quote-unquote – “Margaret River wine”. An early adopter of lo-fi winemaking principles, Dormilona Wines (dormilona means “lazy bones” or “sleepyhead” in Spanish) founder Jo Perry recently set up an urban winery just south of the township. For drinkers keen to taste what’s hot in winemaking circles, Dormilona’s suite of skin-contact, amphora-fermented and hemp-seed infused wines (really) provide a thrilling snapshot of wine circa 2021. Cellar door visits are by appointment only.

Lady Lola

Her name was Lola. She was an engaging Dunsborough bar from Michelle Forbes and Marinela Antonic, two hospitality veterans who count Rockpool, The Trustee and the Subiaco Hotel among former ports of call. Lola (an acronym for “love of life’s adventures”) taps into the duo’s interest in European drinking and eating, so Negronis and spritzes ride high on the menu; the wine list favours styles from France, Italy and other Old World regions; and oysters, smallgoods and cheese sit at the heart of the food menu.

This story was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Tourism WA.