It isn’t just one thing that makes the Central Coast a special destination. This is a region of lush forests and pristine beaches; rugged adventure and low-key relaxation; and, importantly, it is home to a thriving food and drinks scene.

Here are our picks for where to experience some of the Central Coast’s top artisan makers and local produce.

Eat: Burnt Honey Bakery

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Hayley Thorncraft and Jo Fairall opened Burnt Honey Bakery in Copacabana in 2019, but it’s their new Long Jetty spot that ought to be your brunch staple. Here, the cabinets are stocked with house-baked sourdough which changes daily (marbled rye is for Wednesdays, olive and rosemary is Saturday-only), specialty breads like challah and cheese-stuffed fougasse, moussaka croissants and plenty of sweet pastries. The ideal way to fuel up for a long day exploring the Coast.

Burnt Honey Bakery

298 The Entrance Rd, Darkinjung/Guringai Country, Long Jetty

Eat: The Box on the Water

The dining experiences that stick in our minds are more than just great menus – it’s also the atmosphere, service and location. A narrow glass dining room perched right on the water, Ettalong Beach’s Box on the Water has all of those things, alongside a modern menu. There’s a focus on local seafood, naturally, like confit octopus with kipfler potatoes, king prawns on black rice with pernod butter, and “The Box” – a two-course seafood feast including oysters, pippies, octopus and ceviche. If you’re looking for a more casual evening, the kiosk serves up beer-friendly tacos, burgers and fresh salad bowls.

The Box on the Water

The Esplanade (opp cnr Beach St.), Ettalong Beach Waterfront Reserve

Drink: Pocket Bar Terrigal

Terrigal lures visitors with its crystal blue waters and golden sand, neither of which are far from local watering hole Pocket Bar. Cocktails are the house specialty, with originals like the Bush Negroni (gin, pineapple-infused Lillet and bush tomato) and Brain Trust (bourbon tempered with coffee, fig and a touch of salt). You’ll also find beers from local craft breweries like Kincumber’s Block ‘N Tackle, whisky flights and booze-friendly bar bites like cheeseburger spring rolls and garlic chilli prawn skewers.

Pocket Bar Terrigal

74 Terrigal Esplanade, Terrigal

Drink: Distillery Botanica

Philip Moore has long been one of Australia’s pre-eminent herb experts, having started out growing all manner of botanicals for wholesale. At Distillery Botanica, Moore’s extensive nursery provides the basis for a range of intricately flavoured gins and liqueurs, all of which can be sampled on the distillery tours. Keep your palate primed for the Roots and Leaves gin (featuring out-there botanicals like galangal, turmeric and curry, all grown on-site), lemon myrtle liqueur and the famous Mr Black coffee liqueur. For longer stays, head through the lush grounds to [Bar Botanica] where you’ll find Distillery Botanica-led cocktails among brunch pastries and grazing platters. The distillery has also just launched a range of experiences such as tastings, tours and a craft-your-own-gin workshop. Book one here.

Distillery Botanica
25 Portsmouth Road, Erina

Drink/Eat: Tropicana Social Club

Calypso kitsch is the name of the game at Woy Woy’s pizzeria and bar, Tropicana Social Club. Owners Tim Stockton and Cate Stewart have kitted out their social club with equatorial furnishings like cane chairs, chequerboard tiles and tropical plants, but locals know Tropicana as much for its pizza as its decor. The house-made pies mix classic flavours like the Calabrese (pepperoni, olives, basil) with modern twists like the Cheeseburger pizza, which comes topped with burger mince, cheese slices and all the burger trimmings. On the bar side you’ll find fruity, colourful cocktails that match the interior (like the frozen Pina Colada and Lychee Martini) and plenty of local craft ales.

Tropicana Social Club

61 Trafalgar Ave, Woy Woy

Drink/Eat: Bay Rd Brewing

The Central Coast has become a mecca on craft beer scene in NSW. Like neighbours Six String Brewing Co and Block ‘N Tackle, Bay Rd Brewing is helping to turn the Central Coast into a proper beer destination. The Gosford taproom is all bare timbers, white walls and hanging plants – a beachside style that’s miles from the dark warehouses of classic brewery bars. Beers on tap start at easy-drinking lagers and sessionable XPAs, but you’ll also find some more adventurous styles like high-proof hazy IPAs and a tropical rum porter. There’s no in-house kitchen but food trucks rotate regularly, from woodfired pizza to fried chicken and burgers.

Bay Rd Brewing
89 Donnison St, Gosford

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Destination Central Coast.