It’s only fitting that walking through the streets of Freshie (as it’s colloquially known) one should hear the slow groove of Sublime’s What I Got from a nearby cafe. But the laid-back suburb is much more than an ultra-chilled surfing enclave these days. There’s a handful of impressive local restaurants, cafes, drinking spots and homewares hubs. With a rumoured new residential development happening in the near future, as well as a stylish new bakery from the teams behind two established London icons, the pull of Freshwater over some of the Northern Beaches’ more touristy suburbs is undeniable.
Pilu at Freshwater
The jewel in Freshwater’s crown, Giovanni Pilu’s Italian restaurant has made a name for itself among Sydney’s fine diners, earning accolades every year since it opened in 2004. Snag a spot overlooking the beach and tuck into Sardinian-inspired dishes including Pecorino consommé with zucchini flowers on mint. Below, Pilu's casual spin-off, The Kiosk, serves up snacks such as suckling pig paninis.
Moore Road, Freshwater
The owners of Marilyna’s have expanded their pizza empire with this dimly lit, nautical hideout on Lawrence Road. Cocktails are served in gothic-style goblets, the candles drip wax and distressed armchairs invite boozers to rest their sea legs while sipping on concoctions including the Lychee Snowman and Haute Fizz. Don’t disembark without trying the Ring Sting hot wings and chicken Katsu San sliders.
24 Lawrence Street, Freshwater
If you’re looking for a well-priced tasting menu and something pretty to look at while you eat (other than your date), you’ll find it at this cottage restaurant and art gallery on Crown Road. Its quieter Queenscliff location makes it the perfect spot for a romantic dinner. Here, for under $70, you can get a six-course degustation dinner including dishes such as scallops and beef-cheek wontons.
29 Crown Road, Queenscliff
Cafe by day and local drinking hole by night, the cheery atmosphere is palpable at this rustic venue on Lawrence Street. The staff is upbeat, the service is faultless and the food is mighty good. The peanut butter, chocolate and honey milkshake is heaven in a stainless steel cup, and the honey-roasted almond granola with fig, natural yoghurt and berry compote keeps regulars banging down the doors.
Shop 6–8 Lawrence Street, Freshwater
Albert & Moore
The wholefood movement is no novelty in Freshwater, but this roomy, corner cafe caters to more specific forms of lifestyle eating. Its focus is Italian-inspired paleo dishes. Open daily for breakfast and lunch (and dinner on the weekends), the habitually healthy can tuck into a paleo protein stack or substantial salads with a choice of protein.
2D/2 Moore Road, Freshwater
Coffee is the headline act at this stylish pit stop, which opens at 5.30am daily to churn out specialty blends. Keep your cool on hot days with a Five Senses cold drip served over ice, or sip on pour-over filtered brews from Byron Bay’s Marvell Street Roasters. A small selection of sweet treats is available to snack on and occasionally there’s live music.
2 Moore Road, Freshwater
Owner Tracy Nutley has opened her second French boutique on Palomar Parade with furniture in mind. Unlike its Fairlight counterpart, this spot runs Annie Sloan chalk-paint up-cycling workshops and tempts homemakers with quality bed linen, Astier de Villatte candles and Armadillo&Co rugs.
46 Palomar Parade, Freshwater
Deep pockets are not a prerequisite for this polished boho boutique, but it definitely won’t go astray. A bit on the pricey side, there are still a number of items under $100, and it stocks a well-edited selection of Aussie labels including swimwear brand Zulu & Zephyr, Bec & Bridge, Lover and Antik Batik.
7C Lawrence Street, Freshwater
This trinkets-and-gifts haven is cluttered with artworks and one-of-a-kind statement pieces for the home. If the Day of the Dead pillows don't pique your interest, then perhaps the pop art-style yellow pineapple lamps, or cow hide footstools, will.
14/12 Lawrence Street, Freshwater
Freshwater Antiques at The Apparel Collective
Among the racks of manbun-friendly menswear from brands including Brixton, RPM and Sculpt surfboards, there are vintage wares from local start-up Freshwater Antiques. Pick up old-school Corona typewriters, cameras from the ‘40s and other cool relics.
12/14 Lawrence Street, Freshwater