The Best Restaurants in Regional NSW

Updated 2 months ago

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Sydney isn’t the be-all and end-all of dining in NSW. From the Southern Highlands to the Northern Rivers, there’s plenty of excellent eating to be done in all parts of the state. And we can’t forget the world-class restaurant scene blooming in the nation’s capital, which is wholly deserving of its own list. Whether you’re hitting the coast or roving inland, our hot tip is to stay the night and make a weekend of it. Most of the locales on this list are holiday destinations in their own right.

  • Pipit’s philosophy of “what grows together, goes together” comes to life in an elegant degustation showcasing produce from the surrounding Northern Rivers. It’s one of the best places in the country to eat seafood (both raw and woodfired), served in a light-filled dining room that’s far more relaxed than the menu suggests. Naturally, the drinks list is all-Australian.

  • Flame and smoke power the menu at this intimate diner, housed inside Blackheath’s original bakehouse. Led by a former Tetsuya’s chef, the kitchen uses a 150-year-old wood oven to char proteins, veg and rustic breads for the Med-inspired menu. Also, Basque burnt cheesecakes for the popular weekend bakeshop.

  • Are you in the south of France, or the Hunter Valley? This longstanding bistro, with its elegant set menus and spectacular views over neighbouring Carillion Wines, will have you asking the question.

  • To this day, there’s still nothing in Wollongong quite like Babyface Kitchen. It was the first on-ground for smart modern Australian dining in the city, and retains what is arguably the most considered wine list in the Illawarra.

  • Two long-time wine importers are behind this fun, loud spot, where you’ll discover lesser-known wines from France, Italy, Hungary, Georgia and beyond. The menu throws similar curveballs with ingredients such as curry leaves, shiitake mushrooms and Chinese broccoli appearing alongside more standard European wine bar fare.

  • Smack bang in the middle of rural NSW, this historic country pub is home to a restaurant on par with what you'd find in Sydney. Retreat to one of the eight guest rooms after a sophisticated dinner – you'll be well rested for the two-and-a-half hour drive home in the morning.

  • The Med-inspired diner inside one of the state’s most impressive hotels showcases the best of the region’s produce in its six-course tasting menu. For something more casual, head to Raes' cellar bar for refined snacks with views of Wategos Beach.

  • An intimate Melbourne-style wine bar in Murwillumbah? It’s a thing, thanks to a tree changing trio who spent years pouring drinks and cooking in the city. Visit for local produce cooked and plated as simply as possible.

  • The celeb chef’s restaurant forms the bottom level of a long-standing boutique hotel. His rationale for opening on the South Coast? The region’s abundance of stellar seafood, of course.

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  • A sun-soaked cantina from the duo behind Fleet, one of the Northern Rivers' best restaurants. Dig into street food-inspired snacks, and tacos filled with market fish or coal-roasted lamb. There's also a huge list of tequila and mezcal – plus you can design your own Margarita if the spirit moves you.

  • This elegant, night-time-only restaurant is one of the top food experiences in the Hunter Valley. Book in for a multi-course tasting menu that showcases the likes of local Binnie full-blood Wagyu, Paroo kangaroo, Redgate Farm duck and other top produce.

  • Surrounded by untamed bush on 25-acres, this sandstone homestead is where to stop for lunch if you’re near the Central Coast. Come for paddock-to-plate dining at its best, plus pies and pastries worth travelling for.

  • The restaurant is run by a husband-wife duo (including the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Asia’s Best Female Chef 2018) who travelled Thailand extensively, digging into historical archives and antique cookbooks to recreate traditional recipes with modern twists.

  • With one of Australia’s top chefs in the kitchen, the food at this intimate bistro is topnotch. But it has a welcoming, nostalgic ambiance more like a pub than an inner city wine bar.

  • Dine among the gumtrees at this destination restaurant, where everything grown or reared on its 242-acre property powers an elegant, six-course degustation. This is a genuine farm-to-table experience surrounded by the wild Blue Mountains landscape.

  • Inside a historic sandstone cottage, find an ambitious seasonal menu of plates to share – perhaps manchego and leek croquettes, and fried chook with a Sriracha-honey glaze. The hot tip is to nab a spot by the crackling fire with a bottle of something good and very local.

  • The NSW South Coast property was the first venue Merivale snapped up outside Sydney. After a small refresh, this South Coast institution is serving summer-friendly dishes and theatrical Banana Daiquiris, Zombies and Pina Coladas.

  • Charcoal-fired cooking and one of the Central Ranges’ best wine lists live at this casual fine diner helmed by an ex-Bentley chef. The five-course tasting menu is the way to go, and shows why Charred is a must-visit if you're passing through Orange.