Some call it the new Byron Bay. You can see the resemblance. Just an hour and a half’s drive south from that travel mecca, the northern New South Wales town of Yamba forms part of the Northern Rivers region: a coastal area with tropical conditions, green farms laden with fresh produce, an abundance of seafood, and that same laid-back surfer energy infusing buzzy restaurant spots and popular beaches.

Whether you’re visiting on the way in or out of Byron, or looking for a destination unto itself, Yamba is worthy of further investigation.

Here are our top picks for restaurants and cafes in the region – and where to try Yamba’s famous prawns.

Pacific Hotel
Most Australian coastal towns have a big beachfront pub that’s been around forever. Yamba’s suitably art deco contribution to the series was built in 1934, and sits perched on a hill on Pilot Street looking over Yamba Beach. Surfing paraphernalia from years gone by lines the curved concrete walls, and the food and drink selection is a variation on your classic pub meal. The outdoor beer garden is a must-visit for a post-beach drink.

Beachwood Cafe
Situated on High Street in the centre of town, Beachwood Cafe is a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-inspired cafe with a cult following. Owner and chef Sevtap Yüce is passionate about showcasing the region’s locally grown ingredients, using them to make home-style Turkish cuisine that’s both rustic and delicious. Menu items like fresh mandarin juice, menemen (Turkish eggs) and dolmades with garlic yoghurt are popular, but this is the place to try Yamba prawns, presented here with chilli and garlic.

Yamba Farmers and Producers Market
The delicacies produced from the Southern Valley’s fertile soils are on full display at the Yamba Farmers and Producers Market each Wednesday from 7am to 11am at the Whiting Beach car park. It’s a hub for both local growers and makers; Yamba chefs are known to pop by and pick up their ingredients here. There’s a good mix of stalls, from fruit and veg, fresh flowers and local honey shops, to specialty offerings like Ashby Sourdough and Clarence Distillery.

The Kiosk Yamba
The Kiosk, right on Yamba’s main beach, is a popular spot to grab breakfast and a coffee. A small outlet inside the beach’s surf life saving club, it serves breakfast and brunch fare like bacon and egg rolls with homemade relish and bowls of muesli. Specialty coffee is on hand from Marvell Street Roasters from nearby Byron Bay. There are tables, but taking your breakfast to go and grabbing a spot on the sand is a great way to enjoy the view.

This local favourite on Coldstream Street from chef Zac Roberts and his partner Clare Bourke comes with a big reputation, earning its first Chef’s Hat in 2021. Every night, Roberts curates a slick four-course menu built around Yamba’s produce, seafood and native bush foods. Look out for fresh prawns with mango and macadamia, local squid served fresh with zucchini, and lemon myrtle sours on the drinks list.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Destination NSW.