The 10 Best Restaurants In Geelong, Australia

Photo of Haley Henschel
9 February 2017

From its high-end restaurants with waterfront views to its hole-in-the-wall, street food-centric cafes, Geelong, Australia’s dining scene is one of the best in all of Victoria. Watch out, Melbourne, this budding seaside city is coming for your foodie crown. Here is our list of the 10 best local restaurants in Geelong.

The Geelong waterfront | © Tim Moreillon/Flickr

Baveras Brasserie

Restaurant, Australian, $$$
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Located literally on the waters of Corio Bay, it’s nearly impossible to find better views of the Geelong landscape than those at Baveras Brasserie. The modern Australian restaurant, which sits at the end of Cunningham Pier, was founded in 2012 by head chef Darius Sarkis, whose personal passion is to continuously evolve the art of cooking. His seared scalloped with chipotle glaze, pickled cucumber and tomato and lime salsa, and Gua Bao, shredded pork belly in steamed buns with crushed sweet peanuts and Asian slaw, are highly recommended. If you have trouble deciding on a dish go for the ‘Feed Me’ option. The knowledgeable staff will bring your table a selection of dishes to share so you don’t have to settle for just one delectable entrée.

Bistrot St Jean

Charcuterie, Restaurant, French, $$$
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There’s no need to obtain a passport if you’re craving authentic French cuisine in Geelong, at Bistrot St Jean, an eclectic restaurant located on hip, historic Moorabool Street, everything from the menu to the music seems like it was plucked right from the streets of Paris. Brushed metal countertops, vintage maps and photographs on the walls, light installations made from wine bottles and cake tins, and blue-and-white-checkered tablecloths give the place a funky, fresh vibe. Enjoy the quirky atmosphere and the Parisian jazz that plays in the background as you nosh on traditional dishes like the moules mariniere and pommes frites, the soup a l’oignon gratinee au Gruyere, or the assiette de charcuterie.

Black Bull Tapas Bar & Restaurant

Restaurant, Spanish, Vegetarian, $$$
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Going out for tapas in Spain is, above all else, a time to mingle with friends over fine foods, and dining at Black Bull Tapas Bar & Restaurant is no different. Embrace this social aspect of Spanish dining over plates like lamb empanadas with roasted capsicum romesco, locally sourced Portarlington mussels with white wine, cream and flat parsley, and pressed Otway pork belly with prunes and cider. This bold, modern restaurant seems to be constantly awash in a sultry amber glow from its orange stained-glass windows, but its atmosphere is far from pretentious.

Ebony & Ivory

Cafe, Coffee, Snacks, $$$
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Lunch is often the most neglected meal of the day, a rushed, half-thought-out affair during the workday or between errands, but Ebony & Ivory turns that notion on its head with its classy ambiance and modest yet meticulous menu. Dine outside on the patio or find a spot inside at the swanky lounge or the intimate dining room to enjoy house-made potato gnocchi with meatballs baked in tomato sauce, tortellini of goat cheese mascarpone and parmesan with grilled prawns, pine nuts, sage, sultanas and brown butter sauce, or any one of the heavenly cakes. If lunch doesn’t work for you, don’t fret, because breakfast and dinner are equally wonderful.

Empire Grill

Decades of consistently outstanding cuisine and professional service has made the award-winning Empire Grill the ultimate special occasion destination in Geelong, and the go-to place to spoil and impress your dining companions. The décor, highlighted by exposed wooden beams and gold and terracotta accents, is just as luxurious as its entrées. European and Asian influences are evident on the menu, as is the team of chefs’ appreciation for local ingredients, especially in dishes like the prawn and mango salad with nuoc cham dressing and tom yum crisp and the rack of lamb with broad bean purée, cous cous salad and lemon apple relish. If you’re up for a true gastronomical delight, you can also choose to indulge in the elaborate degustation menu.

Empire Grill, 66 McKillop Street, Geelong, Australia, +61 3 5223 2132

The French Corner Café

Cafe, Tea , French, $$$
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Exterior of the Geelong Boat House
Exterior of the Geelong Boat House | Courtesy Geelong Boat House
From the Eiffel Towers delicately designed in the foam of lattes served here to the local photographer’s art on the walls, to the artfully prepared cuisine, it’s no wonder The French Corner Café is a favorite among locals. Geelong native Mandy Wright, the café’s head chef, has more than two decades of experience working in the region’s food industry and is a renowned expert in crafting some the finest French-Australian dishes in the area. Discreetly tucked away on a Geelong street corner, this café is one of the city’s best hidden gems.

The Geelong Boat House

Roosted atop a century-old barge secured to the edge of Corio Bay, The Geelong Boat House is an emblem for the city’s connection to its seaside landscape. Climb up to the top deck on a pleasant day to enjoy panoramic views of the city and the bay, or if you’re out on a boat, pre-order a dish or two for lunch and have your meal lowered onto your watercraft by the kitchen staff. Of course, if you’re going to be so close to the water, you’d be wise to order dishes that highlight fresh fish, the boat house burger, made with hand-ground rib-eye, or the Thai fish burger with Asian coleslaw are sure to please, and the fish and chips are perhaps the best in all of Victoria.

The Geelong Boat House, Western Foreshore Road, Geelong, Australia, +61 3 5222 3642

Jack & Jill Restaurant

Diner, Restaurant, Australian, $$$
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Jack & Jill Restaurant presents its diners with what is arguably the most inventive dining experience in the city, award-winning chef Leonie Mills’ ‘miniature meals.’ This twist on tapas-style dining allows diners to select several different entrées, all in smaller-than-usual portions, which are then artfully arranged and presented to the diner on a single plate. With nearly two dozen options to choose from, including local Barwon lamb and cous cous filo parcel with lemon yogurt and pomegranate molasses; Japanese-style duck scotch eggs with teriyaki mayonnaise, pickled ginger, wakame and radish; and Winchelsea ostrich served with an African spiced pearl barley filo parcel and braised pickled red cabbage, diners will find that they’ll never have the same dining experience twice at Jack & Jill.

Sam's Café

Cafe, Australian, $$$
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This teeny place doesn’t look like much, but one bit of Sam’s Café’s legendary schawamas or kebabs will clue you in as to why the café is a Geelong institution. Forgo upscale establishments or chain fast-food restaurants in favor of this Middle Eastern restaurnts relaxed vibes and retro look straight out of the 1980s, complete with wood-paneled walls and quaint landscape paintings hanging throughout the dining room. Though it’s a casual place, you won’t find greasy, sloppily prepared fare here. Stop by at lunchtime for a quick bite of traditional Lebanese street food like falafel and chicken Shisih Tawook, both served with some of the freshest pita bread you’ll ever taste. You’ll find yourself making excuses to go back meal after meal.

Tulip Restaurant

Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, Australian, Pub Grub, $$$
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Since it opened in the fall of 2013, Tulip Restaurant has blossomed into one of Geelong’s finest dining establishments, a feat attributed to its focus on the beauty of simplicity. Many of the furnishings, for instance, are made with pale timber and most of the walls are painted white. But rather than coming off as boring, the minimalist décor is sophisticated and strong; its bright atmosphere evokes the freshness of springtime. Its menu is the same, with dishes served tapas-style in small portions, the chefs are able to showcase individual ingredients that more complex dishes would obscure. Whatever you decide to orde, whether it be the smoked trout croquettes with almond cream, beef chuck rib with beetroot, squid ink and smoked vinaigrette; or salad of tomatoes, dried anchovy, burratta and samphire, be sure to pair it with your favorite drink from Tulip’s extensive list, which features Victorian wines only.

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