If you ask a Southport local out for dinner and they happily cheer ‘Not Tonight!’, don’t worry, you haven’t been rejected. They’re just excited to show you this boutique tapas bar in Southport’s CBD, located on the new light-rail track overlooking the historic Council Chambers and Ambulance buildings. The owners began with a mission to serve smart yet affordable gastropub food alongside great cocktails and local craft beers. They designed and built most of the venue themselves, leaving the raw skeleton of the original foundations intact to give a sense of industrial, ever-evolving versatility to the space: whether you’re looking for a quiet refuge to nurse a drink or a rowdy party zone, there’s room for every type of night to coexist here. The flexibility of their menu extends all day long, since their kitchen offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner: start your day with a brunch of eggs benedict, zucchini and corn fritters, or French toast with honeyed walnuts and creme chantilly; return in a few hours for an after-work share board, pizza, Tamborine beer-battered whiting and handcut chips, or a simple bar snack such as slow-cooked pork belly skewers; and finally, party into the weekend with $5 small batch local beers on tap, including Beard & Brau Farmhouse Amber Ale from Mt Tamborine and Stone & Wood from Byron Bay.
Opening Hours: Wednesday: 5pm – 11.45pm; Friday to Sunday: 12pm – 12am
Watch out for: The small bar license, meaning the venue doubles up as watering hole and chic eatery
Not Tonight, 50B Nerang St, Southport, Australia, +61 7 5532 5000
The Roost@53 is a concept café in the heart of Southport open for breakfast, lunch and takeaways. The theme underlying this venture is American food truck style fare, which translates as chic industrial interior design and a resolute focus on house-made dishes and ingredients, all the way down to their own fresh bread and sauces. Stars of the breakfast menu include baked beans on Turkish toast, pancakes a drizzle of maple syrup or a sprinkling of sugar and lemon, and the fabled breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese, and salsa. The coffee and espresso is also Roost’s own special House Roast. Lunchtime offerings include burgers, pizzas, build-your-own sandwiches, and house special souvlakis with lettuce, onion and tomato; there are also daily specials such as the New York style Reuben sandwich and slow cooked beef brisket with potato salad. On a final note, it would be seriously remiss to pass up one of the Roost’s banana or vanilla and lime milkshakes.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 5am – 4pm; Saturday: 6am – 1pm
Watch out for: The Roost Roast house blend of espresso
The Roost @53, 53 Johnston St, Southport, Australia, +61 7 5591 7438
Carmody’s – Southport Sharks
Nestled within the Southport Sharks clubhouse, Carmody’s enjoys a name-recognition status along the Gold Coast for its light, fresh take on Mediterranean cuisine. Although the menu specializes in steaks, Carmody’s prides itself on a commitment to sustainability and supporting the local organic agricultural trade; these values are clearly reflected in their recent menu offerings, like the Fig Tree Organic prime rib fillets, Black Angus tenderloin from Paul Graham’s Organic Farm, and Sunforest Organic pork belly. While surveying the grounds of Southport Sharks from the scenic dining deck, start your meal with an order of creole calamari with smoked jalapeno aioli and honey sriracha, followed swiftly by fennel and pomegranate lacquered roast duck with celeriac puree, beetroot and star anise jus. Accompany the above dishes with some unusual sides like watermelon, balsamic fig, pistachios, quinoa & danish feta, or chimmi churri sweet potato salad with rocket, pepitas & dried cranberries. If you can manage dessert, finish your healthy feast with their roasted white chocolate and goats curd panna cotta (topped with rhubarb and apricot compote and served with a wild rice crispy).
Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 8.30am – 12am; Friday and Saturday: 8.30am – 2pm
Watch out for: The list of sustainable organic producers on the menu
Carmody’s, Musgrave Ave, Southport, Australia, +61 7 5532 1155
Spendelove Bar and Bistro
Spendelove is situated within The Brickworks, a bustling shopping precinct incorporating the famous Ferry Road Market. Laid out like an open plan New York bistro, with elements of both a coffeehouse and a bar lined with aisles of fresh fruit and vegetables, the venue offers shoppers a spacious, laid-back haven from the surrounding crowds. Breakfast offerings include bircher muesli with candied roasted nuts, berries, poached fruit and honeycomb yoghurt; a fresh and poached fruit platter dressed in passion fruit syrup; and chocolate french toast with fig and date compote. Early risers with bigger appetites should seek out the ‘Spendelove in the morning’ platter: two free-range eggs, bacon, toasted vienna bread, lamb cutlet, hash brown, herb crusted tomato, chipolata sausage, spinach and field mushrooms. Meanwhile, Southport lunchers can dine on fresh selections like salt and pepper squid with lime aioli; warm chicken salad with roasted peanuts, mixed herbs, spanish onion and a tangy asian dressing; and the house organic quinoa salad with glazed baby beets, dutch carrots and spinach.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday: 7am – 6pm; Sunday: 7am – 5pm
Watch out for: the distinctive and historic red and yellow brick decor
Clink is a quaint, homey restaurant and wine bar found within the Courthouse Hotel on Nerang Street, specializing in taking pub grub to new heights with a high degree of innovation and flair applied to classic dishes. Start with a dozen or half-dozen South Australian oysters, or the crispy calamari served on mini corn fritters with an avocado, lime and pineapple salsa. For your main course, consider the beef and Guinness pie with pumpkin and mushy peas, or the vegetarian Japanese crumbed tofu stuffed with mushrooms, macadamia nuts & coriander, served with stir fried vegetables and a honey soy sauce. For dessert, the clear favorite among regulars is the cinnamon waffle with brandy bananas.
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – 9pm; Friday 12pm – 9pm; Saturday 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – 9pm; Closed Sundays
Watch out for: the cinnamon waffle
Clink, 51 Nerang St, Southport, Australia, +61 7 5532 0122
Lambar is a charming suburban pizzeria, known for nourishing the citizens of Chirn park with thick, saucy dishes for a number of years now. Beyond the effortlessly cool blue marquee you’ll find a friendly, efficient team of servers ready to cater to your every pizza-related whim. Notable offerings include the Matisse – ‘A Work of Art’ composed of mushrooms, ham, olive, capsicum, salami, onion, garlic, and oregano; the Kicken’ Chicken with tandoori chicken, bacon, garlic, mushrooms, onion, and optional greek yoghurt; and the simple yet flavorful lamb, feta, and red onion pizza. Lambar also serves a number of traditional marinara pastas, though we’d recommend the matriciana for something a little special (bacon, mushrooms, onion, capsicum, garlic and chili, finished in tomato napoli). Best of all, they do takeout!
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 5pm – 10.30pm
Watch out for: The Kicken’ Chicken pizza with tandoori chicken and mushrooms
Lambar, 4/37 Musgrave Ave, Labrador, Australia, +61 7 5532 0112
Tonic on Chirn
If you’re looking for something like to enjoy with a good drink, head to Tonic on Chirn, a small, vibrant space serving cocktails and tapas in a classic warehouse-styled interior. While this bar makes a mean Manhattan and knows how to handle the classics (try the Old Fashioned or Sazerac), Tonic also offers a number of original cocktail creations, like the White Chocolate Martini for those with a sweet tooth (Absolut Vanilla vodka, Mozart white chocolate liqueur & white cacao liqueur with fresh milk & cream), and the intriguing It’s Quite Delicious (Choya Umeshu plum wine, elderflower liqueur, vanilla, passionfruit, lime and aloe vera juices, served in a Japanese teapot and charged with soda). Their tapas and sharing plates range from grilled pork gyoza dumplings with black vinegar dipping sauce to more substantial fare like grilled scallops with tamari sauce, shallots & pink ginger, and braised pork belly with sticky honey & soy sauce. Their desserts are both decadent and playfully executed; end your night with a close examination of their deconstructed hazelnut cheesecake.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday: 3pm – 11pm; Friday and Sunday: 12pm – 11pm
Watch out for: The house cocktail It’s Quite Delicious
Tonic on Chirn, 37 Musgrave Ave, Southport, Australia, +61 7 5532 2201
The Great Greek Kafe
The Great Greek Kafe is a modern Greek restaurant specializing in beautiful breads, tasty mezze dips, and a menu centered around five grain fed meats prepared with BBQ rotisserie charcoal cooking and paired with mouthwatering sauces. The atmosphere is bright and welcoming, while the décor incorporates an impressive bevy of statues and more marble sculpture than the British Museum. Their sharing plates include chargrilled octopus flavored with herbs, lemon and olive oil; the classic Greek moussaka topped with béchamel, potatoes and parmesan; and the souvla with your choice of signature hickory smoked charcoal rotisserie chicken or lamb, served with tzatziki, lemon, olive oil, oregano, Greek salad, lemon and potato. Greek coffee and classic baklava make for a sweet finish here, or you can opt for tempting drinkable desserts, like the tiramisu martini. They also offer a special banquet menu for larger functions and groups.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday: 11am – 12am
Watch out for: The range of mezze dishes and the house BBQ rotisserie meats
The Great Greek Kafe, 151 Scarborough St, Southport, Australia, +61 7 5679 3398
Goha Korean Restaurant
Goha Korean Restaurant is a family-owned operation on Nerang Street, and the best stop in Southport for authentic Korean cuisine. This menu keeps it all in the family; the meat is even sourced fresh from the family’s own butcher shop next door! You’ll find your favorite Korean specialties here, like hot stone beef bibimbab, stir-fried baby octopus, and kimchi and spicy seafood stews. For hands-on diners looking to cut out the middleman and engage in their own DIY cooking, Goha also offers a selection of marinated meats (think wine pork belly and spicy pork belly). Customers who like to try a little bit of everything will be delighted by the BBQ buffet available every night.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 11am – 2pm, 5.30pm – 9pm
Watch out for: The DIY cooking option with pork bellies
Goha Korean Restaurant, 160 Nerang St, Southport, Australia, +61 7 5591 7465
Fufu House only recently opened on the Southport strip, but word of mouth has traveled fast to make this Japanese bar a quick success story. Fufu certainly makes a great first impression through its friendly service and traditional Japanese izakaya decor, with polished floorboards, high wooden bar stools, and classically painted artwork. The menu offers a spectrum to cater equally to more Western palates and to those seeking an authentic Japanese dining experience (with intriguing Taiwanese undercurrents). For starters, one can choose from grilled beef and shallot skewers, fried pork dumplings with dipping sauce, grilled quail eggs and broiled tilapia fish, to name only a few. Hungrier diners should turn to the impressive range of udon noodle/grilled chicken bento boxes and filling seafood hot pot soups, while the thirsty should turn to the drink menu for a refreshing selection of Chinese and Taiwanese beer, house white wine for just $2.20 per cup, and Taiwanese plum wine for $4.50 per cup. This new neighborhood gem is blowing up fast, so stop in soon before it’s packed to capacity!
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 4pm – 9.30pm
Watch out for: The bento boxes
Fufu House, 154 Scarborough Street, Southport, Gold Coast, Australia, +61 7 5679 5624
By Alex MacKay