Australia’s picturesque Gold Coast is playing host to athletes from 71 nations for the 21st Commonwealth Games. Fans can enjoy 275 different events over the two-week competition, with sports ranging from swimming and squash to beach volleyball and badminton. As the region welcomes visitors from across the world, top Gold Coast restaurants are preparing to impress both locals and newcomers with the best of Queensland eats. While you’ll find world-class dining throughout the Gold Coast, we’ve picked out the top places to dine as part of your Commonwealth Games experience.
The Cuban, Broadbeach
Cuba may not be part of the Commonwealth, but the island nation’s distinctive brand of hospitality is well-represented at the Cuban Oracle. Just a short walk from the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, The Cuban is where guests can wrap up a day of netball and basketball watching with an expertly crafted mojito and some traditional Caribbean cuisine. Menu highlights include Ropa Vieja, a Cuban classic of melt-in-your-mouth tender shredded beef, served with herbs, tomato, and capsicum. Beyond the athletic events, the Cuban is steps away from the Commonwealth Games Festival taking place at Kurrawa Park, featuring artistic creations from Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and First Nations artists and communities.
Ally Chow, Nobby Beach
As the new kid on the block in Nobby Beach, Ally Chow packs a one-two punch of elevated Asian shared plates and a Sunday Session menu worthy of daytime indulgence. Consider fueling up for the Games’ April 15th closing ceremonies with six decadent courses complemented by all-you-can-drink beer, bubbles, and Thai basil caipiroskas. Celebrate the Games’ spirit of global solidarity with a menu that pays homage to Vietnam, Thailand, China and Japan. You’ve never had a better reason to order everything off the menu. But, if you’re there on a weekday or going a la carte, check out the saddle tail snapper, prepared in a tangy ginger broth and served with rice noodle sheet, shitake mushroom, baby corn, and garlic chives.
Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads
For the Games’ out-of-town visitors, Rick Shores should check off plenty of Gold Coast bucket list items. Breath-taking ocean views? Check. Tactful, but unpretentious service? Check. Fresh Queensland seafood, beachy cocktails, and Asian-inspired plates? Check, check, and check. For a truly iconic Gold Coast experience, tuck into the fried Morton Bay bug roll, slathered with kaffir lime mayonnaise and sriracha and presented on a buttery brioche bun. Before you know it, you’ll be practically a Gold Coast local.
Pepe Italia, Burleigh Heads
If the athletes are carbo-loading for competition, it only seems fair for spectators to do the same (in the name of solidarity!) Fuel up accordingly with handmade pasta, traditional-style pizza, and satisfying antipasto at Pepe Italia. If you’re partial to a particular Italian classic, take advantage of Monday Spaghetti Night, Tuesday Pizza Night, or Thursday Gnocchi night, where you can binge on your indulgence of choice. Keep the carb frenzy going with fried arancini balls served with mozzarella and bolognese, or mix it up with a seafood calzone filled with prawns, calamari, and fior di latte. You may not be running the triathlon, but you can eat like you are.
Hellenika, Nobby Beach
Since the Gold Coast abuzz with Commonwealth Games festivities, consider Hellenika a cosy sanctuary when you need a break from the hustle and bustle. Opening just in time for the Games, the new Bar Hellenika is the ideal spot to catch your breath over a crisp gin and tonic or nibble on a plate of mezze. Once you’ve built up an appetite, head downstairs to the main restaurant and select from an assortment of family-style Greek dishes, from refreshing sea scallops in ouzo and butter to hearty Junee lamb with a generous helping of tzatziki. No matter how far you travelled for the Games, you’ll feel right at home.
The Collective Palm Beach, Palm Beach
Unless you’re a competitor, you probably won’t be able to visit the international dining hall in the athletes’ village. You can, however, replicate the experience by eating at the Collective Palm Beach, a five-restaurant dining complex that maximizes variety without sacrificing quality. Patrons can sample wood-fired Italian pizzas, soft-shell Mexican tacos, fluffy Asian bao, American comfort food, and local Australian staples, all within the same venue. Not hungry? Take a peek at the encyclopaedic drink menu. For every diner who’s ever struggled with restaurant FOMO, the Collective has you covered.
Mamasan Kitchen and Bar, Broadbeach
You’ll find Mamasan Kitchen and Bar right in the middle of the Commonwealth Games festivities and events. Whether you’re cheering on the sprinters, marvelling at the weightlifters, or supporting the lawn bowlers, Mamasan is a great place to catch a bite in between the action. Order from a broad selection of Southeast Asian shareables and enjoy a buzzy atmosphere to match the energy of the games. Check out popular favorites like soft-shelled crab bao with jalapeno, or try some local wok-fried Mooloolaba king prawns and Cloudy Bay clams with house-made XO sauce. Once you’ve satisfied your hunger, you’ll be in the perfect spot to jump straight back into the heat of competition.
The Fish House, Burleigh Heads
As this year’s hosts of the Commonwealth Games, the Gold Coast and Queensland are ready to showcase the best parts of Australian cuisine. When it comes to local dining, it doesn’t get much better (or more quintessential) than Australian seafood. In that spirit, The Fish House sources the freshest fish from across Australia waters and serves diners local fare in a Southern European style. The menu changes based on seasonality and availability, but it always highlights the finest Australian ingredients. With views overlooking Burleigh Heads Beach and the Pacific Ocean, The Fish House makes it easy to fall in love with this incredible country, whether or not you’re sporting the green and gold.
This is a guest post from Brooke H. Moy, a culinary nomad living in such foodie capitals as New York, Montreal, Madrid, Chicago, and, most recently, Melbourne. Read more expat exploits at downunderupsidedown.tumblr.com.
Photo credit: Jack Tran (Hellenika).