Sometimes, all you want to do is get out of the city. Don’t worry, we’ve totally been there. But with the pressures of modern life limiting how much time you can spend on your weekend wandering (looking at you constantly buzzing work phone), you want destinations that pack a punch in both the sight and taste departments. Luckily, we’ve got your back with this guide to the 10 best foodie experiences all within an hour’s drive of Brisbane, so you can feast on something new and explore without venturing too far from home. We’re talking everything from rainforest-dwelling wooden cafes to legitimate farmers markets on a real working farm to coffee overlooking the rolling green hills of the Toowoomba plateau. All you have to do is hop in the car. What can we say, we’re givers.
Lovers of the rustic-chic look, Elm Haus Café was made for you. Situated only a short drive from the CBD, Elm Haus Café is located smack bang in the middle of Mt Glorious National Park and boasts sweeping views over the nearby rainforest. The cafe is constructed entirely of wood, exposed roof beams included, and features enough quirky memorabilia and floor-to-ceiling windows to keep you pointing out things hours after your food has arrived. As for said food, it’s definitely nothing to scoff at. Think home-cooked cakes, pies, scones, tarts and biscuits and a plethora of soups, toasties and burgers served beside the roaring log fire for those chilly days. Yep you read that right, you and the squad could be feasting beside a real-life fire while overlooking the splendours of nature within an hour. What are you waiting for?
Guys, you can’t get more Aussie than a meal at the Bearded Dragon Tavern. Located only 50 minutes away from Brisbane, the Bearded Dragon is set on 110 hectares of lush farm and bushland at the base of Mt Tamborine. The Queenslander-style homestead-come-restaurant features plenty of deck seating and killer views over the nearby greenery –and that’s all before we get to the food. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and menu highlights include such tastebud tantalising dishes as the drunken farmhouse duck confit, a duck leg slow cooked in herbs with roast root vegetable, spiced Bundaberg rum and plum sauce, and sticky maple and bourbon pork ribs. Just don’t forget to top off the meal with The Bearded Dragon’s signature lamington ice cream sandwich, topped with chocolate sauce. Be still our beating hearts.
Adorably-named and perfectly quaint, the Flying Nun Café is the perfect spot for a lazy Sunday brunch and it’s all only 30 minutes from the CBD. Located on the main drag in charming Samford Village, a great place to glimpse the Brisbane of ages past, Flying Nun Café is one of the local’s best kept secrets for a very good reason. Starting life as a church, the café has all the charm that original timber floors and repurposed stained glass windows can afford – all framed by the backdrop of the nearby rainforest garden. Its menu boasts such eats as Parisian gnocchi - with herbed Swiss browns, asparagus, semi-dried tomatoes and crumbled Persian fetta – and Middle-Eastern beetroot falafel with spiced, caramelised, roasted sweet potato and sumac yoghurt. We told you, the Flying Nun isn’t messing around.
So Cedar Creek Estate might be famous for their killer vino offerings, but did you know their in-house restaurant also knows a thing or two about serving up a mean meal? Set against the gorgeous scenery of the nearby estate (this is not a drill: they have a lake and a rose garden, guys), the Cedar Creek Estate Restaurant takes traditional winery food to a whole new level. We’re talking pan-cooked Atlantic salmon resting on top of julienned vegetables and topped with a lemon beurre blanc sauce, pork belly with truffled mash potato, broccolini and mustard sauce and crispy skinned chicken breast drizzled in a red wine jus. Oh mama. Once you’re done wolfing into everything on the menu, make sure to have a wander through the estate and the nearby art gallery for the full Cedar Creek experience. Don’t worry, you can thank us later.
If mind-blowing views over the D’Aguilar Range sound like the perfect accompaniment to morning tea, we’d like to introduce you to the hidden gem that is the Pitstop on Mt Mee. Located literally on top of Mount Mee, Pitstop on Mt Mee is a haven of retro memorabilia, a craft shop and a café all rolled into one. Let’s just say, it’s kind of amazing. Think sipping generous mugs of coffee beside vintage cars, munching on a homemade frittata underneath a ceiling studded with old records and then taking a wander out the back to drink in the beauty of Queensland. Saturday plans are definitely sorted.
Okay, you got us, Montville is a little more than an hour’s drive from Brisbane (more like an hour and a half), but this tiny town in the Gold Coast hinterland is a veritable mecca of things to do, see and taste. Start your day with morning tea at the Poets Café, touted as one of the most beautiful buildings in Montville’s Main St. Then shop your way along the quaint storefronts and leafy pathways of the main strip before grabbing a late lunch at Wild Rocket @ Misty’s, situated in one of the oldest buildings in town, and a cheeky bevvy from their micro-brewery. Finally, work off those extra calories with a hike to nearby Kondalila Falls, where a waterfall plummets 90m down into the gorge below. Just don’t forget to tag us in your Instagram pics!
If you’re heading anywhere near Toowoomba (which you should be), you need to make a stop at the Picnic Point Café. Situated 700m above the Toowoomba plateau, the Picnic Point Café takes full advantage of panoramic views over stunning greenery by offering a dining room decked out in windows. Do yourself a favour and order the Picnic Point deli platter - featuring duck roulade, Bunnyconnellen Kalamata olives, smoked salmon branade dip, Italian salami, leg ham, marinated artichokes and lavosh – then idle the afternoon away at a window table with your favourite people. Ah, we could get used to this.
Tommerup’s Dairy Farm is a 200 hectare working farm situated in the gorgeous Kerry Valley, a part of the Lost World region of the Scenic Rim. While farm stays and farm-related activities tailored towards kids are Tommerup’s main claim to fame, apart from their top-quality Australian dairy of course, the farm has recently expanded into market territory with its very own farmers market. The market enables you to partake in the true farm-to-fork experience, with the family behind Tommerup’s selling their own range of ethically raised meat, raw honey, fresh produce and Norco and White Gold Creamery dairy products (which are made from Tommerup’s milk). You can’t get more authentic than buying the ingredients for your next feast directly from the farmer – and you’ll get the opportunity to feed baby cows to boot. Sign us the heck up!
Only a 30-minute or so drive from Brisbane, The Lighthouse at Cleveland Point might just be the perfect spot for a cheeky spontaneous dinner outside of the city. Think seafood sourced from the local area, a converted boathouse with a stunning timber deck and the ocean lapping at your feet. Menu highlights include sandcrab lasagne – local sandcrab and snapper between pasta layers, complete with shellfish bisque – and barramundi with roasted pumpkin puree, sautéed spinach and cherry tomatoes. Non-seafood lovers are also catered for with a generous collection of steak and chicken dishes. Just don’t forget to order the vanilla bean panna cotta for the ultimate finisher to a mouth-watering meal. Uh, yes please.
The Gold Coast’s answer to Eat Street Northshore, NightQuarter was made for dinner dates on the way back from a romp to the beach. Designed around the concept of individual food stands selling dishes from every country around the globe, NightQuarter is the perfect place to sample something new without breaking the budget. A few dishes of note include the hot chilli butter Moreton Bay bugs from Yeah The Boysters, bacon-loaded cheesy waffle fries from Fish On Hawker and the unicorn hot chocolate from Melt. NightQuarter also plays host to some epic live music acts and local craftspeople selling their work, so you can completely unwind after stuffing yourself silly. Now that sounds like a perfect evening to us.