It’s no surprise that seafood is the star in Port Macquarie, but the town is also packed with other culinary surprises, from street-style bar food, through to paddock to plate, wine-matched dining. It doesn’t stop at food though, with a plethora of great bars – from cosy wine gardens to cute-as-you-like waterside shacks. Here’s just a sample of where to eat and drink in Port Macquarie.
Bills Fishhouse and Bar
Sustainable and locally sourced seafood is at the heart of this diner on Clarence Street, in the centre of town. The sea-to-plate ethos is showcased by chef Pete Cutcliffe with an ever-changing menu that depends on what the fishing boats bring in each day. Start with the oysters or the barbequed prawns, before moving on to thick fillets of barramundi, butter poached ling, pan-roasted Murray cod or slow-cooked barbeque brisket for mains. The wine earns big praise too, with the restaurant recently announced as a finalist in the 2022 NSW Sommelier’s Wine List Awards.
A newer addition to the Port Macquarie food scene, this cosy izakaya-style Japanese restaurant near Fisherman’s Wharf. Start with fresh sashimi then work your way through share plates of seaweed and fennel salad, Wagyu beef tataki and veggie temari (decoratively topped sushi balls), while mains feature the likes of tonkatsu (pork cutlet), soy-butter grilled salmon, and udon noodles. With an extensive Sake menu and Japanese-inspired cocktails include a whisky lowball with Suntory Toki, a Samurai Rock (sake and lime), and Ichi’s signature sangria, with sparkling sake, red wine, fruits and spices.
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Botanic Wine Garden
A casual restaurant in the forecourt of the Glasshouse Theatre, Botanic Wine Garden takes inspiration from both classic and modern European dishes, with pork terrine, tarte tatin, Moroccan eggplant and braised lamb shoulder among the standouts. As the name suggests, wine is taken seriously here, with an all-Australian list focusing largely on boutique winemakers. When the sun goes down, grab a spot near the heater in the candlelit courtyard, or line up your visit with Wednesday night’s Vino & Vibes, which sees local musicians take to the outdoor stage.
Set on the banks of the Hastings River since 1971, Whalebone Wharf was inundated by floodwaters in March 2021, but managed to bounce back within weeks thanks to the rebuilding efforts of locals. Enjoy a long lunch here next to panoramic windows overlooking the river, featuring classic, high-end seafood, with an emphasis on fresh catch sourced from local suppliers. To kick things off, immaculately presented rock oysters, spiced calamari and a locally famous seafood chowder are all topnotch, with mains including Queensland barramundi, local market fish and selections from the grill, such as a Riverine Scotch fillet.
Located in a reimagined boat mechanics shed right by the water on the Port Macquarie Marina, stop in here for street food and cocktails before a night out. Start with slow-cooked pork taquitos or falafel with Turkish ezme salsa and yoghurt tahini from the tapas menu, before going on to a po’ boy (a Louisiana-style submarine sandwich) with prawn, chicken, Philly cheese or falafel. The drinks menu is designed to reflect the seaside vibe, with Cointreau-based Margs, rum Mojitos and refreshing spritzes. In winter you can warm up next to the fire pits, and in summer enjoy the sun at an outdoor table on the river.
Located on the Town Green and overlooking the river, this small eatery is exactly what the name suggests. Head there in the morning for coffee and brekkie, with simple fare like toasties, brekkie burgers and a speciality sausage’n’egg muffin. From Thursday to Sunday evenings, Little Shack transforms into a seaside bar. Pop in for frozen cocktails and a seafood-inspired menu. Or head in on Thursdays for Los Cabo, a Mexican night featuring $12 Margs and tacos, or Sunday afternoon for live DJs and an extended happy hour from 4pm to 6pm.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Port Macquarie.