Flavours of the World
Think Globally, Eat Locally
With an expanding selection of internationally inspired eateries on the Central Coast you can take a culinary journey around the globe, no passport required.
Here is your chance to tickle your tastebuds with a range of cuisine from around the world, with award winning chefs and authentic recipes just like grandma cooked them. Many of these restaurants offer mid week Locals Night too giving you the chance to try something different throughout the week.
Come with us as we make some suggestions for world-class recommendations to experience authentic exotic cuisine without passing through customs, starting in…
L’Isle de France, Terrigal
For French fine-dining par excellence look no further than L’Isle de France, a trés elegant establishment where the authentic Parisienne cuisine is as exquisite as the panoramic view you’ll savour while you dine.
The name of the restaurant is a nod to the owner, Bernard Mallet’s, cultural link to Mauritius, which was known as L’Isle de France when the French colonised the island 200 years ago. Bernard’s vision was to add a subtle hint of Mauritian influence to traditional French dishes, artfully blending the flavours of Africa, South Asia and France.
On the menu you’ll find the classics you’d expect from French haute cuisine: steak tartare, onion soup, creme brûlée, and yes, escargot. The wine selection is also, of course, fantastique. So it’s entirely possible an experience dining here will spark a desire to speak the “language of love”. If that’s the case for you, you’ll be thrilled to know Bernard also offers French language lessons.
Johnny Tapas, Norah Head
Ok, the menu here isn’t all *strictly* Spanish, but Johnny Tapas offers a contemporary Coastie take on the *spirit* of tapas: tasty food, enjoyed over a drink, with good company.
This vibey, casual-chic bar/restaurant is the creation of three friends who wanted to open a stylish venue in the area where they grew up, so they did. The tapas menu here features a multicultural array of small-ish bites, the wood-fired pizza menu offers something for absolutely everyone, and the taco menu is much more imaginative than you typically see. You’ll be spoiled for choice here. Thankfully, the *spirit* of tapas also dictates ordering a variety of dishes and sampling from all of them, so the toughest part will be choosing from the mouth watering cocktail menu…
Osteria Il Coccia, Ettalong Beach
Down on the Peninsula, metres from the shoreline of Ettalong Beach, Chef Nico Coccia and his wife Alex are serving a unique taste of the Mediterranean in a warm, chic, casual fine-dining restaurant that’s already been awarded an Australian Good Food Guide Chef’s Hat in its first year of operation.
At Osteria Il Coccia you can indulge in a molto delizioso tasting menu that changes monthly and can be adapted to suit any dietary requirements. It’s one of only two restaurants in Australia where all the food is cooked exclusively over open wood fire, giving each dish a distinctive but subtle smoky flavour.
Chef Nico developed his love for food growing up in Naples, then worked in some of the best restaurants in Italy and Australia. He and his team source the best ingredients available and build each menu based on what’s in season, which gives you a reason to keep coming back for another taste of
Safran, Ettalong Beach
Serving a gourmet selection of traditional Turkish delicacies with a contemporary edge, Safran is a friendly fine-dining experience where the flavours of the Middle East shine.
The team here have been awarded an AGFG Chef’s Hat every year since 2020, so if your first thought was of basic kebabs or pide, think again. Safran’s is a very elevated (but not pretentious) menu, designed by Chef Suleyman Kirbancioglu, who trained in the best restaurants in Türkiye and brought his expertise to Ettalong in 2013.
For thousands of years Türkiye’s been the gateway for trade between Europe and Asia, and the cuisine that’s evolved there over time has incorporated the best elements of Western and Eastern cooking. So it makes perfect sense that a restaurant that showcases the best of Turkish fare would be called the “jewel in the crown” of the Central Coast’s restaurant scene.
And given Safran’s location, it also makes sense that they serve some of the most delicious seafood dishes in the state - especially the scallops and the Moreton Bay bugs.
Motel Mezza, Wyong
Like Spanish tapas, the Lebanese mezza tradition of eating is all about variety and communal dining, and it’s heaven for anyone who loves to graze and enjoy multiple dishes in the one meal.
At the sleek and chic Motel Mezza you’re encouraged to choose a selection of small dishes, designed to share, from a menu that features all the classic Middle Eastern favourites (please try their Baba Ghanoush) alongside some very yummy inventive creations (hello, baklava coated chicken wings).
The restaurant’s Art Deco interior design is influenced by the architecture of the heritage building in which it sits: an old bank built in the 1930s. It gives the space a fun air of sophistication and cheeky glamour that subtly enhances the dining experience.
And once you’ve worked your way through the menu here, plan a visit to Motel Mezza’s “sassy younger sister” venue, Little Miss Mezza in West Gosford.
The Lucky Bee, Ettalong Beach
The Lucky Bee first opened in New York City in 2015, and then (lucky for us), relocated to the Central Coast a few years later. They buzzed from Woy Woy to Hardy’s Bay over the last few years, and their current hive is in Ettalong’s Galleria precinct.
Chef Matty Bennett honed his skills at Longrain in Sydney before making a splash on the New York restaurant scene. He’s worked with some of the best in the biz, and he brings that extensive experience to The Lucky Bee. The menu he’s designed brings together a creative mix of flavours that span Eastern Asia, combining the best of Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese influence.
If we can be so bold as to make a few suggestions: try the steamed scallop har gow dumplings, the Thai ‘Lon’ of minced prawns, and the Singapore chilli prawns for a pan-Asian seafood banquet. You’ll be buzzing.
The Grand Pavilion, Terrigal and Warners Bay
The rich, aromatic flavours of Indian food are universally popular for good reason, and The Grand Pavilion always satisfy a craving for curry or chutney. Mild or spicy? Vegetarian? Carnivore? They can please every palate’s preference.
At both their Central Coast locations they serve all the greatest hits of traditional Indian fare, always made fresh, using only the best ingredients. Their extensive selection of Korma, Tandoori, Vindaloo, Masala and more are all made with love, and to be enjoyed with loved ones (and with some crispy papadums).
Keep Rollin’, Long Jetty
If you’re a fan of Banh Mi, you absolutely need to schedule a lunchtime trip to Keep Rollin’ to try one of their celebrated rolls. They’re said to be some of the best you can get outside of Saigon.
For those unfamiliar with Banh Mi, it’s a traditional type of Vietnamese, subway-style sandwich. Picture a crunchy baguette filled with paté, mayonnaise, raw vegetables, fresh herbs and your choice of meat or vegan alternative. It’s a mix of flavour and texture that keeps people rollin’ in for another hit.
If bread’s not your thing, you can swap the roll for a bowl and enjoy all the delicious fillings served on rice instead. Either way, you can make a complete takeaway meal of it with a a fresh tropical fruit juice and a chunky homemade cookie for dessert.
Roll in to pick some up for lunch Thursday to Sunday, and stroll down to the waterfront to tuck in.
If you’re partial to a bit of KFC (Korean Fried Chicken), you’re gonna love what’s on offer at Chick’n, a small take away joint in the heart of Wyong that’s made a big impression on the local food scene in the last year.
The owner/chef at Chick’n, Isaac, grew up in South Korea. After a few years traveling Australia, he’s brought a taste of Korean home cooking to the Central Coast that’s been so popular he not only has queues out the door most days, he literally sells out of chicken several times a week.
Why all the hype about takeaway chicken? Every day, Issac expertly fries boneless thigh fillets (always fresh, never frozen) in a crispy, golden batter that’s been flavoured with a secret blend of Korean herbs and spices imported from Korea. Some say it’s the best fried chicken they’ve ever tasted.
Those fans rave about the “original”, but you can also choose between six different homemade sauces to add an extra burst of flavour to your meal (sweet and spicy is the most popular). Each serving of Chick’n also comes with some traditional Korean radishes, pickled by Isaac himself, and can be enjoyed at the picnic tables right outside.
Mumbo Jumbo’s, Terrigal
A little taste of the tropics in Terrigal, Mumbo Jumbo’s is a casual rooftop dining space with a gorgeous ocean view and a chilled atmosphere. Enjoy some reggae beats and Caribbean treats like you’d experience in a local beach bar in Jamaica.
They have plenty of fruity, rum-based cocktails to help get the island vibes vibing, and the food menu is full of delicious smoky, peppery, jerk-spiced meat, seafood and vegetable dishes (note: jerk refers to the tasty mix of spices used in Caribbean cooking as a rub or marinade, there’s no sass intended).
Start the meal off with some Jamaican street corn coated in jerk butter and jalapeno, wash it down with a classic Mojito, and enjoy the miniature vacation.
Margarita Daze, Umina Beach
Is Margarita Daze a purely Mexican restaurant? No, it’s not. They do make a very yummy fish taco, but we’re not including them in our round-the-world itinerary because of their food menu. They’re on this list because of their extensive cocktail menu which features eight different Margaritas. You’re welcome.
The space is gorgeous, and the location is unbeatable. Margarita Daze is right on the beach with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, and the decor gives a tasteful tropical resort ambience, so it *feels* very much like being in a Mexican resort when you’re sipping those icy-cold Margs. Even more so if you order those fish tacos.
Cue and Crew, The Entrance North and Tuggerah
For a succulent taste of America’s deep south, head to one of Cue and Crew’s two smokehouse locations, and bring your appetite. As soon as you get there the mouth-watering aromas let you know you’ve arrived in some kind of carnivore heaven. The menu is stacked with barbecued treats like smoked brisket, juicy pulled pork, glazed ribs, stacked burgers and spicy hot wings.
They cook all the meats to perfection, smoking them very slowly at a low heat, so when it lands on your plate it’s fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth tender, and infused with flavourful iron bark smoke. Served with a spread of traditional side dishes like mac & cheese, slaw, and loaded fries, it’s a truly authentic southern BBQ experience.
Keen to master the Cue and Crew smoking method for yourself? Good news: they offer lessons, so you can become a BBQ hero yourself.
Lyons Den, Gosford
Founded by brother-sister duo Jared and Clare Lyons, this safari-themed watering hole serves a range of flavours that span the African continent - from Mozambique to Nigeria, Marrakech to Cape Town - in a heritage listed sandstone building in the heart of Gosford.
The menu consists of small plates that each showcase some uniquely African delights that can be enjoyed at an inside table beside the impressive mural of the savannah, or outside under the glorious palm trees.
Vetkoek, a traditional fried bread served with homemade dips, is a crowd favourite. So is the Boerewors, a classic South African spiced sausage flavoured with garlic and chutney. Try to leave room for dessert so you can try the Koeksisters too. They’re like a donut that’s been twisted into a rope-like plait and coated in a rich syrup. Lekker.
Old Mate’s Kitchen, Green Point / Wyong
Old Mate’s Kitchen is owned and operated by a South African family who’ve brought a taste of their homeland to the Central Coast. Both of their locations serve as a cafe, a grocery store, and a delicatessen all rolled into one, selling iconic African treats and staple items.
When you dine in, try the Bunny Chow. It’s a deliciously spicy Durban-style curry served in a hollowed out bread loaf (no, rabbit is not one of the ingredients). Then stock up on some authentic biltong, drywors, spices and sauces, and bring a taste of South Africa to your own home. Howzit, hey?
Can’t choose? Want a taste of everything everywhere all at once? We’ve know just the places…
Suq Restaurant, Wamberal
The menu at Suq features a blend of signature dishes from Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Morocco, France and beyond. It’s the perfect place for when you simply cannot decide whether you feel like sashimi or arancini, falafel or spring rolls.
Suq’s head Chef and owner, Michael Guirguis, is a true citizen of the world, having grown up in Egypt, trained in France, traversed the globe, and then settled in Australia. The menu he’s designed reflects his appreciation for exploration and discovery: small dishes, all designed to share, making it easy to sample a spectrum of cuisines in the one sitting.
Cecilia’s, Toowoon Bay
Hats off to Cecilia’s head Chef Adam Viner, who’s put together a selection of dishes that bring together an innovative, surprisingly harmonious blend of Asian, European, and Middle Eastern flavours like yuzu, dukkah, marscapone, truffle and nori. It’s almost like it shouldn’t work, but it absolutely does. And it’s all served with care in a relaxed, coastal-chic space you’ll want to visit more than once.
This article was written by Jacob Stanely, as part of the region's food and wine community supported by Love Central Coast.