Where to Eat in Port Stephens: From Fish ‘n’ Chips to Fine Dining
From farm gates to fishing trawlers, Port Stephens has access to some of the best fresh seafood and produce in New South Wales. Foodies and chefs love picking up local avocados, summer fruits, figs and macadamias, not to mention the bounty of spectacular seafood that is brought in daily.
From the cool waters off the New South Wales coast, fishermen drag in fresh prawns, fish, oysters, crabs, lobsters and shellfish each morning. If you’re an early riser, get yourself to the marina to meet the locals and explore the famed fish markets. Buy up big and cook up a seafood feast in your self-contained apartment, or better yet, let local chefs make the most of local produce.
Port Stephens is home to fantastic fine dining in spectacular waterfront locations and casual fish ‘n’ chip spots that you can take for a beach picnic. Here are the best restaurants, cafes and bars to explore in Port Stephens.
Little Beach Boathouse
If you’re looking for a long seafood lunch with spectacular views, the Little Beach Boathouse delivers both from its location overlooking the sea in Nelson Bay. Sit back and relax as birds fly overhead and you debate whether to order the Spring Bay black mussels cooked in a Thai green curry and coconut broth, or the squid ink spaghetti loaded with prawns. The main restaurant is upstairs, but for something more casual pop down to Below Deck Cafe.
The Point Restaurant
Picture yourself enjoying a drink here overlooking the ocean while the setting sun lights the water aglow. The Point Restaurant at Soldiers Point is a favourite for spectacular seafood at great prices. Drop in at lunch for pub-style deals, or take the misses out for a date night that won’t break the bank.
As the name suggests, this family-run restaurant centres around a huge alfresco deck set on the waterfront. Head down to the marina where The Deck serves up Mediterranean influenced dishes with a focus on local seafood. Think spanakopita, salt and pepper squid, Greek meatballs, seafood pastas and lamb shoulder.
Rick Stein at Bannisters
Yes, the Rick Stein loves Port Stephens so much he’s put his name on a great restaurant here. The British celebrity chef says his love of fresh Australian seafood drew him to the area. The menu draws inspiration from local produce, from standout seafood to the best of the land. Get your hands dirty with Singaporean-style blue swimmer crab, or indulge in the lobster thermidor.
Shoal Bay Country Club
Port Stephens isn’t all seafood. The Shoal Bay Country Club is making a name for itself as the classy refurbished pub by the waterfront, and it just so happens to make a great Neapolitan-style woodfired pizza. Grab brekkie at the downstairs cafe, Mermaids, then swing upstairs to the bright and airy patio for a menu of pub classics and pizzas. There’s usually live music on weekends, with DJs keeping the party going until late.
Murray’s Brewery’s promise of no boring beer extends to the beautiful outdoor beer garden in Port Stephens. At this independent craft brewery the 10 taps are loaded with unique stouts, lagers, and IPAs, plus there’s local wines to taste, bocce to entertain all ages, chickens running about and live music on weekends. There’s also a pavilion dedicated to high tea, and an up-scale spot with a la carte dining. Drop in for the daily brewery tour at 2.15pm, simply pass through for lunch at the onsite restaurant, or bring a picnic rug and sprawl out on the lawns.
Lock in a waterfront table at Tillermans, where country charm and homely food awaits. This lunch spot is actually the longest continually operating restaurant on the North Coast of NSW. While records date back to 1883, Tillermans has been here since 1996. Look out over the Myall River while enjoying a French-influenced award-winning menu. Better yet, join the owners for a foodie tour through France each September! This is the real deal.
Holberts Oyster Farm
Love oysters and eating at the source? The Holbert family has been breeding, growing and selling these bivalves for five generations. One of the biggest producers of oysters in NSW, you can drop by the simple store at Cromarty Bay to pick up a dozen or two freshly shucked Port Stephens rock oysters, Pacific oysters, prawns and more. There’s a handful of picnic tables overlooking the bay and you can BYO wine or grab a beer from the oyster shack and enjoy your bounty.
Bub’s Fish & Chips
Pick up a serve of freshly caught fish at the award-winning Bub’s and take it down to the beach at Nelson Bay. Choose your fish, whether you want it grilled, crumbed or battered and take it in a pack with chips or solo. Expect a classic fish shop menu with the usual suspects, plus some interesting extras like Thai-style barbecued octopus and a half lobster mornay on offer. Bring cash, Bub’s doesn’t accept card.
Lemon Tree Passage Distillery
Need a stiff drink to wash down all the indulgent food in Port Stephens? Pass by the casual bar at Lemon tree Passage Distillery to try the range of local craft gins and vodka, or take a cocktail on the terrace. There’s no kitchen here, but you’re welcome to bring takeaway or meals from nearby businesses to enjoy while you sink a drink or two.