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Top 10 Places to Eat in Queensland

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If you’ve based yourself in Brisbane, we wouldn’t blame you if you start getting itchy feet for a bit of city-fringe exploration. But with so many options and so little time, 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 from Brisbane, so you can (literally) feast on something new without venturing too far from the city. 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 your camper and get out of town.

Oysters Family at the beach Salad

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#1 Elm Haus Café

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 things out 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 loads of soup, toasties and burgers served beside the roaring log fire for those chilly days. 

Price: $$

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#2 The Bearded Dragon Tavern

You can’t get much 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. 

If you have one too many of their cold beers, park up the camper and check in to one of their cosy lodge rooms. And then you have the perfect excuse to try the breakfast menu. 

Price: $$$

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#3 The Flying Nun Café

 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, the Flying Nun Café is one of the locals’ best kept secrets, and 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 mouthfuls such as Parisian gnocchi - with herbed Swiss browns, asparagus, semi-dried tomatoes and crumbled Persian feta – and Middle-Eastern beetroot falafel with spiced, caramelised, roasted sweet potato and sumac yoghurt. The Flying Nun isn’t messing around.

Price: $$

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#4 Cedar Creek Estate Restaurant

 So Cedar Creek Estate might be famous for their 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), 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. Once you’re done tucking 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. 

Price: $$$

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#5 Pitstop on Mt Mee

If outstanding views over the D’Aguilar Range sound like the perfect accompaniment to morning tea, we’d like to introduce you to the gem that is the Pitstop on Mt Mee. Located 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. It’s totally worth the drive. 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 take in the beauty of Queensland. 

Price: $

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#6 Montville

Okay, 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 mecca of things to do, see and taste. Start your day with morning tea at the Poets Café, 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 lunch at Wild Rocket @ Misty’s, located in one of the oldest buildings in town, and a bevy from their micro-brewery. Finally, work off those extra calories with a hike to near Kondalila Falls, where a waterfall plummets 90m down into the gorge below. 

If you think you’ll want to hang around for the day, the paradisal Maroochydore Beach Holiday Park, just a 35 minute drive away with ample powered sites and a convenient dump point, is the perfect spot to continue your mini break from the city. Just don’t forget to tag us in your Instagram pics.

Price: $$

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#7 Picnic Point Café

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 very green greenery by offering a dining room decked out in windows. Order the Picnic Point deli platter - with duck roulade, Bunnyconnellen Kalamata olives, smoked salmon branade dip, Italian salami, leg ham, marinated artichokes and lavosh – then while away the afternoon at a window table.

This scrumptious spot is also a little further from Brisbane, but we’ve got you covered with the Toowoomba Garden City Holiday Park. With powered sites (and ensuite sites, if you’re feeling a little fancy), a dump station, a pool and spa, and award-winning gardens (it’s not called the Garden City for nothing!), this spot has everything you need.

Price: $$

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#8 Tommerup’s Dairy Farm Farmers Market

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 (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 lets you 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. 

Load up with delicious snacks in the camper for the drive back.

Price: $

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#9 The Lighthouse

Only a 30-minute or so drive from Brisbane, The Lighthouse at Cleveland Point might just be the perfect spot for a 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 toes. 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. If you’ve still got space for dessert (who are we kidding, of course you do), the vanilla bean panna cotta for the ultimate finisher to a mouth-watering meal. 

Price: $$

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#10 NightQuarter

The Gold Coast’s answer to Eat Street Northshore, NightQuarter was made for dinner dates on the way back from a frolic along the beach. Designed for individual food stands to sell dishes from every country around the globe, NightQuarter is the 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 hosts some epic live music acts and local craftspeople selling their work, so you can completely unwind after stuffing yourself silly. 

If being this close to the Gold Coast gives you mad cravings for the beach, drive an extra 30 minutes to reach Tallebudgera Creek Tourist Park, which is all kinds of heaven. Flanked on either side by Tallebudgera surf beach and estuary, it might take a bit of willpower to unplug your camper when it’s time to leave this place.

Price: $

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