The Gold Coast is graced with good weather, gorgeous beaches, and great food.
There’s no place we would rather be. But, even still, we love to take inspiration from around the world when it comes to our bars, cafes, and restaurants, which might be part of the reason we love the Gold Coast so much.
Considering that we’re not even currently allowed to fly across the ditch to New Zealand, let alone fly out to any of these far-flung places till sometime next year, we’re certainly thankful that we have (more than) a few places in our backyard to help us imagine we’re someplace else.
1. Palm Springs Cafe, Burleigh Heads
The newest Gold Coast cafe to offer us an escape to another paradise isn’t actually opened yet. But when Palm Springs opens this Friday 20 November, be prepared to immerse yourself in the fresh and breezy Cali-inspired digs oozing paired-back glam.
To really transport you as far from our shores as possible, Palm Springs comes complete with a desert-style garden where diners can lounge and soak up the sun while they eat, drink, and reminisce with friends.
Try the Cali Breakfast Burrito or skip straight through to the margaritas where the good times kick on.
Find Palm Springs Cafe at 1878 Gold Coast Highway
2. Maman, Burleigh Heads
Reminding us of the Mediterranean coast with its white walls and blue lines is Maman, which is French for mum so we’re told it’s pronounced Ma-Mo. But the escapism doesn’t just stop with the interior decoration.
The food itself is everything you want from a trip to Europe’s south or a visit to the Middle East. Think breads and dips to start alongside Kalamata and Sicilian Olives as well as prosciutto and Serrano ham before moving onto plates of Moussaka, Lamb Kofte, and Beef Tagine.
Find Maman at 49 James Street (entry via laneway)
3. Hail Mary, Burleigh Heads
Pink might not instantly remind you of the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, but when you’re sampling the creative taco offerings at Hail Mary, you might welcome the slowed-down pace. And you certainly won’t care when you find out about their Taco Tuesday special, or their Wednesday Burrito deal, or their lunchtime meal special.
The greenery dotted about the space is a welcome touch, and so is the twelve-strong Margarita list.
Find Hail Mary at 6/26 James Street
4. Pepe Italia, Burleigh Heads and Palm Beach
When you want Italian food, the general consensus is that you go out and find an Italian. Well, at Pepe Italia you’re going to find Andrea Fabrizio, who owns and runs the restaurant and Palm Beach deli with Alexa Damianopoulos. You’ll also find a green Vespa parked inside, which means this is clearly the right place.
When the pandemic hit, Andrea and Alexa were in Italy. But since they’ve been back, they have been putting in the hard work and serving up handmade pasta and classic Italian-style pizzas to locals who have been keen on reliving their Italian holidays, especially on Thursdays with Nonna’s Spritz and Gnocchi Night.
We’ve also heard that their wheels of Parmesan are flown in from Italy.
Find Pepe Italia at 11 Connor Street and Pepe Italia Delicatessen and Restaurant at Shop 13, 1102 Gold Coast Highway
5. The Don and Margarita Cartel, Burleigh Heads
For when you can’t decide between Italian or Mexican, you have The Don and Margarita Cartel — a side-by-side two restaurant offering from the North Burleigh Kitchen family.
6. Maggie Choo, Broadbeach
The pink neon-drenched interior, the faux cherry blossoms hanging from the ceiling, and the dark mood lighting will have you second-guessing if you really did just step off Surf Parade. Rather, if you’ve ever wandered around the street food and hawker markets of south-east Asia, in cities like Bangkok, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong, then you’ll understand where the inspiration for Maggie Choo comes from.
Find Maggie Choo at 89 Surf Parade