Flying under the radar for most, you’ll find plenty of top Sunshine Beach restaurants and cafes around Duke Street. This spot on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast will keep you eating from breakfast to dinner and in between, with a range of delicious food options different at price points.
Unless you are in the know, there’s not much reason to divert off the David Low Way towards the beach, but then you would miss out on the fabulous food. It is located south of Noosa (but part of the Noosa Shire) and you can walk from Sunshine Beach through the Noosa National Park towards Noosa, but it is quite a hike. This area to the south is Sunrise Beach.
Sunshine Beach is, in real estate talk, a tightly held enclave. It’s a mix of mega-rich beach front mansions, palatial housing and apartment complexes. I’m talking 17 million houses owned by the likes of ex-prime minister Kevin Rudd, Betty’s Burgers founder David Hales (who bought Pat Rafter’s house). Your neighbour across the road with a beachfront property might drive a Maserati or a Lamborghini. Sunshine Beach is where Karl Stefanovic owns a house and chose to spend his Christmas holidays in 2020.
Located just a few kilometres south of Noosa Heads, Sunshine Beach is the start of a long stretch of open coastline dotted with other beach villages towards the south. Most of the year the locals, and there are quite a few, have it to themselves, but in peak periods it gets quite busy.
What makes this area special is the cosy community feel of Duke Street at Sunshine Beach which has been colonised by top-end coffee shops, eateries, restaurants and providores. There’s a large communal area under the fig trees where children play while their parents dine at restaurants overlooking the space.
It’s a popular spot for dog lovers too and you’ll see plenty of pampered pooches enjoying a stroll with their owners. The dog beach just under the headland is another asset to the suburb.
Each time I visit Duke Street in Sunshine Beach there seems to be something new to discover, but these are my favourites.
As befits the name there is a lot of their house-made XO sauce on the menu at Embassy XO. (XO sauce is an Asian condiment that is a combination of dried seafood, aged ham, and other seasonings). Expect plenty of local flavours including delicious Noosa Red tomatoes and Tin Can Bay scallops, all with an Asian theme. Embassy XO is highly regarded.
Underneath XO has been a series of pop up restaurants, although the current one, Cinque Terre has been there for a while. It serves Italian food and pizzas. Next door is XO Cellars, an independent bottle shop where you can pick up good quality and unusual wines.
Humble on Duke is all about good, honest food and service, and the evolution of creativity in their menu that fuses Modern Australian with flavours and spices from the Mediterranean and Middle East.
The restaurants main focus is on handmade, approachable and highlighting fantastic local produce. The menu is everchanging, highlights seasonal produce and is designed to be shared.
This little hole-in-the-wall spot in Sunshine Beach is homely and welcoming, and you'll feel the love for genuine hospitality, fantastic food and delicious wine from some favourite regions in Australia and New Zealand.
Popular brewhouse and modern Asian restaurant O’Ren has joined the Sunshine Beach restaurant line up with a move to Duke Street, just a short ride up the hill from their old site. They have filled the spot left by cult restaurant Sum Yung Guys which has moved to Noosaville. O’Ren’s new location is a bigger and better space offering plenty of room while you indulge in their delicious menu.
It’s always been a good place to top up your pantry and fridge, but new owners have pushed the General Store to the next level. The range of local produce, easy to prepare meals and gourmet treats is extensive. You can still get a magazine, a Magnum and a can of cat food, but it’s definitely worth a browse for unexpected delights like the locally produced Wasabi and Lemon dressing that I couldn’t resist.
A consistent Sunshine Beach performer, Fratellini churns out breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. The menu has Italian influences with a selection of pizzas complemented by a tempting selection of other dishes.
A Sunshine Beach institution, Marble Bar is a covered, but an open-air venue which offers drinks, snacks and light meals.
The Deck often operates only during peak periods. In the morning the breakfast café serves up its fare to tables on the deck. In the evening another restaurant takes over and serves up dinner in the same space.
A recent renovation here has transformed a once typical surf club into something much sleeker and more architectural. Venture inside and you’ll still find some of the old club Sunshine Beach Surf Club remains, along with the stunning beach views from the deck dining space. Now the food matches the views.
If you are lucky enough to be here on a full moon, it’s fun to take photos of the water reflections from the dining deck. This is also a great place for a sunset drink.
I can recommend the Nasi Goreng as tasty and authentic (do have the prawns on top) and I was quite stunned by the Grilled Prawns on a Preserved Lemon Risotto Cake. On our last visit, we enjoyed a tender medium-rare eye fillet steak with bearnaise sauce and chippies and soft calamari on a bed of Asian slaw with just a hint of ginger, all topped with crisp shards of sweet potato.
Expect elevated flavours here and you won’t be disappointed.
Tip: Book well ahead. The word is out and this place is wildly popular.
Formerly Costa Noosa (we miss you Gavin and Angela), this spot has been transformed by new owners into Entity Coffee. They have widened the food offering and still roast on-premise. Sadly, our favourite coffee order, the LG, has gone but a double shot in a mug-sized cup is still available. It just doesn’t have a name. There is increased seating inside and an expanded range of food but it is still mainly sweet treats to go with your coffee.
Located around the corner from Duke Street is the Plastic Free Champions FOMO. This Sunshine Beach Café is a little hidden but do seek it out. FOMO closes at 2pm.
Image (left) from @fomobrewing.