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9 unmissable Gold Coast restaurant institutions

Love 'em or hate 'em, you'll be reminiscing. 

Shiny, new things are always a good time but let’s not forget the faithful old things that got us through a time when said new things weren’t demanding everyone’s attention.

For the sake of respecting our elders, we’ve compiled a list of local restaurants that have been around for as long as anyone can remember and are more than worthy of a revisit.

Ashmore Seafood and Steakhouse
Next time you’re so hungry you think you might pass out, take a trip to Ashmore Seafood and Steakhouse. The meals are large, the menu is as long as your arm, the garlic bread is unlimited and you’re pretty much guaranteed to roll out the door as happy as can be. Eat the Hot Chilli Mud Crab and thank us later.
Where: 528 Ashmore Rd, Ashmore

Mandarin Court
One of the longest running local faves, Mandarin Court opened in 1979 and is both a Chinese and Yum Cha restaurant because heaven is a place on earth. It would be silly not to order the Peking Duck which is carved at the table right before your eyes (and tastes absolutely ridiculous to be honest). There’s live music and friendly staff and what more could you want really.
Where: 2374 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

George’s Paragon Seafood Restaurant
If you haven’t been to George’s, you best rectify that little error in judgment quick smart. Found in Coolangatta, Mt Tamborine and Sanctuary Cove George’s is (still) dishing up the seafood GOODS. There’s an all day, half price dining menu and everything on it is a taste sensation. The Lobster Mornay is a house fave and even better, affordable.
Where: 110 Marine Parade, Coolangatta and 141 Long Rd, Eagle Heights

Alfresco Italian Restaurant
There aren’t many things in the world that compare to authentic Italian food and in a delightful twist of fate, you can find exactly that at Alfresco’s. Owned by a family who are more than happy to adopt you as their own, this little place has been around for over 25 years and there’s no doubt food is their passion. They’ve got a secret, family recipe pizza and MAMA MIA, it’s the goods.
Where: 3018 Surfers Paradise Blvd, Surfers Paradise

Chiangmai Thai
So good, there’s two of them on the Coast. Both the Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach restaurants boast some of the most delicious Thai food you’ll ever eat AND the staff are super lovely and want you to have the best time ever. Which you will, especially if you get involved in the Choo Chi Curry. Look for the purple neon lights on the highway!
Where: 5-19 Palm Ave, Surfers Paradise and 2779 Gold Coast Hwy, Broadbeach

Mike’s Kitchen
For 21 years we Gold Coasters have been lucky enough to sample the tasty meats at Mike’s Kitchen. The team serve up “homestyle” meals (which are nothing like you’re able to cook at home) with a focus on steak and ribs. The flame-grilled ribs are worth their weight in gold and if they don’t fill you up, do yourself a favour and try the steak!
Where: 2 Gooding Drive, Merrimac 

The Aztec / Montezuma’s
How fun is it to say (and eat) Chimichanga’s. Thanks to the good folks at The Aztec you can eat all the Chimichanga’s you desire in Surfers Paradise (since 1993), Broadbeach and Coolangatta and you can find Montezuma’s in Burleigh and Labrador (Mexi-bike crawl anyone). There’s half price lunch deals daily and dinner specials on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s . Oh and there’s tequila. Sold.
Where: Shop 11, Aria Building, Albert Ave, Broadbeach and 152 Griffith St, Coolangatta

Valentino’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria
If you’re never been to Naples, about mid way down the Italian Coast, you really should. But if you cannot, your second best option is Valentino’s in Broadbeach (it’s been around since the 80s). Owned by the Covino family, who (luckily for us) moved to Australia from Naples over 50 years ago, the food at Valentino’s is as authentic as it gets, made with all the love and passion Italians are famous for. Eat the Fettuccine Pescatore, you’re welcome.
Where: 29A Victoria Avenue, Broadbeach

Romana’s Nobby Beach
Nobby’s is generally all about the shiny new things but there’s one little gem that’s been around for many a moon. Romana’s serves up the tasty, authentic Italian foods that you’d probably lay down your life for. Everything is fresh and filled with flavour and the staff are passionate and absolutely lovely. There’s weekly special and takeaway options and definitely add it to your list.
Where: 2233 Gold Coast Hwy, Nobbys Beach

Words by Kirra Smith

12 of the Gold Coast’s tastiest Thai restaurants

Chong Co Thai Pacific Fair - Pad Thai & Thai Beef Salad (image supplied)
Chong Co Thai Pacific Fair - Pad Thai & Thai Beef Salad (image supplied)

When you think about it – what is there not to love about Thai food? It’s fairly healthy, extremely delicious, group friendly and not to mention, the perfect accompaniment for that hard-earned night of Netflix on the couch.

We all know finding ourselves on a deserted beach in Thailand is not going to happen anytime soon. And yes, we’re fairly upset about that too. So why not experience the next best thing?

As Autumn has arrived this week, we suggest you get yourself cosy at home or venture out and treat yourself to some of the tastiest Thai flavours from one of these epic Gold Coast Thai restaurants.

Chong Co Thai
It’s hard to believe you’re inside a shopping centre when dining at Pacific Fair’s upstairs food court (you could even bring your Tinder date here). It’s the epitome of a sweet little Thai restaurant you just have to visit. They offer all the classics which will surely fill you up whether it’s for your monthly bestie-catch up or for a quick meal before catching a movie at the cinema.
Where: Pacific Fair, Broadbeach

House of Siam
You know the saying – location, location, location! House of Siam in Hope Island is right on the marina and overlooks the pier and million-dollar yachts, offering a great atmosphere accompanied by oh-so-delicious food. You might want to reconsider getting takeaway from here since the ambience of the restaurant is half the experience!
Where: Marina Shopping Village, 5 Santa Barbara Road, Hope Island

Mamasan Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)
Mamasan Kitchen & Bar (image supplied)

Mamasan Kitchen & Bar 
While not a Thai restaurant per se, Mamasan’s incredibly indulgent menu includes some Thai specialities you need to try ASAP. For example, the Oysters with Thai green chilli, nam jim and finger lime followed by the Thai Chilli Jam Prawns with kaffir lime, dehydrated pineapple and cucumber ribbons. Be sure to finish things off with the Ginger and Lemongrass Cheesecake with kaffir lime, mango and Asian crisps. You’ll surely ‘thai and go to heaven’ (sorry).
Where: 3 Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach

Little Malaya Tweed Heads
Don’t let the name deceive you. In addition to the traditional Malaysian cuisine, you will find an array of Asian signature dishes including Thai! We’re big fans of the Tom Yum soups and Pad Thai, but while you’re there, give the Coffee Pork Ribs a try, two of our great loves combined.
Where: 32 Bay Street, Tweed Heads

Basil Thai
Tucked away along Nobby’s cute little food strip is Basil Thai, a cosy, no fuss Thai restaurant bringing you everything you’d expect from your local! The portions are huge, so it’s a great place to take your friends and share a couple of dishes. They’re also BYO and have takeaway options – what more could you ask for?
Where: 2243 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach

Nahm Thai Westfield Coomera - Red Duck Curry (image supplied)
Nahm Thai Westfield Coomera - Red Duck Curry (image supplied)

Nahm Thai
This is the contemporary styled Thai restaurant you just have to visit in Coomera. With gorgeous aesthetics and jaw-dropping food, the flavours and authenticity here are truly a one-off. Offering set menus for couples and families means you can relax and know Nahm Thai is going to deliver nothing short of a taste sensation. The soft-shell crab Papaya salad is likely to blow your mind.
Where: Shop R001 Westfield Coomera, 109 Foxwell Road, Coomera

It’s annoying, but it’s always a good sign when you can’t score yourself a table at a restaurant on a quiet weekday night. So, be sure to book ahead when you decide to pop in at Zabisan on the Gold Coast Highway in Burleigh. They bring you the best dishes North Thailand has to offer, but be warned, they can be a little bit spicy! We highly recommend the Pineapple Chicken Curry, eat in or take away!
Where: 1742 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads

Oz Thai
It’s safe to say the cat’s out of the bag when it comes to this Palm Beach favourite. Cherished by locals, Oz Thai serves up simple but delicious Thai food at very reasonable prices. All your favourite dishes are on offer but keep your eyes open as there are often unique specials you won’t want to miss.
Where: 1/1389 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach

Sunshine Thai Restaurant
Sunshine Thai Restaurant in Coolangatta has been serving up stellar Thai food for over 16 years. Their philosophy is to create authentic flavours using only the freshest Australian sourced produce — and we love everything about it! Offering all your favourite Thai food classics and then some.
Where: 152 Griffith Street, Coolangatta

Green Curry Chicken, Chiangmai Surfers Paradise (image supplied)

Found in a prime position on the Gold Coast Highway in Broadbeach, Chiangmai Thai is a much-loved spot amongst the locals. The chefs here really know how to create the perfect balance between sweet, sour and spicy – so expect only the best. And if you’re feeling spoilt for choice and can’t decide what to get, try the Massaman Beef Curry (trust us on this one).
Where: 2779 Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach and second restaurant located at 5-19 Palm Avenue, Surfers Paradise

CocoHut Taste of Thailand
Serving up rich, full flavours, CocoHut’s menu features mouth-watering starters and main dishes that’ll tickle those Thai-loving tastebuds. A must-try is the Coco Tomyum Soup and Noodle, made from fresh ingredients including lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice and fresh chilli that all combine to create a healthy and soothing broth that is so very tasty. Who said healthy and tasty was an impossible feat?
Where: 3114 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise

Thai I Am
Situated at Miami One Shopping Centre, this is a team favourite for us here at Inside Gold Coast. Mostly a takeaway spot (they do have a couple of tables to eat in), these guys serve up authentic Thai dishes with beaming smiles — after all, they do say Thailand is the land of a thousand smiles! Stuck for lunch? There’s a daily lunch-special menu available from 12pm – 3pm too.
Where: Miami One Shopping Centre, Miami

Words by Alex Mitcheson

Alfresco Italian Restaurant

17 family-friendly Gold Coast restaurants

TGI Friday's (image supplied)

At some point during the week (usually Monday for us) you get sick of preparing meals, decide to throw in the tea towel, and round up the rugrats so one of our fine establishments can handle that exhausting little song and dance. Only to be faced with a whole new issue – the prospect of taking the munchkins out for munches #cuepanic

To save you the ‘find-something-everyone-can-eat-without-too-many-tears’ (namely yours) struggle entirely – we’ve collected our very favourite purveyors of good vibes, welcoming atmospheres and of course, bulk ice cream and chippies.

So without further ado, here is a list of family-friendly Gold Coast restaurants to treat you and your cherubs to some chow, so you can have a reprieve from slaving over the stove for a night.

From north to south.

The Wattle Hotel, Upper Coomera (image supplied)
The Wattle Hotel, Upper Coomera (image supplied)

The Wattle Hotel
A hidden gem in Upper Coomera, The Wattle Hotel is the perfect playground for parents and kiddies. The adult menu is filled with all your fave pub-style dishes while the littlies menu has all their favourites for $12 bucks including a drink and dixie cup – a barg and a half, especially when you consider the inbuilt perk of those blissful sounds of serenity (the kind only a Cheeseburger could buy). 10/10 kids also agree the whopper playground is the bees knees (ok, so that stat is more of an educated guess, we hope you can let it ‘slide’…) Gather the kiddies and get down and see for yourself.
Where: 1 Reserve Road, Upper Coomera

Charis Seafoods
Found in Harley Park, Labrador, Charis Seafoods offers a family-friendly atmosphere with a sweet view to boot. Enjoy your fish and chips by the Broadwater while the kids play in the park or swim in the lagoon. There’s a huge variety of seafood on offer and everything is of the freshest and highest quality. This Gold Coast icon is also renowned for its pelican feeding at 1:30pm daily where close to a hundred pelicans gather for their special feed of fish!
Where: 371 Marine Parade, Labrador

Charis Seafoods (image supplied)
Charis Seafoods (image supplied)

Historic Rivermill
Less restaurant, more full-blown adventure day – Historic Rivermill might be an overachiever, but either way a meal at this beaut spot will delight you and your little people. The outlook from the cafe is breathtaking with views to the bushland beyond and plenty of space, including a cute ‘lil playground, for the kids to explore.

This pretty riverside spot boasts its own petting zoo, so the animal encounters are a must-do for the munchkins. Feed the turtles or alpacas, and and don’t sweat it when your little people grow peckish, of course the cafe boasts plenty of yummy goodies for the human-folk too. Including coffee, which we absolutely will require after herding the critters (we’ll let you decide which we’re referring to). Do yourself a favour and take a drive out there with the whole family.
Where: 950 Beaudesert-Nerang Road, Mt Nathan

Southport Sharks
For families, the beloved Frenzy’s buffet will be the first (and second, and third…) port of call as a sacred eats place adored by all – but especially our mini salad dodgers. There’s also a stacked kids zone – including a rock climbing wall, mini basketball court and theatrette – that will be a slam dunk among all, as the small ones frolic supervised, and you kick back and enjoy a frosty beverage. Plus there’s a stunning fish tank (with real sharks) which is always a winner among the little ones. Frenzy’s is open breakfast, lunch and dinner, with à la carte and buffet options seven days a week.. aka any old time you’re struck by the urge to escape the kitchen.
Where: Olsen Ave and Musgrave Ave, Southport

Father's Day at Southport Sharks (image supplied)
Southport Sharks (image supplied)

Café Catalina
Found in Southport, overlooking the Broadwater is Café Catalina, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pop in for a bit to eat, treat yourself to some tapas and a wine or two, let the kids enjoy some tasty Spaghetti Bolognaise off their designated kids menu and then wander down to the giant playground and let them run rampant before bedtime. It’s win win.
Where: Broadwater Parklands, 10/11 Gold Coast Highway, Southport

TGI Friday’s
With all of the epic US-style eats you could hope to demolish in one sitting, TGI Friday’s at Robina Town Centre, and overlooking the ocean in the refreshed Paradise Centre at Surfers – is the perfect place to take the family for a night out. With everything from their famous ribs and burgers plus a kids menu packed with goodies like Macaroni Cheese, Chicken Fingers and a Cheeseburger to name a few, everyone will leave happy and very satisfied.
Where: Robina Town Centre, Robina and Level 1, Paradise Centre Beachfront Dining, 2 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise

Outback Steakhouse (image supplied)
Outback Steakhouse (image supplied)

Outback Steakhouse
Outback Steakhouse has a casual atmosphere and plenty of good vibes for everyone to enjoy. Meaty morsels like Perfectly seared steaks, Burgers and Ribs make up much of the adult’s menu, but for your mini-me’s there’s also plenty of kid-endorsed options like Chicken fingers, Mac & Cheese and Mini ribs, 2,4,6,8.. bog in, don’t wait! All the kid’s meals start from just $9 and include a drink, pretty sweet ‘eh?
Where: Pacific Fair, Hooker Boulevard, Broadbeach

Mermaid Beach Surf Club
Surf clubs are family friendly on principle but the Mermaid Beach Surf Club in particular has got the goods in the form of a playroom that will keep the kids entertained for hours. Some of us here have been in there and can attest it’s a good time. Of course, they have lots of child-friendly menu options AND on Monday nights kids eat free with any main meal purchased. How good.
Where: 172 Hedges Avenue, Mermaid Beach

Mermaid Beach Tavern, Mermaid Beach (image supplied)
Mermaid Beach Tavern, Mermaid Beach (image supplied)

Mermaid Beach Tavern
These days we’re treated to some next level Tavs, Pavs and Clubs, having broken free of the former beer dungeon status we once associated with our friendly local – and we only need to look as far as Exhibit A: Mermaid Beach Tavern to prove our point. This stunner of a spot is 10’s all round – easy on the eyes, plenty of space and classic pub-style eats that appeal to the whole family.

Putt wait, there’s more… the Putt Putt Meal deal takes this outing from good to great. Enjoy a round of Putt Putt and grab an adult main meal for just $15 and a kids meal for $10.
Where: 2500 Gold Coast Hwy, Mermaid Beach

Miami Marketta
Less a restaurant, more a market-style dining situation is Miami Marketta – and relaxed eats is kind of the whole objective when we’re talking feeding the oft-rambunctious rugrats. Open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights with food stalls and (often) live music, kids absolutely adore running around, dancing and eating all the things. Same. There’s a ridiculous array of next-level desserts and a bar so that’s pretty much all your bases covered we think. Always a fun time.
Where: 23 Hillcrest Parade, Miami

Miami Marketta (image supplied by Destination Gold Coast)
Miami Marketta (image supplied by Destination Gold Coast)

Robina Pavilion
Anyone else sensing a theme here? Key to chillaxed eats with kids in tow = proximity for perambulating outside a must. And Robina Pav has this in spades – you and your rowdy rascals can revel on the lakeside lawn or on the sun drenched deck – rain, hail or shine – thanks to the retractable roof. Good news if you also ‘like piña coladas’ (we do) but not so much ‘getting caught in the rain’ (hard pass).

So regardless of whatever whack weather our trusty BoM app is advising – gather your boisterous brood, chow down on some classic pub nosh and throw back a couple’a bomb Pavilion Coladas while the dishes do themselves… ah, life’s goooood.
Where: 229 Ron Penhaligon Way, Robina

Robina Pavilion (image supplied)
Robina Pavilion (image supplied)

Woodchoppers Inn
Family owned since 1995, Woodchoppers Inn launched a reimagined menu in 2017 to bring North American BBQ to the Gold Coast. Complete with a dedicated kids play area and kids menu, including the likes of Spaghetti and Meatballs and Margherita Pizza – we’d be envious, but we’re too busy tucking in to a 6hr BBQ pork short rib stack, tbh. All kids meals can be upgraded with a drink and ice cream for $2, which we think you’ll agree is pretty good bang for your buck. The entire family will love the perfectly smoked and seared dishes, and the plethora of beers and hand-crafted spirits will go down a treat with the grown ups.
Where: 64 Railway Street, Mudgeeraba

Burleigh Town Hotel (image supplied)
Burleigh Town Hotel (image supplied)

Burleigh Town Hotel
We here on the GC sure do love getting around an all-rounder, and not that we’re superficial or anything – but a tidy $4.5 mil revamp has skyrocketed this spot in the popularity stakes (though the steaks are top notch, also) among locals – and *especially* parents.

Of the sprawling space – a perk particularly favoured among families is the spacious open-air area, with plenty of space for the kids to roam (run wild). With a bistro, beer garden x2, patios and pergola’s aplenty, you can basically take your pick – then promptly perch up and partake in one of the favourite past times of parents everywhere: sit-ervising (or sip-ervising, as the case may be). This is livin’.
Where: Tsipura Drive, Burleigh Heads

The Collective, Palm Beach (image supplied)
The Collective, Palm Beach (image supplied)

The Collective
A well known family-friendly spot on the highway in Palm Beach, The Collective has a HUGE menu for the kids with five types of cuisine on offer including Mexican, Greek, Asian, American and Italian eats. Everything is reasonably priced and the bar is pumping out some of the tastiest cocktails around for Mum and Dad’s enjoyment. Highly recommend for a night out with the team.
Where: 1128 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach

Dune Cafe
Enjoy everything the Gold Coast stands for at Dune Cafe. There’s beautiful views, a laidback atmosphere, top quality local produce and delicious coffee plus it’s found right at Palm Beach Parklands where there’s plenty of space for the kids to run around, Currumbin Creek for a quick dip and the huge Pirate Park playground will provide hours of entertainment while Mum and Dad kick back.
Where: 945 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach

Pirate Park, opposite Dune Cafe, Palm Beach (image supplied)
Pirate Park, opposite Dune Cafe, Palm Beach (image supplied)

Currumbin RSL
Sitting pretty (and we do mean pretty – she’s not like a regular RSL, she’s a cool RSL) right on the banks of Currumbin’s beloved Creek, families flock to this spot in droves. It’s hard to determine if the bigger draw card is the stunner of a creekside outlook or the mix of contemporary and crowd-pleasing bites (the ice cold beers surely don’t hurt either).

Treat the raucous ones to a bambino meal upgrade, and even the fussy eaters will be rapt with a Cheeseburger or Chicken nugs, soft drink and gelati cup or cone (+ obligatory fries and tom sauce, of course – anything less would be unhinged). To appeal to the adults (and it really, really does) – Sticky Chilli Koji Chicken Wings, Hawker Style Bao Buns, and, if you wanna keep it classic, Chicken Parmigiana. With a fully-fenced park adjacent, you’re on to a winner here.
Where: 165 Duringan St, Currumbin

Currumbin RSL, Currumbin (image supplied)
Currumbin RSL, Currumbin (image supplied)

Pasture & Co
Parents, carers, and all other wranglers of tiny humans, add Pasture & Co to the rolling list of – and, we defy any millennial that can resist channelling their inner Dixie Chicks as they read this – *wide open spaaaces*-adjacent havens that have it all. And by that we mean, delicious food and satisfying sips that we can savour (a) at a leisurely pace (b) at their intended temperature and (c) in relative peace while the cherubs burn off some of that circus-vibing energy (aka the holy grail).

While this one is technically more of a café–restaurant hybrid, every Friday & Saturday arvo the fully licensed weekend menu and extended 7pm trade kick in, which certainly lends itself to the latter as far as kid-friendly dinners are concerned (bc while we love them inexplicably – we also want them fed, and in bed no later than 7.31pm, thankyouverymuch). Perch up with Pizzas and Milkshakes for them, House buffalo wings and Chilli marg for you – happy days.
Where: 639 Currumbin Creek Rd, Currumbin Valley

Words by Kellie Leader.

Pasture & Co, Currumbin Valley (image: ©2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Pasture & Co, Currumbin Valley (image: ©2022 Inside Gold Coast)
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