If we were asked to name some of the world’s most-loved culinary combinations, tacos and tequila would be at the very top of that list. Well pretty much any Mexi-eats and all of the salty, mouthwatering margaritas we can get our hands on, to be specific.
Luckily, we have once again been blessed with our foodie dreams coming true thanks to a brand new Mexican eatery and tequila bar by the name of Caracara Cantina.
The newbie opened last week in the space that was formerly home to Hidden Wine Bar and Café and it’s the work of two people who gave us beloved Burleigh bar, Lockwood. Brenden Yeo and Zac Wright opened the secretive speakeasy almost exactly two years ago and now they’ve launched an equally impressive space into the Tugun dining scene.
Caracara is made up of two sections – the first, at the front, is a sweet shade of peach with white wooden tables and cactuses of all shapes and sizes strewn throughout. Perfection.
At the back, the tequila bar is moody and lowlit bringing the Lockwood vibes we know and love with quite the impressive array of tequila stacked on bar shelves. Both high tables and corner spaces are made for intimate, late-into-the-night chats soaked with quality tequila. The best kind.
The menu starts with tasty, flavour-packed dishes like Spiced Bean Dip, Padron Pepper, Ceviche and Charred Corn Cob and each is an absolute must-try.
Moving onto tacos, they’re the authentic, charred, melt-in-your-mouth variety with options like Spiced Pumpkin, Caracara beans, Pulled Pork or Fish and we recommend eating at least one of each, they’re all that good.
Of course, there’s a Giant Burrito and a Roasted Sweet Potato Salad made up of a whole, oven-baked sweet potato and topped with a fresh herb and chilli salad, corn salsa and salsa verde. Much delight.
As you’d imagine (having no doubt visited Lockwood many a time), the cocktail list is a special one with five margarita varieties including the Classic, Breakfast, Tommy’s, Chilli and Coconut.
There’s also a couple of tipples that include both tequila and lager and we’re obviously big fans of those.
If you’re keen to get involved in both tacos and tequila tastings, we suggest a Mexi-feast at the front (accompanied by a margie or two to warm you up), then an after-party in the back bar where the good times will definitely be rolling.
It’s happy days for Tugun Gold Coasters, Caracara is going to be an absolute hit.
LOCATION: 455 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
HOURS: Open 5pm until late Wednesday to Saturday and midday until late Sunday
Words and photos by Kirra Smith
Many would have considered this unassuming suburb as just somewhere you zipped through on your way to the airport a few years ago, but oh my, how things have changed. Now, overflowing with the kind of beachside village vibes that are highly sought after these days — and a decent collection of cafes, eateries and other reasons to part with your hard-earned cash — Tugun has well and truly come into its own. And we think you deserve to be in on this action.
So, whether you live near or far, we encourage you to give this locale some devoted time. To assist you in doing this, our gathering of reasons locals love Tugun should be more than enough incentive to make your way to this quiet and much-loved corner of our Coast.
Craft House Restaurant & Bar
Beer is the star attraction at the Craft House — the reason being there are a whopping 20 on tap. You’ll find a kaleidoscope of beer variety at your fingertips, with some exciting and not so often found guest ales displaying interesting flavours and sizeable ABVs! The relaxed pub atmosphere is the perfect spot to while away an evening with live music and great share style plates.
Where: 445 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
Niche & Co
If you’re a fan of acai bowls in any shape or form, then we implore you to take a visit to this oh-so-cute hole-in-the-wall-style café. We don’t mind saying it — these guys dish up some of the best bowls on the Coast. Period. Not just this, the precious little space boasts healthy and delicious meals, cold press coffee, raw and vegan treats. Get in there for good vibes and Insta-opportunities stat.
Where: Shop 4/449 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
Good Day Coffee
It’s always a good day when you’ve got a Good Day Coffee in your hand! Starting out as the prime pit-stop-grab-coffee and go kind of spot, locals now flock habitually here to caffeinate themselves for a big day ahead. You can expect all of the lip-licking goods — particularly their toasted-to-perfection toasties and one-of-a-kind Bacon & Egg Smashes — if you know, you know.
Where: 2/476 Gold Coast Highway, Tugun
If vintage furniture and funky interiors are your things (and we know they are), look no further than Found. They specialise in imported Danish and mid-century furniture as well as one-off collectables and some contemporary homewares thrown in for good measure. We say pop in if you’re in the market for a piece that’s certain to make you the envy of all your friends.
Where: Shop 2, 471 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
House of Hubert
Sustainable, seasonable and farm to fork are words that usually describe a restaurant that produces culinary gold — and House of Hubert is no exception. Chefs take only the best local produce to create nourishing, tasty eats that are an absolute must-try. When it comes to coffee, they consistently pour the goods —always served with a smile. And as for the space, it kind of feels like home (but with better food).
Where: 5 Toolona Street, Tugun
The Welcome to the Gold Coast mural
Mural art is finding itself a steadily growing home here on the Gold Coast. Iconic pieces are helping nurture an identity beyond theme parks and beaches — and we’re all here for it. Renowned creative and mural artist Kiel Tillman is behind this wonderous heaven-sent artwork on the side of Tugun Supermarket. His skills have created a bold and iconic piece: greeting tourists arriving from the airport and something the locals are proud of.
Where: Tugun Fruit Market, Gold Coast Highway, Tugun
Made Barber & Barista
Finding a great cup of joe beyond noon can sometimes be an impossible feat. Well, no more. Find yourself in Tugun and Made Barber & Barista is the place to pop into up until 3pm on weekdays for a guaranteed stellar cup of jitter juice and a chance to catch your breath. Being a barbershop set up as well, if you’re a guy out there who feels like their hair needs some love, then you’ve found the best place to receive it. Let the talented Britt do her magic on your locks — you won’t look back!
Where: 2B/417 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
Tugun Fruit & Flowers
If you’re yet to experience the sensory extravaganza that is Tugun Fruit & Flowers, you might want to rectify that quick smart my friend. The space has been making Tugun smell pretty since 1975 by offering the very best in beautiful flower arrangements along with a plethora of fresh juices, acai bowls, and other gift-style goods you will simply want to get your hands on.
Where: 4/467 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
First things first — when you decide to visit this den of divine food, we suggest you book a table. It’s so popular should you walk in and expect a table, you are likely going to be sorely disappointed. The Thai menu offers all the classics but with an ever-so-slight Australian twist, meaning all the authentic, fresh fragrant flavours are there along with local ingredients and plentiful servings. One aspect you shouldn’t overlook at this venue is their capacity to make first-rate cocktails. A Thai restaurant that makes terrific cocktails?! Yes, we know — must try!
Where: Shop 7, 443 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
It’s the last piece of the puzzle for our beloved Burleigh Heads, a suburb filled with first class dining and arguably the most beautiful beach in the world. That’s right folks, Lockwood Bar opened this week and it’s every bit the secretive, speakeasy drinking den of your dreams.
You can find the small bar via a red door on Justin Lane (it’s a laneway behind the restaurant of the same name) and once you do the fun has begun. There’s a phone number and a secret code and once you’ve made contact you’ll be met at the door and escorted through the red velvet curtain. Once inside, you’ll be greeted by exceptionally cosy space decked out industrial-style with a wooden ceiling, wrought iron bar stools and, the pièce de résistance, a bar stocked with spirits you’ve probably never laid eyes on before.
Since alcohol is the name of the game here you won’t be surprised to learn there are 140 specifically chosen bottles on the bar, 70 of which are varieties of whiskey.
Who knew there were that many you ask. Co-owner Brendan Yeo knew, that’s who. He’s extremely knowledgeable (not to mention passionate) about all things spirits and LOVES to educate his guests on the story behind each tipple.
The other half of the team Zac Wright was a brewer for Stone and Wood in a past life, so he’s the guy who knows a lot about beer (among other things).
Together the pair dreamt up the venue with the intention of creating a bar to match the high quality food scene Burleigh is already bringing to the Coast.
The cocktail list is made up of Brendan’s personal spin on the classics. A favourite is the Brookies Blackthorn served in a teacup with Brookies Slow Gin (a Byron Bay local), Mancinno Rosso Vermouth, orange bitters and fresh rosemary.
The wine list, also carefully selected, is made up of softer French and Italian drops.
If an all-encompassing experience is on your hit list, seek out Lockwood Bar’s red door and prepare to be transported into the theatrical world of old school speakeasies.
LOCATION: Justin Lane, Burleigh Heads (the rest is up to you)
HOURS: 5pm to midnight Thursday to Monday
Words and photos by Kirra Smith
Happy days are here southern friends and they come in the form of Tugun’s new tropical Thai eatery, Sticky Rice.
Not just any old Thai eatery though, this one is offering up authentic southern Thai eats with a modern twist and an emphasis on share plates. As it turns out, sharing meals is the way things generally go in Thailand. Who knew.
The space is upstairs on Golden Four Drive, above Café Caribou, and overlooking delightful little Tugun. It’s an actual tropical paradise with a jungle-style mural painted on the back wall, straw thatched paneling and dark wood accents.
Woven furniture and authentic Thai lightshades are offset by gold cutlery and custom-made white tiled tables and, our favourite part, a neon sign shining from the back corner stating “let’s get together and eat more rice”. A nod to your main man Bob Marley whose cruisy tunes are soothing your tired soul in the background.
Now, the food. The small plates are all of your favourite Thai dishes but likely more fresh and delicious than you’ve ever experienced. There’s Thai Fried Chicken with a rice flour crust, sticky rice and sweet pickle, Salt and Pepper Tempura Calamari and Soft Shell Crab with chilli jam, fried garlic and fresh lime and a couple of Thai soups that will knock your socks off.
The big plates are also the goods, again with all your favourites, but not as you know them. Dishes like Crying Tiger with Wagyu sirloin, BBQ Street Chicken and Green Curry with eggplant are some of the best tasting (and smelling) eats ever.
Oh and there’s Massaman Beef Cheek. Yes sir.
Thai cocktails are a fun time too. The menu is filled with the classics and all with a Thai twist. For example, the Tom Kargarita is (the love of your life) a margarita but with the tastes of the Tom Kha Gai soup thrown for an extra flavour sensation. The Tom Yum Collins is a gin-based tipple with kaffir lime, galangal, lemongrass and chilli. Oh my.
Owners Sarah and Monty opened Sticky Rice after quite the around the world jaunt. Upon their return, they decided to bring their beloved Tugun a taste of Sarah’s southern Thai heritage and that they have pals.
The food is epic and the vibes are reminiscent of the tropical Thai holiday we would all love to be on right now (beat it rain). Get in there and give your tastebuds some love.
LOCATION: Shop 7, 443 Golden Four Drive, Tugun (above Café Caribou)
HOURS: From 5pm until late Tuesday to Sunday
Words and photos by Kirra Smith.