Travelling to a tourist destination like Noosa conjures up images of tropical fruit, coconuts and freshly caught seafood. Although there are some culinary hotspots where you could eat like a cave king, many are quite expensive.
For me, I was looking for fresh seasonal food on a budget, as well as versatile menu options to suit my dietary requirements (grain-free, dairy-free, legume-free, nut-free, seed-free and generally low carb). Just a few small things!
Fortunately, Noosa has a growing health food culture and there are many paleo-friendly options, some a little off the beaten track (by this I mean, away from Hastings Street!)
The other discovery I made which is worth sharing is that the eateries tend to open and close their kitchens to align with ‘regular’ eating times. I never really eat at any particular time, I just eat when I’m hungry and when it suits me! Sometimes this means my first meal is at 10am, my second meal is at 4pm and then I might end my day with a light snack or elixir.
So make sure you get a good meal in before 3pm, because no eateries will serve food between roughly 3pm and 6pm – good to know particularly if you need to monitor your blood glucose levels.
Here’s a list of what I discovered.
10 Hastings Street Café, Noosa Heads
Ok so this is on the main street, but it’s a great place for a bite to eat in a chilled atmosphere. They also have free WIFI so it makes a great work spot. The staff are very friendly and helpful and the food is fresh.
I ordered the breakfast “Supersalad” which is served all day (meaning until 3pm!) It was fresh, flavoursome and just what I needed after a morning trail run in the national park. They have a delicious range of dairy-free smoothies and they even make a matcha latte (so trendy right now!)
The lunch menu changes every day and draws on seasonal produce – there is generally a fish of the day, crustaceans and local delicacies on offer.
Menu highlights: breakfast ‘Supersalad’, ‘Nutrition Bomb’ smoothie (dairy-free), fresh drinking coconuts and the seasonal lunch menu.
Raw Energy, Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Don’t be fooled by the name, it has meat options too! Raw Energy is a (mostly) raw food café that is both affordable and healthy. It’s in Noosaville and offers a relaxed atmosphere and picturesque view of the Noosa River. It’s actually a chain and is located all over the Sunshine Coast so I was familiar with the menu. Their slogan is “fresh, fast and funky” and I can vouch that they are all of these things (if funky means multi-coloured décor!) I had the Meaty Raw Salad, which comes with your choice of protein. For a fast feed on holidays you can’t really go wrong.
Menu highlights: Meaty Raw Salad, the “Famous” Raw Energy Burger (make it paleo by omitting the bun) and fresh smoothies and juices.
The Burger Bar, Thomas Street Noosaville
Now this place was a godsend for me as they stay open late and provide quick and convenient paleo-friendly fare. I discovered them after an epic gym workout and so I was on the hunt for a primal feed. Seeing their signage was like seeing a waterhole in a desert!
All the ingredients are locally sourced and everything is made in-house, including the sauces and relishes (which can be ordered on the side if you’re not sure). The meat is free-range and hormone-free too.
I had the “Dutch Oven” burger which comes with a beef pattie, bacon, sauerkraut, lettuce, tomato and house mayo. I omitted the bun (obviously) and the fried onions (cooked in flour).
Menu highlights: Mexican Lime Slaw with cabbage and mixed veggies, any of the burgers paleo-fied.
Wasabi, Quamby Place Noosa Sound
Now a little disclaimer – I didn’t get a chance to eat here. I’m all for eating alone, but not so much when white tablecloths are involved! Next time I’ll be sure to find a date so I can try it out. This restaurant was highly recommended by a local gluten-free eater. They described it as top-notch sushi if that’s your thing (or sashimi if you are rice-free).
On perusing the menu, what did impress me was that Wasabi has its own farm called ‘Honeysuckle Hill’ where it grows much of the produce it uses in the dishes.
Not only that: they irrigate the farm with water from a natural spring; and the vegetable off-cuts and peelings from the restaurant are composted (using a Japanese method called Bokashi – something I must learn more about).
They design the menu around ingredients as they are new in season, and they love to showcase some of the lesser-known seafood from the local fishing fleet each day.
Ok, Wasabi you had me at Bokashi. Now I definitely need a date!
Noosa Surf Club, Hastings Street Noosa Heads
For the most spectacular of views, head to Noosa Surf Club which is right on the main beach. I recommend going just before sunset, and if you can snare an outside table even better. There’s lots of fresh seafood to choose from including local prawns and freshly shucked oysters. The seafood platter for two offers a good selection that will satisfy a primal hunger (just ask for the fish to be grilled not battered). There’s plenty of meat options too for something more hearty.
The club is a great option for families or those with a hunger much larger than their wallet will stretch!
Menu highlights: iced bucket of Mooloolaba king prawns, osso bucco (gluten free), macadamia-crusted barramundi
Organika Organic Health Food Store, Gibson Road, Noosaville
Last but not least, if you need to stock up on some paleo essentials or you want to cook your own cave feast, visit Organika on Gibson Road in Noosaville. The store is large and they stock everything you need including fresh produce. They have a small café when you can grab a coffee, juice or smoothie.
I could honestly live very happily in Noosa, or anywhere on the Sunshine Coast. The food is as beautiful as the weather, the lifestyle is chilled, relaxed, outdoors and perfectly aligned with paleo living.