Queensland is the perfect destination for an on-the-road culinary adventure where the only thing rivalling the stunning scenery is what is on your plate. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Queensland is famous for its local produce so why not dine as close as possible to the source of those juicy, golden pineapples, Hervey Bay scallops, Stanthorpe apples and wild barramundi? Here are nine regional Queensland restaurants that are worth the trip.

The Long Apron

Spicers Clovelly Estate at Montville is home to The Long Apron, a two-hatted restaurant that is the jewel in this luxury retreat’s crown. Degustation is the order of the day with a changing European-influenced menu offering five courses. Think Champagne lobster with lemon tea tree granita and, for dessert, malted potato ice cream with miso caramel mousse (trust me, it is delicious). Molecular gastronomy magic adds a touch of theatre. Come for the exceptional food and wine and stay the night so you can enjoy it to the full.  And, yes, you should definitely do the wine matching.

Pre-dinner nibbles at The Long Apron: parmesan ‘tree’ with parmesan puffs

McGregor Terrace Food Project

After working at some of Australia’s top luxury lodges, Ben and Louise Lanyon have returned to the town where Louise grew up to raise their family and create a dream restaurant. What was once a corner store has been transformed into a warm, welcoming bistro, with the quarter acre block outside devoted to a garden filled with fresh produce and room to play boules or totem tennis. ‘We wanted a restaurant serving great food where people could also bring their kids,’ says Ben, who can be found in the kitchen while Louise manages front of house. The food at McGregor Terrace is more ‘fine dining’ than ‘country bistro’ except for one thing – the prices listed on the menu which changes weekly. The likes of twice baked pork belly served with fennel remoulade cost a lot more than $34 in the big smoke.

Spirit House

Refined, modern Thai food is complemented by tinkling gamelan music at Spirit House comprised of Thai-style pavilions overlooking a lake. Dishes this Sunshine Coast restaurant are designed to be shared, although the likes of Mooloolaba king prawn stir fry and whole crispy fish frequently sees diners duelling with forks. Be warned, you will likely want to keep those wok seared scallops with pork floss, apple and green nahm jim all to yourself. An impressive list of wines by the glass allows diners to indulge and still drive home.

King Prawn Stir Fry at Spirit House

Nu Nu

Carefully crafted dishes complement the warm tropical surrounds at Nu Nu, a longstanding Top 100 restaurant in the annual Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide. Spectacular views across the Coral Sea add to what is already an exceptional dining experience, with the likes of wok friend North Queensland mud crab or butter poached prawns with candied bacon followed by coconut snow eggs for dessert. Even better, there is no need to limit yourself to lunch or dinner. It is worth hitting the road early for breakfast, with dishes such as North Queensland mud crab omelette or coconut and banana hotcakes with coconut sugar caramel and a scoop of coconut sorbet on the side.

Indulge Cafe

This Bundaberg cafe is worth getting up early for, with mouth watering breakfast dishes such as The Breakfast Board which includes three mini breakfasts: granola with spiced apple and Gympie yoghurt, mushroom bruschetta with a Fig Tree Farm poached egg and a lychee and raspberry macaron for ‘dessert’. Lunch at Indulge Cafe is equally tempting with inventive dishes, like a crispy Japanese chicken breast burger with pickled ginger and Asian slaw, which venture far beyond the usual cafe fare. Warm, friendly service is the icing on the cake.

Indulge at Indulge Cafe

COAST Restaurant & Bar

With dishes that are designed to be shared, COAST offers a dining experience that’s as relaxed and convivial as Hervey Bay itself. Local produce drives the menu which frequently dips its toes into the surrounding coastal waters. Start with Hervey Bay scallops served in a half shell with coriander and hazelnut butter or grilled Fraser Island king prawns, followed by something more substantial like bourbon glazed beef short ribs. Feasting menus are available from $30 per head for tables of six or more. Dessert includes a sophisticated take on a classic pavlova, with lemon curd, passionfruit and strawberries from a nearby farm.

COAST Restaurant & Bar

Ocean View Estate

Overlooking bucolic rolling hills with ocean sparkling in the distance, this casual yet classy winery restaurant near Dayboro is pretty as a picture. An outdoor deck makes the most of the fresh, country air and friendly staff make everyone welcome. Opt for a share plate featuring crispy pork belly or tender brisket cooked for 12 hours, both of which come with a choice of two sides. Vegetarians are especially well catered for at Ocean View Estate with dishes such as mushroom dumplings with green shallots, puffed quinoa, and sesame ginger dressing and sweet corn fritters with pickled baby beets and richly flavoured heirloom tomatoes. On weekends you can drop in for breakfast from 8.30am onwards.

Osprey’s Restaurant

Here you get lunch or dinner with a show thanks to the native wildlife, although the food alone is reason enough to visit. Brightly coloured parrots flit through the gum trees, alighting on branches and splashing in a bird bath hidden amongst the foliage. Huge monitor lizards also make regular appearances, crawling slowly up the silver trunks of the mighty gums as they try to surprise the bathing beauties. Allow time to sit back with a cool drink and watch their antics before you order, it’s one of the things that makes dining here such a special experience. Osprey’s Restaurant serves Mod-Oz cuisine with a local twist, such as butter and chilli poached Coral Sea banana prawns and Mareeba mango mousse with pineapple compote. Reserve a table as this unique restaurant is deservedly popular.

Lunch with a view at Osprey’s Restaurant

Whet Cafe, Bar & Restaurant

Dine surrounded by the Daintree at this casual Cape Tribulation restaurant with a strong commitment to the environment. Whet is entirely self-sustaining with a private water supply and grey water irrigation for the lush tropical fruit orchard out the back. At night, Whet is lit by natural light from a fire, creating an intimate, almost other-worldly ambience. Dishes are more conventional than cutting edge, with the tempura battered local wild caught barramundi, served with chips and house-made tartare, and house-made chicken curry earning rave reviews. However, they go to show that sometimes the simple things really are the best.