Wine and Dine Your Way Through Winter at These Must-Try Lake Macquarie Restaurants

Taste your way across one of the largest lakes in the Southern Hemisphere with this locally curated foodie guide.
Nik Addams
Published on June 11, 2024

in partnership with

Based just south of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie is often a thoroughfare on coastal road trips to and from Sydney. Yet the city, which is home to the largest saltwater lake in the southern hemisphere, has every right to be a destination in itself — thanks in no small part to its burgeoning culinary scene.

The lakeside city is home to buzzy cafes, breezy waterside restaurants and farm-to-table establishments that celebrate the region's excellent local produce. Throw in picturesque lakeside towns and plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors, and you've got every reason to make your next visit to Lake Macquarie more than just a pitstop.

In partnership with Lake Macquarie Tourism, we've handpicked nine must-try dining destinations in the city. If you want to level things up even more, visit before June 27, snap a picture of your meal at any eatery in the area, upload it to Instagram with the hashtag #LakeMacFoodie and follow @visitlakemac. In doing so, you'll enter the running to win a Sunday brunch on a luxury yacht for six people, thanks to Silver Sun Sailing.


Emerson's on the Lake

Sweeping lake views and beautifully executed contemporary Australian cuisine have made Emerson Rodriguez's eponymous restaurant an essential stop for any foodie visiting the Hunter region. Set in Toronto's welcoming Royal Motor Yacht Club, the airy restaurant and event space is a sure spot for any kind of occasion, be it a casual lunch, elegant date night or special celebration. Make the most of the unobstructed lake views by taking a seat by the floor-to-ceiling windows or on the expansive outdoor terrace to soak up the sunshine.

On the menu, you'll find appetisers such as chargrilled Bermagui octopus with tzatziki and Emerson's signature duck pâté with baby cornichons, figs and toasted sourdough, as well as mains like pan-roasted Port Stephens snapper served with school prawn-flecked colcannon potatoes and chive beurre blanc.


8 at Trinity

The expansive and oh-so-stylish 8 at Trinity is perched on the edge of the lake at Trinity Point Marina and features a 350-seat dining area, a large terrace, a sprawling lawn and an eye-catching marquee. The menu is inspired by owner Natalie Johnson's global travels but features a host of locally grown produce.

Highlights include roasted watermelon with burrata and 30-year-old aged balsamic vinegar; sea scallops paired with celeriac, pine nuts and blackcurrants; and a 1.2-kilogram Hong Kong-style whole lobster accompanied by egg noodles and a buttery ginger sauce. If you're really indulging, don't go past the spectacular seafood platter piled high with Sydney Rock Oysters, Moreton Bay bugs, kingfish ceviche and more.


Leigh Griffiths


With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the idyllic Lake Macquarie on the other, TINTA is just as good for a relaxed seafood lunch as it is for some low-key sundowners. Tuck into a selection from the seafood-focused menu featuring starters such as Sydney rock oysters with a cucumber mignonette and a picture-perfect lobster and prawn roll.

Then there are mains that include orecchiette tossed in vodka sauce and finished with house-smoked salmon and grilled market fish with Greek-style lemon potatoes and green beans — pair the latter with a serve from the six-strong margarita menu for a breezy feast in the sun.


Good One

This charming Belmont cafe is all about service with a smile — and you'd have every reason to smile thanks to its location alone right across from Lake Macquarie.

Swing by for short-order brunch plates and loaded toasties like The Vego, packed with chargrilled zucchini and capsicum, sundried tomatoes, swiss cheese, basil pesto and rocket, as well as excellent coffee starring beans from Wyong-based roaster Glee Coffee Roasters.


Mama P Wholefoods

The clue is in the name at this Charlestown spot — Mama P is all about crafting food with real (read: unprocessed) ingredients. The family-run cafe started life over a decade ago when husband and wife James and Kylie Pheils wanted to provide healthy but delicious treats for their two young sons. Fast forward to today, and the cafe is now slinging some of the best brunches in the region.

One section of the menu is dedicated to its famous warm toasted vegan waffles — opt for them topped with berries and coconut ice cream, fresh seasonal fruit or bacon, fried egg and maple syrup. Almost everything is made from scratch with plenty of meat-, gluten-, dairy- and refined sugar-free options making Mama P a surefire crowd-pleaser.


Mr Sister Coffee

Speers Point or Stanmore? You'd be mistaken for thinking you're in an Inner West haunt when you step into this sleek coffee shop at the tip of Lake Macquarie, but there's a definite coastal sensibility about this whole affair — think whitewashed interiors elevated with light wood elements and an impressive tiled counter that frames the space.

The focus here is on the excellent coffee — with beans by Coffee Supreme — but there's also a tidy selection of fresh pastries, cakes and other baked goods, as well as quiche, focaccia or toasties if you're after something more substantial. If you like the bread, swing by early to pick up a loaf of oven-fresh sourdough from the well-stocked pantry.


Martha Drink and Dine

A proud new addition to the historic Belmont 16s Sailing Club, Martha is an elegant restaurant and bar that's quickly become a must-visit for locals and visitors alike. It becomes pretty clear why from the moment you step inside the first-floor venue with its stylish design, attentive service, well-crafted cocktails and Mediterranean-influenced food menu.

But the real showstopper is the views, which are so close to the waterfront, you might as well be on the lake. While dinner here is an excellent choice for an elegant date night or catch-up, you'd have just as good a time stopping by for drinks, with a roster that pays tribute to Hunter Valley wineries, breweries and distilleries.


Caves Coastal

Fact: Lake Macquarie is twice the size of Sydney Harbour. As such, there is a heap of relatively undiscovered — but no less picturesque — spots that can fly a little under the radar. You get the feeling that's exactly how the locals of Caves Beach like it. Named for, yes, the spectacular caves that dot its coastline, this little locale is full of charm and, in the case of Caves Coastal Bar and Bungalows, proper, old-school hospitality.

This restaurant, bar and boutique hotel is set more or less on top of the beach and is an ideal spot for a sundowner thanks to its summer-ready cocktail list and considered wine menu, with most pours available by the glass. Pair your serve with some of the best views on the coastline, and even a night in one of the beautifully appointed on-site bungalows or villas, and you'll think twice before seeing this part of the world as just a thoroughfare.


To win a luxury Sunday brunch for you and five guests, dine at any venue in Lake Macquarie during the competition entry period and share a photo of your experience on Instagram using the hashtag #LakeMacFoodie. Entries open 25 May and close 22 June 2024. The winner will be announced on 27 June on the @visitlakemac's Instagram page. For more top-notch dining destinations in and around Lake Macquarie, visit the Lake Macquarie Tourism website

Published on June 11, 2024 by Nik Addams
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