While the Margaret River region is known for a love of brunches and long lunches, there’s a growing feast of places to dine after dark. From north to south, the region’s night time dining haunts offer everything from rustic Italian and classic pub fare to Chinese/Malay cuisine and Japanese-inspired degustations. Similarly, settings and price range from that of casual outing to all-out dining divinity – meaning there’s a dinner option for every occasion.
With many of the region’s operators changing their hours seasonally, it’s worth checking dinner-time opening hours or calling ahead if you’re unsure. With that said, there’s some serious ground to cover here no matter the season, so get eating.
Where once it was the norm to simply cruise down Busselton’s Queen Street to check out what was open by night, there are now more than a few favourites worth beelining for.
- Amelia Park Lodge & Tavern in Vasse sees no expense spared in styling. Dress up for dinner at the Lodge’s restaurant and enjoy a selection from their new menu in a cosy setting. Alternatively, the Tavern has the “wow” factor for its Euro fit-out and twist on classic pub food, but won’t break the bank. Exhibit A: Tuesday steak night.
- Spice Odysee Hidden Kitchen – Everyone’s favourite food van now has a restaurant too. Enjoy Sathish’s delicious southern Indian curries, dosas and desserts from 5pm to 7.30pm Tuesday to Sunday. There’s daily specials and takeaway also available. (If dining in July, call first as they may be taking a short break.)
- The Goose Beach Bar & Restaurant is a bit of a Busselton institution, offering quintessential views over the Jetty and Geographe Bay as it sparkles by night. A brand new menu includes seafood chowder, duck wellington and 14-hour brisket – hello, winter dining perks.
- Equinox Restaurant & Bar is also famous for their glittering Bay and Jetty views, but their specialty lies in solid upscale pub classics like a next-level chicken parmi that makes for essential eating.
- The Ship Inn delivers everything you want in a country pub, including good value casual dining and nightly specials, plus a poker night, quiz night, karaoke, and weekend live music.
- Stilts Beach Bar and Restaurant is a friendly and relaxed spot on the beach side of the Broadwater Resort: go for snacks and starters, hearty main courses, pizza, regional wine, beers and cocktails.
- Darleens is a relatively new kid (read: small bar) on the block with a quirky style and plenty of character. One of few spots open and serving food late, go here for simple bar bites, cocktails, plenty of craft beer on tap, and a round of darts. Look out for their beer and yoga nights, too.
A couple of new arrivals over the past few years means holidaymakers now struggle to fit in all the great dinner venues on offer in Dunsborough. It’s well worth trying, though.
- Blue Manna Bistro is a haven for fresh seafood under the direction of talented chef/owner Coby Cockburn, who’s Asian fusion style menu is a treat. Portions are generous and flavours bold and delicious. In time for winter, Blue Manna has taken over the shops next door to combine a fresh fish and takeaway outlet. Read: professional fish and chips, fresh sashimi, bento boxes and poke bowls.
- Yarri has brought sophisticated and understated dining to Dunborough, with a versatile offering that runs the gamut from bar snacks to fine chef’s menu dining. Heading up the kitchen is WA chef icon and part-owner Aaron Carr (of Vasse Felix acclaim), who’s designed a menu honouring nature, seasonality and the South West.
- The Pourhouse caters for sports lovers and casual diners late into the night. Upstairs the Elevator Bar is home to a snack-driven menu, plus beer club, Thursday night darts, and live AFL. The Pourhouse menu includes pizza and burgers (2 for 1 on Tuesday nights), plus the usual pub favourites. Added bonus: a dog-friendly alfresco area.
- La Casina is an authentic Italian restaurant tucked off Caves Road, serving home-made pasta dishes showcasing local produce. Vegans and kids alike will be happy – there’s plenty of solid options for both.
- Clancy’s Fish Pub is home to a selection of honest seafood fare, a terrific selection of south west craft beers on tap, a serviceable wine list and friendly service. Hosting regular live music and with plenty of space, this is a great spot for fun nights with the family or large groups.
- Wise Wine is an institution for regular visitors to the region. Open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights until 11pm, WISE’s menu features fresh local produce and its staple items are inspired by elements of smoke and fire. Try the $80 5-course Feed Me menu – there’ll be no regrets.
- Lot 80 – Located on the same property as WISE, this weekend-only dinner spot is under the same watchful eye of restaurant pro Heath Townsend. The menu here is inventive and responds to season, with an emphasis on keeping things family-friendly.
- Palmer Wines is on Dunsborough’s doorstep and open for dinner Friday and Saturday nights offering solid modern Australian cuisine. You’ll be among the locals here!
Other notables for dinner in Dunsborough include The Dunsborough Tavern for fun pub food and plenty of specials (including “feed the family for $50” on Monday nights), Occy’s for tummy-filling plates and an experimental range of brews, Snatch for awesome bao and hotdogs, Pedros for tex-Mexican faves, the new Bayside Burger Bar, and Peace Pizza – where the big wood fired oven will keep you warm while you wait.
It might not have a town centre, but Yallingup bats above its weight when it comes to great dinner dining.
- Lamont’s Smiths Beach serves icon Kate Lamont’s signature food – fresh, simple, elegant dishes paired with a great wine-by-the-glass list as well as bottled wines and boutique beer.
- Caves House Hotel is one of Yallingup’s best known landmarks, not least for their decent wine and beer lists, solid pub food and heritage charm. This spot is a locally-loved hub for live entertainment and Sunday sessions that extend well into the evening.
- Cape Lodge – another Yallingup 7-night delight, this lakeside spot offers refined a la carte dining in a seriously serene setting. Be sure to look out for their regular winter dining events, including Sunday Chef’s Harvest Dinners – a 3-course share menu created from the best of local and estate-grown produce.
- Studio Bistro combines both light and hearty fare in a contemporary bush setting. It’s hard to go past their sharing options of whole duck, smoked BBQ beef ribs, and seafood moqueca stew.
- Little Fish is one spot you’ll never walk away from hungry. Open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday, they serve an expansive array of steak, seafood, pasta and sides. (Note: they will be closed from 26 July to 30 August 2019.)
- Chow’s Table is a relative newcomer with an innovative and exciting Chinese/Malay offering under the direction of experienced operator Mal Chow. Located at House of Cards winery (technically in Wilyabrup, but it’s a short drive), dinner here is served Friday and Saturday from 6pm until late.
Margaret River’s main strip has a collection of night time dining options that will take you right around the globe.
- Morries is a must when in Margaret River. Open daily ‘til late for relaxed evening dining, service here is slick, and cocktails are the drink of choice thanks to award-winning bartender and cocktail-shaker Billy Phillips. Note: sharing is the name of the game.
- Mikis Open Kitchen is a Margaret River experience in its own right. Chef Miki’s non-traditional Japanese degustation dinner is a wonder – both to behold and to digest. Break up your wine adventure here and opt for something from the sake list. Reservations are a must for the 2 nightly seatings at 6pm and 8pm, Tuesday to Saturday, in which diners opts for one of four menus – Trust The Chef, The Complete Experience, Sake Discovery, and the newly added Miki’s For Kids. It’s hard to go wrong.
- Arc Of Iris – A recent refurb has taken this long-time dinner favourite and main strip institution up a notch. Enjoy modern Australian cuisine, a wide range of local wines, plus local beers on tap, live music, and fresh marron always on the menu.
- Swings Taphouse & Kitchen is dishing out signature pizza, proteins and rustic veggie options in a friendly, laid-back environment with Swings & Roundabouts wine on tap – available by the carafe. Visitors will find a number of wine and beer-inspired events here throughout winter.
- Settlers Tavern has families covered for hearty winter dining. Think American BBQ, burgers, steaks, salads and pub favourites proudly using local ingredients wherever possible, plus 400+ local, Australian and international drops to choose from on one of the country’s most acclaimed wine lists.
- Elkamo serves both share plate tapas and main courses in a luxe dining environment. Save room to enjoy a selection from their impressive cheese cabinet.
- Brewhouse is Margaret River’s only in-town craft brewery with a dinner service on Friday and Saturday nights. Make no mistake: this food is designed around the beer, so pair it up.
- Leeuwin Estate breaks the winery 9-5 mould with a Saturday night dinner service, extending their seriously world-class dining experience to more visitors. Choose from their stunning a la carte or degustation menus and get a taste of what all the fuss is about at this award-winning establishment.
- Pizzica is as close as you’ll get to Italy in Margaret River. The warm atmosphere and service in this basement restaurant is a winter’s dream. It’s hard to go past the pizza menu, but it’s worth the diversion to enjoy something hearty from the charcoal grill, or signature dishes including ossobuco, pork shank, stuffed mussels, and Porchetta. Bookings tend to be essential.
- La Scarpetta Trattoria is situated directly above Pizzica and extends Margaret River’s love affair with Italian cuisine. It’s all about the antipasti and the pasta here – try the gnocchi with oxtail ragu. Is there a more heart-warming winter meal?
- The River Bar & Restaurant is open 7 days ‘til late for casual dining, open fireplaces, warming night caps and the enjoyment of a menu well beyond standard pub fare.
Other casual dinner dining in Margaret River worth a mention (and a visit!) includes Burger Baby, Teddi’s Big Spoon Korean diner, and the Kingfisher Indian Café.
Good old fashioned country hospitality and hearty fare is on the dinner menu in Augusta and Karridale.
- Karridale Tavern is just a short drive out of Augusta and serves traditional pub food with friendly service. Daily dinner sees an array of specials, but the $20 Sunday roast is a winning ticket.
- The Augusta Hotel is an institution and a trip to this charming town would not be complete without a meal inside these heritage walls. Grab a spot by the open fire and enjoy dinner with a cold beer or local wine and one of the region’s best views – straight out over the Hardy Inlet, where the Blackwood River meets the Southern Ocean.