8 cafes and restaurants in Southern Queensland Country worth driving for
ICYMI: Southern Queensland Country is one of Queensland’s most productive food bowls.
Thanks to its elevation (read: 1,000 metres above sea level), temperature – warm days and cool nights – and its strong agricultural connection, there’s no shortage of fresh, local and seasonal produce filtering through the kitchens of local cafes and restaurants.
Add into the mix, award-winning chefs with national and international experience at the helm, you’ll soon see it’s not just all about pub grub in our region either.
Start working up an appetite and put these restaurants on your dining list with this guide.
The Peak, Spicers Peak Lodge, Maryvale
If you choose your restaurant based on the type of hat it wears, buckle your seatbelt and head to The Peak.
In less than two hours, you can be sitting down to lunch or dinner at this Chef-Hat award-winning restaurant where chef Dean Alsford delivers the best Australian produce on each plate.
While the in-house restaurant for Spicers Peak Lodge is only 130 kilometres from Brisbane CBD, why not extend your dining experience with an overnight stay at one of our romantic accommodation options?
Open: Daily, lunch and dinner.
Rosalie House, Toowoomba
For a cellar door dining experience 20 kilometres from Toowoomba, put Rosalie House on your travel list.
Offering a four-course seasonal grazing menu, serving the likes of Queensland prawns with Pernod garlic butter and Emerald Valley rib fillet, this experience is best shared with the whole family.
If you find yourself there mid-morning or early-afternoon, Rosalie House has you covered with a tapas menu too, as you sample their Grenache, Verdelho or Pinot Gris.
With views across the Lilyvale Valley, you’ll want to ensure you stay for the daily sunset show.
Book an overnight in Queensland’s largest inland city and add these things to your weekend itinerary.
Open: Friday and Saturday, 10am to late; Sunday 10am to 5:30pm.
The Larder Café, Goondiwindi
If you’re after a fresh salad, barista-made coffee and local produce to take home with you, put The Larder into your GPS.
Located on Marshall Street Goondiwindi, this local café not only serves delicious meals to your table, they also package them up as takeaway for those who need to eat on the run.
Pick up locally made supplies – from Brigalow Sourdough to homemade biscuits – to enjoy with your Merlo Coffee.
Open: Weekdays, 7am to 4pm; Saturday, 8am to 12pm.
Victoria Hotel, Goondiwindi
For a meal served with a slice of history, head to the Victoria Hotel.
Grab a table at the Family Bistro and order pub classics including the Gundy Bundy Ribs to a Graziers Beef Pie or grain-fed, aged Grazier steaks on the grill.
This establishment may be over 100 years old, but its interior and décor has been given a 21st century facelift.
Open: Daily, lunch and dinner.
River’s Restaurant, St George
Winning both national and state awards from the Australian Good Food and Travel Guide to Restaurant and Catering Queensland Awards, map out your road trip to River’s Restaurant in St George.
Serving dishes you would expect to find in a capital city – from natural oysters to pork belly or Hunter Valley eye fillet – Rivers offers a fine dining experience 500 kilometres from Brisbane CBD.
With a few kilometres to clock up from Brisbane or Toowoomba, this is one restaurant best planned as part of a weekend or holiday itinerary – make sure you read this guide before you go.
Open: Monday to Saturday, dinner.
Bluebird Kitchen, Warwick
No need to travel to Texas to enjoy good ol’ American-style smoked barbeque meats.
Put Warwick, 150 kilometres south-west of Brisbane into your GPS and sit down to a meal at Bluebird Kitchen.
While the executive chef Jim Osborn is a Warwick local, he spent a decade working in kitchens across Australia and overseas, before returning to the 4370 postcode bringing his culinary skills and passion for creating a gastrological experience for diners.
Grab a table for breakfast or lunch or book a table for dinner Wednesday to Saturday (only), where Jim takes the menu up a notch.
Open: Daily, breakfast and lunch, daily; Dinner, Wednesday to Saturday.
Sutton’s Juice Factory Cidery & Cafe, Thulimbah
When your restaurant location doubles as an apple orchard, you know you’re in for a sweet time.
Head to Suttons Orchard, 200 kilometres south-west of Brisbane for a slice of their classic apple pie and a barista-made coffee in the old packing shed.
Following the farm-to-plate philosophy, the menu is packed with fresh, local, seasonal fruit and vegetables – from fruit and herbs straight from the orchard garden to vegetables from within the Granite Belt region.
Don’t drive home with an empty boot either, grab some apple butter, apple jelly or mulberry liqueur to take home, along with a whole apple pie for when you need just one more slice.
Open: Daily, 9:30am to 4:30pm.
Varias Restaurant, Stanthorpe
Winning ‘Best Restaurant in a Winery’ from the HOSTPLUS Awards three years in a row (2015, 2016, 2017), be sure to grab a table at Varias Restaurant.
Not only is this restaurant worth driving for due to its location, housed in the Queensland College of Wine Tourism’s award-winning architecturally designed facility, it’s also where new talent is born.
Each meal is prepared and served by hospitality students enrolled in the $85 million education and training facility.
The seasonal menu showcases the heroes of the Granite Belt region – including meat from Mallow Organic lamb, fresh produce from Sam’s Fruit Shop and seafood from Robbo’s Seafood.
Dine in front of the open fire in winter or on the deck overlooking Banca Ridge Vineyard in summer and taste the best of the Granite Belt, one plate at-a-time.
Discover more about Stanthorpe, here.
Open: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 3pm; Friday and Saturday, 5:30pm – late.
For more inspiration on where to explore across Southern Queensland Country, check out our travel guide or head to our blog.