Eat & Drink

WHEN FRIENDS COME TO STAY // A Gourmet Weekend Itinerary For Foodies

An Itinerary For Showcasing Gourmet Food + Bevvie Experiences In The Illawarra

We’ve all got those friends who are total foodies. The ones who choose the fanciest dish on the menu when you go out to eat, the ones who LIVE for gourmet goodness and the ones who think Maggie Beer is a goddess [she kind of is to be fair].

If you’ve got an epicurean [massive foodie] coming to stay with you this weekend or any weekend in the near future, you’ll probably want to show them all the amazing goodness that is the Illawarra food scene.

Or maybe you’re the foodie and you want to treat yourself to a little culinary adventure… if so, can we come too?

Check out this itinerary we’ve cooked up for a weekend packed with deliciousness – a gourmet guide to the Illawarra guaranteed to fill bellies, tantalise taste buds and give even the harshest of critics their own ratatouille moment.

Bon Appetit!


TGIF! Relax and let go of the week that was with Franco Pizza Bars aperitivo hour. From 4pm – 5:30pm Francos in Thirroul is open for a selection of antipasti, drink specials and even deals for the kiddos, if you’ve got them in tow.

Mia Mia Bar in Wollongong also has the Italian snacking sorted with smaller and larger bites and an EPIC wine menu, really putting the ‘wine’ in ‘un-win[e]d’.


Start your day off right with a brekkie that’s not just tasty, but the spot itself is a total feast for the eyes. Penny Whistlers Cafe in Kiama serves up all-day breakfast and lunch so no matter what time you sleep in, you’ll be sorted. Plus, the view of Kiama Harbour from the window is legit jaw-dropping. It’s the perfect excuse to show off this beautiful part of the world we live in.

If it’s pastries your guests seek then you gotta seek out Miller’s Local Bakehouse. With a few pop-up locations around the Illawarra over weekends and a forever home soon on the cards, keep an eye on their socials to find out where and how to get your lips around some of their flaky goodness.


Okay, we’re stepping things up a notch with this one.

Ruby’s Mount Kembla is the Illawarra’s most hatted restaurant and for good reason.

Fine and refined dining set in a heritage building makes it a must-eat for local foodies and visitors.
Their menu is a degustation with the option to add a wine pairing [go on]. It changes regularly but think dishes like confit ocean trout with onion soubise, pickled fennel + weeds and white chocolate ricotta cheesecake with strawberry sorbet, walnut soil, + strawberry leather, impressive right?


Did someone say beer o’clock? That’s right, it’s time to hit up some of our fab local breweries in the afternoon.

For the lovers of the unique, head over to The Barrel Shepherd a blendery in Bellambi. They use 100% organic grains and support local farmers and hops growers to make seasonal and tasty ales and wines.

Another great choice is the Reub Goldberg Brewing Machine in Tarrawanna. This nano-brewery has a strong eco focus and a fun and exciting brews lineup. They’ve also got an awesome taco bar right next door if your guests start to feel a little peckish.

Check out our list of other fab wineries, breweries and distilleries around the Illawarra here.


Tonight, we’re tasting a bit of ‘la bella vita’ at Ambiance Ristorante in Unanderra. The folks at this friendly and welcoming Italian restaurant know pasta, and they know it well.

As an Australian Good Food Guide readers choice winner, it’s loved by locals and we can totally see why. The menu changes regularly and we think you can’t go wrong with anything you pick.

We’re still dreaming about that Cacio e Pepe agnolotti we chowed down on during our last visit and don’t even get us started on those taaaasty arancini.


Not ready for bed yet? We don’t blame you. Luckily you can pop into The Howlin’ Wolf Whiskey Bar for a late-night tipple.

With over 350 different types of Whiskey on offer plus a long and lovely spirits and cocktail list, there are libations for all.

Just be aware it does get pretty rowdy late on a Saturday evening so if you’re looking to get a boogie on, you’ll love it, if not maybe a good bottle of red back at home might better suit. Here’s a directory with loads of local bottle shops to choose from.


Caffeinate me, baby!

Head over to Diggies Cafe or North Beach Kiosk right next door in North Wollongong for all your caffeine needs. Further down the coast, you can stop in at Darley Street Local in Shellharbour, or Diggies in Kiama.

All of these are excellent spots to grab your cuppa and take some waterside strolls to work up an appetite for what’s to come.


Time to stretch out in the glorious Illawarra sunshine and have a little snacky pic-a-nic, Yogi Bear style.
Park yourself at one of the Illawarra’s popular picnic locations and you can actually have your feast delivered to you. Incredible!

The Imperial at Clifton will deliver delicious pre-ordered picnics to revellers at Stanwell Park, Sharkies Beach, Coledale Beach or Pinecourt Park in Austinmer, how good is that?!

All you gotta do is pop your order in before 1pm the day before and then get yourself to one of the locations mentioned above by 11am and listen out for the beep that tells you that your food has arrived.


The weekend isn’t over yet!

Head over to darling neighbourhood restaurant South on Albany in Berry for their three-course lunch.

This restaurant may be small in size but they’re big on passion for our region and flavour. Their menu changes fortnightly and is seasonal and exciting. It’s a popular spot for feasting so we do recommend booking this one in advance.

After your decadent lunch, take some time to stroll along the streets of charming Berry. Reminisce about all the things you ate, drank and experienced on your gourmet foodie weekend…. Oh, and maybe stop in at The Treat Factory for one last little sweet treat to take home.

 Food coma incoming!

Hannah Castelli Author Bio

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