North Coast, NSW

Where to eat, drink & shop in Newcastle NSW

By Rosie Stevens

September 9, 2020 | 5 minute read


When it comes to trips up the coast, they don’t come much better than a trip to Newcastle. Beautiful beaches, plenty of places to eat, drink, shop and be merry, plus an arts scene that shrouds the city in culture. This east coast gem is a beautifully wrapped package of a weekender. 

The fact that it’s just a 2.5 hour drive north of Sydney is the decorative ribbon finish on this unmissable destination.  And because we know that sustenance and shopping are two of the most important facets of a weekend away, we’ve compiled a guide to Newcastle’s best places to eat, drink and shop. You’re welcome! 

* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.

Places to eat and drink

Regardless of what type of cuisine you’re after—any good weekender centres around delicious food and drink. Newcastle is bursting with options, from fine dining restaurants to casual beachside eats. Here are our top recommendations:


For fine dining delights, you can’t get past Subo. The seasonal menus are crafted by renowned owner and head chef Beau Vincent—and the winter one looks utterly mouth-watering. We’re talking Moololaba king prawn tataki, dry aged duck breast from Young and white polenta cake soaked in mandarin black sesame ice cream.

Merewether Surfhouse ITALIAN

You know those beachside eats we mentioned? They don’t come much better than this. Located within the Merewether Surfhouse, ITALIAN offers incredible coastal views, accompanied by a modern Italian menu (woodfired pizzas, a huge range of antipasti as well as pastas and meats) and an extensive drinks list. Sold!

Merewether Surfhouse Italian
Merewether Surfhouse Italian

Scratchley’s on the Wharf

Seafood up your street? If so, look no further than Scratchley’s on the Wharf. This iconic restaurant is renowned for its platters with all of the trimmings—we’re talking beer battered fish, crumbed calamari, prawns, Sydney rock oysters, Balmain bugs, blue swimmer crab and attendant fruits and fries. Don’t miss it!

Battlesticks at Scratchleys

Sister restaurant to Scratchleys, Battlesticks is a bar and live music menu serving up a delectable range of tapas and cocktails in the beautiful Harbourside setting. Our picks would have to be the duck spring rolls, seafood antipasto and salt and pepper tofu—all washed down with a mojito or two of course!


Overlooking Newcastle beach and boasting stunning interiors, Rustica’s cuisine is rooted in Mediterranean flavours and North African spices with a strong focus on exceptional quality produce—combining to create a truly unforgettable dining experience. 

St Thomas High Tea

If High Teas are more your thing, you’ll not be disappointed with Newcastle’s offering! Situated in a beautifully renovated church in Carrington, St Thomas High Teas are a much sought after experience that require booking in advance. The teas themselves include all the favourites; sandwiches, tarts, scrolls, sausage rolls and plenty of sweet treats. 

Coal & Cedar

A hidden speakeasy cocktail bar that requires a special code to grant entry, Coal & Cedar is as cool a watering hole as they come. This award-winning bar has no doorbell and no signage, but with a 60 guest capacity, it’s intimate and homely too. Exposed brick walls and dark timber are complemented by dim lighting from vintage chandeliers, while the super experienced and knowledgeable bar staff will whip you up the drink of your dreams in a flash.

High Tea with Mrs Woo
High Tea with Mrs Woo

Where to shop

Once you’ve had your fill of food and drink, you might want to see what this gorgeous city has to offer in terms of shopping. Well, take it from us that the shopping scene in Newcastle is everything you could want for an afternoon browse—artistic, eclectic, ethical and beautifully curated. Here are our top picks. 

Studio Melt and High Tea with Mrs Woo

High Tea with Mrs Woo is a proud, Australian made, small-run clothing label created by three sisters with a focus on expressive, timeless clothing and accessories with natural fibre fabrics. The brand has recently moved house and are co-sharing shop space with Studio Melt. Studio Melt is a contemporary jewellery store, showcasing the most swoon-worthy jewellery sourced from Australia and around the world, alongside a range of carefully-curated objects and art.   

Maker Store and Studio

A collaborative space run by 5 local women, Maker Store and Studio showcases each of these women’s brand’s—a., Yuni, val.ent.een, studium & HALLE. Created with the conscious consumer in mind - Maker Store and Studio provides a space to showcase locally, ethically and sustainably made homewares, apparel, jewellery, skincare and floral art.

Make Space

Founded in 2009, Make Space is an artist-run collective that showcases their wares for public sale. A veritable journey for the senses, the space also holds workshops and special events that are a firm favourite among locals.

Blackbird Corner

Stocking and showcasing a range of independent fashion, novelty and giftware brands, Blackbird Corner is an unmissable stop on the Newcastle shopping circuit!

House of Lita

House of Lita is a homewares, fashion and lifestyle store founded by ex-Vogue Living editor, Lauren Powell, and creative director and founder of Little Indahs, Brigita Millard. Offering a covetable range of homewares, fashion and lifestyle products that have been sourced from far and wide around the globe, this Newcastle gem is the perfect place to pick up something special.

Pappa Sven

Offering a little piece of Scandinavia in the heart of Newcastle, Pappa Sven sells all-things Nordic lifestyle, literature and fashion in a beautifully curated space that you’ll quickly fall in love with.


The absolute ideal activity for a weekend away in our book—a market meander in Newcastle is a great way to experience the city. We recommend checking out Olive Tree Markets, Newcastle Flower and Food and the Newcastle Farmers Markets to source some gorgeous local produce from the surrounding region!

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The Weekender's travel guides are independently written by real travellers. We do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the entities listed in or referred to in this article.