Beef is big in Rockhampton. That’s if the six large fibreglass bulls that stand guard over the entry points into the city are anything to go by. Each represents one of the six key cattle breeds farmed here, and yes, meat eaters are going to have a fine time delving into the Rocky dining scene.
But they won’t have it all their own way. The gateway to Central Queensland’s Capricorn Region offers a surprisingly diverse culinary landscape, with plenty to tempt every taste. Here are some of the best Rockhampton restaurants and bars to check out during your stay.
Top shelf Rockhampton restaurants:
Rockhampton basks on the banks of the swirling Fitzroy River and has a fabulous new riverfront precinct, which was completed in 2018. Presided over by the imposing Customs House and lined with elegantly restored Victorian buildings, you’ll find yourself gravitating to this neck of the woods – and to its brand-new waterfront eatery – Boathouse.
This bar/restaurant is as slick as they come. Chill on the deck with afternoon cocktails that morph into dinner as the city lights dance on the river’s surface and cool tunes drift on the breeze.
The pork belly with Thai sweet chilli jam is melt-in-your-mouth stuff and everything is surprisingly well priced. Treat yourself to the signature Fitzroy Martini.
Housed in a restored merchant warehouse dating back to the 1880s and finished with an array of raw materials and industrial accents, super funky Headricks Lane is a laneway-style dining and cafe space that stretches between East Street and Quay Lane.
There’s a cool café by day which doubles as an upmarket eatery at night. The separate bar area houses a microbrewery and offers more relaxed dining options.
Headricks is the brainchild of local entrepreneurs Peter Hawkins and Benito Zussino (the same team behind Boathouse), and you can just tell that these guys are determined to do things differently. Don’t miss this.
Great Western Hotel
Located at the southern end of town, the Great Western Hotel dates back to 1862 and is Rocky’s go-to for a great steak. This temple to the grill is a unique experience.
Not only does it do sensational steaks (which range in price from $28 up to $42 for a pasture-reared, grain finished eye fillet), but on Wednesdays and Fridays it serves them up with a side of live rodeo action in the onsite arena!
Another of Rockhampton’s most venerable watering holes, the Criterion Hotel (‘the Cri’ for short) is lauded by the locals for its steak offering. Top tier is the eye fillet mignon, which drips with garlic butter and sizzling juices.
Those on a tight timeframe can pre-order their cut of choice, cooked to perfection.
Cut-price steak nights
If you love a good deal, head for The Ginger Mule – which does a popular $12 steak night on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Get there early.
Not to be outdone, The Giddy Goat, located just around the corner, somehow manages to offer steaks for a fiver on Thursday evenings.
International eats and vegetarian fare:
To balance the books with some meat-free fare, the city’s plethora of international eateries are your best bet. Head for atmospheric Miss India for an incredible selection of naans and a deliciously spicy chick pea and potato curry (you can actually do a tasting platter of three different vegetarian curries here for less than $20, which is awesome value).
Thai Thanee on Denham Street will blow your mind with their hot and spicy Jungle Tofu. You have been warned.
Meanwhile, Project Mex explores modern Mexican flavours and has a separate vegan/vegetarian menu. Try the fajitas with roasted mushrooms, fried capsicum and onion, topped with a particularly zesty chipotle sauce.
Rocky’s historic city centre has no shortage of interesting nooks and crannies that house some sensational cafes. Headricks Lane sets the standard, but Jolt Café Bakery also has a great location under the arches of the old Post Office building (which dates back to the 1880s and is beautifully maintained).
Also check out The Two Professors and Coffee Society (which does a mind-blowing haloumi burger for breakfast) in the city centre, and enjoy the shabby chic surroundings of 45East on East Street.
If you are planning to combine your Rocky visit with a beach break in fabulous Yeppoon, here’s some intel on great spot to chow down there. Located south of town in the bustling Keppel Bay Marina, The Waterline Restaurant is a great all-rounder with an extensive all-day menu and a bright-as-a-button team. Southerners will find themselves checking the prices of the fresh seafood options twice (yes, it is good value!).
To style things up a notch, book a table at Vue Wine Bar and Restaurant on the beachfront in the heart of town. The sophisticated setting and an aperitivo from the cocktail list will ease you into an evening of innovative bites – accompanied by your drop of choice, plucked from the wine wall. If you go the tapas menu, do not go past the pan-fried fetta!