A look back on the venues that opened in 2023
Here's a round-up of the restaurants, cafes, bars, and breweries that have launched over the past year in Newcastle, the Hunter Valley, and Port Stephens.
If you haven’t already, get out there and try them – who knows, your new favourite might be just around the corner!
The talented team behind Carrington favourite The Criterion Hotel – Raf, Ronnie, Mitch, Luciano, and Greg – opened up Italian restaurant Alfie’s mid-2023, bringing antipasto and pasta to New Lambton.
Where: 52 Regent St, New Lambton
Brought to you by Argentinian couple, Matias Escobar and Claribel Bender, Baires, opening in late July, is home to a selection of traditional Argentinian eats.
Where: 14 Pacific St, Newcastle
Hospitality veterans and brothers George and Matthew Mirosevich opened Bare Chefs in July, serving up delicious grab ‘n go food in Honeysuckle.
Where: 18 Honeysuckle Dr, Newcastle
After almost five years of having no dedicated venue in the city, Newcastle is finally home to a queer bar again with the opening of Bernie’s Bar in June.
Where: 410 King St, Newcastle
Garry and Melissa of the Risteski Group, the much-loved hospitality duo behind The Kingfish in Honeysuckle, are now bringing a slice of the Mediterranean to you with Blanca.
Where: 2/11 Honeysuckle Dr, Newcastle
Bowie is brought to you by the same friendly team behind The Junction’s Talulah, and it’s already become a community hub on Beaumont Street, offering up a spin on Aussie brunch favourites.
Where: 79/81 Beaumont St, Hamilton
Featuring three working tanks, Cardiff Brewery worked with brewer Pete Merrington to create a range of beers including an XPA and Amber Ale, on tap at the bar in Wests Cardiff.
Where: 18 Munibung Rd, Cardiff
Charlies Rooftop opened in December, and the bar and restaurant will transport you to a 1960s, Palm Springs paradise – its buzzy atmosphere will have you lingering into the night.
Where: 529 Hunter St, Newcastle
Brought to you by Riccardo and Paola, DiRoma is continuing to change the landscape with the opening of the second DiRoma pizzeria in New Lambton.
Where: 52 Orchardtown Rd, New Lambton
Opening in February, Elementa has cemented its position in the Newcastle dining scene with its relaxed atmosphere, unique flavours and delicately-plated dishes.
Where: 76 The Lane, Maryville
The family-friendly suburb of Lambton landed itself a brewery in June this year with local brewer Lachlan MacBean opening a space for his popular beer company, Grainfed Brewing Company.
Where: 1/52 Young Rd, Lambton
The former Chinois site was revived with the opening of Hao Chi by Lee’s Yum Cha, inviting keen diners in to experience a Cantonese gastronomic adventure.
Where: 326 King St, Newcastle
Officially opening in September after almost a year of construction, Harrigan’s Cameron Park offers an interior with lots of wow factor, a kid-friendly space, and a hearty pub menu.
Where: 70 McKendry Dr, Cameron Park
In what is a prelude to the highly anticipated opening of Hope Estate at Honeysuckle, Hope at The Landing offers the chance to experience all that Hope Estate offers with a distinctly Newcastle Harbour perspective.
Where: 1 Honeysuckle Dr, Newcastle
The opening of In Forno Charlestown marked the second venue for the Hamilton Italian restaurant, and its Italian flavours and extensive cocktail list were welcome with open arms.
Where: 36 Pearson St, Charlestown
Brought to you by South Korean-born Novocastrian Insung Park, Jjindakk is the product of many years of love for Korean fried chicken.
Where: 1/50 Beaumont St, Hamilton
Pairing the salty, nostalgic flavours of suburban takeaway joints with the coastal spirit of its Merewether surrounds, Larrie’s opened up at the bottom of The Beach Hotel this May.
Where: 99 Frederick St, Merewether
The Lass O’Gowrie Hotel welcomed Mexican joint Las Salsa Picante – which means hot sauce in Spanish – and it’s the place for fresh, simple Mexican eats and a quality tequila and mezcal offering.
Where: 14 Railway St, Wickham
For those seeking a genuine taste of China, Lee’s Kitchen has established itself as a foodie destination around Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, and the new Mayfield location is no exception.
Where: 77 Maitland Rd, Mayfield
Since May, Lulu and Benson has been serving its hand-crafted soft serve, signature whirlys, milkshakes, and thickshakes to both humans and furry friends alike.
Where: 71 Beaumont St, Hamilton
Martha, a stunning 120-seat Mediterranean restaurant, opened on November 30 as part of the $20 million transformation of the historic Belmont 16s Sailing Club.
Where: Level 1 Belmont 16s, The Parade, Belmont
Brought to you by family-owned-and-run business, MOA Coffee Co, MOA & Co officially launched in late July and has quickly become a favourite for Carrington locals for its coffee and collection of local businesses.
Where: 16 Gipps St, Carrington
Newcastle has long been a haven for seafood lovers, and with the addition of Mrs Jones Oyster Bar, there’s even more oysters, prawns, and fish to be sampled.
Where: 91 Young St, Carrington
Ms Co Giang opened in September and has brought fresh, delicious, Vietnamese cuisine to the banh mi-loving people of Newcastle ever since.
Where: 2/55 Beaumont St, Hamilton
After five years of trading within The Newcastle Hotel, Newy Fried Chicken spread its (chicken) wings and opened its pop-up American-style diner in Broadmeadow.
Where: 3/127-129 Lambton Rd, Broadmeadow
Brought to you by the same couple behind Roy’s Kitchen, Jason and Sarah, Roy’s at 45 is all about getting back to their roots with frequently changing tapas-style dishes and rotating cocktails.
Where: 45 Maitland Rd, Mayfield West
After starting out as a mobile trailer providing gym junkies and market-goers with their protein shake and acai bowl fix, Shakey Joe’s became a permanent fixture in Warners Bay.
Where: 6/87 King St, Warners Bay
Skip’s Deli opened in November to much support from locals who were keen for a good sanga. With a range of fresh sandwiches, toasties, and breaky bites, Skip’s Deli is a lunch break must-try.
Where: 9/31 Griffiths Rd, Lambton
Slab Cheesecakes is all about creating decadent cheesecakes that are good for the soul. This year, it started offering cheesecakes to go from its tucked-away Islington kitchen.
Where: 99B Maitland Rd, Islington
In 2023, a fresh approach to Chinese cuisine arrived with Taste of Lanzhou by Lee’s Kitchen officially opening its doors at The Rooftop at Westfield Kotara.
Where: 89 Park Ave, Kotara
After achieving roaring success as a stall at the Newcastle City Farmers Market, The Big Banh Mi opened up its very own store in March, serving up a range of banh mi along with other more-ish Vietnamese treats.
Where: 1/122 Hunter St, Newcastle
From the unique fit out to the section of the menu dedicated to cob loaves, there’s plenty to discuss at The Lost Souls as you sip a cocktail and people-watch from your vantage point at the front window.
Where: 159A Darby St, Cooks Hill
Well-known hospitality character Andrew Dunne of The Lass O’Gowrie, Las Salsa Picante, and Masa Madre, joined forces with Josh Nicholson to bring a new flair to country-style corner pub The Oak in Tighes Hill.
Where: 207 Maitland Rd, Tighes Hill
Opened by Filipino-born Novocastrian Vicky Fernandez, The Palace in Newcastle is here to bring Filipino flavours alongside quirky South East Asian-inspired interiors.
Where: 701 Hunter St, Newcastle West
Located on Belford Street in Broadmeadow in an unassuming façade just up from the Nine Ways, The Puff House is home to a collection of Indo Pak-inspired eats.
Where: 47 Belford St, Broadmeadow
Brought to you by hospitality veterans Josh and Jess Gregory, Thermidor is all about Australian coastal cuisine in a bright, open space with water views.
Where: Shop 1/7 Honeysuckle Dr, Newcastle
Thirsty Messiah Brewery has the heart of a home brewery – a really big one, that is. With plenty of rotating taps to try, you won’t get bored at Thirsty Messiah Brewery.
Where: 140 Lambton Rd, Broadmeadow
In May, Newcastle landed itself a new bakery, with Nelson Bay favourite Two Bobs opening up its second space in Hunter Street.
Where: 277 Hunter St, Newcastle
Acclaimed restaurant Flotilla opened up its neighbouring wine bar Vecina this December, much to the excitement of diners eager for a more casual taste of Flotilla’s excellent food and wine offering.
Where: 9 Albert St, Wickham
Maitland's stunning Riverlink building is home to a restaurant once again – introducing Acacia Dining, a collaboration between Reece Hignell and Tori Tokpah.
Where: 396 High St, Maitland
The pair behind Mr O, the Cessnock wholefoods cafe known for its specialty coffee and fresh, healthy meals, launched a sibling cafe, Arthur’s Pantry, earlier this year.
Where: 1E Cooper St, Cessnock
The team behind COQUUN in Maitland took over The Family Hotel, opening Culture Club Drink and Dine at the historic Pub in September. Think elevated pub grub, live music, and community events.
Where: 607 High St, Maitland
With a food menu full of unique takes on cafe favourites and locally-roasted Floozy coffee, Meltdown has quickly become a favourite in the growing community of Huntlee.
Where: 5 Winepress Rd, Branxton
Taking up residence in the building previously home to interior design business Valley Vogue, Niche on High is a relaxed haven offering coffee, toasties, and sweet treats.
Where: 214 High St, Maitland
Spotting a gap in Maitland’s dining scene for fresh, old-school takeaway-style seafood, Tori Clancy and Brett Cleary opened Salt, Chilli and Lime in August.
Where: 80 Melbourne St, East Maitland
Newcastle favourite Sherwood Coffee expanded into the greater Hunter region this year with the opening of its Gillieston Heights cafe, keeping up the good food and even better coffee.
Where: 1/353 Cessnock Rd, Gillieston Heights
The Hunter got its first dedicated whiskey distillery in December thanks to Tower Whiskey Distillery, the latest addition to the luxurious Tower Lodge property in Pokolbin.
Where: Cnr Halls & Broke Rd, Pokolbin
Named after the Soldiers Point postcode, Restaurant 2317 sits pretty at Soldiers Point Marina, overlooking the water from its second-storey vantage point and serving up modern Australian seafood.
Where: 2D Sunset Blvd, Soldiers Point