Busselton has long been a popular holiday spot but only in recent years has it established itself as a must-visit destination for foodies. Get around it this summer and beyond with our guide to the standout spots to pull up a chair.
Bakeries, cafes, and brewpubs abound in this seaside gateway to the Margaret River wine region. From the town centre to the waterfront, you’ll never be too far from somewhere to eat or drink something delicious and locally focused. From exceptional burgers and next-level wraps to Levantine cuisine and seasonal share plates, here are some of the places you need to schedule a meal in “Busso” on your next visit to or from down south.
With each week and month that passes, Ben Ing and Kirsty Marchant’s community-minded Busselton restaurant feels like an increasingly vital part of the fabric of the South West. The menu has grown, meaning the brunch offer, backed by great coffee, baked goods and simple nourishing far, has expanded into a lunch menu, with dinner on the way.
If there’s a theme to it, it’s simplicity, which acts as a base to show off the networks the team have built with local growers. Their friend Dan from Gunyulgup farm provides broccolini, say, while Goodies in Kendenup grows the grains for housemade wholewheat and rye triticale tin loaf.
Ing’s cooking reads simple too, but there’s care and attention at every turn: that bread, for example, comes grilled over the hearth on one side only, meaning when it lands alongside an orb of La Delizia Latticini burrata draped with anchovies and kissed with lemonade dressing, there’s equal parts crunch and crumb. Rottnest swordfish is grilled to beautiful medium-rare with caper vinaigrette adding punch, while Beurre Bosc and almond tart, baked during service, has a crisp, buttery shell that makes considering another slice a non-negotiable. All the while, the room – pickles on the shelves, books lining the walls – is only brightened by Marchant’s sure touch on the floor. Simple? Sure. Special? You bet.
3/55 Queen Street, Busselton, albertas.com.au
With house-made everything and old-school service, championing classic burger flavours is at the heart of this busy Busselton burger bar.
In a time where the contents of a burger can be almost anything, Burger Bones keeps a steadfast approach to classic fillings. While off-menu specials and a ‘secret menu’ (you’ll have to figure out what to ask for if you want to hack this one) offer intrigue, it’s Burger Bone’s commitment to uncomplicated flavour combinations and quality ingredients that keeps locals, and those from further afar, coming through the doors.
The first thing you’ll notice is how weighty the burgers are, thanks to coarsely ground grass-fed chuck beef patties with zero filler, pressed hard onto the grill to yield crisply frayed edges. Buns are soft but have enough integral chew to hold up to generous dousings of sauce, pickles and cheese, while the subtle changes within each burger really set them apart, like in the sauerkraut royale where housemade kraut is generously stacked atop dill pickles, mustard mayo and Swiss cheese. Fries and tater-tots, either ‘loaded’ or not, will do the trick for sides, while drinks, either BYO or picked from a small list of local beers and wine, are as simple as the service is quick and unpretentious – all the better to help you focus squarely on what remain some of the state’s very best burgers.
55 Queen Street, Busselton, facebook.com/BurgerBones
Take a trip through the flavours of Levantine cuisine at Inara, which opened in a bright, contemporary space in the redeveloped Busselton Central last month.
Bacon be gone. Instead, spice up your breakfast with shakshuka, the Inara big breakfast of beef kofta, braised spiced tomatoes, chickpeas and hummus or the slow-roasted lamb shoulder with smoky eggplant and baked eggs.
Linger over lunch or dinner offerings heavy on vegetables including flame-roasted cauliflower fatteh, fava bean, yoghurt, hazelnut and sumac or oyster mushroom souvlaki with walnut skordalia. Local produce, such as Albany rock oysters with pomegranate mignonette star, or charcoal rôtisserie Amelia Park lamb shoulder cağ kebabı (kebab-style) with abagannuc, date glaze and caramelised tahini.
Chef-owner Daniel Johnson, most recently of Dunsborough Mediterranean restaurant Casina, has worked around the world, including stints as culinary director at Alila Jabal Akhdar luxury resort in Oman and head chef at George Calombaris’ The Press Club Group in Melbourne. But it’s the Busselton lifestyle that has kept Daniel, wife Joanne and their two dogs in the South West.
Shop 43, 30 Kent Street, Busselton, inarabusselton.com.au
From farmers and local markets, good things grow. Owners Mattia Comelato and Tracy Huang fell in love with the taste, texture and versatility of buckwheat and set out to develop a gluten-free, vegan wrap recipe. They’ve been putting their wholesome and healthy spin on ‘takeaway’ since 2018, opening their bricks-and-mortar shop in February 2022.
The most popular Mano wraps include the Roma with roasted chicken and mushroom, green salad, red cabbage and mushroom truffle sauce, the Italian with prosciutto, tomato, green salad, parmesan and pesto sauce, and the Vegetarian with roasted vegetables, green salad, red cabbage, tomato, feta and pesto. Keep an eye out for specials such as the La Delizia Latticini burrata wrap, too. For afters, there’s a tempting menu of sweet crêpes.
61 Queen Street, Busselton, manowraps.square.site
Ooze and Tang
“Is it delicious?” That’s the question that underpins Ooze and Tang, an eclectic modern Australian-French bistro where everything is made from scratch by head chef-owner Isaac Pereira and chef Cassie Wu.
Served on vintage crockery, you’ll find staple dishes including potato and leek rösti, roasted cabbage with bread sauce, and crème brûlée, alongside an ever-changing roster of seasonal and local vegetables. Meats also vary: one day the menu may champion beef tartare with heirloom onion salsa and oyster emulsion, the next, nannygai crudo.
As Ooze and Tang heads into its second summer, expect more space for diners with additional seating in the alfresco. Not to be missed: co-owner and former Helvetica manager Jason “JP” Millhahn’s spectacular cocktails.
1/20 Monaghans Way, Abbey, oozeandtang.com
The Banksia Tavern
While its doors have only just opened, the retro-whimsy fit-out of this tavern-style eatery-bar makes it feel like it’s been at the heart of Busselton for much longer. The bar is polished wood, booth seating is in deep forest green and the wood panelling and floors have an air of the Old World about them. Glance around, and the place is filled with a mix of mates, families, and couples of all ages, implying it’s been embraced by locals like an old friend.
The skill in the kitchen and the bar suggests it’s far from its infancy, too. Denmark-smoked boerewors is dense and flavoursome, its heft offset with peperonata, fried onion rings riding shotgun. Blackwood Valley beef bitterballen are both filling and generous, and make a great alternative to more commonly sighted arancini and croquettes.
But it’s the vegetables that are the star of the (mostly) shared menu: a medley of South West brassicas, perhaps, charred to smoky perfection and served with pickled chillies on a velvety base of cashew sour cream and avocado. Still, this is a tavern, so the bar is prominent, with local craft beer on tap, local wines on pour and crowdpleasing cocktails in the tins, all well priced. It’s a match with warm service and the likes of The Strokes spinning on the record machine. The album? Room on Fire.
43 Prince Street, Busselton, banksiatavern.com
There was much anticipation ahead of the January opening of the first South West venue for award-winning hospitality operator John Parker’s Parker Group (The Royal Hotel; The Standard; Dandelion).
With capacity to hold 300 people, Busselton Pavilion offers a gastropub menu showcasing local seafood and produce, designed by group culinary director, Brendan Pratt (whose Coffee Heads in neighbouring Vasse is an essential stop for gourmet toasties, coffee and biscuits). Think cured scallops with fenugreek and sesame, rôtisserie squid with XO and lemon, roast chicken rolls and a winning rib-eye steak.
Attached to the Pavilion is the South West Wine Shop, a locally focused retail outlet and bar offering wines by the glass, complemented by a thoughtfully crafted bar-snack menu (where French onion dip with potato chips comes with an optional addition of salmon roe). Busselton Pavilion, located in the Busselton Central redevelopment, will also launch its own spirits and liqueur brand.
30 Kent Street, Busselton, busseltonpavilion.com.au