One perfect day in Newcastle, NSW

Scotties Beach House in Newcastle.
Scotties Beach House in Newcastle. Photo: Daina Marie McKay

The Good Food team share their favourite places to eat and drink in their second homes.

From Chiefly East's pastrami-stacked reuben to a gold-standard double-cheese toastie at Wildflower, one can eat incredibly well on sandwiches alone in Newcastle. In fact, if there was anything like the Scotties' lobster, hashbrown and sambal club sandwich when I lived in the Steel City, I may never have left for Sydney nine years ago.

Newcastle's food culture has skyrocketed in the past decade, from a base where penne boscaiola on Beaumont Street was the height of gourmet living. There's more to Scotties seafood restaurant than a lobster sanger, for instance – XO diamond clams supported by skin-contact wine, say, or audibly crunchy fish and chips that are some of the best in NSW. Enjoy that fried barra in the salty-chic dining room, or drive to the Bogey Hole swimming spot nearby and scoff with your toes in a rockpool.

Scotties' lobster and hashbrown  club sandwich.
Scotties' lobster and hashbrown club sandwich. Photo: Daina Marie McKay

Indeed, eat, swim, repeat is the best mantra for any Newcastle visit, with great coffee to get the party started. New Slang Coffee Brewers takes its pour-over seriously, while Baked Uprising pulls the perfect espresso and rocks textbook croissants. Picnic fans should consider a combination of Uprising's caraway baguette, Pork Ewe Deli saucisson, and the evergreen King Edward Park. Al fresco heaven, and Bar Beach is just down the road for that first (or second or third) swim of the day.

An afternoon drink at FogHorn Brewhouse or The Edwards is the right idea, both spacious bars with no shortage of tiles, timber and beer taps. An ice-cold margarita often opens my biannual innings at the Eddie, perhaps with kingfish ceviche or pillowy pizza fritta.

Flotilla, meanwhile, is Newcastle's number one dinner spot, starring manager Eduardo Molina pouring natural and Hunter wines with passion and grace. The restaurant's semi-industrial estate surrounds means there are better dining views in town, but chef Shayne Mansfield's flavour-forward cooking is what you're there for. Hello, wagyu tartare with a crackle and pop of crisp-fried tendon, and blushing pink duck breast enhanced by fermented honey.

Flotilla, Newcastle.
Flotilla, Newcastle. Photo: Alexander McIntyre

Insider's tip: Equium Social in suburban Mayfield. "It's especially brilliant if you're after breakfast outside your standard smashed avo and eggs benny," Shayne Mansfield says. "The owners are lovely and make their own kimchi and pickles. I try to order something different every time, but rarely go past the rye and potato waffle with house-smoked salmon."

Baked Uprising, 21 Downie Street, Maryville, bakeduprising.com.au

Chiefly East, 177 King Street, Newcastle, chieflyeast.com

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The Edwards, 148 Parry Street, Newcastle West, theedwards.com.au

Equium Social, 1/5 Maitland Road, Mayfield East, equiumsocial.square.site

Flotilla 9 Albert Street, Wickham, theflotilla.com.au

FogHorn Brewhouse, 218 King Street, Newcastle, foghornbrewhouse.com.au

New Slang Coffee Brewers, 480 Hunter Street, Newcastle no website

Pork Ewe Deli, 144 Maitland Road, Mayfield, porkewe.com.au

Scotties, 36 Scott Street, Newcastle East, scottiesbeachhouse.com

Wildflower Espresso, 71 Cowper Street, Wallsend, wldflwr.com.au