Warm country hospitality, hearty pub fare and homemade sweets are three things the villages of Somerset do brilliantly, but there are dozens of hidden foodie gems scattered throughout the region worth exploring.
Venture into Somerset and embrace the slower pace of life, swap stories with the locals over pints at a pub, and catch fresh fish and red claw yabbies to cook over your campfire. Hunt down coffee roasters in sprawling parks, award-winning pies and top-notch Thai food, too.
Here’s your complete guide on where to eat and drink in Somerset.
Top cafes and coffee stops
Kick off a caffeinated journey through Somerset with a stop at the source. Yowie Coffee has been not just brewing, but roasting, coffee since 2004. Drop by the coffee van in Yowie Park in Kilcoy from Thursday to Sunday to try the local rich blend and take home a bag as a souvenir to brew at home.
Over in Toogoolawah, there’s the family-run Three Coffee Shack, who use specialty beans from Sydney roaster Seven Miles and local milk from Maleny Dairies. Make time to explore the gift shop while you wait – there’s plenty of local and Aussie-made goods. Nearby Hav’A’Chat Cafe rolls out some of the best brekky burgers and pancakes in the region.
In Esk, there’s plenty of choice, between the equally charming Nash Gallery and Café and Angie’s Country Cafe. At Nash, as the name suggests, you’ll find art served alongside treats and barista-made coffee. Set inside the historic Lars Anderson homestead, the owners are passionate about making tasty local food and crystalline pottery. Just down the street at Angie’s Country Cafe, choose a homemade cake from the counter to pair with barista-made coffee and perch yourself at a table on the terrace of the old wooden cottage. Drop in for coffee and cake until 3pm, or return for dinner on Friday and Saturdays.
Fernvale is lucky to have Tree Change Cafe open for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Drop in for a seriously good meal or take home a ready-made meal for later. Tilly’s Cafe in the town of Moore is a serious pitstop, especially for vintage car lovers. Most weekends find cool rigs parked out the front of this automotive-themed cafe. Pols at Moore also offers coffee and gourmet treats, and Kai Lounge is a community favourite, with everything from coffee to cocktails.
A famous bakery and sweet treats
A passion for pastry led Bill and Lyn Rose to a life of pies. At the award-winning Old Fernvale Bakery, more than 150 varieties line the counter, filled with locally sourced meats and unique flavours. In operation for nearly five decades, the owners are always challenging their master bakers and apprentices to invent new and exciting pastries.
Love old-fashioned handmade fudge? Look out for Sister Bake Co fudge stocked at shops and service stations around Somerset, or take your sweet tooth straight to the source in Toogoolawah.
The great pubs of Somerset
Did someone say meat raffle? Every country town deserves a great pub, and as you’d expect, the Somerset region is full of them. The beer flows as fast as the banter in these historic pubs, and there’s plenty of pub tucker to solve any rumbling hunger.
There are more than a dozen classic country pubs scattered through Somerset that promise old-fashioned charm and friendly service. Best of all, some still have accommodation in the upstairs quarters, so you can stay the night and enjoy another round of pints the next day.
Closest to Brisbane, the Bottletree Hotel at Glamorgan Vale hosts regular bull rides; Club Hotel Motel Lowood has daily pub food specials; the Bellevue Hotel in Coominya has a pool table and Asian food specials; and the Tarampa Hotel has offered country hospitality since 1880.
In Fernvale, the Fernvale Hotel Motel and Brisbane Valley Tavern and Apartments are both family friendly, with excellent pub menus and accommodation.
Further north, the Esk Grand Hotel has a reputation for excellent Aussie pub food.
Keep following the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and you’ll hit Toogoolawah. Here it’s pub central, with The Handle Bar perfect for a pint, the Toogoolawah Hotel serving a great schnitty, and the Exchange Hotel plating up great food, especially the surf ‘n’ turf.
Kilcoy is a must-stop, with the 1901-built Exchange Hotel Kilcoy known for classic food, accomodation and its courtesy bus.
The Harlin Hotel (in Harlin, naturally) hosts plenty of live entertainment, and right up north the Linville Hotel is a destination in itself. Every weekend there’s bikes parked up front and punters sprawled out on the estate lawns.
Taste local wines
Somerset is lucky enough to have incredible natural landscapes and fertile soils perfect for growing grapes – the first were planted here in the 1800s! Close to the South Burnett region, Australia’s most northern wine region, there are a handful of local wineries to explore.
Make a visit to the family-owned and award-winning Woongooroo Estate, where passionate owners Phil and Gail will greet you with a smile and open bottles. Make a tasting into an afternoon with wine and cheese pairing, antipasto platters and ploughman-style lunches.
For Asian food and takeaway
Classic country pubs, cute cafes and bakeries rule the Somerset region, but if you’re after something different, look deeper and you’ll find it.
If you’re craving a green curry or pad thai, the best place is the one-and-only Esk Thai. Order your favourites or branch out with a whole fried fish and finish on a sweet note with mango sticky rice. You can also satisfy your desires at Thai Simply Cook in Lowood.
Chinese food has a long history in Australia, so it’s no surprise you’ll be able to order fried rice and chicken cashew at Sint’s Traditional Vietnamese and Chinese Restaurant in Lowood, plus dishes like pho and rice paper rolls. In Kilcoy, head to Sun Sun Chinese Cuisine.
For a chicken rogan josh with garlic naan, look to Choice of India in Lowood, or grab chicken burgers and lazy classic takeaway at Country Fried Chicken nearby.
Now, if you’ll excuse us, it’s time for lunch…