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The festive season gives us special licence to indulge.

Yes – 365 days of the year we all know what happens if you don’t eat…however the Festive Season gives us special licence to indulge.

It could be a special lunch or dinner with Family or Friends, or just a cosy meal for two, celebrating the year and planning the new one.

We have some great restaurants in the ‘burbs, and in clubs and pubs, but hey…we’re Newcastle, and blessed with some wonderful coastal eateries that serve up anything from a quality quick snack, brunch or a more refined dining option.

Lets taker a coastal stroll through our waterside dining, and start with something special that doesn’t have opening or closing hours…

A good old fashioned picnic – drop in to a quality providore such as The Essential Ingredient, Pork Ewe Deli or Harris Farm Markets and pack the picnic basket.

Burwood Beach is a great spot, or move along the coast to grassed areas at Dixon Park, Bar Beach or King Edward Park.

Merewether is perhaps the best known of our beaches, and has plenty of options to satisfy the holiday cravings. The Beaches Hotel is an institution, and has a great menu at reasonable prices.

Surfhouse under noted chef Lesley Taylor has that wonderful combination of unparalleled views, high quality food, a good wine list and some great cocktails.

Downstairs at Surfhouse is much more casual, and perhaps one of the best coastal brunches in Newy, with pizza and a cold beer a great early evening option. NB – take it from a muffin addict that Surfhouse café has some of the best in town.

Cafes at Merewether Surf Club, Dixon Park, Bar Beach, Newcastle & Nobbys Beaches all have cafes that serve a good coffee, and some great snacks…and did I mention good muffins!

Estabar Café at Newcastle Beach is always hard to get into for breakfast, however worth the wait for its views, innovative brunch menu and staff that are always smiling.

If that’s too busy a short walk up the stairs is East End Hub which highlights how we are spoilt for choices for quality brunch eateries.

Rustica is one our City’s better restaurants under the experienced culinary guidance of Mark Hosie, with unrivalled views over Newcastle Beach.

Scratchleys on The Wharf is on our ever busy working harbour, with great views, the best seafood in town. Battlesticks Bar next door for a pre or post dinner beverage is the latest addition to Neil and Donna’s offerings.

A new addition to harbourside dining at Honeysuckle is The Kingfish, opposite Honeysuckle Hotel. Garry brings over 13 years of seafood experience to the venture and delivers a wide and superb selection of fresh and affordable seafood amidst a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Their house-made sauces are the perfect accompaniment.

Restaurant Mason is not right on the coast, but close enough to still smell the salt air! Chris Thornton has created arguably Newcastle’s best restaurant, this year earning yet again, a coveted Herald Chefs Hat.

Like all high end restaurants, it is not inexpensive, however if you are looking for a very special night – perhaps the seven course degustation with matching wines, then this is the place to impress someone special!

Enjoy your Festive season dining and yes, its OK to indulge and worry about the dieting something later in January!

Written by Gus Maher