High rainfall and deep red soil make Byron Bay a place where crops thrive. The plethora of farms offers a rich and fertile space for farming, from which an array of produce blooms, ultimately making its way into the kitchens of the region’s bakers.
Cape Byron Lighthouse marks the eastern-most point of Australia. A walk along the headland it sits on often reveals goats navigating the steep cliffs.
In the surf below, dolphins frolic alongside surfers hanging ten over longboards as they ride the long gentle waves of The Pass.
The natural beauty of the landscape seeps into the consciousness of the locals here, who collectively create a foodspace that’s natural, organic, gentle on the land and also on the people who live on it.
Leaf and Grain is a fast-option health food café neighbouring Bayleaf Café. The same people own both outlets and the ethos of healthy, seasonal food is available either in the traditional café style through Bayleaf, or the quick food option at Leaf and Grain.
Leaf and Grains’ breakfast and lunch options are made from locally sourced and organic ingredients and the owners work closely with farmers, cheese producers, coffee makers and juicers.
Leaf and Grain bake their own cakes, muffins and sweets, and stock a bunch of bread and pastry options made by the team at The Bread Social (see number 3).
Leaf and Grain are known for their social consciousness, and donate five per cent of all profits to charities (nominated every six months) and operate a pay-it-forward system, which encourages customers to purchase a coffee, loaf of bread or salad for someone else.
Our pick:: Avo smash on sprouted bread
Located near the IGA, Village Bakehouse stocks a bunch of items you’d expect to find in a bakery (pies, danishes, caramel tarts) and some that might take you surprise, like the chicken parmigiana in fresh focaccia.
You can grab your fare to go or take a seat in one of the booths for an eat-in experience.
Also with fresh coffee, doughnuts and slices (think raspberry and almond), Village Bakehouse is great little spot to stop and take a load off.
Our pick: Caramel Tart
The Bread Social is the creation of baking legends Sam Saulwick, Paul Giddings and Tom Scott. After meeting in Sydney (Paul and Tom were successive head bakers at Bourke Street Bakery), the three made the sea change to Byron Bay to “do something a little bit rustic and small and to focus on organic and Australian produce,” said Sam.
The Bread Social is on The Farm, a Byron destination famous for offering visitors access to a working farm and the range of micro-businesses located on it.
Sam says the focus at The Bread Social is on health conscious and organic Australian produce.
“So, no imported seeds or nuts and we charge ourselves to stick to those rules in all of the bread, baking and patisserie that we do,” he says.
While The Bread Social is known for their sourdough range, locals also rave about the pastries, especially the baked custard tart, which has developed a cult following on The Farm.
The Bread Social also has a store in Tweed Heads.
Our pick: Baked Custard Tart
Byron Bay is home to pie manufacturers Byron Gourmet Pies. The team supplies gourmet, vegan and vegetarian pies to retail outlets in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane but also to many stores in Byron Bay, including L’Ultime, Blue Bay Gourmet and Cape Café, and of course their own store on Centennial Circuit.
Owned by the Taylor Family, Byron Gourmet Pies uses a variety of organic and local ingredients such as flour from Wholegrain Milling, Kialla Flour, Maurinz, and certified organic, free-range and grass fed beef from OBE meats and Arcadian Meats Australia, plus their pies are preservative and GM free.
However, the secret ingredient in Byron Gourmet Pies, according to longstanding cook “Kiwi Pete”, is the blessings. “I put a lot of blessings and love into our mixes,” he says. “That’s what helps make our excellent pies and rolls.”
With flavours such as Bolognaise, Chicken Mornay, Gluten-free Curried Lentil, and Mexican Beef, there’s sure to be a filling to suit the fussiest pie eater.
Our pick: Chicken Satay
This family owned bakery has been baking across the road from The Great Northern Hotel since 1984. The current owners, Sam and Sandra Vickers, have run the bakery for the past 19 years and before that, Sandra’s parents, Les and Lorraine Earea, held the reins.
Today the team, which includes around 34 people, provides everything from breads, cakes, pies, pastries and a gluten-free range plus an impressive range of celebration cakes.
Byron Hot Bread Kitchen is known as the bakery that never closes. “The only day we close,” say Sam and Sandra, “is Christmas Day, where every year there is a mad panic to find the keys to lock the business up.”
On the shelves you’ll find a range of sourdough, cobs, rolls and pull-a-parts plus pies and savoury pastries, including a range of family sized quiches. The bakery also offers scrolls, pizza rolls and sandwiches as well as paninis and espresso from local Zentvelds Coffee. They also send their gluten-free bread as far as Sydney, Darwin and Adelaide.
Our pick: Carrot and Zucchini Cake
Suffolk Bakery is owned by Jane and Sean Crilley, who’ve been running the bakery for eight years now. The bakery’s known for its Saturday sessions, where local musicians play acoustic sets between 10am and 12 noon.
Apart from the entertainment, the bakery is also known for its pies, like the Lamb and Rosemary, or Vegan Lentil, which are made from scratch “the old fashion way” according to Jane and Sean.
“Suffolk Bakery is a meeting place for locals and tourists alike,” say the owners. “People enjoy the atmosphere and friendly service from our staff.”
The coffee at Suffolk Bakery is sourced from a local farm and the pies contain fresh herbs cut from the bakery’s own garden.
Also serving croissants, Danishes, tarts, sandwiches and quiche, Suffolk Bakery is well worth the 15-minute drive out of Byron.
Our pick: Glazed Tarts
L’Ultime Patisserie Chocolaterie brings a taste of France to Byron Bay. The store sells boxes of petit fours, including tarts and squares of layered cakes you’ll be licking off your fingers.
You’ll also find full-size tarts (some generously covered in berries) and cakes plus filled and whole baugettes, eclairs, quiches and other French pastries such as pain au chocolat and almond croissants.
The 12-piece pastry box is a must, offering a taste of everything that’s great about bouglangeries.
Our pick: 12-piece pastry box
Erin Schlicht bought The Holy Grain Bakery in 2017, bringing his Italian-influenced baking to Byron Bay. His early career as a chef, working with well-known Sydney restaurateurs the Manfredi family, introduced him to Italian pastries, breads and biscuits, and Byron Bay is now reaping the rewards.
Known for brioche doughnuts, biscotti, ciabatta, and more, The Holy Grain is the place to go for an Italian sweet fix.
The bakery is also known for its gluten-free range, which Erin says locals rave about; some customers even take Erin’s loaves back to Melbourne with them! Erin also makes gluten-free and sourdough pizza bases and serves up coffee sourced from Lismore roastery Republic of Coffee.
Having only run the bakery in Byron for six months, Erin says he’s still trying to find his niche but is looking forward to starting his own sourdough lessons for interested Byron locals and visitors.
“Ideally, I would like to run a bakery class on a Saturday night and teach people everything I know about bread; that’s one of my goals,” he says.
Our pick: Seeded gluten-free loaf
Harvest opened in the historic village of Newrybar, just outside Byron Bay, in 2007. The Queenslander-styled restaurant has grown over the years to include the Old Bakery (which has a 116-year-old wood-fired oven!) and artisan delicatessen with adjacent edible garden.
The Old Bakery was originally the hub of the small village of Newrybar where locals would converge to share the wood-fired oven. Owners Brooke Hudson, Kassia and Tristan Grier, brought the wood-fired oven back to life when they took over Harvest 11 years ago.
During the week, the bakery provides sourdough and pastries to the deli, but on the weekends, the bakery opens to the public from 8am for Sourdough Weekends.
We recommend picking up a coffee from the deli, a pastry from the bakery, and heading down to the edible gardens for the ultimate Harvest experience. And, of course, a sourdough loaf to take home.
Our pick: Sourdough loaf