Newcastle's favourite crowd-pleasers

Newcastle's favourite crowd-pleasers

19 April 2024

There are so many reasons to gather up a group and head to Newcastle for brunch, lunch, the night, or even for the whole weekend and it just so happens that Newcastle has a stack of crowd-friendly options to suit all types of occasions.

While we can't list them all here, we've put together our top picks in a range of popular categories. We're talking 10 to 20 guests here (not large formal functions) and booking ahead is highly recommended.

Cafe vibes and quality coffee

Urban chic meets old-school nostalgia at The Junction's The Hood Milk Bar. Up front at the milk bar, generous gelatos and decadent shakes are the order of the day. But for groups stopping by for breakfast, brunch or lunch, expect expertly brewed barista coffees, egg perfection, plus pastries, fresh wraps, salads, burgers, and incredible service. This café is spacious and welcoming too.

From an early morning coffee to an evening nightcap, The Happy Wombat on Hunter Street is always a group go-to. Still, it's their generous breakfasts and relaxed atmosphere that have earned them a reputation as a morning favourite. Classic breakfasts like pancakes and spiced granola through to eggs benedict with house-made hollandaise or The Fat Wombat special will leave your group satisfied.

Behind a white picket fence and adorned with gorgeous greenery The Beehive on Honeysuckle is the perfect spot for sitting and watching the Honeysuckle bustle scoot, jog, and walk by. With ample indoor and outdoor seating for groups, this pup-friendly spot serves up fresh juices, local produce, and great service to boot. Weekends get particularly busy, so booking ahead is recommended.

Beer gardens & pub grub

The Lucky Hotel is right in the heart of Newcastle, and it has a huge Palm Springs inspired alfresco courtyard, perfect for seating large groups in complete comfort. Open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week with regular live music and an exceptional menu, The Lucky is known for its cocktails, an extensive list of Hunter Valley wines, and a wide range of on-tap beers.

Cooks Hill's The Cricketers Arms Hotel is everything you want from an authentic pub experience, where everything — the food, service, and spaces – are all next level. With multiple spaces to choose from, your group can enjoy smoked BBQ platters and gourmet grazing tables, through to elevated pub classics like steaks, schnitzels and burgers, all with chef-crafted sides and sauces.

The Young Street Hotel in Carrington is known for its cracking pizzas, flavour-filled nourish bowls, plus grilled goodness, such as steaks and classic burgers. From the energy of their bottomless brunches to lazy afternoons under festoon lights and greenery in the beer garden, to a more formal dining experience indoors, the YS team can cater for all types of occasions, big and small.

Laidback on the lawn

Nestled amongst the leafy streets of Cooks Hill is Lowlands Bowling Club, a Newcastle institution. At one time or another most people have wandered barefoot onto the lawn for a casual game of bowls or tucked into the Caribbean-inspired meals at the Little Castro Bistro, including their delicious range of rice bowls, stacked burgers, and bistro classics. There's plenty of seating, either indoors or outside near the greens.

Adamstown Bowling Club, or the ABC for locals, is much more than a local bowling club. The Barn Bistro serves all the pub classics in the indoor dining area with easy access to the main bar. Plus, the huge outdoor space has bookable bench tables, big screens, lawn games, bowls, and The Rinks Pizza Bar, which serves deliciously cheesy wood-fired pizzas until late. Special perks for birthday bookings are available too.

For over 100 years Bar Beach Bowling Club has been serving up the fun in its stunning beachside location.  From grilled Barramundi and lamb cutlets to milk bun burgers and scotch fillet steaks, the menu is full of satisfying classics that are perfect with a side of bowls. The bowlers' shed is available for bigger groups, but the bistro is more than capable of seating small to medium bookings.

Meal with a view

Merewether Surfhouse is a view and feasting trifecta. Adult groups and lovers of fresh local produce will love Rooftop Bar’s 270° beachfront views and cracking bar menu, open 7 days a week. Surfhouse Restaurant is all about refined Mediterranean fare, open Wednesday through to Sunday. And for casual vibes or groups with little ones, the Beach Bar Cafe is a breakfast and lunch fave, positioned right on the promenade. 

Rustica promises groups of 8 and above more than just sweeping Newcastle Beach views, but also an unforgettable Mediterranean Banquet. Day or night, Rustica’s unique coastal position delivers an iconic banquet backdrop, where groups can watch the waves roll in and enjoy perfectly matched wines while exploring signature dishes over four flavour-filled courses – think Mediterranean classics with a fresh Australian twist. 

Sitting right on the harbour, Scratchleys is the ultimate seafood and view combo, boasting an extensive wine list and fresh and flavoursome cocktails. Towering seafood platters and char-grilled antipastos are ideal for small groups. Plus, vegetarians can enjoy the likes of tempura zucchini flowers and meat-lovers can tuck into perfectly seared steaks, and so much more. Set menus are available for 8+ groups too. 

After dark dinners

Light Years is an airy, palm-filled Asian diner with a flavour-packed share menu that will have you wanting to try it all. This is possibly why the team treats groups of 8 and above to a banquet dining experience, where guests can sample chef suggestions and premium options, so the only choice you need to make is what cocktail or wine to pair with what. Dumplings, ceviche, duck pancakes…need we say more.

Once a smash repairs and printing press, Parry Street Garage is now Newcastle West's favourite Italian pizza and pasta joint, filling the large industrial space with rich and robust aromas and flavours 7 days a week. Relaxed and seasonal, the pizzas and pasta are great for sharing or tucking into solo, and the Italian-inspired desserts are exquisite. And there's plenty of space for small, medium and large groups.

The Edwards is more than a great spot to dine out, it is also a music and culture haven showcasing Newcastle's vibrant live music and DJ scene. The urban-industrial space can accommodate all different group sizes, and the fresh focused menu with seasonal produce and quality cuts is sure to please. The Eddies Feast banquet is specially designed to cater for culinary-loving groups with ample sharing options available too.

Son of a Gun in Hamilton's vibrant Beaumont Street has live music most nights with trivia on Monday nights, so basically any night of the week there is a fun-filled energy perfect for a relaxed group dinner. The American-inspired evening menu features diner-style shakes and smoothies, or wines, beer, and cocktails if that's more your vibe. And the burgers, BBQ platters, and brisket bowls are sensational.