Where This Two-Hatted Byron Chef Eats in Town

Raes Byron

Jason Saxby has lived in the Northern Rivers region for the last five years, and in that time witnessed the dining scene explode. The biggest transformation Saxby, the executive chef of Byron institution Raes on Wategos, has noticed is the increase in quality, passion and ambition of the area’s venues and its operators.

“Talented chefs have flocked to the region to embrace the change of lifestyle,” he says. “Chefs like myself are seeking out a better connection to where our food comes from and the humble producers behind it. And as a region, the produce is second to none.”

Producers and growers in the Northern Rivers region, though particularly Byron, are now also bringing interesting ingredients into the local market beyond the usual fruits, vegetables and proteins, he says. This includes locally produced shoyu [soy sauce], artisanal cheeses, native ingredients, preserves and ferments. As a chef in the community, Saxby is proud to be a part of this and share it with others.

Image: Pipit

“While nourish bowls and relaxed eateries are still prevalent, they’re joined by a wave of new operators who are taking the culinary offering to the next level,” says Saxby.

“Several chefs are showcasing local produce in ways generally not seen too often in small regional towns — from casual eateries becoming more experiential, to elevated restaurants with top-notch wine and service, and an increase in destination dining.”

Not many regional destinations offer so much variety in one place as Byron does, Saxby says. For the size of the town, it packs a whole lot of punch. If you’re visiting Byron and want to get the most out of its dining scene, he recommends you do your research and create an itinerary.

“Venues in town are generally small, trading hours can vary, and popular dining spots can fill up fast, especially during peak season,” he says. “There are great places in and around Byron, but a lot of the highlights are outside of town. They’re the perfect opportunity for a scenic drive through the hinterland.”

Ahead, Saxby shares some of the restaurants he thinks are the best in Byron and its surrounds.

Raes Dining Room

“I may be biased, but Raes Dining Room is still my top pick for an indulgent dining experience,” he says. “Being the only Two Hatted restaurant in Byron with incredible views overlooking Wategos Beach and an attentive yet relaxed service style, the Dining Room has become somewhat of an institution over the years.”

Raes Cellar Bar next door is one of my favourite places to enjoy the beauty that is Wategos Beach with friends and family. You can expect a more casual, snack-focused menu with the same attention to detail and quality ingredients as the Dining Room, with a standout cocktail menu to match.”


“If I had to pick one other high-end experience in the region worth the travel time, it would be Pipit, he says. “Located in Pottsville, 30 minutes’ drive north of Byron, it offers a set degustation menu with a focus on sustainable seafood and local ingredients – the exceptional snack offering making it well worth the drive.”

Masa Bakery

Masa Bakery is a tiny bakery hidden in the Industrial Estate is where you will find some of the most impressive displays of pastries in Byron. With a rotating daily menu of sweet and savoury, it’s one of my favourite breakfast spots in town.”

Éclair at the Bay

“What started as a market stall and online home delivery service has now grown into the best patisserie in town: Éclair at the Bar. From eclairs and profiteroles to a selection of tarts, cakes and patisserie desserts. If you have a sweet tooth, it’s a must-visit.

Bar Heather

“Located in town, Bar Heather offers a broad wine list, complemented by small share plates that are fun and tasty. Nothing overly fancy here, just well-executed dishes in a dimly lit intimate setting. With so many wines on the list to choose from, ask the waitstaff for their top recommendations.”

Top Shop

Top Shop is my number one spot to grab a takeaway burger before heading down to Clarkes Beach or Wategos, whilst gazing out at the water and watching the dolphins ride the waves. It’s a blessed life we live here in Byron.”

Related: Chef Manu Feildel on His Favourite French Restaurant in Sydney

Related: 11 of the Best Sydney Restaurants Serving a Side of Water Views

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