A country drive from Bega through Wolumla to Candelo, or up the highway to Cobargo will reap many rewards. There is wonderful scenery, cute villages for snapping and shopping, and some excellent cafés to sate your hunger and thirst.
The Nook, Bega
Address: Rixons Arcade. Shop 3, 158 Carp Street, Bega
Hours: Monday to Friday 7 am to 5 pm, Saturday 7 am to 1 pm
Bit on the side: Ah-Maze-ing sourdough sandwiches
Coffee: Gabriel Coffee, Sydney
This could be our favourite coffee in the Bega Valley. There is usually a queue here but even if you do have to wait a little, there’s usually some good conversation to be had. And good coffee is always worth it, I say. I asked manager Brent why his coffee was so good and learnt about the true ‘ristretto’ method of pouring this golden brew without the usual shot-basket pressed into his machine; it just flows unimpeded by funnels or chemical build-up straight into the cup. So yes, fruity, strong and pure crema in each of my lattes, thank you! Nook slow brews their own chai which you can smell throughout the arcade when it’s cooking. There’s a cabinet full of raw treats, and the toasted sandwiches here are excellent. They’ve just added a voluptuous Ploughman’s Lunch board to the menu, which is definitely recommended.
Phoenician Street Food
Address: 149 Auckland St, Bega
Hours: Monday to Friday from 7am
Facebook: Phoenician Street Food
Bit on the side: Mouth-watering Lebanese Food
Coffee: Sacred Grounds Organic Coffee
Wassim of ‘Lebanese Street Food’ fame has recently opened this café after operating his food van in the area for many years. Coffee is tasty, creamy and strong. Turmeric and chai lattes, and even a good old-fashioned Vienna Coffee are available. There is a huge selection of fresh juice options, also Lebanese sweets and pastries, dip platters and generous Falafel and Shwarma wraps, Lebanese bagels and toasted flatbreads. The beef in the Shwarma has been slow cooked in spices for hours and the smell wafts through this light, colourful corner shop (next to the NRMA office). Homegrown flowers adorn every table, and Wassim’s bright personality shines from behind the counter. Note: Cash only.
Red Café, Bega
Address: 161 Carp St, Bega
Hours: Monday to Friday 9 am to 4 pm
Bit on the side: A general sense of being healthier for eating here
Coffee: Byron Bay Coffee Co.
I asked around and all kinds of locals of all kinds of ages recommend Red Café. And I have to say, if you’re feeling like you need some sustenance, get here for lunch. Generous, colourful, crunchy flavoursome meals all with a healthy and vegetarian bent – quesadillas, big salads, voluptuous house-made cakes, healthy sweet treats, turmeric and chai lattes with all kinds of milk, juices and smoothies. I’ve digressed from the coffee tasting, but never fear, it is good here. I had a tasty, strong single shot latte, followed up a bit later by a turmeric latte (with honey on the side). Both creamy and well made.
Note: Cash only.
Candelo Café and General Store, Candelo
Address: 48 William Street, Candelo
Hours: Monday to Friday from 8 am, Saturday & Sunday from 8:30 am
Bit on the side: Candelo Markets are on first Sunday of every month.
Coffee: Wild Rye’s Roasting Co., Pambula
What a stunning journey up to Candelo on the Wolumla-Candelo Rd, a true country drive. Housed in a gorgeous Federation building with high ceilings of pressed tin and skylights and wide country verandas, this is a space to linger, perhaps sipping a very tasty latte. Pambula’s Wild Rye’s Coffee Co. beans are used in the café, which is open seven days, serving breakfast, lunch and morning teas, with occasional dinner and live music. Fresh juices and smoothies and breakfast Burritos are also available. Excellent toasted sourdough sangas of smoky beef and cheddar, Buddha bowls, Falafel bowls and Tandoori soba noodle salad deserve mentions, all reasonably priced, plus a kids menu is available. We can’t go past a sexy smoked-brisket sandwich, and with cheddar? Oh my! Definitely a 2-3 napkin sandwich. Follow them on Facebook to keep up with frequent events; dinners, pizza nights and live music.
Chalk & Cheese, Cobargo
Address: 59 Princes Highway, Cobargo
Hours: Tuesday to Friday 8 am – 3 pm, Saturday 8 am – 2 pm, Closed Sunday & Monday
Bit on the side: On the High Street in a gorgeous town
Coffee: The Blessed Bean from Byron Bay
We stopped off for some brekky in this lovely old building in the historic town of Cobargo on a weekday drive. It was pretty quiet so we got to check out the cool-grey interior unimpeded. Loads of cushions, metal chairs and a corner fireplace that obviously gets a work out in the cooler months. I sat outside where it is all prunus trees, rambling roses, rosemary and old verandahs. Chatty locals and curious tourists stopped to say hello and ask about the coffee, which was very good. A perfect small, latte glass, and the coffee creamy, tasty and not too hot. We were pretty happy. Chosen from an extensive breakfast menu, my eggs were well poached, with a little side of delicious relish on crunchy Turkish bread… overall we had a revivifying break from driving, (and listening to The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album here kind of made our day!).
For a preview of the best cafés from Batemans Bay to Moruya, click here and the best cafés from Tathra to Bermagui click here.
Do you have any Café suggestions between Bega to Cobargo?