... a dreamer, freelance writer, massage therapist, naturopath, mother & drop-out social work student living, working and writing in the Blue Mountains. When not occupied with the real world, she writes fantasy.
Published November 18th 2012
Would you like rolling hills and bird song with your meal?
In the interests of tourists and locals alike, I've compiled this list of Blue Mountains cafes with either a top view or outdoor aspect where you can soak up the local atmosphere. Kill two galah's with one stone: fill the gullet and get a bit more of what you came up here for - the outstanding natural landscape and gardens of the Blue Mountains.
For those who are seeking a Meal with a Scenic Deal, this is the List to come to. Combine your cheese melt with an awesome view? Enjoy gum scented air and the aria's of the local bird-life with your cafe latte.
1. The Three Sister's Cafe [Would you like Jamison Valley with your cappuccino?]
Would you like Jamison Valley with that? Views at the Three Sisters Cafe are literally 'top of the world'
This cafe is located in the World Heritage Plaza at Echo Point (that big lump of a building afore the Three Sisters) and overlooking the Jamison Valley, has one of the best locations I know of in the Mountains. Sited in the tourist hub of Katoomba, it's easy to find. The outdoor terrace allows you to experience the sun (if any) and parrots. There is also indoor seating for those who are phobic to air, but still want the view (possible through expansive glass windows). I've always found the food mediocre, but with views like this, who cares.
It's popular with tour bus groups - take heed if you hate noisy crowds. Or time your visit to before or after the bus groups rock up.
This is technically a restaurant so doesn't really belong in this review - but with a vista this good I'm going to cheat a little. According to my clever three year old, the views here are of Fairyland.
Mount Tomah is a two hour drive from Sydney via Richmond or a 45 minute drive from Katoomba. Check out the menu, hours of operation and all you need to know about getting there on the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden website.
3. The Terrace Cafe, Scenic World, Katoomba [Epic views within tourist trap]
Epic views of the Three Sisters, Mount Solitary and the Jamison Valley can be enjoyed here, however, this cafe, located within Scenic World (the mega-tourist complex that includes the Scenic Railway, Skyway and Rainforest Platform Walk) suffers from the lack of atmosphere and cosiness that plague many a tourist trap.
The Terrace Cafe serves up snacks, baked goods and beverages and makes use of local produce. It is open daily from 9am-5pm and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. One advantage is that you can check out all that Scenic World has to offer (along with hundreds of others) while you're there. Okay, so don't say I didn't warn you about the crowds.
If you'd like to enjoy a basic feed in the midst of a beautiful European style garden, come here, but don't take this option if you want to scoff yourself stupid or it's raining. Food is limited to light refreshments of the old-fashioned kind your grandmother might serve up. Drinks include coffee, teas, local applejuice, Bundaberg ginger beer and spiders. Devonshire tea and freshly baked cakes are also available. A negative is that you'll have to pay the admission fee ($10 for adults, $8 concession, $5 kids) to get into the garden, but as they say 'you get what you pay for'.
This option best suits garden lovers or large picnicking family groups who want to linger without the scrutiny of a waiter pushing them on. It's also a good option for people with kids who can't sit still at the table. For those who prefer, there is indoor seating within Everglades House.
For all you need to know about getting here, click on this link to the Everglades Garden.
Look out on this yummy garden while you indulge in tea and light snacks.
5. Conservation Hut, Fletcher St, Wentworth Falls. [Rustic vibe in a natural bush setting]
Conservation Hut - quiet, rustic atmosphere at the Valley of the Waters
Located at the Valley of the Waters, this is a pit-stop for bush-walkers of this spectacular waterfall walk. Offering reasonable cafe food at reasonable prices, this place has a rustic eco feel and earthy bush ambience many will like. Set away from the town centre's in the midst of the bush, it maintains a quiet atmosphere while the constant traffic of bush-walkers passing by keeps things lively.
Dine inside or on the outside verandah overlooking Jamison Valley. Open 7 days from 9am. For more info see the Conservation Hut website.
By night, this stylish upmarket cafe cum restaurant functions as an a la carte restaurant, but by day, you can sit in the garden and partake from the simpler pleasures of cafe style snacks and beverages. Perched overlooking Mount Solitary, Kings Tableland, and the Jamison Valley, the Solitary is a superb spot for chilling outdoors in style. The views are not as thrilling as the above venues, yet it's all very pleasant.
The kiosk menu is available from 10:30am-4:30pm and includes such indulgences as banana bread with honeycomb butter ($4.40), gourmet sandwiches ($14) and cakes for $9.50. With ice-cream sundaes at $14 this is not a cheap option for bringing kids.
7. Megalong Valley Tea-Rooms, Megalong Rd, Megalong Valley [Country aspect beneath the trees]
Country ambience at Megalong Valley Tea Rooms - sit outside beneath the trees.
In my opinion, this place has ripper country-style cafe food, although the same can't be said of the service (which was more Jack the Ripper on the day of my visit).
As the sole cafe in the Megalong Valley, the Tea-Room has a distinction. There is a stack of casual garden seating outside overlooking the fields of the valley. Or sit inside. Either way the country ambience and tasty, well presented food will delight.
Cafe Bonton is located at the second roundabout of the strip of shops known as Leura mall. It has both indoor and outdoor seating including a fireplace in winter. On a nice day you can sit outside amongst the azaleas. Due to its central location this isn't a quiet option.
Cafe Bonton has several extensive and inventive menu's including separate breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner menu's that apply at different times of the day. Expect Leura prices. For example, lunch prices range from $16.50 (for soup) to $36.50 (for steak). Having said that, this is a cut above your average grungy cafe - if you can manage to get inside the door. I turned up at 9am one Saturday to find they hadn't yet opened for breakfast. Another time, the sole vegetarian dinner option wasn't available.
Great foodie's choice if you happen to be in Leura that day. One day I'm going to try the fig, banana, almond and coconut crumble porridge.
For more on Cafe Bonton including their extensive menu choices and hours of operation, click on the link provided.
Disclaimer: The Blue Mountains suffers common bouts of foul weather including penetrating fog. On such days, give the above a miss in favour of venues with indoor ambience. For instance, the Fairmont Resort's bar and restaurant has a log-fire going at the first hint of low temps. But, that's for another article.
We had a lovely meal at Monkey Creek Cafe (227 Chifley rd, Bell) for lunch whilst doing the tourist thing in the blue mountains. Staff were friendly, food was lovely, prices reasonable. Lovely views and photo opportunities.
I totally enjoyed the experience.
The drive there was beautiful.... All in all a great time :)