Mel is in Byron Bay checking out two of the best eateries in town with Spanish and Latino twists. With their distinctively international flavours, they are calling you to come and say “Hola Byron!”
Barrio Byron Bay is co-owned by the clever people from Harvest, along with popular local chef Francisco Smoje and cocktail expert Dan Wyllie.
Together, they have a truly winning combo at this delicious eatery and bar. It is located in Byron’s new, up-and coming neighbourhood: Habitat. With all-day dining, this is perfect place to grab brekky, lunch or dinner away from the Byron crowds (although they’ll soon be flocking here once they see the delicacies they’re cooking up for us!)
Barrio, which means neighbourhood in Spanish, is located in the newly developed Habitat community, a mixed-use village which lies near the Byron Bay Industrial Estate (up near Belongil Beach). The eatery itself is very open and bright, designed with timber and concrete accents throughout, and a modern industrial look. It is an 80-seat restaurant with the open kitchen, which features a striking Argentinian wood-fired oven and charcoal grill. In a bid to create a more informal dining experience, the seating at Barrio is comprised mostly of 12-seat bare-wood communal tables, though there are a handful of bar stalls and smaller tables for intimate dining. The space sprawls out onto an outside terrace area, which seats a further 80 people. You can also grab a picnic rug and lounge on the grass with a coffee and pastry in hand.
St. Elmo is a known and loved venue and is right in the centre of Byron. This Spanish tapas restaurant is regarded as one of the most sophisticated places to eat in town, but still retains that famous, relaxed Byron style. St. Elmo is influenced by the tables of Spain, where food is made to be shared and enjoyed amongst family and friends. It’s reliably open seven days until midnight, when most others in the area are closed until mid-week.
With low lights and a decent soundtrack humming along in the background, this is the perfect place to while away a few hours over some cocktails — with fantastic bar service. For meat-eaters, it’s a respite from the vegan real estate that occupies most of the territory nearby. Sink swiftly into Island Time cocktails with gin, apple liquor, kaffir lime, honeyed apricot and hickory-smoked bitters with an orange twist. Eat sous vide octopus with potato in a tangy lemon aioli, and try the stringy mozzarella in a crispy shell topped with smokey eggplant and tomato.