District 21 Café & Bar

NB: This cafe is no longer open. 

1/2243 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach  Ph: 07 5572 6646

If there was ever a cat with nine lives in the restaurant industry, it would have to be District 21. Sounding awfully like a post-apocalyptic area in South Africa inhabited by extra-terrestrial beings, District 21 is, in fact, a reincarnation of The Cave.

New owner Nathan Taylor has revamped the venue with a clean and industrial by day, moody and edgy by night mood; perfect for a multi-function venue. Coming in from the street it’s cool and brimming with mystique; a perfect shelter from the midday sun to sit sipping a fresh Apple, mint and lime juice in a hideaway corner. Sitting solo, the well-worn leather couch is a welcoming companion.

There are plenty of well-priced options on the breakfast menu: Egg and bacon rolls, $7 or with a coffee for a $10 combo, which roll out the door to tradies and surfers; Eggs bene $13 – 14, Açai and berry bowl, Brioche with cinnamon, honey and ricotta $12, The Big Breaky (one of the cheapest in town at $16) including eggs your way, bacon, chorizo, mushrooms, tomato, avo, hash brown and toast, or you can order the Veggie version at $13.

Lunch, too, has plenty of healthy options: Red quinoa, spinach and roast pumpkin salad $15, Smoked salmon bagel $10, standards such as Chicken parmi or Chicken schnitzel with salad and fries $15 and the healthier option Mushroom Stack with field mushrooms, haloumi, roasted Mediterranean vegies, with feta and spinach on a crisp potato rosti $10.

The venue is full of surprises, with hidden corners and secreted away spaces. Walk through the dimly lit café and you’ll find yourself in a quiet sunny courtyard tucked away out the back, a perfect secret spot for a small group to get away from it all.

Upstairs there’s a separate event space with its own bar which holds 30 in the bar and 50 or 60 all up. It’s available for use on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday nights only.

Quiet by day, the District gets lively by night when the regulars come out to play. This has always been a unique and intimate venue for bands and pop culture, particularly when there’s live entertainment on Saturday nights and open mic nights on Sundays, which are legendary!

“The musicians are so close, so the experience becomes interactive. There’s no other venue like it in this middle strip of the coast. There’s so much musical talent in this area! They just get on their pushbike with a guitar on their back, come here and rock along with their mates,” waitress Annaliese tells us.

Then again there’s trivia on Wednesday with Tappa. Everyone loves Tappa! These often riotous nights bring a new meaning to group games.

“So, is the name based on ‘District 9’? It’s so moody!” I pose the question to Nathan.

“There could be so many different answers to that question.” He smiles enigmatically, as inscrutable as Shannon Doyle’s paintings. Shadows of passersby play along the walls, mixing in with the portraits.  ‘Who has passed here before?’ I wonder, imagining the conversations drifting through this space.

Nathan tells me that he wanted to create a place where locals could feel is home; yet a unique venue, different to others in the area.

While there’s a regular customer base who use the venue: yoga ladies on Thursdays, a mixed crowd on Wednesdays, as well as a monthly art event, I get the feeling that locals want to keep this venue a secret from the rest of the coast. You see, it’s always been their ‘cave’, no matter what the name!


Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast http://www.foodgoldcoast.com.au


Photo Credit: The Weekend Edition Gold Coast

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