A ‘summer holiday vibe’ is just a ferry ride away…
Manly Beach is only a 15 minute fast-ferry ride from Sydney business district, but it feels a world away.
Thankfully there are no commercial high rise buildings blocking the beachfront, just towering Norfolk Island pine trees.
Bare feet, board shorts, and bikinis replace suits on the streets as well as the beach so it’s easy to embrace the holiday vibe even if it’s only for a lunch hour.
When you step off the ferry at Manly Wharf you have the choice of three beaches – Manly Cove, Cabbage Tree Bay, and Manly Beach.
On your left, West Esplanade runs along Manly Cove toward Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. If you turn right along East Esplanade you’ll be walking alongside Cabbage Tree Bay, and eventually arrive at Manly Yacht Club.
To reach Manly Beach itself, walk straight ahead through The Corso.
The Corso is the central hub of Manly, with lots of retail and several large pubs, and full of tourists, buzz, and buff. The smaller laneways connecting to it offer a feast of boutique cafés and bars.
Not many people know that The Corso was named after the Via Del Corso in Rome, and was originally a water inlet flowing from the harbour to the ocean.
Did you know that Manly was originally designed as a copy of the English city of Brighton?
Back in the 1850s, English-born merchant and politician Henry Gilbert Smith had a huge influence on Manly.
Smith envisioned Manly as an antipodean version of the famous Brighton seaside resort he revered.
He also introduced beachside attractions to cater for day trippers of the era – a miniature version of Vauxhall Gardens, a Camera Obscura, boat-shaped swings, and a bath-house located at the end of West Esplanade.
How I wish the Camera Obscura was still in operation, certainly a drawcard for me!
All these years later Manly has evolved its own vibrant personality and community. It is the birthplace of Australian surfing and was one of the world’s first surfing reserves.
It now has over 100 bars, cafés, and restaurants Manly has plenty to offer locals and tourists.
But that’s enough history, let’s eat…
Wandering down East Esplanade, I found Native Feel Real tucked just around the corner in Wentworth Street.
Native Feel Real is a small café with several tables outside. You can eat-in or takeaway.
Their menu offers raw and plant-based superfoods that are mostly gluten-free, and their philosophy is serving ‘nourishing food from Mother Earth’.
The lunch menu includes a Native Bowl ($17.50) – a salad of raw, seasonal vegetables; a Raw Pizza (cooked below 44°C) topped with homemade pesto, spinach, mushrooms, carrots, beetroot, pumpkin, sprouts and activated cashew cheese ($17.50).
Rawsome Spaghetti ($16) is made with raw zucchini spirals, homemade pesto, spinach, tomatoes and sprouts, and grated cashew parmesan cheese, and there’s also Rawsome Lasagne.
I chose the fully cooked Quinoa Risotto ($16.50) – a mix of seasonal vegetables pan fried with quinoa and coconut cream and served on a bed of mixed lettuce and topped with alfalfa sprouts and cashew cheese. Three words: It was delicious.
It’s hard to ignore the large range of raw sweets at the counter so I ordered an itsy bitsy white chocolate and berry cake ($6).
Native Feel Real is focused on raw and gluten free drinks, but has a nice arrangement with the bar next door. They have an espresso machine so you can buy a really good takeaway coffee to enjoy with your dessert.
Native Feel Real has a yummy list of power juices, and smoothies including Liver Scrubber, Be Yourself, and Mayan Warrior.
Their selection of naturopathic teas includes Green Goddess Detox, Fountain of Youth, and Golden Glow.
You’ll find lots of cafés in Manly, but I liked the peaceful and reflective vibe of this one.
Native Feel Real offers a nice yin-yang balance of healthy food and being able to hear yourself think.
Or write your own message on a post-it note, to add to the wall of café philosophy.
As things get pre-Christmas crazy in December, it’s especially nice to have a getaway from all ‘the noise’.
RATED: Pimped! FOOD: 4/5 Satisfies body and soul
VALUE: 4.5/5 VENUE ATMOS: Café philosophy
VIBE: Feel real
Native Feel Real – Shop 1A, 40 East Esplanade, Manly, NSW
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