The Bigsound guide to Brisbane – where to eat, drink, sleep and kick on
Rub shoulders with agents, label executives and industry bigwigs uncovering the next big thing in music. Each September more than 160 of the hottest new music acts from around Australia descend on Brisbane for an event like no other in this country. It’s BIGSOUND time.
For the average music lover, a cheap-as-chips ticket to the festival showcase is a must. Artists play two short-20 minute sets in one of 19 venues across three nights. BIGSOUND has evidence it boosted the early careers of big name artists like Flume, Rufus, Megan Washington, Courtney Barnett, Gang of Youths and more. Yes, now’s the time to jump on the bandwagon early.
This year you can expect to hear the likes of Tones & I, Stevan, Dulcie, Fritz, Nerve, Miiesha, Electric Fields, Greta Stanley, Adrian Eagle, Japanese Wallpaper, Close Counters and much more.
With thousands of delegates, artists and speakers coming from all around the world, Fortitude Valley and the wider city will be pumping with great vibes. Here’s a guide to help out-of-towners find a feed, places to boogie until late and hotels central to the action.
Where to eat
The conference and festival revolves around Fortitude Valley. Given that all the conference and music venues are within a few blocks of each other, here’s a guide on where to eat nearby.
Coffee and/or breakfast
First things first, all long days call for a caffeinated start. Kick off at Reverends and LTD Espresso, well known for their brews. Further afield local roasters Campos and Bellissimo know a thing or fifty about beans.
As for breakfast itself, No.5 Cafe serves classic options close to the action and Reverends also pumps out a short but sweet menu of interesting dishes. Down towards James Street, King Arthur keeps produce local and Harvey’s is an institution. Read about more breakfast spots in the Valley here.
Cheap and cheerful
Don’t risk missing the music showcase in the evening. For something quick and easy slip down Winn Lane to find Ben’s Burgers, or try Lucky Egg in Warner St. Bakery Lane nearby is home to Jonny’s Pizzeria and Nom Nom Korean Eatery. Fat Dumpling, I Like Ramen and Harajuku Gyoza on Brunswick St all get a thumbs up from us.
Meanwhile the Valley’s Chinatown Mall and area where it intersects with Wickham St are known as a bit of a hub for BYO restaurants. In the mall Wagaya, Enjoy Inn, Nonbei Sake Bar & BBQ, Golden Palace Chinese let you BYO wine while Green Tea will let you BYO beer and cider too. Along Wickham St try Tara Thai, Satay Ria, King of Kings, The Vietnamese and Super Bowl for BYO both beer and wine.
If you forgot to bring drinks there is a bottle shop on the corner of Brunswick and Wickham Streets while Proud Henry's sell boutique wine along Wickham St.
For a dressed up dinner with top dishes and proper wine, Les Bubbles is a Parisian steakhouse with steak-frites as the centrepiece of their menu, and LongTime is a super popular laneway Thai fusion spot. Gerard’s Bistro takes its cues from Middle Eastern cuisine, while next door, Italian restaurant Bucci serves up award-winning classic flavours. Little Valley serves modernised Chinese and inspired cocktails in a multi-level venue, Honto is a moody 90-seat Japanese diner with mouth-watering eats and Tartufo is the top spot for Italian dining and pizza in the city.
Where to drink
Between the conference and the showcase is the perfect time to find a quiet spot to sling back a cocktail or two and catch up with friends old and new. We’ve avoided mentioning any venues participating in BIGSOUND as they will be tied up.
Two classic cocktail bars first come to mind, The Bowery and Press Club. Both have been open for nearly two decades. X Cargo, Cloudland, Gerard’s Bar, Finney Isles and Savile Row round out the list of cocktail bars to turn into a crawl. If you want to take things higher, and by higher we mean literally higher – Eleven and Elixir are two great rooftop bars. Eleven features views back towards the city and Elixir is your own garden oasis.
Netherworld is a gaming diner and drinking hole with pinball machines, arcade games and board games, while The Flying Cock is a fresh pub that attracts a young crowd who drink and dance. Beer lovers should head to the small but mighty Bloodhound Bar and Soapbox Beer, and wine drinkers will love the fresh drops at City Winery.
Where to kick on
Most of the bars mentioned above are open until late. Just be sure to carry ID for the scanners.
For a sophisticated tipple, Savile Row is a classy option that’s open until 3am. The back bar features more than 900 bottles of booze, and the seasonal cocktail menu always pushes boundaries.
After 11pm it can be hard to find places with top notch food (kebabs don’t count). In the heart of Brisbane’s nightlife district you’ll find Tomcat serving pizzas until 3am Thursday - Saturday, Bird's Nest Restaurant has yakitori skewers and Japanese bites until 12am, Greaser Bar is flipping burgers and American cuisine until late, Lucky Egg is producing the goods until 3am and Little Valley until 2am on Fridays & Saturdays and Heya Bar is deep frying cheeseburger spring rolls and more.
Still feel like kicking? Beirne Lane is open 24 hours serving food and beverages all throughout the day and night.
Where to sleep
There are plenty of hotels in Fortitude Valley to suit every price range and need. The fanciest of the bunch are the boutique and luxury Ovolo The Valley and The Calile. For an edgy and different stay (like the Valley itself), check into Tryp Hotel, Sage Hotel or Limes.
Then there’s the Breakfree, Mantra Richmont, Alpha Mosaic, Rydges and Alex Perry, and of course Bunk Hostel. If you can’t find a spot to stay in the Valley, neighbouring suburbs of Spring Hill, Newstead and the CBD have plenty more options still within walking distance.
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