Brisbane’s best new restaurants, cafes & bars open in 2018
There’s no doubt Brisbane is going through a massive growth spurt. It seems with every inner-city apartment block that goes up, a new hip restaurant, bar or cafe opens beneath it. We’re almost at the end of 2018 and since the start of the year Brisbane’s dining landscape has shifted and changed dramatically with a handful of sad closings, but a few dozen epic openings.
Here are our highlights for 2018 so far - and there are plenty more to come before the year’s end.
Arrive early for your reservation at this charming old-world brasserie, which has completely transformed Old Mineral House on Alice St. It gives you time to order a martini and soak in the vibes from a leather couch before being taken through to the main dining room where dark oak tables and red banquet booths fill the space. Beyond excellent steak (cut and dry-aged in-house), find other meaty mains, great salads, epic sides and the hospitality you’d expect from the group behind the awarding-winning bar, The Gresham.
The Sydney darlings behind Three Blue Ducks are opening their first wholesome cafe north of the border. The fourth location for the brand sits within the new W Hotel, the first 5-star hotel to be built here in 20 years. Open for breakfast through to dinner this will be a new city classic.
A slick Asian-inspired restaurant has opened on the CBD fringe, a second location for the popular northern New South Wales diner. Order everything from crispy chicken and crab wontons, to spiced lamb roti or a half Peking duck. Book ahead to enjoy a $34 lunch banquet on Sundays.
James Street’s new hotel is getting a distinctly Greek flavour. The favourite Gold Coast restaurant is opening a huge second location in Brisbane that will sprawl with poolside cabanas and a patio to catch the breeze.
Stepping through the doors at Ovolo Inchcolm Hotel is like stepping back in time, so there’s no doubt the new signature restaurant plays up the building’s 1930s vibes. Head chef Anthony Hales spent three months travelling around Australia and also popped over to Korea to soak in the culinary scenes and use it as inspiration at Salon De Co.
This Brisbane institution first opened in a historic warehouse on the CBD fringe back in 1995. Keeping things fresh, Philip Johnson’s restaurant has packed up shop and moved to Newstead, where a new state-of-the-art kitchen continues serves incredible dishes to a loyal Brisbane crowd.
A new Cantonese-inspired restaurant from the Rick Shores gang has fired up the pans in Fortitude Valley with chef Jake Pregnell on the burners. Stop in for a relaxed lunch or dinner then venture upstairs into the open air píjiῠ (beer garden). PS. They make a bloody good dumpling.
Honto, Fortitude Valley
Off the beaten track in Fortitude Valley, this new 90-seat Japanese diner from the crew behind locally acclaimed Longtime is serving mouth-watering eats and luscious libations. Since opening, the venue has been consistently booked out with people wanting to try the tantilizing menu of lobster katsu sandwiches, Honto drumsticks with tuna and avocado and shichimi spiced lamb shoulder to name a few.
The restaurant group behind Blackbird Bar & Grill is planning to open a super smart Chinese restaurant, Donna Chang, focused on Sichuan flavours and authentic Cantonese cuisine. There will also be the Boom Boom Room bar. Both will open in July as part of the new Adina Hotel on George St.
Persone, W Hotel, Brisbane Quarter, Brisbane City
The family-owned Gambaro Group is opening a smart-casual Italian bar and bistro on the first floor of the new luxury W Hotel. Expected to open in July, it will have a big balcony that overlooks the Brisbane River and South Bank.
Michelin-starred chef Manjunath Mural will be bringing his signature Asian-Indian cuisine to Brisbane. The big restaurant will sit on the first floor (hello river views!) and will blend traditional Indian prep with flavours from Australia.
South Brisbane’s newest resident takes the classic fish ‘n’ chips shop and steps it up to a casual diner. Sit down to hand-cut fries, house-made sauces, daily changing fish choices and great wines or beers at this casual fish bistro. Do order a house-made fish dim sim or three.
West of Brisbane this restaurant and bar is a perfect picture of modern industrial chic meets classic Greek. The menu reflects the style, with traditional plates of octopus, tzatziki, lamb yiros and more served in a fresh, paired-back way. The bar “Sunset” is designed to reflect a Grecian sun downer, with golden pink and orange toned interiors, and Greek wines, cocktails and an extensive gin menu.
The centre of the city has a new leafy playground that wants to be your second home. New cafe and gastropub Isle Lane opens out onto Post Office Square, serving breakfast, lunch, share plates, takeaway, coffee, beer and whatever else you might need.
Taking over the spot previously occupied by Asana by Pete Evans, Black Fire is offering up a Spanish/Mediterranean dining experience using seasonal and locally-sourced produce. In true Spanish style, share tapas and wine at the bar or dine a la carte in the restaurant – you'll find us ordering the slow roasted suckling pig.
Acclaimed Sydney-based Greek chef David Tsirekas will oversee The Greek Club’s new signature restaurant opening June 20. Expect a modern take on traditional Greek dining unlike what’s available in Brisbane right now.
Other notable restaurant openings include a two-storey Italian kitchen called Casa Cibo at Chermside Westfield, a fancy fish ‘n’ chips joint called Paper Fish at South Bank, and an American low ‘n’ slow barbecue spot at Coorparoo called Special Rub.
One of Brisbane’s best local roasters now has its own flagship cafe. Head in to try the house blend, rotating single origin espresso, multiple filter coffees or the batch brew of the day. Coffee is serious business here, but the spaces also pumps a great menu from a tiny kitchen.
As the new Brisbane flagship for Gold Coast roasters Black Lab this chic little cafe near Bakery Lane obviously cups a great latte – but shouldn’t be underestimated for its excellent food. Mushrooms and a potato rosti with a parmesan veloute or chilli scrambled eggs with kimchi and salmon will have you returning. Keep an eye out for the specials.
One of Brisbane’s great neighbourhood bars is now kicking the doors open in the morning hours. From the excellent people behind Scout Cafe (which is up the road), Jessie’s Girl has a bigger kitchen so expect bigger, better things like a savoury oat porridge or breakfast ceviche alongside Coffee Supreme beans and breakfast cocktails from 10am.
MasterChef runner-up Ben Ungermann has gone back to his roots and opened an ice-cream parlour with his brother in a heritage building in Ipswich. Expect crazy, unusual flavours like pumpkin seed oil, lavender and honey, coffee cardamom, and even roasted garlic. Grab a scoop or a tasting plate and soak up the 1950s vibes.
The folks from Albion’s Artie & Mai have opened a new cafe and small bar in Ashgrove. With manly pink font and a soft attitude, Macho Macho serves an epic breakfast with Seven Miles’ coffee, shifting to a menu of small and big share plates in the evening.
Plant-based dining seems to be the buzz phrase of 2018, but with one of the most interesting cafe menus in the city right now, Grown is proving meat-free dining is anything but bland. Local produce is sourced through FoodConnect, coffee comes from Dramanti, and a vegan wine and beer list accompanies the menu. Keep an eye out for the pop-up vegan degustations with star chef Alejandro Cancino (formerly Urbane).
The people behind the excellent cakes found in many cafes around town have finally opened their own joint. The sister duo behind Alphabet Cafe make every cake from scratch using local produce where possible, plus there will be a cafe menu and coffee by Supreme Roasters.
Other great newbies
Dicki’s, another plant-based cafe, has popped up in New Farm; Wilston said hello to Freja's; and Dutton Park welcomed a super cute new local in Penny Coffee Co.
Little sibling to Paddington’s Hai Hai Ramen, Superfly Funkeye is a little 40-seat Japanese-inspired bar that pumps out little snacks alongside a curated natural wine and cocktail selection. Cheers to miso butter sweet corn and spectacular wines.
With a comforting fit-out reminiscent of a jazzed-up '80s Aussie pub, Blute’s wants to be your go-to drinking hole. Located smack bang in the middle of Brunswick Street Mall, the pub is neighbour to the new Lucky Egg (yes, Brisbane’s favourite fried chicken sandwich has a new, bigger home too) and the menu is a cross between the beloved burger bar and pub classics – think chicken or eggplant parmies or kimchi cheese chiko rolls. Add plenty of beer and stage with live tunes for a kicking venue.
Sip on a #sunshinestateofmind cocktail and make a splash poolside at the WET Deck at the W Brisbane. This bar offers epic riverside views and luxury sun lounges to make you feel like it's summer-time all the time. The six page bar menu has something for every appetite, our favourites are the fare dinkum cheese board and the detox pizza.
Milton has received a rum bar and distillery just a stone’s throw from Suncorp Stadium. With vintage Cuban vibes, the dark cocktail bar has more than 80 varieties of rum from around the world, plus distills its own house rum in a small still. Keep an eye out for Cuban salsa nights, and feel free to BYO food.
The doors have opened to Brewstead’s newest brewery. Bringing home inspiration from UK and European breweries, the Scandi-inspired ale house has transformed an old mechanic's warehouse into a beautiful beer-drinking haven complete with sourdough pizzas and share platters. Going by the mantra "forever exploring, forever evolving", rather than having a core range, the crew will be experimenting from batch to batch.
X Cargo, Fortitude Valley
Covering two huge blocks on McLachlan Street, X Cargo is your new party playground. Made up of shipping containers and spanning over three levels, there's plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the American-orientated flavours coming from the kitchen and lush libations flowing from the three separate bars.
Cut from the same cloth as its neighbour Brooklyn Standard, Fat Angel is a NYC baseball-themed sports bar tucked down Eagle Lane. The walls are covered in sporting paraphernalia, and eight screens around the venue show any and every sport imaginable. Behind the bar find Sam Adams, Coors, Blue Moon and the house lager on tap, and order Philly cheesesteaks, wings, popcorn shrimp and more from the kitchen.
Release your inner kidult and play all your favourite arcade games while sipping on alcoholic bubble tea's and classic cocktails. These games take wit, skill and a whole lot of energy (or frustration if you've taken on the iron claw) so refuel on a range of bar snacks including stone baked pizzas, bao buns or spicy Szechuan calamari – it's a whole lot of fun!
At last, a permanent food truck joint and bar for Brisbane. Taking over the Dairy Hall and Sugar Building of the RNA Showgrounds, the huge space seats up to 1000 people and has a rotating range of food trucks turning up nightly – plus a massive bar stocked with all sorts, a secret gin bar and plenty of beer. Keep an eye out for special weekend festivals and events.
Venture down Bakery Lane to find two-stories of heritage charm at TSO Lounge & Dining. The upstairs bar is full stocked with a selection of whiskeys, gins, tequilas, rums and moonshine to accompany a game of pool in the lounge area or a quiet seat on one of two balconies.
Prost! Brisbane has a brand-new beer hall, and it goes by the name of Munich Brauhaus. The 850-seat restaurant is one of the city’s largest, and a big venue calls for a big atmosphere so expect that Oktoberfest vibe 365 days a year.
Another giant beer hall from the same restaurant group opened north of the river in Bowen Hills. Expect the full German experience with pork knuckles, pretzels and giant beers – they have 40 on tap. There are heaps of day-of-the-week specials and events too, like every Monday there’s a ping pong tournament, Wednesday is comedy night and on Sundays you get a free hot dog with your stein.
Paddington has a fresh neighbour hangout. Designed to feel like sitting in a mate’s loungeroom, the old Queenslander vibes make for a cosy space. There’s a modern-Australian menu of share plates (think corn fritters, croquettes, oysters) plus beer and sangria on tap and a cocktail menu.
Tippler’s Tap is opening a second location back near its spiritual home – the James Street craft beer pub will have 14 taps dedicated to Queensland brews and Chicago street eats, including deep dish pizza.
Other great new bars
South Bank has a new flavour with Barbossa, a Caribbean-inspired bar and bottleshop. In the Valley, Palace Supper Club is a ritzy place popping bottles up high from above Chinatown Mall. And suburban Ballistic Brewing has opened a new spot in West End, bringing its craft beers to the inner city.