Brisbane’s best new restaurants, cafes & bars
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 still more to come before the year’s end.
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.
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.
Get your 'spicebuds' ready as Fat Belly Jack's is serving up Nashville-style hot fried chicken – and it's not for the faint of heart. Choose from southern-style (no spice) all the way through to really f*cking hot!! chicken burger, wings, breast or tenders encased in a secret batter and served with one choice of style. Do you dare to try the spice?
Tex-Mex meets rock 'n' roll at El Camino Cantina on King Street. Surround yourself with a carnival of vibrant artwork, neon lights and rock 'n' roll music as you snack your way into a food coma with jalapeno poppers, chargrilled fajitas, quesadillas, burritos and all the filled tacos while sipping on frozen margaritas.
Find a world class food marketplace and two onsite eateries at Mercado. Wander the various sections and fill your basket with the freshest food ingredients (there's even a knowledgeable concierge service that can take you on a guided tour of the space) or take a seat and enjoy an unforgettable food experience in house at the bistro or The Duck Room.
Ripiena, Fortitude Valley
Browse through rows of freshly made pasta at Brisbane's first pasta labratory. Similar to a bakery, Ripiena has a focus on take home options but will also be cooking up plates of their freshly filled pasta in store for those who simply can't wait.
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.
Celebrated vegan chef Alejandro Caninco (ex-Urbane) has expanded his horizons to open his very own plant-based eatery along the ever-so popular Fish Lane. Expect a menu consisting of six burgers using alternative protein vEEF, three sides and three coconut soft-serve ice creams. The menu may seem simple, but the flavours sure are not – even your carnivore friends will be begging to go again.
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.
Greca, Brisbane City
The most recent addition to the Howard Smiths Wharves precinct is modern Greek taverna Greca. Built for long and lazy lunches by the river, Greca wants you to savour every bite and advocates a type of slow eating. Start with taramasalata, saganaki cheese and spanakopita before moving onto grilled calamari, Moreton Bay bugs, cumin-spiced lamb ribs and baked lamb shoulder.
Settle into the luxurious bucket seat tables at Atelier Brasserie for an elegant European dining experience in the heart of King Street. Taking influence from French, Portuguese, Italian, Greek and Spanish cuisines means Atelier's menu is unlike any other. Start with saffron and Moreton Bay bug raviole, steak tartare with bone marrow and lamb cigars before tantilising your tastebuds with stuffed calamari and duck Maryland confit.
The ABC building is getting a new resident. Across the road from QPAC, this smart Cantonese restaurant is dishing up an abundance of diverse flavours taken from traditional Chinese cuisine and techniques including dim sum, bao buns, crispy skin duck, whole barrimundi and more. Don't forget to glance at the drinks list – cocktails, Chinese liquors, tap beers and Australian wine will pair perfectly with your meal.
Following on from plant-based burgers comes plant-based ramen at the new space formerly occupied by The Coop Bistro. Enjoy a great range of vegan bites including panko mushrooms and agedashi tofu to big bowls of ramen, all washed down with beer and wine.
Taking up the lower, riverfront level of the Brisbane Powerhouse sits Proud Mary, a New Orleans French Quarter inspired eatery. The combined kitchen and bar serves a range of soulful bites, sharing platters and comfort food pairing well with summery cocktails and crisp wines. From midday on weekends live music kicks off. Dinner, drinks and a show.
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.
Brisbane’s pop-up restaurant Mongrel is finally getting pots and pans of its own. Opening a kitchen and bar on Park Road in July, the diner will offer Peruvian street food eats with a nose-to-tail focus. The local favourite beef tongue tacos will be on the menu.
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.
Japanese-style brunch? Yes please! The Fifth Season Cafe is bringing specialty coffee and a menu full of locally sourced ingredients to the backstreets of South Brisbane. Expect a seasonal breakfast menu with a Japanese spin including karaage and eggs Benedict on a croissant – need we say more?
A fresh croissant and sourdough baguette? Oui Monsieur! Montrachet has expanded their simple boulangerie to accomodate the increasing number of people craving their pastries. Find everything you loved and more at the new venue along King Street. Drop in for a coffee and pastry or dine a la carte with Parisian-style breakfast and lunch.
Brisbane breakfasts are already delicious and aesthetic but Six Feet Under is taking this to the next level with a number of inventive dishes that you wouldn't find at your normal street side cafe. Housed within a modern space with polished concrete floors, exposed timber and green touches, the cafe is dishing up the likes of cured salmon with gin + passionfruit gravlax and a 63° egg, doughnut waffles with cinnamon, lemon thyme mascarpone and bourbon anglaise and scallops with black pudding, pea panna cotta, pumpkin and puffed pork rinds.
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.
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.
From the brilliant masterminds behind Happy Boy, Snack Man is bringing you bite-sized Chinese eats within the walls of a minimalist cocktail and wine bar. You won't have to go far as they've opened up right next door. Friday night plans? Start at Snack Man for a drink and nibbles then move onto Happy Boy for the full feast.
We're channeling those endless summer vibes at Mr Percival's, Brisbane's newest overwater bar. Drop in for a lazy lunch on the deck, aperitif's at sunset and live music to ease you into the night as you look back onto Brisbane City. Did we mention it's directly under the Story Bridge?
This hidey-hole is hidden in the backstreets of South Brisbane, only noticeable by a neon sign and lit up barbers pole. Once found, enjoy signature cocktails, artisan spirits, craft beers and wine within the confined walls of this 35-seat speakeasy bar. What could possibly make this place better you ask? Next Episode doesn't want you going hungry, so you can order food from nearby Big Roddy's Rippin' Rib Shack to snack and drink the night away.
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.
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.
Hello Gorgeous, Fortitude Valley - OPENING SOON
Move over Chester Street Bakery, there's a new bar in town and it's setting up shop in the old digs of the once highly popular and Instagram-able bakery. With an irresistible menu and handpicked wine list, this multi-level bar is sure to be the perfect place for after-work drinks and lazy Sunday sessions.
Death & Taxes, Brisbane City - OPENING SOON
With a cocktail listing including around 30 fruity creations, Death & Taxes proves to be a Brisbane City workers dream. Found within the historic walls of Burnett Lane, this 100-seat bar will provide the drinks, and neighbouring eateries will provide the food.
Mr Mista, Fortitude Valley
An LA inspired lounge bar has opened in Fortitude Valley just in time for summer. Think an elegant dining experience throughout the day, turned into a Hollywood-style party scene at night. Accompanying a colourful cocktail list, Southeast Asian share plate favourites line the menu including chicken kaarage bao bun, crispy fried cauliflower, smoked beef massaman curry and pork and prawn gyoza.
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.
Savile Row's sibling is now sitting behind a blue door on Ann Street. Expect the same good service and fine cocktails, top-shelf spirits, wine and charcuterie within an ambient space lightened with touches of blue.
Sit along the riverbank and toss back a cold one at Felons Brewing Co. Sitting under the Story Bridge at Howard Smith Wharves, the beer is freshly brewed on site within the confounds of the old heritage sheds.
A 24-hour (yes you heard us correctly) gastropub has just opened in Fortitude Valley. Paying homage to the famous Brisbane businessman himself, Thomas Charles Beirne, Beirne Lane's food and drink fare is influenced by the developer's Irish heritage and interest in Japanese cooking. Expect to find katsu sando's (the barramundi sando is particularly good), fresh oysters, karaage quail and poke bowls served alongside experimental cocktails, craft beers and wines.
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!
The Terrace, Emporium Hotel’s eagerly anticipated rooftop bar is finally open to the public. With views for days, fluffy bar stools that blend in with the clouds, and an all-day food menu to keep you hydrated and hunger-free, The Terrace will easily become the place to spend a lazy day this summer.
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.