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 still 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.
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.
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.
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.
Grass Fed, South Brisbane - OPENING SOON
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Red Hill welcomed a super cute new local in Gramps Cafe.
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.
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.
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.
Housed within the base of the London Woolstores, Streetcorner Jimmy gives homage to the area's history by supplying it's patrons with fine spirits and cocktails, craft beers and a range of wines. Settle in for a comfortable evening with food platters, share plates, flatbread pizzas or a porterhouse steak straight from the grill – the leather couches in the corner certainly look inviting.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.