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. From fine dining Greek and riverside Italian to rock 'n' roll Mexican and ridiculously good fried chicken, our stomachs are rumbling with the thought of eventually trying them all – we hope our bank accounts don't mind.
Here are our highlights for 2019 so far - and there are still more to come before the year’s end.
Stanley, Howard Smith Wharves
PSA: Howard Smith Wharves newest eatery is finally open and has all of us turning heads at the stunning two-storey interior and delectable menu. Turning the old water police headquarters into a Cantonese paradise, Stanley has also put a Los Angeles star chef behind the pans, serving up the likes of Cantonese roast duck with plum sauce, Lobster lo mein with garlic butter and Mongolian lamb ribs with cumin.
Longtime’s restaurant has officially closed its doors up the Chinatown end of Fortitude Valley and moved its digs to James Street, just outside The Calile. Expect the same vibe and same great food just under a new name, appropriately called sAme sAme. We can't wait to tuck into their coconut & turmeric Moreton Bay bug curry again.
Now apart of Toombul's upstairs playground, Il Gancio is bringing modern Italian fare to the northsiders of Brisbane. Along with a mouth-watering menu of pizzas, pastas, antipasti and cocktails, during the week Il Gancio will also be offering the famous cheese wheel pasta and oyster and prosecco Fridays – we've found our new after-work joint.
It's no secret that Ada Lane, situated next to The Calile on James Street, is set to be the hottest area in town, and Beaux Rumble happens to be the first restaurant to open its doors in the space. This two-storey restaurant features a main dining room, two private dining rooms and even a vibrant terrace on the second level, while the menu highlights modern Australian wood-fired cuisine with a focus on fresh seafood and plant-based dishes.
Big Roddy's on the move. Fish Lane's saucy ribs, burgers and wings have crossed the river to open up a second venue in Fortitude Valley. Expect a bigger space but the same great pulled "ribwiches", secret sauce ribs, wings and more.
Formerly Billykart Bar, Bender's Bar promises the same great tasting burgers, plus an extended menu of cheap and cheerful bites. Turning the space across from Billykart into a casual neighbourhood pub, diners can also expect trivia nights, live music, live sport, weekly specials and DJs.
Think Latin flavours and citrus cocktails all served in a divine setting by the river. Sounds perfect hey? Well then get down to Rico Bar & Dining to enjoy just that. With a tantalizing menu featuring Australian produce (the braised beef cheek empanadas are definitely our go to), it's the perfect location for an after-work drink and nibbles or a romantic dining experience with your special someone.
As one door closes another one opens, and this time it's the door to an intimate twelve-seat degustation restaurant. Elska has opened in the space formerly occupied by sunny neighbourhood brunch spot Freja's. It's menu changes daily, but the focus stays on serving fresh produce whipped together using Nordic culinary techniques. If you're mourning the loss of your favourite brunch spot, Elska also serves brunch on weekends.
Shishou, Fortitude Valley
Think you love sushi? Well the experience you'll receive at Shishou will change everything you think you know about the traditional Japanese dish. This is a sushi degustation, which means you'll be enjoying multiple courses of grilled meats and omakese nigiri.
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.
Phoenix, Brisbane City
Southern tastes have expanded north with the group behind the four popular Phoenix restaurants in Sydney, recently opening another venue in Brisbane Quarter. With a moody setting accented with black, gold and red, these yum cha specialists will be serving contemporary and classic Chinese cuisine including fresh crab-meat xio long bao, scallop and caviar shumai, steamed pork ribs and more.
Polpetta, Howard Smith Wharves, Brisbane City
You may have noticed the new boutique Art Series hotel now open at Howard Smith Wharves but did you notice the Italian eatery that opened beneath? Well we bet you'll notice it now as the smell of freshly baked pastas and Roman-inspired dishes waft over the crowds wandering around the Wharves.
If you've been craving a tasty two-hander, then never fear, as this former CBD burger joint has officially crossed the river and opened up shop on Oxford Street. Charboys may be serving the same great burgs featuring succulents meats and fluffy buns to a new southside crowd, but we're just glad we can wrap our mouths around a Goodfella with filthy fries again (if you know you know.)
Za Za Ta, Fortitude Valley
Things are getting a little spicy in Fortitude Valley with Za Za Ta showcasing the vibrant spice and flavours of the Middle East through their signature menu. From wood-fired breakfast manoush and shakshuka at brunch to dry aged spiced duck breast and beef cheek dumplings at dinner, flavour and flare is certainly the winning combination at this venue.
Dieters beware, the following content is not suitable for the health-conscious. Brisbane's burger scene continues to expand with Milky Lane recently opening at Gasworks Plaza – and we couldn't be more excited. This Sydney favourite has been turning heads with their over-the-top burger combinations, tasty sides (bacon mac & cheese croquettes included), and milkshake-inspired cocktails.
Meet Olive + Angelo, the new restaurant bringing authentic Italian food to the people of Brisbane through recipes with a wealth of history. In true Italian style, the pizza is wood fired and the pasta menu serves a range of classics to curb those carb-fueled cravings. We suggest starting with the burrata, and then follow it up with the likes of braised beef rib ragu on homemade rigatoni, a romana pizza with spicy sausage, garlic oil and rosemary and tiramisu to finish – obviously.
The Bavarian's steins and schnitzels have found another home in The Barracks on Petrie Terrace. It's Oktoberfest all year round at the 600-seater German-themed beer hall, so prepare your stomachs for all the pork knuckles, pretzels and loaded schnitzels washed down with giant jugs of beer - prost!
Ciao Papi, Howard Smith Wharves, Brisbane City
The first in a series of pop up restaurants to take over the deck of ARC Dining, Ciao Papi is an Italian-inspired eatery sporting a simple, but oh-so delicious menu. Pop down for a wine, a hearty bowl of beef ragu and epic Brisbane City views.
The masterminds behind Brisbane's favourite fried chicken burger, Lucky Egg, are bringing you a whole new Mexican-inspired eatery to obsess over. Trash Taco are sticking with the basics and will be serving authentic chilaquiles, tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and snacks accompanied by margaritas, mescals and signature cocktails.
Any guesses as to what SK Steak & Oyster will be dishing up? Unfortunately there'll be no prizes for guessing correctly as fresh seafood and prime cuts are the obvious hero of this menu. The crew behind famed modern Greek restaurant Hellenika have opened this passion project outside The Calile in Ada Lane.
Put your hands together and prepare those stomachs for the recent opening of a delicious Thai eatery in Brisbane City. Located above The Embassy Hotel, Jumbo is heating up the pans to treat customers to a variety of upscale and authentic Thai dishes including, but definitely not limited to, whole crispy local Goldband Snapper, slow-cooked five spice pork belly, tender lamb shanks and pad Thai.
Pastel perfection, modern Australian cuisine and top-notch vinos make up Emporium's new showpiece restaurant Signature. With a focus on using locally sourced produce, you can expect an ever-changing a-la-carte and dedicated vegan menu paired with a carefully curated wine list. Start with the blueberry cured ocean trout, then the Flinders Island lamb and finish with the black fig & guava – because dessert is a course you should not pass up here.
Slip down the stairwell off Rowes Lane to find this elusive all-hours venue serving everything from their own blend of specialty coffee through to traditional New Orleans beignets with Bourbon butterscotch. It's the type of place where you could enjoy a night of cocktails and come back for breakfast the next morning.
Have you always dreamed of sipping a cocktail as big as your head? Well now you can at Ling Ling's Bar in The Valley. Accompany your soup bowl cocktails with pan-Asian eats like the Bang Bang lamb ribs, pineapple fried rice and duck san choy bow wow. Plus, Ling Ling's will be serving their delicacies late into the night, so you can get your street food-fix at anytime.
Hey ya'll, an American-style barbecue joint has swung open its doors in Windsor and all we can smell is the delicious scents of smoked brisket, mac n cheese, buffalo wings, juicy burgers and jalapeno poppers. Wash all this down with whiskey or pint of beer and you've got yourself one hell of a food rodeo.
Baja, Fortitude Valley
This isn't your regular run-of-the-mill Mexican you grab for a quick, takeaway lunch, because Baja has style, and a long, relaxing lunch or dinner is the best way to enjoy this modern Cali-Mex cuisine. You'll feel right at home in the warm and aesthetic interior, but it's the menu you'll be riding home about. King fish ceviche, burrata de buffalo and any of the tacos (obviously) are all must-haves – paired with a specialty cocktail of course.
Sip, snack and take in the sunset views at this new riverside Italian restaurant. You won't walk past without a second-glance at the dreamy, modern interior but it's the food that will have you walking in and taking a seat. Their focus is on simple and authentic style cooking and much to our delight, seafood is consistently a star of most dishes. Think chargrilled octopus, baby stuffed squid on squid ink pasta, and Roman-style lamb shoulder – but we promise the whole menu will have you shouting delizioso!
Even plant-based eaters get cravings for saucy burgers, crispy fries and creamy shakes, so Lord of the Fries is serving just that, plant-style. Forget the meat because everything at this joint is vegan-friendly. But meat-free doesn't mean it's any less delicious – try for yourself!
Housed within a heritage-listed building once referred to as Foresters Hall, Foresters Restaurant & Bar is set to prove that there's more to the St Pauls Terrace end of Brunswick Street than meets the eye. The gastropub-style fare has been elevated by fine dining cooking techniques to deliver a menu of exceptional modern Australian dishes like wallaby carpaccio, sage butter damper and the all Aussie (not New Zealand) pavlova.
Have you ever found yourself dreaming of 19th century Parisian countryside? Well put those dreams at ease, because The Matriarch's new opening in Newstead features a swanky garden patio lined with olive trees and crystal chandeliers, perfect for an inner-city cocktail escape.
Now you spend every waking minute enjoying delicious eats along Arthur Street as Mosconi Restaurant & Wine Bar has opened next to local favourite King Arthur. Serving crisp wines and specialty cocktails alongside a menu of European-inspired delights means you can pop by for a nibble and a drink or stay for the full feast – we think the latter is most likely.
Trove, Brisbane City
With a balcony overlooking Queens Garden, a black-and-gold interior and a treasure trove of delectable eats and Queensland-inspired cocktails, Trove is set to become your new late night Brisbane City haunt. The kitchen is using local produce to create their menu of Spanner crab tian, gin & tonic cured ocean trout, slow cooked duck and much more so get along for a bite and stay for an evening of drinking pleasures.
CJ's Pasta has been around since the mid 90s, but now under new management and in a new venue, CJ's Secret Pasta Club is offering pasta-lovers a unique and intimate place to enjoy an ever-changing pasta menu. Along with delicious carbs, traditional desserts and just a 14-seat space, they also let you BYO drinks – because cheaper alcohol is the best type of alcohol.
Brisbane's laneways continue to improve with Japanese and Nordic-inspired fare now serving out of Bakery Lane. This tiny space (we're talking only 10 seats in its entirety) has an ever changing menu depending on inspiration at the time so you'll never know what to expect – except that it will always be delicious of course.
Greca, Howard Smith Wharves, 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.
Taking over the space formerly occupied by Foxy Bean, Neesh Bar & Restaurant have transformed the area into a light-filled eatery and beer garden serving breakfast, lunch and evening bites – why would you ever leave. Tuck into creme brulee French toast in the morning and return to find wood-fired pizzas and craft beer in the evenings because this neighbourhood joint promises to be your new favourite local.
We wouldn't mind being a phat boy if it meant we were allowed to feast on Phat Boy's classic Thai cuisine all day long. Who needs a summer body when you can instead enjoy servings of crispy school prawns with kaffir aioli, duck spring rolls, soft shell crap and pumpkin panang curry, crispy pork with Asian greens and top it off with deep fried banana ice cream with coconut butterscotch sauce – who's joining us?
A contemporary Australian eatery has opened its doors in Woolloongabba sporting an open-plan kitchen, exposed piping and industrial elements contrasted with refined natural finishes like wood, slate and copper. Its a new venture by the masterminds behind chef hatted restaurant The Wolfe, creating another great suburban restaurant showcasing classic dishes using local ingredients.
Famed Melbourne coffee specialists have ventured north to open one of their award-winning cafes in the heart of Newstead. Industry Beans is not just your run-of-the-mill cafes. Expect the likes of fruit sashimi or an epic breakfast roll with porcini dusted eggs for breakfast, coffee rubbed wagyu burgers for lunch and ginger beer pork belly and black rice prawns for dinner. Yes this eatery is open all hours of the day.
The humble bacon and egg roll is the hero at Gaswork's new breaky joint, Yolk. Whether it's a hangover cure you're after, or an easy breakfast on the go, this Aussie staple is sure to satisfy those hunger pangs. Choose from the classic bacon and egg, steak and egg or mushroom and egg and don't forget to add on a hash brown – it'd be criminal not too.
Cinnabon, Toombul & Garden City
Hear that? It's a stampede of loyal glaze-craving followers rushing to Toombul Shoppping Centre, desperate to get their hands on the world famous and ultra delicious Cinnabons. They've officially opened their first Australian outlet here in Brisbane and locals are going crazy over the United State's delectable baked treat – so don't walk, run to get a taste of the action.
It looks like Alfred Street is getting a revival with a new minimalist but super trendy brunch spot opening in the building formerly occupied by Alfredo's Pizzeria. The kitchen is headed by a former Masterchef contestant, serving hearty food with an edge like the truffle mushroom pesto and sweet Matzo Brei along with Padre Coffee and Jocelyn's Provisions treats.
Eastsiders need not travel for their picturesque breakfasts as the team behind Miss Jones in New Farm has opened a sibling cafe in Hawthorne, aptly named Sister. Linger a little longer at this street-side pastel paradise and enjoy a fresh and quirky breakfast – the breakfast gnocchi with a poached egg is to die for.
There were tears among New Farm residents when popular local cafe Pablo closed its doors back in 2016. But now regulars can rejoice, as the owners are bringing their delicious cafe fare back to the neighbourhood. Expect to find some original favourites back on the menu as well as a range of new specials to delight new and returning patrons.
Shhh!, Fortitude Valley
Who likes gin? We do! So expect to find us at Fortitude Valley's newest gin bar. Boasting an old world interior with plush booths and a piano bar, it's no secret that Shhh! is the place to go for speciality cocktails and bottle service (if that tickles your fancy).
Mr Percival's, Howard Smith Wharves, Brisbane City
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?
If you're one to enjoy free live music with a drink in hand, then Brunswick Mall's newest two-level live music venue, The Sound Garden, is the place you want to be. The expansive space houses a modern-Australian bistro, lengthy bar and plenty of room to listen and dance along to a lineup of up-and-coming artists. Plus, it's convenient location next to Fortitude Music Hall makes it the perfect place for a pre-show bite and beverage.
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.
Beloved by locals since 2008, Cést Bon has recently undergone an upgrade and added a bar with new menus, garden terrace and rooftop lounge to their repertoire. Still expect the same great French cuisine but heightened to include fresh breakfasts, share-plate style bar bites and of course an abundance of French wine and drinks to match.
It's back! This Brisbane institution couldn't keep its doors closed for long before Hallmark Group Australia decided to reopen the much-loved venue, keeping intact all the quirky vintage vibes that's kept this a long-term favourite among locals and Caxton Street goers.
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.
Not another rooftop bar – said no one ever. Tetto has joined with Corbett & Claude and opened a two-level venue at Everton Park's Park Lane precinct. Oozing coastal Italian vibes, this rooftop establishment is your next go to for Italian fare, refreshing cocktails and sun-soaked afternoons.
Who knew the mastermind behind Cobbler, Savile Row and Finney Isles still had the energy to do anything else, but he's surprised (and delighted) us all by opening another joint down Burnett Lane. Wander through double wooden doors to find a moody lounge bar encompassing low light, leather couches in the back room and shelves lined with delectable drops ready for any liquor connoisseur to sip and enjoy.
Stepping into the former Bowery Bar digs is Suzie Wong's Good Time Bar, the newest venture from the owners of Brisbane City's Brooklyn Standard and Fat Angel Sports Bar. This Hawaiian-inspired dive bar has a focus on live music and uncomplicated drinks. So grab a beer and get yourself to the dance floor.
Felons Brewing Co, Howard Smith Wharves, Brisbane City
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.
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.
Altitude, Fortitude Valley
Meet Altitude, the rooftop bar occupying the space above Foresters Restaurant & Bar. It's aesthetic, a great place for an after-work drink and offers some pretty spectacular views over Fortitude Valley to Brisbane City.
A winery in the city? We're sold! City Winery is bringing wine making to the heart of Fortitude Valley and has opened a space that house's not only Gerler's wine barrels and bar but also a restaurant and private dining area. One of three inner-city wineries in Australia, drinkers will be able to enjoy tastes from the barrel and paddock-to-plate food within this industrial space on Wandoo St.