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.
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.
What do spanning river views, high-end yet light and fresh food, an interior decorated by famous local designer Anna Spiro and a specifically curated wine list have in common? They can all be found at ARC Dining & Wine Bar within the Howard Smith Wharves precinct.
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?
Crushed velvet. Crystal chandeliers. Cantonese cuisine. Glamourous new modern Chinese restaurant Donna Chang has taken over a 1920s-era bank in the city centre with a luxe fit-out like no other in Brisbane. An extensive menu heavy on Sichuan flavours and fresh local seafood includes the likes of grilled octopus with native tamarind, sea herbs and chilli, and Moreton Bay bugs with salted duck egg, through to big plates of shredded pork, dim sum and southern rock lobster or mud crab from the fish tank.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Who knew there'd be a sandwich that could rival the Moreton Bay bug roll at Rick Shores. Taking over the space formerly occupied by Montrachet, Nota has redesigned the venue to suit their modern European share plate menu. We don't blame you if you just want to order five of the mouth-watering monkfish sandwiches and skip the mains – decisions, decisions.
Now you spend every waking minute enjoying delicious eats alongf 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There's something fishy happening in Kangaroo Point and it may have to do with a new seafood restaurant opening in the area. One Fish, Two Fish is serving fresh-off-the-boat seafood with everything from classic fish and chips to Almalfi-inspired seafood risotto and soft shell crab sliders. They have weekly specials including a fish and bottomless sips banquet on Sunday or keep a look out for other foodie events popping up at the venue.
Residing in Rich Lane, this hole-in-the-wall laneway is reminiscent of the back alleys and rough streets of downtown New York. Hellcat Maggie has braved this backstreet reputation to serve up authentic American BBQ-style eats for breakfast and lunch, and bar snacks and burgers for dinner. Think taco spice wings, loaded fries, and charred corn on the cob - ya’ll better book a table!
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.
Tapas is not just a style of food, it's a way of living, so when we heard a Spanish tapas lounge & bar was opening in Burnett Lane, we kept our ears on red alert for an opening date. Now is the time to dive into a menu of beef cheek, manchego, charcuterie and grilled, fried or baked seafood accompanied with bottle after bottle of wine.
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.
This Sydney favourite has opened its doors in Garden City and it has Brisbanites salivating for its casual cafe culture mixed with fine dining dishes. Head here for flavourful breakfasts (think a crab and salmon omelette with fresh croissant), Asian-influenced lunch or dinner and freshly brewed coffee or a variety of cocktails.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.