New spots to eat and drink in Brisbane City

New Brisbane, who dis? Ammiright. It was a huge year for The City with massive new developments changing the face of the CBD. We said hello to our first new five-star hotel in 20 years – W Hotel Brisbane. Westin Brisbane soon followed. The W Hotel tops the Brisbane Quarter on George St where a stash of cool restaurants now sit. At the other end of the CBD the much anticipated Howard Smith Wharves opened on the riverfront beneath the Story Bridge. Its new craft brewery, overwater bar and modern Greek restaurant will surely be the hits of summer.

Our fine dining drought definitely ended. New upmarket diners and special occasion spots flung open the doors in 2018, doing what cafes couldn’t the year before. And we expect even more in 2019.

Here are our new 2018 restaurant, bar and cafe highlights in Brisbane CBD.

Restaurants 

Donna Chang, George Street

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.
Tip: Visit the Boom Boom Room cocktail bar downstairs before or after your meal. 

Walter’s Steakhouse, Alice Street

Arrive early for your reservation at this charming old-world brasserie. It gives you time to order a martini and soak in the vibes from a leather armchair in the spacious bar before being taken through to the 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 and drinks you’d expect from the group behind the awarding-winning bar, The Gresham. 
Tip: Take a steak-loving friend so you can share the signature bone-in Porterhouse.

Three Blue Ducks, W Hotel, George Street

The Sydney darlings behind Three Blue Ducks opened their first “honest, real food” cafe and restaurant north of the border. This fourth location sits within the new five-star W Hotel and is open from breakfast through to dinner serving paddock-to-plate dining with a laid-back Queensland attitude. Big plates like lamb shoulder make use of the woodfired oven, and there is a rotisserie and charcoal pit too.
Tip: Take friends. Lots of friends. You can taste more of the epic menu that way.

Greca, Howard Smith Wharves

This contemporary Greek taverna is clearly designed for long, lazy lunches by the river. Inspired by the Mediterranean way of life – good ingredients, great olive oil, and a slower pace of life – Greca is a place to relax and take your time. Most of the menu revolves around the charcoal and woodfired grill. Feast on taramasalata, saganaki cheese and spanakopita before moving onto grilled calamari, Moreton Bay bugs, cumin-spiced lamb ribs and baked lamb shoulder. 
Tip: Located in the new Howard Smith Wharves precinct, drop into Felons Brewing or Mr Percival for a drink before or after.

Heritij, Brisbane Quarter, George Street

Michelin-starred chef Manjunath Mural has brought his signature Asian-Indian gastronomy to Brisbane. The 788-square-metre bar, restaurant and outdoor terraces sit on the first floor (hello river views!) of the new Brisbane Quarter. Mural is known for taking a contemporary approach to Indian cuisine and menu highlights include a lot of big lamb plates and Goan fish, and smaller snacks include the likes of prawns with a pomegranate yogurt, and Indian street nachos with pineapple, avocado, tofu and cumin yogurt. 
Tip: There are a few private dining rooms - you need only 8 people to book one!

Persone, Brisbane Quarter, George Street

When the family-run Gambaro Group opens a smart-casual Italian bar and bistro, you know it will be good. Add those river views and big balconies for a total hit. An embodiment of ‘la dolce vita’, Persone wants to be a place to indulge in plenty of small plates like arancini and prosciutto with melon, through to mega dishes like the 1kg Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Find Persone also in the Brisbane Quarter.
Tip: The focaccia is made in-house. Yesss.

Spice Den, Ann Street

This slick Asian-inspired diner opened on the CBD-Valley fringe in April. Tuck into everything from crispy chicken and crab wontons, to spiced lamb roti or a half Peking duck. It’s a second location for the popular northern New South Wales restaurant, bringing its edgy, urban Asian flavours to the big smoke.
Tip: Book ahead to enjoy lunch banquets for $34 Mon-Sat. 

Fat Belly Jack's, Petrie Terrace

American booze and fried chicken. You don’t have to say that twice to get us in the door. Fat Belly Jack's serves up Nashville-style hot fried chicken – and when we say hot, we mean it. Choose from southern-style (no spice) all the way through to “really f*cking hot!”. Pair your chicken burger, wings or battered tenders with a side of bacon fried greens, slaw, mac ‘n’ cheese and more.
Tip: If you choose to go hot, the crunchy slaw and an icy American beer are the only way to go.

Salon De Co, Wickham Terrace

Ovolo Inchcolm

Step back in time by entering historic Ovolo Inchcolm Hotel. Its signature restaurant, which opened in April, plays up the building’s 1930s charm and Art Deco styled interior. The restaurant mixes modern hospitality with a homely warmth. Andy Ashby is in the kitchen, serving a menu inspired by Australia and abroad and using local, seasonal produce.
Tips: Did someone say wattleseed chocolate lamington? We did. With malted banana ice cream. Don’t skip it.

Patina, Eagle Street

In Brisbane’s chapter of new growth, no stone goes unturned – including our heritage-listed Customs House. After an August refurb this slick new diner opened with a sharing menu focused on local, regional and farm-to-table dining. Executive chef John Offenhauser’s menu features the land, bay, sea and cellar. Expect big plates of ribs with chimichurri or whole lamb shoulder to share, or more delicate plates of chargrilled ocean king prawns or octopus with smoked tomato. What’s stayed? Those amazing river and bridge views from the terrace. And Patina still offers weekend breakfast and high tea.
Tip: Order any mushrooms. Patina grows its own in the on-site cellar. Cool.

Black Hide by Gambaro, Treasury Casino, George Street

The CBD scored the second location for one of Brisbane’s (if not the) best steak restaurants. With world-class Australian Wagyu and Angus cuts as the star, classic sides and interesting starters – Black Hide is must visit. The original location has scored numerous Chef Hats, been the two-time winner of Australia’s Best Steak Restaurant, and four-time winner of Queensland’s Best Steak Restaurant. Enough said.
Tip: Ever wanted to try a steak with a top marble score of 9+? It’ll cost you, but you can do it here. 

Isles Lane, Post Office Square

Isles Lane - Brisbane City

Think it’s hard to find a green oasis in the city? You’re wrong, and best of all the city has a new leafy playground to play in. Farm-to-table cafe and gastropub Isle Lane opens out onto the green lawns of Post Office Square and wants to be your second home. Drop in for breakfast, lunch, share plates, snacks, takeaway, coffee, beer and whatever else you might need. 
Tip: Bring friends so you can tuck into the “big plates” of brisket, lamb shoulder, salmon and more.

Cafes

Only, Queen Street

Good coffee. It’s something you take for granted until you have a bad cup. This pared-back, Scandi-look cafe promises to serve simply the best coffee, consistently. Here you can be guaranteed an excellent espresso, flat white or long black, plus they believe in serving only nourishing fare – and all at a fair price.
Tip: Don’t skip the fancy but affordable salads for a healthy CBD lunch.

Jessie’s Girl, Petrie Terrace

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 just 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. Find her on the city fringe, just past The Barracks.
Tip: Did someone say breakfast cocktails?

Bars

Mr Percival's, Howard Smith Wharves

Mr Percival has summer written all over it – and lucky for Brisbane, summer lasts 10 months of the year. This hexagonal-shaped over-water bar sits under the iconic Story Bridge with incredible skyline views back to the CBD. Drop in for a lazy day on the deck, aperitif's at sunset and live music to ease you into the night. It was tempting to include this venue in restaurants too – a menu of fresh and luxurious seafood snacks and share plates means you can come for lunch and stay for sunset with caviar, lobster rolls and prawn cocktails.
Tip: Save room for cannoli. Or another spritz.

WET Deck, W Hotel

W Brisbane

This glitzy bar is a piece of cake to recognise in photos – mostly thanks to its striking, psychedelic white and black stripes that cover the ceiling and walls around the pool. The resort-vibe bar is on the fourth floor of the new five-star W Hotel. Order a cocktail and watch the sunset from the big balcony with river views, or dance the night away to DJs.
Tip: Keep an eye out for the summer pool party events.

Felons Brewing Co, Howard Smith Wharves

Craft beer. Will our love affair ever end? We hope not. The city’s newest microbrewery has opened in a heritage warehouse on the docks at Howard Smith Wharves. Here the beer is as fresh as it gets. Grab a table with river views and sit in for a Sunday sesh over pizzas or snacks.
Tip: Bring your dog! Your furry pal is welcome here.

Boom Boom Room, Cnr Elizabeth & George Street

Booze, bank vaults and baos. This opulent underground bar fills the old vaults of a heritage-listed bank building with excellent whisky, fine dim sum and personal service. It’s table service – so sit back, order a spirit and have a selection of mixers rolled over on a trolley. Swish. Tap along to jazz, blues and soul tracks while waiting for your Sichuan spiced Wagyu beef tartare. 
Tip: If you plan to become a regular, know this: you can purchase a bottle of rare whisky and have it locked away in a cabinet to drink at your leisure.

Discover more...