New restaurants, bars and cafes in Brisbane CBD - Visit Brisbane

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New restaurants, bars and cafes in Brisbane City 2020

From big, bold upmarket Thai dining to a jamon and hip hop bar in Brisbane’s oldest laneway. Cult croissants found a new, second home in the City, and Italian aperitivo is trending. It’s safe to say the past two years have been huge for hospitality in Brisbane City. When a bunch of big hotel and precinct developments opened, cool restaurants, cafes and bars by major hospitality names filled the kitchen spaces within. By the end of 2019 the CBD was officially overflowing with incredible new spots to meet for a long lunch, after-work snacks or late-night cocktails.

Read on to discover the newest and coolest restaurants, bars and cafes to eat at in Brisbane CBD in 2020.

Restaurants

ARC Dining, Howard Smith Wharves

Light, fresh and ethical local food meets natural, biodynamic minimal intervention wines in this glass box of art, culture and dining by the river. Head chef Alanna Sapwell has created waves nationally with her innovative yet approachable food making headlines around the country when it opened in February 2019. The bright and airy space is filled with interior designer Anna Spiro’s renowned prints, colour and styling. Be sure to save room for dessert.

Ciao Papi, Howard Smith Wharves

Seek out pasta, prosciutto and prosecco at this waterfront restaurant at Howard Smith Wharves. This Italian restaurant uses the best Australian produce to recreate classic flavours at this trendy yet accessible little diner. Drop in for homemade focaccia and mortadella, follow with a bowl of ragu pasta, grilled king prawns or T-bone steak, and finish with tiramisu (of course).

FudoDori, Elizabeth St

Matcha soft-serve, Asian hot dogs, Japanese barbecue, tea-based cocktails and kawaii desserts fill Elizabeth Street’s newest Asian food laneway. Connecting Elizabeth and Charlotte streets in the epicentre of Brisbane’s Korean and Asian restaurants, tea shops and dessert cafes, this new iteration of Elizabeth Street Arcade features 10 street food eateries (a few which we've featured here!).

Jumbo Thai, Edward St

The pans are red hot at this new upscale Thai restaurant on Edward St. Located in the heritage-listed Hotel Embassy building, Jumbo Thai is here with regional cuisine from all over Thailand and a stunning space with big windows and high ceilings. Crowd favourites like pad thai and green curry fill the menu alongside showstoppers such as a whole crispy local Goldband Snapper or the Southern Thai yellow curry with sand crab and betel leaves.

Lucha Kitchen + Bar, Elizabeth St

Lu Cha

From the makers of Noodle Time, LUCHA in FudoDori Laneway also puts the focus on tea. Here’s you’ll find more than just bubble teas, but tea-infused cocktails in every colour of the rainbow and modern Chinese with a tea influence. Think chicken with tea-leaf-infused sauces and fried king prawns with black tea. 

Massimo, Eagle Street Pier

Sip, snack and soak in the sunset at this chic riverside Italian spot at Eagle Street Pier. The dreamy, modern interior turns heads, but it's the simple, authentic Italian food that will have you take a seat. Seafood is consistently the star with chargrilled octopus, baby stuffed squid on squid ink pasta and Roman-style lamb shoulder as just a few menu highlights. But before tucking into those, deliberate over which of the four types of focaccia you’ll order. PS there’s aperitivo every afternoon from 3-5pm.

Miss Demeanour, Rowes Lane

Stumble down the stairs at Rowes Lane for your morning caffeine fix, then return after dark for a nightcap. This all-hours cafe, bar and restaurant does it all – from eggs Benedict and pancakes with the house-blend specialty coffee, through to slow braised beef brisket and four types of fries. Best of all, you can order the house specialty at any hour: a serve of traditional New Orleans beignets with bourbon butterscotch, white chocolate and macadamias or berry coulis.

Na Bangkok, Elizabeth St

Na Bangkok

Kick back in an old cinema seat and tuck into a bowl of tom yum soup. Na Bangkok is bringing Thailand’s street food favourites to Queensland’s capital. An export from Sydney’s Chinatown, this 120-seater sibling will not only serve authentic Thai dishes but aims to educate each plate’s origin too. From street food snacks to full blown banquet sized feasts – expect the full Thai food experience with spicy, sweet, salty, sour flavours in FudoDori Laneway.

Phat Boy, Brisbane Quarter

Who needs a summer body when you can feast on crispy school prawns with kaffir aioli, duck spring rolls, soft shell crab and pumpkin panang curry. Did we mention the crispy pork with Asian greens? Or the deep-fried banana ice-cream with coconut butterscotch sauce? Okay, diet officially cancelled. We’re off to the Brisbane Quarter.

Phoenix, Brisbane Quarter

The group behind Sydney’s four popular Phoenix restaurants turned to Brisbane for its fifth location. Why? Well, look at this list and beyond the CBD to see our hospitality scene making a mark recently. A moody space accented with black, gold and red, this “small restaurant” has 180 seats and serves a killer, extensive yum cha menu with favourites such as the fresh crab meat xiao long bao and prawn and kimchi dumplings. On top of yum cha, feast on contemporary and classic Chinese cuisine with Peking duck (of course) served at the table and a drinks list of Aussie and Chinese wine and beer.

Polpetta, Howard Smith Wharves

At Polpetta celebrate robust and rustic flavours inspired by the streets of Rome. You’ll find this Italian trattoria within the boutique Art Series Hotel, The Fantauzzo. The menu makes our mouths water with plenty of pasta including bucatino with Queensland prawns, chili, lemon and bottarga, and – of course – the namesake dish of veal and pork meatballs with a smoked tomato sugo and Scamorza cheese. Perhaps best of all, we’re thrilled to see another venue offering aperitivo. Chin chin!

Rico Bar & Dining, Eagle Street Pier

Latin flavours, zesty cocktails and an oyster bar by the river. Sign us up! Rico has taken over the spot where Aria once stood, but unlike the fine diner before it this spot brings a relaxed Latino attitude and sweet outdoor space to kick back beneath mint umbrellas. The menu uses Australian produce to create Latin American and Spanish-inspired share plates like braised beef cheek empanadas, paella and more. Perhaps best of all, the centre of the restaurant is now an oyster and ceviche bar, plus there is a live marron tank too. If you can look past a jug of sangria, discover wines from Argentina, Chile and Spain. 

Stanley, Howard Smith Wharves

Transforming the old water police headquarters into an upmarket Cantonese kitchen, Stanley opened with style. Inside lush fabrics, watercolour murals, lanterns and parquet floors fill the heritage-listed space. And behind the pans of this two-storey, 220-seat restaurant is star Los Angeles chef Louis Tikaram. The house dish is Cantonese-style roast duck with plum sauce. It takes four days to brine, dry and roast. Also on the menu, the lobster lo mein with garlic butter,  steamed Hervey Bay scallops with vermicelli and XO sauce and Mongolian lamb ribs with cumin have piqued our interest. Of course, there’s also a live seafood tank with mud crab and Moreton Bay bugs.

Trove, Brisbane City

Located above Irish Murphy's classic pub, this new restaurant brings a seasonal, Queensland menu to one of Brisbane's oldest standing hotels. Kick back on the balcony with a cocktail while overlooking Queens Garden, or sit down to plates of Spanner crab tian, gin & tonic cured ocean trout, slow cooked duck and much more. 

Yakiniku Hachi, Elizabeth St

Yakiniku Hachi

Upping the game for Japanese barbecue in Brisbane, here you cook over the flames of a small charcoal barbecue at your table. The food selection is huge – choose from premium wagyu beef rib and duck breast or enjoy Japanese delicacies like beef heart and miso marinated cuts. There’s also seafood like scallops and prawns, plus mushrooms and other vegetables that work on the grill. Beyond the flame find octopus karaage, edamame and other snacks and sides.

Yoko, Howard Smith Wharves

The riverside has scored an all-new two-storey Japanese izakaya. Behind it is chef and restaurateur Jonathan Barthelmess, the man who opened the hugely popular Greek restaurant, Greca, next door at Howard Smith Wharves. Inside the design is inspired by a Japanese bento box. Blond wood walls compartmentalise the dining, kitchen and bar upstairs, with pops of yellow as an accent. With a similar approach to Greca, sit down for a feast with a top wine list and after kick it up a notch with cocktail jugs and yuzu slushies while DJs spin vinyl.

Bars

Alba, Burnett Lane

Jamon, hip-hop and sherry” is how owner Jamie Fleming described his bar in an interview with Broadsheet. From 12 till 12 you can graze on tinned fish, pintxos and three types of Spain’s famous jamon ham. Wash your snacks down with a Spanish-leaning wine list or sherry based cocktails, all to the backdrop of that killer hip hop soundtrack. Buenas noches.

Death & Taxes, Burnett Lane

There are three things certain in life in Brisbane – death, taxes and that Martin Lange (Cobbler, Savile Row, Finney Isles) will open an epic cocktail bar. This dark and moody bolthole is tucked down the city’s oldest laneway. Warm interiors, heritage bones, a 30-strong cocktail list and 600-bottle glimmering back bar define the space. Cherry on top? BYO food.

Fiume, Howard Smith Wharves

If rooftop bars are cool, and rooftop bars with pools are even cooler – then rooftop bars with an infinity pool, Italian snacks and views of the CBD and river from beneath the Story Bridge must be the coolest. That’s #maths, right? Fiume is a resort-vibe bar with 360-degree views and aperitivo that sits atop The Fantauzzo, a boutique Art Series Hotel. Order a spritz and serve of Noosa mushroom arancini and kick back without a worry in the world.

Cafes & casual spots

Amai Kawaii, Elizabeth St

Amai Kawaii

From the heart of Harajuku, Tokyo, to the streets of Brisbane – the Japanese crepe is here. The pastel pink crepe shop has imported the most popular flavours from Japan for its sweet crepes, parfaits or kakigoori (Japanese shaved ice dessert). Keep it sweet with choco banana, blueberries and cream or azuki (red mung bean) or try one of the savoury options like the tuna and Japanese curry crepe. 

Betty’s Burgers, Howard Smith Wharves

At last, a Betty’s Burgers opened in Brisbane CBD and our stomachs were so ready. The 19th store for the Noosa burger chain, this Betty’s has the same signature fitout with bright orange and blue accents, light wood and beach vibes. Find it beneath The Fantauzzo hotel flipping its signature burgers, fries, thick shakes and “concretes” aka frozen custards.

Chouquette, Edward St

New Farm’s favourite French patisserie opened a second location in Brisbane CBD in late 2019. Taking over a heritage-listed space on Edward St, behind the counter find the same authentic croissants, pain au chocolate, eclairs, danishes, canelés and tarts along with an artisanal bread selection including loaves of sourdough and classic French baguettes. There’s space to sit in with Wolff Coffee beans in the grinder.

Fill The Bowl, Elizabeth St

Known as Malatang, these weigh-and-pay soups are a popular street food dish in Beijing. Wander over to a buffet-like, sandwich-bar style counter and fill your bowl with everything from noodles and vegetables to meatballs and offal. The bowl is weighed, priced, then filled with very hot soup while you wait. Lastly add toppings and flavours to your soup like garlic, chilli and soy.

Goodtimes Gelateria, Howard Smith Wharves

This shop claims to be scooping good vibes, tunes and gelato at its riverside location beneath The Fantauzzo hotel. The bright, pink-and-blue cartoonish fitout is the backdrop for Goodtimes' 22 flavours. In the silver tins expect to find classics like chocolate and salted caramel, fruit sorbets such as lemon or watermelon, and creative flavours such as baked apple pie. There is a focus on local produce, premium ingredients and using no preservatives or flavouring. The gelateria even makes its own pistachio and hazelnut pastes!

Holey Moley, Queen Street Mall

Ready to kick putt? We bet you are. The CBD scored an all-new Holey Moley right in the heart of Queen Street Mall in the Wintergarden centre. Putt your way to #1 with nine themed mini golf challenges – from ‘Drop it Like It’s Slot’ to ‘A Hop, Skip and a Gump’. There’s also karaoke rooms and a bar with themed food and drink.

Hoto Dogu, Elizabeth St

Hot dogs! Get your hot dogs! “It’s Japanese for hotdogs!” claims the side of this street food cart in FudoDori Lane. Unsurprisingly the New York-style stand serves up classic hot dogs with Japanese flavours. An easy, no fuss snack.

Love Roll Sushi + Poke, Elizabeth St 

Often fondly referred to as the “Adelaide Street sushi shop with the queue”, CBD favourite Love Roll adds Japanese cuisine to FudoDori’s laneway. The chic location peddles sushi hand rolls, sushi tacos, poke bowls and hot Japanese meals like a chicken curry and karaage don bowl.

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