Keen foodies will discover a revived dining scene in Queensland’s capital. These are the restaurants in Brisbane you’ll want to arrive hungry to.
Not so long ago, it was illegal to dine outdoors in Queensland. Its tropical footpaths were considered unhygienic. The very idea of alfresco was reserved for those eclectic Europeans slouched along sidewalk cafés. As for wining and dining by the Brisbane River itself? Forget it.
How times have changed. Fast forward and the river is where it’s all at these days. There are bustling breweries and neat nosheries perched under the shadow of the iconic Story Bridge on one side of the city, elegant rooftop bars grazing the skyline and fine-dining restaurants everywhere in between, all offering that essential ingredient: food and brews with a view. The cool crowd is lapping it up, not only for its social media gravitas, but for the Brissie breezes themselves.
Riverside restaurants in Brisbane
These days, it’s the perky precinct on everyone’s lips. Since opening in 2018, Howard Smith Wharves has rapidly become a dining darling for its riverfront locale and multitude of restaurants. It’s also home to the buzzing Felons Brewery. This ever-evolving destination has recently added two more restaurants to its pole position.
For a jaunty Japanese experience, Yoko Dining boasts a raw bar, plus a menu of vegetables, dumplings, seafood and sweets. Stanley, an upmarket Cantonese restaurant, serves the likes of Peking duck pancakes and wok-fried Moreton Bay bugs amid swanky surrounds.
Rooftop bars in Brisbane
Attracting all the cool characters, Howard Smith Wharves is also home to trendsetter The Fantauzzo; an Art Series Hotel whose rooftop bar, Fiume, overlooks this pulsating precinct. The fabulous foyer is a gallery of artworks. Upstairs, the sun deck has crafty cocktails such as the Pink Koala, made with eucalyptus vodka, Cointreau, cranberry and lemon.
For a sky-high bar with a bit of attitude, Altitude has perfected cool and charm. The cocktail menu features the Bushfire Negroni, a blend of Mt Uncle’s bushfire smoked gin, Campari and Martini Rosso.
Looking for a perspective on the Brisbane skyline that hasn’t been offered before? The Terrace, at Emporium Hotel, is South Bank’s only rooftop bar. Among the vertical gardens, illuminated floor and a retractable roof to allow for any weather eventuality, you can bump shoulders with Brisbane’s beautiful while you glance back over the river towards the CBD. Get into the spirit of things with clever cocktails such as the Rooftop Eastside or Terrace Spritz.
Fish Lane, Brisbane
For a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it laneway in South Brisbane, the graffiti-art dining area of Fish Lane packs a punch. It’s got 12 restaurants, 11 bars, six cafés and three dessert joints. Hello Please has shifted spots, bringing a fresh look with more seating, schmick subway tiles and a new Asian-inspired menu. Share plates are all the rage here. Highlights include the beef in betel leaf and roast pork belly with pickled cucumber and peanut hoisin.
For a taste of Victoria with a Brisbane twist, Cups on Melbourne serves chic coffee among traditional timber Queensland architecture. If burgers are more your jam, the recently opened Bender’s Bar has a classic cheeseburger or even a vegan sando.
Old and iconic restaurants in Brisbane
It would be remiss to mention dining in Brisbane without a trip to Bacchus, one of the country’s most satisfying dining experiences. What makes this something old (it’s not that old, in fact) maintain its new, is its sublime seasonal menus. Perch in gargantuan chairs in a room redolent of a gentleman’s club and savour the new autumn menu. It features the likes of goat cappelletti pasta filled with stracchino cheese served with goat ragout and kangaroo tartare.
Also on the South Bank side of town, Emporium’s elegant Signature serves divine dining on tables adorned by olive branches. Leaning towards local produce, Signature serves up Brisbane Valley quail, Queensland spanner crab and Darling Downs Wagyu sirloin.
The sizzle of woks along the funky James Street precinct will lead you to sAme sAme, which specialises in classic South-East Asian cooking. Here, Thai-inspired dishes are paired with Queensland produce. Try the half-shell Hervey Bay scallop, stir-fried with chilli, garlic, peppercorns and basil. The green curry dessert with coconut, lime parfait, rice puffs and lime curd, is intriguing too.
Suburban restaurants in Brisbane
You only need take a few proverbial paces back from the river to discover Brisbane’s inner-city suburbs are also undergoing a restaurant renaissance. Charboys Burgers started as a pop-up market stall in 2015, now it’s a permanent fixture along Bulimba’s Oxford Street.
For a slice of the Big Apple, Reuben’s Deli at Paddington serves the rye-bread sandwich made famous in New York. A quintessential Queensland experience is on offer at Perch’d in Coorparoo. Here, you can enjoy quality fish ‘n’ chips on the deck of a traditional tin ‘n’ timber Queenslander home. A similar salty experience can be had at Kangaroo Point’s One Fish Two Fish.
Finally, it only seats 14 people, but CJ’s Secret Pasta Club at West End punches above its weight. They serve up delicious homemade hand-cut pasta and rustic sauces.
Queensland’s culinary treasures aren’t confined to the capital. You’ll find extraordinary dining experiences all over the state. You’ll find a few of our favourite dining destinations in Queensland here.