Brisbane. Brissy. Brisvegas. The Queensland capital is one of the fastest-growing cities in Australia, best known for its vibrant urban precincts, outdoor lifestyle, friendly locals and stellar weather all year round.
What you may not know is that Brisbane also has a burgeoning foodie scene waiting to be discovered. In recent years, the city has undergone a rapid culinary come-up, filled with fine dining, inventive dégustation experiences, edgy modern Australian cuisine, and fresh takes on comfort food classics.
These are the cool Brisbane restaurants you must try next time you find yourself in town.
Chu The Phat
A cleverly-named new jewel in the crown of South Brisbane’s up-and-coming Fish Lane dining precinct, Chu The Phat draws on flavours from the hawker stalls of Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan to dish out a diverse spread of Asian street food. The sprawling multi-level venue boasts two kitchens, two bars, and industrial-meets-old-world décor for chic nights out with dates or mates.
Sydneysiders can’t have all the fun. The acclaimed OTTO has landed in Brisbane and made quite the entrance. Otto Brisbane shares similar DNA to its Sydney counterpart, but with a slightly lighter menu focused on southern-Italian style dishes to suit the warmer temperatures. If you’re keen on a light bite, Bar Otto is opposite and perfect for breakfast, lunch or an after-work tipple or two.
Celebrity chef Matt Moran lends his culinary expertise to Brisbane with Aria on Eagle Street Pier. The much-lauded spot features a well-balanced seasonal menu that highlights local and Australian produce, an award winning wine list, and city views designed to induce swoons. Still not convinced? How about this: “Succulent pork belly has a perfect golden crackling, while plump duck dumplings, abalone and mushrooms swim in a Peking duck consommé”. Two words: mouth watering.
Miel Container proves simple, familiar food can still be an exceptional experience. The gourmet hamburger joint calls two red shipping containers home, and has had the city’s burger-loving citizens buzzing since it opened in 2013. Premium cuts of meat, gourmet cheeses, and an impressive list of toppings and condiments make Miel’s burgers something to ‘gram home about.
It’s hard to guess what might be on the menu at The Wolfe, and that’s all part of its charm. The elegant eatery, helmed by chef-owner Paul McGivern, changes its menu every month, but always delivers quality Euro-inspired cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, local produce, as well a politely attentive (never intrusive) front-of-house staff.
If you’re still on the Asian street food tip after visiting Chu The Phat, your next stop is Junk – named after the traditional Chinese sailing ship, not the quality of its meals. Junk focuses on serving fuss-free food made with locally sourced ingredients that’s best enjoyed as a shared-eating experience. Influences come from all across East Asia, including Thailand, Vietnam, China and Malaysia.
Urbane’s rather lengthy repertoire of awards isn’t the restaurant’s only claim to fame. The three-hatted dining destination has garnered a reputation for its satisfying combination of high quality food and service. In fact, there are five distinct dining and bar experiences within this Brisbane icon, incorporating Urbane and The Euro, from bar cuisine to creative and diverse fine dining. As for food, whether modern or traditional, French or Japanese, and with a mix of ingredients both familiar and unknown, Urbane is big on making sure food is always an evolution.
In the age of Instagram, there’s no such thing as too many trendy breakfast spots. Miss Jones is dishing out some of the tastiest, most snap-worthy versions of the day’s most important meal in Brisbane. The charming cafe has all the makings of a bona fide social media star, from a sleek Scandi-inspired aesthetic to a menu of brunch classics and healthy salads (plus ice cream-topped waffles for when you’re feeling naughty).
Revel in an innovative and traditional Japanese menu by Head Chef Daisuke at Eagle Street Pier’s Saké. With 5 private dining rooms, communal banquet dining area featuring sunken tables, and a sushi bar, Saké is the perfect city escape for any occasion. Unique flavours meet an extensive sake, cocktail and wine menu to surprise and delight your tastebuds.
Arguably one of the most iconic restaurants in the Brisbane dining scene, Gerard’s Bistro is among the latest venues to hit the fashionable James Street precinct. It’s a little Middle Eastern and a little hipster, but most importantly, it’s visually spectacular. An elegant blend of fine lines, sharp angles and smooth finishes are combined with a menu inspired by Head Chef Ben Williamson’s sabbaticals from southern Europe to northern Africa with a unique Brissy twist.
Gauge marked an ambitious new era in Brisbane eating when it opened in 2015. The café-by-day and restaurant-by-night dishes up some of the city’s most creative culinary contributions in an ever-evolving seasonal menu. Gauge offers two or three course dinner menus and a seven course set menu featuring plenty of boundary-pushing combinations, as well as a selection of small-but-mighty plates for those with less time to spare.
When you’re hangry, why should you have to make difficult decisions? Brisbane’s Libertine marries two of your favourite cuisines – French and Vietnamese – so you never need choose. Found in the historic, heritage listed Barracks building, Libertine features all the finer things in life: chandelier-adorned ceilings, decadent wallpapers, gold leaf embellishments and locally designed timber furniture. Pair that with an indulgent menu and handcrafted cocktails, and Libertine is nothing short of jaw dropping.
Combine Scandinavian-chic interiors with a smartly curated wine list and a degustation-only menu of brilliant one-bite dishes and you get this Brisbane icon. Upscale Esquire could melt the heart of even the frostiest cynic with its avant-garde but intimidation free fare, courtesy of Executive Chef Ryan Squires. For an equally enticing but more laid-back experience, visit its a la carte sister restaurant, Esq.
No need to stray too far from the beaten path to find Woolloongabba’s Detour, where you can treat yourself to the wild concoctions coming from ex-Public chef Damon Amos’s kitchen. The 2017 newcomer services quality with a side of edginess for both herbivores and omnivores – like gunpowder-cured salmon accompanied by black ants, emu tartare, octopus with miso butter, and the much-loved Kentucky Fried Duck.
If your tastebuds thirst for the innovative and alternative, Madame Wu is an exclusive, elegant and funky dining experience sure to please your adventurous palate. Designed by the crew at DS17, Madame Wu is all about delicate silhouettes, shadowy lighting features and a magnificent bamboo entrance that transports you to a land where spice and flavour rule supreme.
Brainchild of Restaurateur Jonathan Barthelmess, the highly anticipated Brisbane venture GRECA brings a crystalline focus to great food and fun times to the Brisbane foodie scene. Nestled within the heritage Howard Smith Wharves precinct, GRECA provides an interactive dining experience in the midst of the city’s waterfront entertainment mecca. GRECA serves a contemporary take on the traditional Greek taverna (think Kalamata olives, grilled whole sardines, calamari, lamb ribs and Greek donuts) while the menu is focused around communal eating, Mediterranean style.