This is our ‘where to eat and drink’ guide to Brisbane; incomplete and personally biased for the sort of food we like and what we consider to be ‘value for money’. We have decided to divide our restaurant preferences into occasions rather than areas. We find that generally, where you go depends as much on the reason as the suburb. You have favourite places for family dinner, for Sunday afternoon drinks and Wednesday morning breakfasts and you are happy to travel to get to them.
We hope you enjoy our recommendations as much as we do.
Foxy Bean, Wooloongabba – can’t say a bad thing about this place seeing as it was Birgit’s wedding venue, but it is good for any meal of the day. A nice space, good well-priced food and good service. Parking can be the only problem, but we always find one.
Kettle and Tin, Paddington – popular from brunch through to Tuesday trivia and birthday parties, it’s hard to go wrong at Kettle and Tin. We can never go past the duck tacos or the pork belly fries. If you’re keen to go for a weekend brunch, there can be a line if you arrive at peak time.
Brew, CBD – open from 7am til late, you know that not matter what time of day it is, you can drop in to Brew for a beverage and a bite. One of the few reliable and always-open spots in the CBD, the service can be patchy at times, but the staff have a lot to deal with.
Breakfast and brunch
Pablo, New Farm – try and go here on a weekday if you can because you most likely will have to queue on the weekend, the breakfast is that good. Honestly, everything on the menu is tasty and worth the price. Never had a bad meal and the service is good too.
Little Corner Cafe, Wooloowin – only good for Brisbane North-siders, really, but Birgit loves this cafe on the weekend. It has everything you want for a simple get-out-of-the-house breakfast, including low prices for good quality, simple food. Read a full review.
Sassafras, Paddington – this cafe feels so very Queensland, with its traditional/tropical menu, courtyard and funky surrounds which it had long before cafes got funky. Always enjoyable, it is also one of the few Brisbane breakfast cafes that take bookings.
Cheap and cheerful mid-week
Quan Thanh, West End – Brisbane has a wealth of good, inexpensive Asian food. Quan Thanh is one of our favourites for being consistent and always good value. It’s also right next to a bottle shop where you can get a beer to compliment your rice noodle salad.
Botanica Real Food, Red Hill – so this isn’t eating out, it is among the tastiest take away you can get in Brisbane. Outstanding salads at good prices, they close at 6pm weekdays so you need to get in early for a fancy night in. Love going here to buy a box of salad for Sunday lunch.
The Indian Kitchen, West End – friends won’t believe you when you bring them here but honestly, it’s good. Not the most sophisticated Indian you can get but for $9-$14 you can get a huge plate of three tasty curries with rice, plus it’s BYO. It is also great on a Saturday before or after a couple of drinks.
After work drinks
Gresham Bar, CBD – good if you know what you want to drink because you may not get expert advice from behind the bar. The house wines are consistently good and they are setting up a bring-in food arrangement with local eateries, so you can stay longer. Convivial, relaxed, a great place to unwind.
Super Whatnot, CBD – happy hour house wine and beer $6 between 4pm-6pm weekdays.
John Mills Himself, CBD – couldn’t work out to put his under bar or coffee, because it’s great for either. Come in the morning for one of their outstanding hot chocolates, come after work for an Australian-only alcoholic beverage. It is tiny though so this is not the place to be inviting a dozen people.
Hop & Pickle, South Brisbane
A tiny bar in South Brisbane, in a quadrant of good bars – Tomahawk Bar, The Manhatten Line and Bourbon Street – where you are sure to find a drink and a bite to appeal to your tastes. Hop & Pickle have a nice if small menu and a decent drinks list, if unfortunately the on taps options are limited. Head to this spot and you’ll find something you’ll enjoy.
Dinner with friends
Verve, CBD – inner-city institution that serves up cheap drinks, a lot of cider and good affordable Italian. If you want to go on a Friday night, you will have to book.
Escobar, New Farm – 1970s-inspired tapas style share plates or larger two-person share plates, house-made tonic and infused rum make this a retro-epicurean delight. Popular with locals as well and can get busy. Doesn’t take bookings. Read a full review.
Newstead Brewing Company – tasty grub, good food and in the Newstead ‘precinct’ so you can go to any of the local bars if you feel like partying on. But note that you can only make a booking if you are 6 or more and it can get noisy. A great place if you’re up for a boisterous night yourself.
Archive Beer Boutique – Brisbane institution in West End. Great pub food, good drinks, pool tables and nightly specials. There is not much to not like.
Weekend tipple with friends or family
Tomahawk Bar, South Brisbane – we’ve already made it clear how much we appreciate this addition to Grey Street with their good drinks and cheap and tasty food. A good place to go with friends so you can order a range of plates such as the caramel chicken and smoky arancini. Read our full review.
Tippler’s Tap, Newstead – the ‘parent’ to Tomahawk, with good food and drink and the added bonus of plentiful parking, though you might drive right past it the first time you visit. Not great for groups larger than 6, in fact 4 is the optimum number. They have $2 taco Tuesdays and it’s very hard to go past a kilo of scrumptious chicken wings for $10.
Bar Alto at the Powerhouse, New Farm – a great place to take visitors to Brisbane so you can have a chilled glass and sit on the Powerhouse deck overlooking the river and watch the world go by. Food it not amazing, but fine for a few snacks.
Saturday night drinks
We don’t bar-hop anymore, or spend 6 hours out in the Valley on a Saturday night. It has very limited appeal after a certain age. But occasionally, we do like to gather a few friends and paint the town red.
Fortitude Valley / James Street
Dutch Courage – THE place to go in Brisbane if you like gin, with over 85 varieties to taste behind the bar. Fairly small downstairs but it doesn’t seem to get packed to the rafters so you can still find a place to perch. The food is tasty, but we’d recommend popping to Kwan Brothers next door. Read a full review.
Kwan Brothers – Great for food, not bad for a bottle of wine after dinner either. Gets noisy so keep your group to 3-6 people, but the food is wonderful for sharing as you enjoy a night with your favourite people and start telling rowdy stories. Read our full review.
Statler and Waldorf – a gastro-pub amidst the bars and pubs of Caxton Street. Not as much personality as Lefty’s next door, but you can get a seat and they mix a good cocktail.
Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall – the new favourite locale on Caxton Street, arrive early if you want some space to yourself because after 11pm, it is rammed. The atmosphere is good, the music is swinging and the whisky apples made fresh at the bar are so good for you you won’t get a hangover. Trust us, we tried.
Jungle – small but not usually crowded, you could get a good beer but you come for the tropical cocktails in fantastic vessels.
The Bearded Lady – the hipster bar that accompanies Lock’n’Load two doors away. Typical American / Asian mix bar food and craft beer on tap.
Cobbler – nice bar but it gets very crowded on a Friday or Saturday night. If you want to visit, get in early. On Saturday afternoons, groups of women with 3 or more people drinking cocktails get a free cheese platter. Yes, it is a little random, but free cheese!
Amphora – a St Lucia institution. The food is always good and the menu has barely changed in decades. Which is a great thing because you know every time you go that there are no surprises, just good food at a good, if not every-day price. Go here every year for family birthday dinners. Also BYO and easy to park.
Mizu – delicious Japanese in Teneriffe, with good service, BYO, not too noisy and ample street parking, it ticks so many ‘family dinner’ boxes. If you are able this is also a great place for lunch as their Bento boxes are fresh, filling and affordable.
We’re celebrating something!
Aria, CBD – where Kirst and her fiancee went to celebrate their engagement, the food is incredible and the view of the Brisbane River at nigh is beautiful.
Stokehouse, South Brisbane – with a glorious view of the river, nestled in South Bank, this is a wonderful restaurant for a special meal for two. If you want a bit of special with a slightly smaller price tag, you can eat in the ‘bistro’ section.
Anise, New Farm – a hole-in-the-wall restaurant of long standing, Anise is famous for its degustations, which change seasonally with special themed nights, e.g. ‘game’. Choose with matched wines or without, this is a great place to go for a special dinner for two.
Montrachet, Paddington – classic French fare and delightful French wines, supped in surrounds that make you feel like you stepped into a corner of Paris in Brisbane. Only open Monday through Friday. The food is, in a way, deceptively simple, but simple food cooked perfectly with quality ingredients is the best and most enjoyable. That is Montrachet – simple but perfect French cuisine.
Guides for the best of Brisbane
Guide to Brisbane’s BYO restaurants
Guide to Brisbane’s best dumplings
Guide to Brisbane’s best themed bars
Guide to Brisbane’s Best Coffee
Guide for where to buy suspended coffee