Shopping on the weekend can be the pits. Loads of people. Zero car parks. And then you have to find something to eat.

Shopping-centre food options have come a long way in recent years but when you’re knee deep in bags, things can get a little rabbit-in-the-headlights – particularly with so many easy option chain vendors waiting to take your money.

That’s where Broadsheet comes in. We scoured three major shopping centres in Brisbane and asked insiders at each where they like to eat, drink and get coffee. Here’s where they go and why.

Westfield Garden City
You hardly need to eat in Garden City, given its enviable position near a bunch of Brisbane food hotspots. Sunnybank with its crowd of cheap Asian eateries is a short drive down the road, while local classic Chinese Garden is the perfect spot for a late-night shopping debrief.

But the centre punches well above its weight too, with a clutch of excellent little food and drink haunts scattered across its two levels and food court.

Myer’s Kim Rouse always starts her day with a coffee from Mrs Fields (level two, near Harvey Norman). It’s better known for its cookies and other baked goods, but Rouse reckons coffee is the secret weapon at the Garden City outlet. “They do my coffee just how I like it,” she says. “And the staff there, they’re amazing people.”

When it comes to lunch, Rouse visits 8 Street (level-one food court, opposite Coles). “It’s like a mini Asian street market,” she says. “There’s Korean, Thai, dumplings, bubble teas and everything in there.” There’s also a beer garden, which offers beer on tap, cider and wine.

After a shift, Rouse and her co-workers often head to Hotel Beach House (Town Square, near Grill’d) for some decent pub food and live music. Otherwise, Rouse loves Thai restaurant Kinn Thai (Town Square). She reckons go for the duck and pineapple curry. “You’ve got to book at Kinn because it’s so popular,” Rouse says. “Their food is amazing, and the Pina Coladas are to die for.”

Westfield Chermside
It’s easy to get lost in Westfield Chermside – Australia’s second-largest shopping centre by its number of stores – let alone find somewhere good to eat and drink. Linda Li works at the OPSM inside the centre and knows where to go.

For coffee, Li hits up a tiny French patisserie on level two called Savour (level two, The Laneway, Outdoor Dining Precinct). “[They] have great coffee and yummy eclairs,” she says.

One of Li’s favourite places for lunch is Kinn + Derm (level two, The Laneway, Outdoor Dining Precinct) – a sister venue of Kinn in Garden City – which she says does a killer lunch-special menu. “All the dishes there are so tasty,” Li says. “I highly recommend it if you love Thai food.”

Li also likes to eat at Landmark Chinese Restaurant on level three in the dining precinct. Here, she loves the yum cha and reckons it’s great for big groups. Her favourite dish is the beef ho fun noodles. Li says Motto Motto is worth a mention for ramen lovers. “I love the red tonkotsu, which has a bit of chilli,” she says. “The meat is [soft] and flavoursome and the broth is tasty.”

Outside the shopping centre, Li often heads to Farm House in Kedron for its breakfast gnocchi and corn-and-cheese potato cake. She also likes Amici Deli in Chermside (6/725 Gympie Road, Chermside). “Amici is an Italian deli that [has] decent coffee and a range of Italian foods,” she says. “It’s a hidden gem.”

Indooroopilly Shopping Centre
Any Indooroopilly Shopping Centre regular will tell you it has lagged behind the other major malls in adding quality food options (and has recently lost major eateries such as Nantucket Kitchen and Corbett & Claude). But the centre is currently undergoing a minor transformation of its outside food precinct. It recently added a Betty’s Burgers and a Motto Motto is soon to open on a decent strip that already boasts Harajuku Gyoza and Lord of the Wings.

In the food court proper, Phúc Deli-Viet does a good plate of chicken rice, while ramen masters Hakataya ladle up arguably Brisbane’s best cheap bowl of noodle soup.

Aquila’s Monica De Luna says you definitely need to know where to look for Indooroopilly’s best spots. For coffee, she heads to the Dramanti-peddling Foundry Artisan Coffee (between Sportsgirl and Glue Store) on level three. “Everyone who works at the centre will be there in the morning,” she says. “It ticks all the boxes, they have some sweets and they also serve bagels.”

De Luna recommends Soul Origin in the food court for a cheap lunch. “Everyone goes there because it’s healthy, cheap and quick,” De Luna says. She usually orders one of the lunch baguettes or chicken wraps.

Beyond the centre, there’s a bunch of options in the nearby suburbs. Graceville’s Hunter and Scout is a local haunt for elevated breakfast washed down with Fonzie Abbott coffee, while Renata Roberts’s small fiefdom of Kenmore restaurants – Stavros the Greek, Pizzeria Violetta and Sichuan Bang Bang – is an excellent spot to wind down with some lunch or dinner.