Fortitude Valley has never been so popular. Here are the best places to try, regardless of the time of day it is when you visit.

Fortitude Valley is the centre of Brisbane’s nightlife, but it wasn’t always that way. For most of its history since its settlement in the mid-19th century, it was the city’s department store hub: somewhere to shop – and do little else. That changed when the tram network closed in the ’60s, which choked off the area’s retail appeal.

After that, brothels, sex shops and illegal gambling dens moved in, earning the Valley a reputation as Brisbane’s hotbed for sleaze. But it also became a haven for the city’s alternative scene. Clubs such as The Terminus and The Beat Megaclub fostered Brisbane’s queer community, while the rest of the bars and clubs in the area nurtured nascent music genres: first punk, then electronic.

Although that dissident energy has persisted, these days the Valley is squarely back in the mainstream. Thanks to those initial pioneers this is still the best place in town to drink, catch a gig or have a dance, but it’s also fast becoming the best place in Brisbane for a meal, too.

Thanks to developments such as the Calile Hotel, the Ada Lane food precinct and Howard Smith Wharves (at the Valley’s doorstep), chefs from around town are jostling to set up shop here.

Restaurants

  • Four of Brisbane’s best restaurant brains are behind this theatrical diner, featuring a woodfire-driven menu and impressive 1500-bottle wine list.

  • You'll find this new wave French brasserie on the ground-floor of the luxe Hotel X. Enter for French favourites and remixed classics. Plus, a cheese trolley, an oyster and caviar bar, and a 200-strong wine list.

  • Longrain’s Martin Boetz has returned to his hometown to open one of its most thrilling Thai dining experiences. He’s serving up punchy dishes like red curry with coconut braised duck, and fried whole fish with caramelised turmeric.

  • The successor to Longtime, one of Brisbane’s most celebrated Thai restaurants. As the name suggests, the site’s DNA hasn’t fundamentally changed – but the service is sharper, the space is more beautiful, and the food is more vibrant than ever.

  • Hit the the Calile Hotel’s 1960s neo-futurist diner for exquisite sushi and sashimi. But while it’s primed for special occasions, it isn’t here to hurt your wallet. Sip from an affordable list of sakes, Japanese whiskies and more than 150 international wines.

  • Not just any old noodles. These cult biang biang noodles are the perfect combination of firm and chewy. They might come packed with pork mince (or cumin lamb), garlic, soy sauce and shallots. Enjoy them alongside pork wontons and spring rolls in this no-fuss noodle joint.

  • Housed inside an 1890's brick building in The Valley, this moody Italian diner and wine bar lists more than 150 sustainable drops from Sicily and beyond. House-baked breads, pastas and antipasti sidle refined mains with a traditional twist.

  • Simple burgers, done well.

  • Fill your plate, cafeteria-style, with any combo of up to 35 Mediterranean-style dishes (many of them vegan) including juicy stuffed tomatoes, spanakopita and orzo pasta. Dine in under a sea of yellow umbrellas, or take it away to enjoy at home.

  • Kiwi menswear brand Rodd & Gunn have taken on an iconic, heritage-listed spot on James Street for their QLD debut. With a Michelin-starred chef on the tools, it’s serving blue-crab fettuccine, buttered bug rolls and meat-pie croquettes, paired with a 250-bottle wine list. There’s also a first-floor bar with views across the precinct.

  • Etna isn’t your typical neighbourhood pizzeria. Set within a heritage space, this cosy spot from the team behind Valley favourite Rosmarino takes cues from a couple of boundary-pushing Italian pizzerias. The result? Inventive toppings (duck, Hokkaido scallops) interspersed with the classics, backed up by a 120-strong wine list heavy on orange styles and pét-nat.

  • Refined share plates and mezcal on a classy corner of Brunswick Street.

  • This fast-paced Italian diner from the Eterna and Salt Meats Cheese team serves pasta, pizza, and a clutch of classy main dishes in beautiful heritage-listed surrounds.

  • Chef-owner Dan Arnold is no stranger to a Michelin-starred kitchen. At his eponymous Brisbane restaurant, he draws on his time working under some of Europe’s most lauded chefs – and the result is a modern expression of haute cuisine through Queensland produce.

  • The Moubment Group’s best-regarded restaurant delivers innovative Middle Eastern cuisine in a texture-rich dining room.

  • While rooftop bar Eleven takes a break, we have this Mexican pop-up. There's ninety seats, a local-produce driven menu and a shedload of tequila, all set to those jaw-dropping views.

  • A gorgeous restaurant and bar at the centre of Brisbane's Middle Eastern moment.

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  • This beautiful, fast-paced and very fun Italian restaurant is from the Same Same and Agnes crew. Expect house-made pasta, stacks of antipasti and soft-serve gelato, accompanied by a 350-bottle wine list – all in one of Brisbane's most beguiling dining rooms.

  • A celebrated young gun cooks (and does the dishes) in a tiny, 10-seat omakase-style fine diner down a poky laneway.

  • An immaculate rooftop bar and restaurant from the Donna Chang crew. Expect cocktails, sangria, a tight wine list and a broad menu of Mediterranean share plates served against a backdrop unlike anything else in the city.

  • Via a long marble bar, this moody 60-seat restaurant puts guests up close and personal with its woodfire grill, used to cook an ever-changing menu that might include Black Angus short rib or pickled kohlrabi.

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  • Enter this handsome curry house for fragrant curries, sides and starters drawn from across India and Southeast Asia. It’s all helped down by a tight, Italian-leaning wine list stacked with small-scale producers.

  • Rustic Italian cooking reigns at this spacious, timber-clad restaurant. Visit for woodfired Napoli-style pizza; oxtail and pork shin ragu rigatoni; plus a lengthy list of Italian vino to match.

  • At this neon-lit, two-storey late-night pasta joint, you'll find $15 serves of house-made pasta, $13 glasses of wine and late-night beats.

  • SK is restaurateur Simon Gloftis’s second restaurant at The Calile Hotel, after Hellenika. But where Hellenika focuses on the delicate flavours of Greek cuisine, SK focuses on big and bold ingredients such as dry-aged beef and prestige seafood. The room is expansive and so is the wine list. If you’re after New York steakhouse glamour, this is where you’ll find it.

  • This urban winery boasts a cellar door, a 70-seat restaurant and beautiful 20-seat private dining room.

  • A single-dish menu makes this restaurant distinct (and then there’s the bathhouse downstairs).

  • Modern Chinese food and a killer wine list from brothers Cameron and Jordan Votan.

  • Pan-Asian share plates and an impressive drinks list in a moody Valley dining room.

  • Brisbane’s first pasta laboratory, which aims for complete authenticity in its pasta and sauces.

  • One of the best places in town for true Neapolitan pizza.

  • Prawn doughnuts with yuzu curd are the kind of creative fare you can expect at this moody, communal Japanese restaurant from the owners of Longtime.

  • A wood-fired Valley beauty in James Street's Ada Lane.

  • A war-era warehouse transforms into a beautiful 60-seat Italian restaurant.

  • A lynchpin venue in a more quiet part of the Valley.

  • A 220-seat, 24/7 gastropub inside an old drapery, which has a dedicated katsu sando menu.

  • Vietnamese street food with a modern twist.

  • Widely regarded as one of the country’s best Greek restaurants.

  • Big and juicy home-style Northern Chinese dumplings

  • Burgers and beers with personality.

  • Accessible luxury in Chinatown.

  • Venue two for some of Brisbane’s best yakitori.

Cafes

  • Agnes Restaurant’s popular lock-down era bakery now has a permanent home inside an old Queenslander in the Valley. It’s punching out five different types of sourdough, plus kouign-amanns, breakfast rolls, doughnuts and coffee by Bear Bones.

  • This pint-sized kiosk, run by two brothers, is known for its viral croques (French bechamel-slathered toasted sandwiches) and canned-to-order frappes. Your best bet is to get in early – both have been known to sell out.

  • A small-batch roastery that smells every bit the part.

  • Tucked down a laneway in the Valley, this homey cafe and retail space sells everything you need for the ultimate dinner party at home – think pantry staples, artisan condiments and chic homewares. You can also sit in and enjoy a rustic salad or sandwich with filter coffee by Semipro.

  • Hidden just off James Street, this cacti-filled eatery and shop is dedicated to Lebanese-style mezze and share plates, Ottolenghi-inspired salads, Japanese ceramics and plants – lots of them.

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  • An old pizzeria reborn as a beautiful coffee and breakfast spot.

  • A trinity of good beans, chilled vibes and gluten-free donuts.

  • Restaurant quality food in a sophisticated cafe setting: that’s the concept behind Halo Ground Coffee and Food.

  • A specialty coffee joint turning back time.

  • Local produce reigns supreme at this sustainable, semi-suburban cafe.

  • Coffee appreciation goes street.

  • Coffee meets warehouse chic at this little laneway spot.

  • Good coffee in an office block? Believe it.

  • This pint-sized superfood cafe dishes up a sweet fix without the regret.

  • Start a hangover at Laruche, then come to Kiosk for the next-day cure.

  • A Chinese tea experience among the books at Scrumptious Reads.

Bars

  • A new live music venue is coming to Fortitude Valley. It has two storeys, two enormous bars and capacity for 770 people. Also, it has a tree.

  • The sharp follow-up to Cobbler.

  • Enter for arcade games, DJs and cheesburger spring rolls.

  • A rooftop oasis with splendid views across Fortitude Valley and the CBD. Come for Italian-leaning small plates and cocktails designed by Sydney's Maybe Sammy – one of the world's best bars.

  • Tucked up a laneway and hidden behind an unmarked brass door, this 1970s-inspired bar serves up elevated bar snacks and signature cocktails. Go for its retro-themed share plates, which might be a caviar bump with a shot of iced Belvedere Vodka.

  • More than 550 ways to take your gin and tonic.

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  • Fourteen storeys up and with capacity for 500 punters, it’s serving lengthy menus of sushi, ceviche, plus crispy garlic squid and a grilled 400-gram grade 9 Wagyu rib eye. For drinks, there are signature cocktails, a healthy sake list and stacks of Pisco Sours.

  • Sixty taps across three levels, capacity for 400 people, pinball machines and two shuffleboard tables. Plus a tight menu of hearty burgers, a generous variety of wings and vego options.

  • Inspired by the vibrant nightlife of Tel Aviv, this ambitious bar is all about smoked drinks, Turkish Coffee Martinis and a menu of late-night vegetarian mezze. Also, vinyl – lots of vinyl. Find it at the base of the Ovolo Hotel in the Valley.

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  • A low-key, small bar with a focus on gin, natural wines and beers on tap.

  • Share some charcuterie at the more casual cousin of Gerard’s Bistro.

  • A Green Beacon veteran oversees 36 beer taps at this lush rooftop brewery. But that’s only half the story – the sizeable food offering involves woodfired pizza and beer-friendly snacks to pair with those ice-cold beers and city views.

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  • Inspired by everything from a classic Venetian restaurant to an iconic New York club, this nostalgic drinking hole next to The Zoo serves up late-night Italian eats, hard-to-find agave spirits and plenty of vintage vinyl tunes.

  • This beautiful marble and mirrored aperitivo bar complements Gemelli next door with a breezier, more laid-back energy. The open street-facing window is an excellent perch for Italian snacks, washed down with a Negroni or a spritz.

  • Housed inside an ex-barber’s shop, this Brunswick Street boozer serves low-intervention drops and snacky, wine-friendly plates of burrata, patatas fritas and sardines in grungy, low-lit surrounds.

  • Four different food menus, 89 beer taps and capacity for more than 2000 people. This restored, 130-year-old pub is one of the Valley’s most ambitious venues ever, ready to fulfil whatever need you have, from drinking to dancing.

  • A small plate-centric wine and cocktail bar from the Happy Boy crew.

  • The 150-seat, eight-hectolitre brewpub is the brand’s first taproom outside Byron Bay.

  • A Palm Springs-inspired restaurant and bar in the space which formerly housed Woolly Mammoth.

  • The place to soak up The Valley’s history over a few modern beers.

  • A hidden gin den inside Fortitude Valley's 155-year-old pub, The Osbourne.

  • A 100-seat brewpub with eight beers on tap, including three rotationals, and a menu of share plates and mains – many of which feature beer.

  • Enter for cake, rap music and beer.

  • A Valley bolthole pivots towards spirits.

  • A historic pub, where you can get change from $20 at lunch, cocktails, and beers from 92 taps.

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  • A sophisticated restaurant and bar with a contemporary-Asian influence at The Calile.

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  • An adults-only arcade bar combining old-world glamour, ultra-modern neon and ’90s nostalgia.

  • Arcade games and craft beer? Yes please.

  • A craft-beer bar with a “local where possible” ethos, Single O coffee and Chicago-style food.

  • One of the city's best destinations for wine buffs.

  • A roaring ‘20s-style speakeasy with a jazz soundtrack.

  • An ultra-contemporary Australian wine bar.

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  • A modern take on the traditional beer garden.

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  • A tiny, whimsical bar inspired by Peter Pan.

Shops