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

Iris

Restaurant

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.

Essa

Restaurant

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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Agnes

Restaurant

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

Kid Curry

Restaurant

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.

Gemelli

Restaurant

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.

Uh Oh Spaghettio

Restaurant

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.

Cafes

Agnes Bakery

Cafe

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.

The Green

Cafe

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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Paradise Cafe

Cafe

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

Jocelyn’s Provisions

Cafe

A grocery and bakery for sweet treats and take-home meals.

Reverends Fine Coffee

Cafe

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

Halo Ground

Cafe

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

Bars

Bar Tano

Bar

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.

Queens

Bar

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.

Kings

Bar

The bright and airy counterpart to Queens around the corner is a tropical-style bar where music, colour and cocktails are king. To eat, you might find Po boys and tacos stuffed with fried chicken, prawn or roasted cauliflower on the menu.

Cielo Rooftop Bar

Bar

A Fortitude Valley rooftop bar from the Salt Meats Cheese and Eterna crew. Come for small plates, stunning views and cocktails designed by Maybe Sammy – one of the world's best bars.

The Prince Consort

Bar

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.

Gerard’s Bar

Bar

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

Shops

Calexico

Shop

Womenswear from Isabel Marant, Acne Studios and more.

Elka Collective

Shop

Timeless trans-seasonal basics in the thriving James Street retail precinct.

Deli By The Standard Market Company

Shop

This long-running deli has one of the biggest ranges of smallgoods and pantry essentials in Brisbane.

Optiko

Shop

Bold lines and vintage frames leap from the walls of this Brisbane eyewear boutique.

St Agni

Shop

The Brisbane flagship for Byron Bay's enormously popular minimalist luxury brand.

Bassike

Shop

Some of Australia’s favourite basics.