Sometimes misaligned as devoid of culture or anything interesting to do or eat, Brisbane is rising into a new era, with exciting neighbourhoods, eateries and bars opening up all across the city. No longer lacking seasonal fare and crafted drinks, you’ll be surprised and impressed by the evolution of the city.
Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
Attracting more than one million visitors annually, this cultural hideaway showcases a collection of local and international paintings, sculptures and decorative arts. Current exhibitions include Kathy Temin’s My Monument: White Forest, featuring cartoon-like trees crafted from soft fabrics. The latest arrival is Cai Guo-Qiang's Falling Back to Earth installation, featuring deeply resonating works like Head On 2006, an installation of 99 artificial wolves leaping en masses into a glass wall.
Stanley Place, South Bank
(07) 3840 7303
Trek out to this uniquely designed arts centre (formerly a pre-war industrial power station) for fortnightly farmers markets in the plaza. Sample some of Queensland’s finest produce, including an abundance of tropical fruit and a vast selection of homemade gourmet products. Swing by here at other times for theatre, music and other events including the monthly Sunday pop-up suitcase rummage; ideal for handmade, vintage and recycled goods.
119 Lamington Street, New Farm
Tucked away from the buzz of Fortitude Valley’s James Street, Gerard’s Bistro is an eclectic, modest space with piped lighting, timber textures and courtyard seating. Harking back to his time in Bahrain, head chef Ben Williamson has devised a share plate menu with a strong focus on Middle Eastern and North African flavours. Try roasted boneless quail with a date and rose stuffing, caramelised fig and smoked curd next to morasa polow - a sweet Iranian rice. Finish with nearby Bee One Third’s James Street rooftop honey, plated with pistachio, halva, mandarin and whipped cheese.
Shop 14, 15 James Street, Fortitude Valley
(07) 3852 3822
Nestled above Turbot and George Streets is this loft-style, casual eating house. Dimly lit and styled with raw wood and black leather benches, a good place to start is at the white-tiled cocktail bar for drinks like a Public Nuisance or a Peach Face Julep. Tapas dishes here include succulent Kentucky fried duck (KFD) served in a warm paper bag and Texas brisket with flour tortillas and chilli sauce. For something sweet, try the summer pudding with cinnamon sorbet.
Upper Level 1, 400 George Street, Brisbane
(07) 3210 2288
Chester Street Bakery and Bar
A block away from the James Street precinct, this bakery and bar prides itself on making almost everything in-house. With a striking interior of blue tiles and polished concrete floors, be sure to drop in for organic bread from the onsite woodfired oven and handmade cakes like Victoria sponge, white chocolate and raspberry tarts or savoury snacks of bacon, onion and gruyere galette. Nutella is fully endorsed here with buttermilk pancakes, toffee and banana alongside brunch cocktails like Mimosas.
32a Chester Street, Newstead
(07) 3852 4130
A newcomer to South Brisbane, this cosy cafe focuses on local and seasonal produce, and like its interior, keeps the menu simple. With neutral timber tones, a communal table and sprawling footpath seating, a house blend crafted by co-owner Josh Russell is on offer here. Try bread and pastries, which are sourced from nearby Chouquette, or sample apple bircher with fresh berries and candied nuts and smoked ocean trout with asparagus, herbed yoghurt and poached egg.
27 Russell Street, South Brisbane
(07) 3844 3609
Rich in colour, this playful Mexican cantina and taqueria covers all bases with its drinks and food menu. With an expansive outdoor courtyard, stop here for tequila, cheerful tacos (pork, chicken, fish or vegetarian), chilli dogs, Clericot (Mexican sangria) or a pineapple and rosemary margarita.
22 Constance Street, Fortitude Valley
(07) 3252 8491
Decorated with ferns and shaded daybeds, this rooftop bar is best enjoyed on sunny afternoons for local craft beers and ciders and an extensive list of specialty cocktails.
646 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
(07) 3363 5599
With three stores, Maiocchi stocks charming dresses in a cute range of styles and prints. Founded by Brisbane designer Deanne Mayocchi, all pieces are made locally and personalised with handmade touches. Perfect for the festive season.
For store locations and online shop see maiocchi.com.au
Situated conveniently in Fortitude Valley, this sophisticated, award-winning boutique hotel boasts luxury studio suites all equipped with touches of zebra print and chandeliers. Relax in the afternoon by the rooftop pool with views of the skyline or head to the elegant bar with an antique stained glass wall that delivers cocktails like a Pavlova Martini and jugs of punch.
1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley
(07) 3253 6999
Just walking distance to precincts like Eagle Street Pier, South Bank Parkland and the Brisbane River, there’s much to like about this Parisian-styled hotel. Indulgence yourself with an appointment at Stephanie’s Day Spa retreat, positioned next to the outdoor pool and fitness centre.
249 Turbot Street, Brisbane
(07) 3835 3535