Flying interstate this summer? Or just need some inspiration for things to get up to in your hometown? Broadsheet’s city cheat sheets are here to help. From the hottest new players that live up to the hype, to old favourites that continue to deliver, this is how to make the most of your visit.

EAT HERE: Breakfast:
Brisbane gets up early, so was perhaps always going to do a terrific breakfast cafe.

One of the very best is Industry Beans, an impeccably designed, light filled retreat in the backstreets of Newstead. It serves elevated breakfasts such as chilli barramundi folded eggs and pandan bubble waffles, helped down by a broad range of specialty coffee. If you’re after something more grab-and-go, stop by woodfired Agnes Bakery – a Covid pivot made permanent – for sourdough, kouign-amann and Basque burnt cheesecakes baked in the little Queenslander shop’s four-tonne oven.

If you’re staying in the city head straight for The Maillard Project, the brainchild of Adam Wang, a Brisbane specialty coffee pioneer. The brews are of course exceptional but stick around for refined, Asian-inflected comfort food such as scrambled eggs with mustard leaf XO, shallot cream and chives, or braised pork belly with potato hash, pea puree, beetroot kraut and a poached egg.

South of the river lives West End classic Morning After, where Vietnamese omelettes and breakfast carbonaras are served in an Alexander Lotersztain-designed dining room, and the South Brisbane outpost of Melbourne croissant superstars Lune. Match the former to a Saturday morning at the West End Markets, the latter to a visit to Qagoma or Qpac.

And urban sprawl has long been in Brisbane’s DNA, meaning you find some true gems in its leafy burbs, so don’t be afraid to travel for an exceptional breakfast. There’s beautiful Florence in Camp Hill, gluten-free eats at the exquisitely designed Nodo Hawthorne, and Darvella’s Swiss inspired pastries in Bulimba.

Lunch:
Lunch in Brisbane is best conducted by the river and Howard Smith Wharves boasts no fewer than four restaurants parked right on the water. Best for daytime dining is the fresh and fragrant Greek of Jonathan Barthelmess’s Greca and the precise Cantonese being turned out by star chef Louis Tikaram at Stanley, a fabulous two-storey restaurant housed in the heritage digs of the old water police headquarters.

Elsewhere, if you’re doing James Street earlier in the day, match a spot of shopping with Simon Gloftis’s produce-driven Greek at Hellenika, Same Same’s buzzy Southeast Asian, or head up the hill to Iris, atop Hotel X, where you can snack on cumin spiced fish tacos and Wagyu pichana (rump cap) with a chimichurri rojo, served against one of the best backdrops in the city.

Don’t be afraid to cross the river either. Catch a ferry from inner city Teneriffe and in five minutes you can be on the first-floor Bulimba rooftop of Melrose, where former Longrain Melbourne chef Arte Assavakavinvong prepares fabulous Thai and Indonesian food in a venue with the feel of a Samui beach bar.

Evening:
The sun goes down early in Brisbane – even in the middle of summer – giving dinner in this city a moody, vital and club-like vibe.

On James Street, there’s Adam Wolfers’s brilliant, plant-driven Middle Eastern food at Gerard’s Bistro, Phil Marchant’s precise plates at dark and moody Essa, and the freewheeling, expansive Italian of Bianca. If you really want to push the boat out, head for the swank SK Steak & Oyster, where the steaks range up to a $200 9+ Stockyard Kiwami Wagyu sirloin.

On the other hand, for something forever approachable, cross Ann Street to brothers Cameron and Jordan Votan’s miniature food precinct. There’s Happy Boy, where the food is inspired by the breadth of China and its surrounds; Snack Man, which does the same in a small-plate package; and Kid Curry, where Chef Tom Swapp’s menu ranges from India all the way down to Indonesia. Taken together, these three boast one of the best wine cellars in the city.

In the CBD, the grand, heritage-listed Donna Chang has this year been joined by reborn Italian favourite Coppa Spuntino and the elegant, mirror-walled and leather-boothed Rothwell’s. And across the river, Fish Lane is populated by heavy hitters such as Gauge, Southside, Maeve, Julius and Hello Please – all are worth your time.

Elsewhere, three of the most singular nighttime dining experiences in Brisbane couldn’t be any more different. There’s the peerless waterside views and luscious Italian of Otto’s new digs at South Bank, the intimate omakase of 10-seat Joy (just be sure to book way ahead), and the pure woodfire and smoke-driven plates of Agnes – arguably Brisbane’s best restaurant right now.

DRINK HERE
Afternoon Daytime drinking should be performed at one of Brisbane’s many brewpubs, which have become treasured community spaces in a city that’s historically lacked more traditional pubs. You can go way out into the burbs to hang with families and food trucks at dapper Ballistic Beer Co in Salisbury, the American-inspired Slipstream in Yeerongpilly or Scottish behemoth Brewdog Dogtap in Murrarie, or keep it with the cool crowd closer to the city at Range Brewing, Valley Hops or of course the almighty Felons at Howard Smith Wharves.

If you’re after something more sophisticated, try other Wharves boozers such as the octagonal Mr Percival’s, which sits above the river, while Fiume on the roof at Crystalbrook Vincent, slotted beneath the Story Bridge, boasts one of the most distinctive outlooks in town. Down on James Street, Los is Same Same’s fabulous upstairs Thai-inspired cocktail bar, while Gerard’s Bar is a local classic, well-heeled folks filing in for a classy wine and signature cocktail list accompanied by a brilliant Middle Eastern snack menu.

Evening
The city’s nighttime drinking scene tends to be split into tightly clustered precincts.

You could try Canvas Club and The Tailors in Woolloongabba, brilliant themed cocktail bars that buzz away late into the night (match a visit with dinner at nearby 1889 Enoteca, Detour, Little G or the brand new Sasso Italiano).

In the CBD, there’s the triple threat of the pintxos-inspired Alba Bar & Deli, cocktail superstar Death & Taxes, and the cleverly designed, DJ-driven Super Whatnot. Over on Edward Street and beyond, there’s the newly opened Dr Gimlette with its enormous leather booths and Martini carts, and The Gresham presents one of the city’s best collections of whisky (including Australian whisky) in a beautiful old bank.

Kicking on? Then The Valley is where to head. The go-tos for mixed drinks late in the night are Savile Row and Finney Isles – both boast enormous spirits and cocktail lists.

DO THIS
When it comes to shopping in Brisbane, James Street is the place to visit. It has one of the best collections of hip boutiques in the country. Gail Sorronda, Bassike, St Agni, Venroy, Assembly Label and Sass & Bide all have a presence here, and that’s just scratching the surface.

Elsewhere, Paddington’s long, descending high street makes it a pleasant place to hop from shop to shop (just steer clear in the middle of the day, when the summer sun is at its zenith), and the CBD is still the place to go for the big internationals, although it also boasts cracking independent boutiques such as Double Double and Contra.

For cultural attractions, you’re not doing Brisbane properly if you’re not sifting around Qagoma for much of your visit. The city’s sate-run gallery precinct sprawls along the river just across from the CBD and this year welcomes back its signature Asia Pacific Triennial – consider this exhibition a Rosetta Stone for understanding Brisbane’s new place in the (not just art) world.

Also on this side of the river is the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, or Qpac as it’s commonly known. This summer you can check out the Queensland Ballet’s Nutcracker, Tony Award-winning Broadway musical An American in Paris and cabaret icon Reuben Kaye in The Kaye Hole. Elsewhere in the city, it’s well worth checking out the Brisbane Powerhouse – tie in a show here with a meal at exceptional (and often overlooked) Bar Alto on the river.

To get in touch with nature, pack a picnic for New Farm Park, right next to The Powerhouse, or seek out one of the city’s many other brilliant green spaces – the best is arguably Mt Coot-tha Botantic Gardens, which rambles across the foothills of Brisbane’s western bookend, its many microclimates lending every bend in the path a sense of discovery.

Finally, one of the Queensland capital’s quirks is how quickly you can get into the country if you head directly west. Follow Musgrave and then Waterworks Road for 20 minutes from the city and you’ll be climbing straight towards Mount Nebo and then onto Mount Glorious. If you have a car and some runners or hiking boots, make half a day of it.