Whether you've got a taste for upmarket modern Australian, Queensland's famous seafood eateries or classic European with a twist, the local foodie scene will impress you. Excellent dining choices abound in the inner-city suburbs of Fortitude Valley and New Farm, but those who venture further afield are rewarded with lesser-known local favourites. There are plenty of high-end offerings, but there are also delicious offerings for those on a budget.
Best Brisbane restaurants
What is it? A spot with a spectacular view, this Brisbane restaurant has an elegant style that'll satisfy any sophisticate.
Why go? Specialising in ever-popular Brisbane steak and seafood, Stokehouse Q's menu is undoubtedly indulgent. There's a wash of premium dishes like fresh, locally sourced oysters, kangaroo carpaccio and spring lamb with rainbow chard. You'll also get to taste mouth-wateringly luxe desserts such as white chocolate parfait and a high-end take on Neopolitan ice cream. If you're more inclined to finish off your meal with a boozy offering, opt for one of the ‘liquid desserts’ and bathe in the sun that shines in from across the open-sided dining space.
What is it? A contemporary outdoor Vietnamese eatery in Fish Lane.
Why go? The pumping soundtrack will get your night started right, and shared bench tables ensure you meet the locals. It’s hot and steamy in summer, but that’s part of the fun. Order spring rolls or bao chicken with a beer (or two) or fill your plate with something more substantial, like lemongrass-infused chicken coconut curry or braised beef cheek, paired with a side of rice.
What is it? A vibrant café housed in an original worker’s cottage.
Why go? The compact modern Australian menu focuses on local produce and uses honey from the café’s own beehive. All-day breakfast and lunch is served seven days a week. Crossover menu items such as nasi goreng with sesame fried wild rice, crispy skin pork belly, prawns, kecap manis, Asian herbs and chilli fried egg make it easy to justify eating brekky at 2pm. Bar snacks are available from 3pm Wednesday to Sunday.
What is it? Celebrity chef Philip Johnson’s fine diner, which has been showcasing some of the country’s best modern Australian cuisine for over two decades.
Why go? E'cco Bistro has two distinct spaces: a contemporary and sophisticated bistro and a relaxed outdoor dining area. If you want to take advantage of the venue’s versatility and Brisbane’s enviable weather, then plant yourself on a seat and eat alfresco. Feeling hungry? Don’t miss the pork belly with fennel, orange marmalade, and sweet and sour pork jus. If you’re dining solo, you’ll get dinner and a show from a seat at the bar.
What is it? A modern Italian restaurant with confident, friendly service and a bustling open kitchen.
Why go? Unless you’re willing to eat before 6pm, which is the cut-off time for bookings, you’ll almost certainly have to wait for a table, but it’s worth it. Top picks include the house-made pastas, daily risotto special and wood-fired pizzas, which rival those found in Naples. Too full for dessert? Italian-style trifle proves it’s not over until the fat lady sings.
What is it? Street food-inspired cuisine in sophisticated surrounds.
Why go? This lively CBD restaurant features dishes from China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Created by celebrity chef Luke Nguyen, the open kitchen adds a sense of theatre and dishes have just the right amount of spice. Many cost less than $20, and service is speedy. Whether you’re an adventurous diner or prefer chicken fried rice, you’ll find something to suit.
What is it? One of Brisbane’s best-kept dining secrets, located in the inner-city suburb of Camp Hill.
Why go? Cinco Bistro keeps its loyal local clientele coming back with generous portions and an appealing array of familiar-sounding dishes plus a few surprises.
What is it? A modest restaurant serving some of the best Peking duck you’ll find outside Beijing.
Why go? It’s not fancy, but the food is seriously good. No liquor licence means you can BYO (bring your own) beer or wine and catch public transport back to your accommodation.
What is it? A popular bistro that is trendy without being pretentious.
Why go? Breakfast include kransky sausage, Boston baked beans, hash browns, fried egg, red cabbage kimchi and Davidson plum. Drinks at the bar often slide into dinner, which features dishes such as sumac-seared tuna, black barley, pickled mushroom, cashew aioli. A well-priced wine list and boutique local beers on tap make it tempting to linger.