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The 26 best things to do in Brisbane

The 26 best things to do in Brisbane

If there was any lingering doubt that Queensland's capital is a world city, it was put to rest with the announcement that the 2032 Olympics would be hosted right here in Brisvegas. And truth be told, for a long time the River City has been much more than just a pit-stop on the way to the Gold Coast.  In QAGOMA, the city has two of the best-designed art galleries anywhere in the world, and blockbuster art to show in them. We have great barbecue spots, sure, but there are also some great high-end, fine dining experiences too. With an incredible climate (although slip, slop, slap please, we implore you) and a great set of river walkways and public transport connections, it’s also easier than ever to get around. Whether it’s a family adventure, a romantic weekend or a spare 24 hours at the end of a business trip – here are our pick of the best attractions in Brisbane. Got no money? Here are the best free things to do in Brisbane.

The 18 best things to do in Brisbane for free

The 18 best things to do in Brisbane for free

Nothing in life is free. Nothing! And you might disagree and say something like “what about walking along a beach? That’s free!” And you’d be right, but Brisbane doesn’t have beaches, so you’d be wrong.  So if you’re in Brisbane, and you’re broke and looking to have some fun, what do you do? Well, after living here a long time with varying amounts of disposable income we feel we’re in a position to offer some suggestions. Here’s what we’d do, in no particular order. Cashed up? You may like to go eat at one of Brisbane's best restaurants. Walk it off on one of the best easy day hikes near Brisbane.

The best fish and chips in Brisbane

The best fish and chips in Brisbane

Brisbane may not have any inner-city beaches to speak of, but that doesn't mean Brisbanites aren't still partial to a seaside staple. For a fuss-free feed, you really can't go wrong with a hearty portion of fish and chips. And whether that's the old-school British variety – beer battered, vinegar spiked and liberally dusted with chicken salt – or one of the more refined gourmet spins that are increasingly popular amongst discerning diners, there's a catch of the day to suit every taste in Brissie.  We've wet our lines and hauled up a bounty of top fish and chipperies that are serving up the very best fish and chips in Brisbane. Hungry for more cheap and cheerful eats? Here's where to eat out in Brisbane on a budget. Or why not splurge on a meal at one of Brisbane's best fine diners?

The best Thai restaurants in Brisbane

The best Thai restaurants in Brisbane

In Brisbane, there’s good Thai and then there’s great Thai, and we’re all about the latter. From rich, silken curries that bring the heat to crisp, fresh salads that'll keep the conscience clean of even the healthiest diner, this versatile, crowd-pleasing cuisine is a favourite in every city in Australia. But when you're in the Queensland capital, these are the restaurants where you can get your Thai fix. Looking for a delicious feed that won't break the bank? Check out the best cheap eats in Brisbane.

The best cheap eats in Brisbane

The best cheap eats in Brisbane

Brisbane can be an expensive place to eat out if you don’t know where to find a tasty bargain. Most visitors find themselves gravitating towards the river, which is lined with high-end eateries charging top dollar for a feed. But eating cheap in Brisbane doesn’t just confine you to burger bars or far-flung suburbs. You can dine like royalty in some of Brisbane’s most popular areas – if you know where to look. And it just so happens, that we do. Here are 12 of the best affordable restaurants – meaning places that serve hearty mains for under $25 – in and around the glorious city of Brisvegas. Calling all carnivores: these are the best steaks money can buy in Brisbane. Money tight? Here are the best free things to do in Brisbane. Love a curry? Here are the best Indian restaurants in Brisbane.

Listings and reviews (16)

Same Same

Same Same

Head Chef Jason Margaritis is a legend in Australian-Asian cuisine, and was the brains behind Melbourne’s Spice Temple before he moved to Brisbane. Now, the River City is blessed with some of the country’s most interesting, innovative Thai cuisine. A highlight of the menu is the slow-cooked brisket with green guava and roasted coconut rice which summons a mix of rich, hearty flavours and delicate notes of mint. You also can’t skip the curries, which combine traditional recipes like panang and massaman with local Queensland seafood, like the ​​turmeric curry, loaded with fat banana prawns served with baby corn and cucumber relish. The restaurant is open every night for dinner, plus lunch from Friday to Sunday. Pro tip: book ahead on weekends – especially if you want to sit near one of the windows.

Phat Boy

Phat Boy

The “phat” restaurants are an unofficial Brisbane chain that also includes Phat Elephant on Adelaide street. As the latest edition to the family, Phat Boy pushes the playbook in a more adventurous direction. Their interior features colourful posters and rocks in steel netting that form native stone walls.  The set menus are great value at $35 or $45 per person, depending on your hunger level. Both include delectable spring rolls and satay chicken skewers, but the larger one comes with a truly masterful pad thai chicken served in an egg net. Presentation is a real highlight at Phat Boy, with everything served in unexpected formats. For example, the Kung Tung is an enormous seafood stir fry drenched in chilli sauce and poured directly onto your table. Tuck in with your hands, medieval feast-style.

Ping Pong

Ping Pong

You can, of course, dine in at Ping Poing, but it’s their gigantic servings that make them a winner for takeaway diners; you can get away with ordering one main and two entrees for two people, and you’ll still have leftovers for an office lunch the next day. Just make sure you get the Peking duck spring rolls, which are fat, crispy and moreish. Another menu highlight is the Char kway teow, which is a titanic serving of Hokkien and rice noodles, pork belly, prawns and beansprouts for $30 – mildly spiced and perfectly tangy. The fried whole reef fish with kaffir lime is also a delight for $42. Dine-in customers can enjoy a banquet for $70 pp in the bubble-gum pink, eye-popping surrounds, and they wash down their feed with a playful range of signature cocktails including alcoholic slushies for $16 a pop.

Fish’s Seafood Market

Fish’s Seafood Market

When considering what exactly makes a great plate of fish and chips you may weigh up the quality of the produce, the calibre of the cooking or the variety of the menu. But there's another metric to consider when pondering such a time-honoured dish, and that’s tradition. For many people, traditional fish and chips means the English variety, but you needn't limit your aspirations to dear ol' Blighty. With its proud Greek heritage, this seafood market serves up a fish and chips that could give any British chippery a run for its money. For $15.90 you can pick up fish and chips which come in an extremely generous size. Moreishly rich, vinegary chips with pearly-white fish that’s extremely crisp and light. There is also a large selection of homemade salads they pile onto your plate – a far fresher alternative to stodgy mushy peas – and you'll even get a tub of tangy tartar at no extra charge. W recommend you cross the road to eat by the river, or upon the market's little balcony which sits beneath a sprawl of figs. Up the ante with a bottle of wine for $35, and you've got yourself the perfect Mediterranean meal that'll still satisfy your fish and chip cravings. Find more of the best fish and chips in Brisbane.

The Prawnster

The Prawnster

The Prawnster must rank as one of Brisbane’s best purveyors of seafood. It serves up some of the freshest wild-caught produce around, straight from the back of a trawler moored on the river. Bring your own salads, snacks and plates and sit down to huge platters of fish, prawns, bugs and lobster. But be warned: they don’t sell potato cakes or dim sims or anything that’s not seafood. Their hot ticket items are oysters at $40 for a dozen, prawn platters for $50 and a mix of prawns and bugs for $85. Plus there’s an extensive ice-cold wine and beer selection starting at $8, or soft drinks if you’re driving.

Hawthorne Seafood Markets

Hawthorne Seafood Markets

It's the self-proclaimed “best little fishmongers in Brisbane” and for good reason. The market has won a bunch of awards for its quality produce, but if it's fish and chips of the highest quality you seek, this is also the place you'll find it. The chips are crunchy, golden and salted to perfection, while the fish is crisp on the outside and firm yet succulent on the inside. Best of all, you won't encounter that “I’ve just consumed a litre of oil” feeling after your last mouthful. The Seafood Markets offer both eat-in and takeaway dining, and there’s a shady outside courtyard to sit in when the weather is fine and eating alfresco is non-negotiable. Pro tip: try to order from the shop front and not the pickup counter, which is confusingly at the front of the store. Find the best fish and chips in Brisbane.

Red Hill Seafood

Red Hill Seafood

For many people, fish and chips conjure a whole lot of nostalgia, offering a way to reconnect to the past. If that sentence rings true for you, then you’ll love this charming mom'n'pop outfit in Red Hill. The shop is an original corner store, decorated with a mural so old that you can see they’ve painted an extra digit onto their phone number (and no, you won't find a website for them online, although they do offer takeaway delivery via all the usual digital suspects). There's a sit-down coin operated table top game machine with Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, and a hilarious poster for World Expo '88 that could have been sitting there for more than 35 years. The menu is a remnant of 1970s Australiana with prices to match: potato scallops for $1, dim sims $2.50, minimum chips for $5, or fish starting at $6.90 for battered cod, which never succumbs to that overly “fishy” smell, while the chips come with a thick dusting of chicken salt, because of course they do. A nice piece of grilled barramundi will set you back $11.90, but that's about as fancy as it gets. Special mention must also go to Red Hill Seafood's burger with the lot for $6, which is just as you remember burgers being on those childhood road trips: iceberg lettuce, pineapple, tinned beetroot, crispy bacon and loads of sauce. Find the best fish and chips in Brisbane.

Streetcorner Jimmy

Streetcorner Jimmy

Set in one of the old Teneriffe woolstores along the river, Streetcorner Jimmy has gone with a kind of antique aesthetic that involves Chesterfield lounges and Caribbean cocktails. They also do all your favourite bar foods including nachos, schnitzels, burgers, wings and pizzas, mostly all priced under $20. We're fans of their cheeseburgers, which feature thick Wagyu patties covered in melted American red cheddar. There’s also a drinks happy hour every day from 5-7pm (except Fri, Sat) and food specials that start Mondays with $15 pizza and end on Sundays with $15 burgers. This is just a great place to meet friends or go solo with a book.

Ruean Phae Thai

Ruean Phae Thai

Tucked into a little old garage on a side street, Ruen Phae feels somewhat out of place among all the Crossfit gyms of Teneriffe, but its complete lack of pretence is what makes it so good. The chairs are plastic. Overhead fans stir the air. We got the jungle curry ($18.90), which was zesty and fresh with big prawns in generous numbers, all imbued with that delicate smokiness of a scolding hot wok. Their spring rolls ($7.90) are perfectly crunchy, while their papaya salad ($21.90) is sweet and fragrant. This is some of the best Thai food in Brisbane.

Richard's Tasty Corner

Richard's Tasty Corner

If you want really good Chinese on a budget, go to this place where the chef, Richard Li, specialises in Shandong cuisine. His sweet and sour pork is a perfect medley of crisp meat and vegetables in sweet glaze. Their special fried rice has more fun bits (fun meaning egg, bacon, prawns) than actual rice. And they do a big piquant curry laksa that’s pretty hard to beat. We like to come here for a Friday lunch and get a $13 meal and a $7 glass of wine. Also, its corner position on two Teneriffe streets makes it an excellent place to perch and people watch. 

Reuben's Deli & Bar

Reuben's Deli & Bar

You know how Reuben sandwiches often look better in movies than they do in real life? Well that’s not the case at Reuben's Deli. Here, they’re lush, cinematic masterpieces that make you involuntarily murmur “oh baby” while wiping Swiss cheese from your face. They’re basically packages of golden rye built around thick ribbons of pastrami, tangy sauerkraut, and molten cheese all doused in Russian dressing. The harmony between fat and acid is something approaching transcendental. Just don’t order the Reuben and the Philly Cheesesteak like we did, because then you’ll need to lie on the floor.

Remy's

Remy's

Diner meets café at this cheerful casual spot on Latrobe Terrace. The second best thing about Remy’s is the beer garden, which sits beneath a shady tree and overlooks one of Paddington’s many palm-lined valleys. But the first best thing is that Remy’s does two-for-one burgers on Sundays. And we’re talking burgers like god intended: big, fat, thick patties festooned with bacon, cheese, salad and loads of sauce. And then you get yourself an adjacent serving of cheese fries and a jug of ice cold beer, you’ll start to feel like some kind of deity yourself.