A Guide to Brisbane’s Gourmet Hubs

Brisbane is still dismissed by some as a big ol’ country town – but these days the Queensland capital’s food and drink scene is anything but parochial. In this city of 2.4 million people, our eating and drinking options are constantly morphing, with go-to dining precincts popping up at a cracking pace.

South Brisbane’s Fish Lane Precinct

The skies of inner city South Brisbane have been crisscrossed with cranes for what seems like an eternity, but at street-level the suburb has never been tastier. Fish Lane, which sits across the road from The Queensland Museum, is a case in point. Just two years ago, Fish Lane was a back alley smelling more of skip bins than success – now it’s home to scores of new apartments as well as an eclectic collection of eateries and bars – and looks set, eventually, to extend the fun all the way to neighbouring West End.

It was the arrival in 2015 of Julius Pizzeria (a second venue from the Teneriffe Beccofino team) filling a ground floor tenancy on the corner of Fish Lane and Grey Street that made diners sit up and take notice.

The installation of iconoclast neighbour, Gauge – Brisbane’s quirkiest one-star café-eatery – followed by its hip sibling, Maker, one of the city’s coolest small bars, sealed the deal.

Stroll down a lighting-festooned Fish Lane today and you’ll find everything from beer-friendly bites and craft ales at Saccharomyces Beer Café to Burgundy and beautifully detailed plates at one of Brisbane’s best wine bars, La Lune Wine & Co.

Last May, pan-Asian street-food giant Chu the Phat fired up its woks – with entrances off both Fish Lane and Melbourne Street. Sydney’s retro-styled Gelato Messina now sits alongside Chu the Phat’s gleaming two stories fronting onto Melbourne Street, with petite and chic Middle-Eastern-leaning Naim on Melbourne nearby.

Before the end of the year, a boutique fish and chippery, Ol’ School, is due to start frying on adjoining Hope Street. This will be a new venture for the team from Fish Lane’s Hello Please who operate a Vietnamese shipping container street-food bar in a car park bordering the laneway.

Brisbane’s ramen-master Taro Akimoto plans to bring a Taro’s Ramen and his nutritious noodles to Melbourne Street this November. Meanwhile, funky warehouse-based “food-preneur” incubator Wandering Cooks continues to evolve and now has an onsite bar and café to showcase the fruits of the burgeoning businesses using its licensed commercial kitchens.

Bowen Hills’ King Street Precinct

A mere three years ago, the new King Street dining strip at Bowen Hills was just a glint in a canny developer’s eye. A brand new thoroughfare was created and christened – now it’s lined with new developments and connects Fortitude Valley’s St Paul’s Terrace with the historic Brisbane Showgrounds on Gregory Terrace.

Since August 2016, there has been a flurry of openings. In December Montrachet, Brisbane’s top rated French restaurant will take the hoarding from its glam new King Street digs with its adjoining French bakery Boulangerie de Montrachet located beside. Montrachet swapped its Paddington base to join King St neighbours like Italian restaurant, Il Verde; The George Bar & Bistro, Vietnamese diner, Banoi; Greek-accented Th e Lamb Shop, burger bar Super Combo, Chinese Fat Dumpling, Japanese Sushi & Nori and sunny Korean fried chook nook, Hello Chicken.

Rockpool Dining Group has also earmarked a site for a new beery collaboration with Urban Craft Brewing Co, which will occupy a revamped Royal Snack Bar on King Street – and there’s still more to come, including a providore in 2018.

Fortitude Valley’s Bakery Lane Precinct

In nearby Fortitude Valley, there’s further laneway food precinct action afoot. Bakery Lane, which opened in 2015, sits just off Ann Street. It’s a project by the creators of Winn Lane, who now also have California Lane under way.

The Bakery Lane creative hub mixes design studios and boutique retail with eateries and bars, creating a backyard for Ann Street eatery-drinkery The Apo, and a cool setting for Jonny’s Pizzeria Discoteca both by The Moubment Group (which also has neighbouring Laruche and Gerard’s Bar and one-star Middle Eastern-leaning Gerard’s Bistro on nearby James St, Fortitude Valley).

Bakery Lane also offers up a smorgasbord of snack possibilities – from katsudon, bibimbap and bulgogi at Nom Nom Korean to gluten-free brownies by I Heart Brownies and crisp almond croissants, crepes and galettes by Le Petit Paris, a bakery run by French expats.

This short section of Ann Street has been on discerning barflies’ radars since The Bowery affixed its unobtrusive brass plate in 2003. The arrival earlier this year of moodily lit bespoke speakeasy Savile Row across the road ensures the strip continues to blip, while Birds Nest’s second Brisbane yakitori-ya delivers binchotan grilled delights in tandem with a drinks list that punches well above its weight.

Around the corner on Warner Street, an as yet un-named laneway is now earmarked as alfresco dining for a fresh Cantonese restaurant by the talented team behind Burleigh Head’s one-star pan-Asian destination Rick Shores. Still to be named, this newcomer will range across two levels and is scheduled to fire up in March or April next year. Bon appetit!

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Fiona Donnelly

Fiona Donnelly

Fiona Donnelly

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