It’s been a little while since Brisbane has been easily accessible, given Queensland was basically cordoned off for two years. But now that borders are open and travel is on, there’s no better time for a local holiday, particularly to the sunshine state.
As a previous Brisbane local, I thought I knew my way around my hometown. What I learned very quickly is that a few years can make quite a difference. Armed with an itinerary of recommendations from Brisbane experts, I set out to refamiliarise myself with some of the best food, drink and accommodation spots the city has to offer.
Here are some of the must-see places you should visit on your next trip to Brisbane.
Must-see foodie spots in Brisbane
Let’s talk breakfast
If you’re recovering from a big night out, there’s no shortage of top-notch breakfast venues that will help you refuel.
If it’s a Saturday, nothing beats a visit to the Jan Powers markets. Set on the banks of the river and near the iconic Brisbane powerhouse, it’s a revitalising way to start your weekend looking through some of the best products the locals have to offer.
Alternatively, Industry Beans is not far away and offers a bright and leafy converted warehouse with great meals and better drinks. The food is the stuff of Instagram legend and the coffee is so popular the restaurant has its own dedicated shop selling Industry Beans coffee in cold brew cans and bags of beans.
It’s worth a visit for coffee fanatics, for sure.
Agnes Bakery is another suggestion that is clearly a hotspot, with lines constantly spilling out onto the street.
The bakery uses wood fires to create delicious loaves of bread and a selection of incredible pastries. Nothing you can pick from here feels anything but gourmet but I give the jam doughnut a 10/10.
Sunshine is one of the more unique upmarket food experiences I’ve visited in Brisbane. The restaurant is like a buffet-meets-frozen-yoghurt-shop.
A rotating range of delicious Mediterranean meals is on offer to you at Sunshine.
There’s everything from the classics like Moussaka and Spanakopita to a range of creative salads, with everything being vegetarian or vegan. I asked the staff for their recommendations and there was nothing they served me that I didn’t enjoy.
The beauty of Sunshine is that you can pick and choose how much of each dish you’d like, with the final plate being weighed and charged per 100 grams.
It’s a genius method allowing you to try multiple dishes instead of just one, and as someone with a small appetite, it was a move I much appreciated. More restaurants should be like this.
Eating at Sunshine makes you feel like you’re on a beach boardwalk somewhere in Europe. Tables are set under giant yellow umbrellas and you can sip on drinks out of coconuts.
Just across the road from Sunshine is another of Brisbane’s best food spots. sAme sAme is an upscale Thai restaurant with a modern take on street food and a rustic atmosphere.
Dishes at sAme sAme are best when shared and it’s pretty hard to go wrong on the menu here.
I can vouch for the coconut turmeric prawn curry, the grilled sweet soy chicken and the whole fried baby snapper. There’s also a banquet option if you’re keen on trying a bit of everything (which you should be).
The restaurant is built around a minimalist design of communal stone tables and bold archways. It’s vibrant and loud with seating and kitchen areas crossing over, giving off that street food vibe.
Ok so let’s cut to the chase, where’s good to drink around this town? While there’s no shortage of fun bars in Brisbane, why drink at a bar when you can drink at a rooftop bar?
There are two that I experienced during my recent visit and I’d recommend both.
Iris Rooftop is a stunning restaurant, pool and bar combo. The views are incredible on all sides, but it’s popular, so come prepared with a reservation. The drinks aren’t cheap but they usually involve a 20-step creation process that makes every dollar spent feel worth it.
Iris is no doubt a fancy way to kickstart your night.
Fiume at the Crystalbrook Vincent is another rooftop bar that has the location going for it.
Set right on the banks of the Brisbane River, it’s adjacent to the Story Bridge and right amongst the hip Howard Smith Wharves precinct. It’s the perfect lunch spot to grab a drink and a cheese platter and watch the ferries all afternoon.
Again, a booking is necessary here and food and drinks don’t come cheap, but it really is worth it for that view.
Lastly, if you’re after the finer wines, you might like to try City Winery. Hidden away in the heart of the city, the converted warehouse offers space for private functions and intimate wine tastings.
As someone who knows next to nothing about wine, I appreciated the crash course the staff at City Winery were able to give me.
The business is family-owned and makes use of local farmers and suppliers all over the country to produce some of the finest Aussie wines. Plus, the bottles all feature neat original artworks created by the owners.
Where to stay in Brisbane
If you’re coming all this way you’re probably also looking for somewhere to stay. In the accommodation department, I can’t recommend The Calile enough.
Located in the heart of Fortitude Valley, The Calile is a hidden paradise offering a tropical 5-star experience.
The rooms are modern, comfortable and chic and the pool is a star attraction.
When sitting poolside at The Calile, nestled away amongst the cityscape, it’s easy to feel like you’re on a holiday at some faraway fancy resort. It has a shallow wading area where you can dip and sip on cocktails and there’s a row of cushy shaded cabanas.
When you’re ready to explore the city, you’re only steps away. The Calile is located on James Street, right in the centre of the Valley’s luxury dining and shopping precinct. It’s a 5-star experience from start to finish (seriously, what sort of hotel has staff just to press the elevator button for you?).
The in-house food options at the Calile include Hellenika and the Lobby Bar, and they’re both enticing enough that it would be easy to show up for a weekend in Brisbane and never step a foot outside the hotel.
There you have some of the finest eating and drinking experiences in Brisbane that the locals recommend to me and that I, a past local, now also recommend.
Check them out yourself the next time you’re in Brisbane and let us know whether you agree!
This experience was made possible by the Brisbane Economic Development Agency.