How to do Brisbane City’s precincts like a local
Brisbane’s a lady of considerable charms and talents. Some of them are in your face (hello, summer heat), others… well, you’ll have to get below the deceptively ‘sleepy’ surface to find those.
To make things easy for you, there’s a wonderfully varied group of Brisbane City precincts, just waiting to be explored.
Like clusters of jewels dotted around the city, these little communities – filled to the brim with places to eat and drink, and things to see and do – will pack your social calendar lickety split, and up your ‘Brisbane insider’ cred’ instantly.
Conveniently connected by Brisbane’s buses, CityCats, trains, City Cycles and bridges, getting between them is a breeze, too.
Game on, Brisbane. Game on.
White picket fences, manicured lawns and a long, winding terrace bursting with enough boutiques, cafés and bars to keep a visitor more than occupied? Welcome to Paddington, Brisbane’s original gangster of suburbs.
Once the place where Brisbane’s blue collar workers would lay their weary heads after a hard day’s work, Paddington’s transformation has created a destination precinct that’s mostly prince, with a dash of pauper—can’t forget those roots, after all! Grab a bite to eat, trawl the shops and sip on something bubbly as you explore this quaint Brisbane precinct.
Getting there: Paddington is frequented by Brisbane City Council’s buses but if you’re feeling active, it’s only a short stroll from Caxton Street and Suncorp Stadium.
- Take your taste buds to the Middle East via Shouk Café, for breakfast or lunch.
- Stock up on continental deli goods (or grab a sandwich) at Paddington Deli and Epicerie near the Antique Centre.
- Eat all of the wings at Yard Bird Ale House.
- Indulge in a fine French meal and a glass of wine at Montrachet.
- Breakfast at Kettle and Tin; the savoury mince = perfection.
- Take your pooch for a stroll to dog-friendly café — and breakfast experts — Atticus Finch.
- Remy’s tapas bar serves up burgers, beer and sweet tunes via their regular DJ sets.
- Grab an afternoon glass of bubbles at new Paddington sweetheart, Darling & Co.
- Have a refreshing beverage at Yard Bird Ale House (to go along with those wings).
- Grab your daily caffeine hit and a brownie at Small Talk Espresso on Given Terrace.
- Swoon over the beautiful homewares at A.P. Design House.
- Uncover a vintage treasure amongst the rows of stores inside the Paddington Antique Centre while marvelling and the heritage-listed, former theatre. [Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to look up; the bright blue, slightly crumbling ceiling adds serious character.)
- Trawl the secondhand and vintage trail up and down Latrobe and Given Terraces; Retro Metro, Endos, Ra Ra Superstar, St Vincent De Paul are jam-packed with goodies.
- Buy some local art at the Brett Lethbridge gallery.
- Colour is the word at gift and interiors spot Happiness Place. Invest in a beautifully bright piece to brighten your home!
- Snap a pic of the classic Queensland workers cottages lining Latrobe Terrace and Given Terrace.
- Do a spot of Brisbane celeb spotting; from ex-footballers to local news anchors, Paddington is the place to see them.
Live and raucous, there’s more to Caxton Street than just late-night kebabs and uni pub crawls. Caxton Street has been the spiritual home of footy and its kings (all hail Wally) attracting legions of fans to eat, drink and make merry pre- or post-match. German Chancellor Angela Merkel even dropped in during G20.
Late-night eateries, noisy bars, cinemas and plenty of fun – Caxton Street is Brisbane’s neon-lit wild child.
- Get you’re beer-filled gastro-pub fix at Statler & Waldorf
- French-Asian fusion never tasted so good at Vietnamese restaurant, Libertine.
- Francophiles fave, The Chelsea is perfect for brunch, lunch or dinner.
- Try the breakfast bagels at Scout on Petrie Terrace.
- Sample the authentic Spanish tapas at Peasant.
- Sip on the renowned whiskey/apple combo at Wild West-style tavern, Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall.
- The craft beer at Brewski is cold and on tap – and in bottles – all day.
- There are cocktails (and beer and wine) a-plenty at Hops Scotch and Beans, for your tippling pleasure.
- See an amazing live blues band at Lefty’s.
- See the latest art house flick at Palace Barracks, with a choc top and glass of vino, naturally.
- Check out Pure Homewares at The Barracks.
- Indulge your sweet tooth and buy everything at Pamela’s Pantry.
- Feel the nostalgia on karaoke night at Casablanca.
- Sport your team colours to game night at Suncorp Stadium.
The central business district, as the name would suggest, is all about bossin’ 9-5 style, but once that end-of-day whistle goes, the city crew like to let their hair down at a growing selection of slick eateries and drinking establishments.
From Eagle Street Pier to Burnett Lane, and King George Square, the city is filled with plenty of bar and restaurant-loaded arteries leading to its beating heart… some more hidden than others! Get your bearings with a Brisbane Greeters tour by day and hit up all your favourite spots by night.
Getting there: Eagle Street Pier’s CityCat stop connects to the South Bank and North Quay stops, there are ferries from the CBD side to Kangaroo Point, and, of course, the buses. There are also plenty of City Cycle stops throughout the city.
- See what all the fuss is about at celeb-chef and food warrior Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian in the city.
- Try all the sashimi and sake cocktails you can manage at Sake Restaurant and Bar.
- Giddy up for dinner with a view at Pony.
- Chinese food so good you’ll think you’ve left the country and an excellent wine selection? All in a day’s work at Happy Boy in Spring Hill.
- Lennon’s Restaurant in NEXT Hotel has a parrilla (Argentine BBQ) that’s fired up seven days a week. Take advantage for a melt-in-the-mouth steak.
- Try Spring for produce-driven, seasonal eats.
- Superfly hole-in-the-wall bar, Super WhatNot, is the perfect spot for a post-exploring beverage.
- Riverside breezes and a Pimms or two at Riverbar & Kitchen.
- Espresso bar by day, wine bar by night, Felix Espresso & Wine Bar is pouring a great drop.
- Take your whiskey neat at The Gresham.
- Yeeha, pardner. Buffalo Bar is serving up beer, hoagies and good ol’ American hospitality. Get on board.
- Peek at the art hanging on the walls at Bleeding Heart Gallery.
- Buy some local and handmade goodies at Albert Street’s Showroom, champion of independent makers and doers.
- Cool off with a dip at the oldest surviving public bathhouse in the southern hemisphere, Spring Hill Baths.
- Snap a pick of the Old Windmill above ground.
- Then visit the heritage-listed Spring Hill Reservoir for a dose of history and pretty neat Insta pics. (If the timing’s right, check out the Underground Opera for an aria with a difference!)
- Find a lush, shady spot in the City Botanic Gardens to have a picnic and green out.
Once the ‘dodgy’ Brisbane suburb, with more strip clubs than street-lights, Fortitude Valley is as eclectic as it is busy.
Amazing restaurants and bars, grungy music halls and nightclubs galore, the Valley’s popularity as a day-to-night destination shows no sign of waning anytime soon.
- The Gettin’ Place for cute cottage breakfast feels and avo on toast.
- Les Bubbles has just opened, serving up French-style steak and frites. Endless frites.
- The Alfred and Constance corner continues to deliver: A&C, Kwan Brothers, Limes Hotel and Alfredo’s Pizzeria are doing it right.
- Get breakfast and coffee at Au Cirque—you won’t regret it.
- Harvey’s on James Street continues to wow the fans with classic breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Sip some wine while hashtagging #nofilter on all your pics of the view at Eleven Rooftop Bar.
- Gerard’s Bar may be tiny but it packs a mean charcuterie, wine and cocktail punch.
- Get lost in translation at Tokyo-style pool hall, Heya Bar.
- Introduce yourself to newbie bar, Barbara, for craft beer and a minimalist fit out.
- Dutch Courage Officer’s Mess colonial-era fit-out and gin-obsession tick all the cool-bar boxes. Drink up, old chap!
- Jamie’s Espresso can’t be missed for a cup of joe to start the day, and then a vino to finish.
- Get hip at Winn Lane. Hit up Künstler Magazines for one-off and speciality ‘zines and grab a burger from Ben’s Burgers.
- Scrumptious Reads is a bookish foodie’s heaven, stocking cookbooks, food-themed books. Grab a cup of Chinese tea from Sinmei Tea Room, which shares the space.
- Check out the rotating curation of contemporary art at TW Fine Art just off James Street.
- Give yourself some retail therapy on James Street: Sass & Bide, Camargue, Living Edge, Jardan, Maryons, Easton Pearson, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Molten Store, Mecca Cosmetica, Calexico, Gorman, Fio Contemporary are just places to start.
- Get schooled at James Street Cooking School.
- Check out the fancy dress shops on Ann Street like Babushka Ballerina, Ultra Suite and Akira.
Given Newstead and Teneriffe’s relatively recent history as the industrial hub of the city, it has managed to execute a perfect 180. Residential apartments are popping up faster than you can say gentrification, so the low-key cafes, warehouse bars and breweries, and creative workspaces have followed suit like a flash of lightening.
The Teneriffe ferry terminal connects this northside suburb to the rest of the city with buses, ferries and CityCats stopping regularly.
- Local produce rules at Newstead café King Arthur.
- Sourced Grocer is waaay more than just a grocer thanks to a beautiful café pumping out freshly made juices, coffee and a tidy menu of daily eats.
- Grab a bento box to go from Mizu Japanese on Macquarie Street.
- Beccofino and their no-frills but seriously authentic Italian is worth waiting.
- Danny’s Bread is baking some of Brisbane’s best bread on the daily. Hot tip: do not pass up the seeded bun and loaf.
- Gorge on the mussels at Bar Alto at Brisbane Powerhouse.
- Cocktail o’clock? Head to Commercial Road’s very own underground bar Twig & Berry.
- Do a short brewery tour of Green Beacon on Helen Street and Newstead Brewing on Doggett Street.
- Press’d Café’s serving up a Toby’s Estate brew – and great acai bowls.
- Have a glass of wine at Malt Pier on the waterfront.
- #interiorsporn alert high at Ambience Store on Doggett Street.
- See a free performance or exhibition at Brisbane Powerhouse (check out the regular event calendar to see what’s coming up.)
- From the mind of a former Powderfinger and housed in an old WW2 hanger, The Triffid is the northside’s newest live music venue.
- Smell the roses at New Farm Park, or play a game of Frisbee.
- Take a brisk walk from New Farm Park to Newstead House along the Riverwalk.
At the far reaches of the river lie Hamilton – and just inland of it – Ascot, Brisbane’s ritziest suburbs where palatial homes are a dime a dozen.
Hamilton is home to modern dining destination Portside Wharf, compared to Ascot’s quaint village approach to small cafes and eateries.
Getting there: The train to Doomben and the end of the line on the CityCat will get you there.
- Sono at Hamilton nails classic Japanese with elegant flair.
- Eat Street Markets is a food stall wonderland. Prepare to leave with a food hangover.
- Pineapple Express for plenty of Insta-worthy #cleaneating eats.
- Award-winning café Dandelion and Driftwood treat their beans, and customers, right with great cups of coffee on the daily.
- Northisiders needn’t miss out on the craft beer revolution thanks to The Stables.
- Have your cake and eat it at Vanilla Pod Cake & Deli
- Homewares heavies, Lyle and Banks bring the goods on Racecourse Road.
- Deer Sir in Hamilton serves up café treats, while roomie Co Design brings the homewares and trinkets.
- Drop into Hacienda in Ascot for a floral arrangement with serious cool.
Hip as they come, inner-city ‘burb West End oozes the community vibe on all fronts. Channelling the likes of NYC’s East Village and London’s Soho, its a little world unto itself right in the heart of the city.
Charming and ramshackle old Queenslanders still hold court amongst the ever-increasing shining glass towers, and the casual, bohemian ‘tude can’t be missed. Buskers pumping out live tunes, locals grabbing a quick coffee or bite to eat at the plethora of cafes and restaurants plus fresh food markets and live music venues; West End is a delightful melange of hippy commune and big-city life.
Getting there: West End is accessible via the CityCat, bus network and just a short stroll from the South Brisbane train station. The city hopper heads up Montague Road, and the 60 and 199 stop on Mollison Street regularly. There are also a number of City Cycle Stations to hop on or off at.
- Locavores rejoice: Plenty on Montague Road specialises in creative breakfasts and lunches made from local and seasonal produce only.
- Try the new gastro pub with an elegant twist, London Fields.
- Grab a pizza and a craft beer from hipster haunt The Burrow, on Mollison Street
- Burgers are the trendy food du jour; try the cracking Classic at The Bleachers.
- Mexicano authentico awaits at West End institution, El Torito. Arriba!
- Smash some plates – and the grilled octopus – at Little Greek Taverna.
- Quan Thanh’s vermicelli chicken salad bowl will fill your belly very well.
- Do a craft beer crawl of Bosc, Archive, Brisbane Brewing Co., Catchment Brewing Co. and The End.
- Feel tropical vibes and tiki style at small bar, Jungle.
- On Friday and Saturday nights, the Motor Room (inside Boundary Street Markets) revs to life, serving up a selection of drinks and banging tunes.
- Add to your vinyl collection at Jet Black Cat Music.
- Stick your head in some books at Avid Reader on Boundary Street.
- The Stores is great for small-goods in bulk, plus fresh produce, and meats.
- Check out the Boundary Street Markets on every weekend from 4pm on Fridays. Head back on Sunday morning for a farmers market, too.
- Jam out to live, independent Australian music at The Bearded Lady.
Brisbane’s cultural heart is beating strong at Brisbane’s answer to Paris’ Le Rive Gauche, South Bank.
A hop, skip and a jump across the river from the city (via Victoria, Kurilpa or William Jolly foot bridges, the CityCat or the buses and trains) South Bank is a lifestyle precinct spanning 23 hectares, a ‘beach’ and enough restaurants to keep a gourmand happy for life.
- Taste the flavours of the Big Easy at Bourbon Street on Grey Street.
- Spanish tapas? Check. Alfresco setting? Check. Jugs of sangria? Yep, Ole does it all.
- Don’t go past the soup dumplings at Bamboo Basket on Grey Street.
- Grab a picnic and a couple of tallies from beer bar Tomahawk and hit River Quay Green.
- Watch the Wheel turn from modern Australian bistro, Champ Kitchen & Bar.
- Champagne and oysters are on tap at Cove, River Quay.
- Have a classy Sunday session riverside at Stoke Bar.
- Make the most of the sunny weather with an Aperol Spritz session at Popolo.
- Up on a mezzanine, Soleil Pool Bar is pro-level at swanky cocktails and Ibiza-style parties.
- Grab a James Squire at microbrewery The Charming Squire, just next to the South Brisbane train station.
- One of the original South Bank watering holes, Ship Inn is still doing its thing down the southern end of the precinct.
- Do the culture vulture circuit: Check out a QAGOMA show (the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial is in town right now), grab a bite to eat at the award-winning and hatted GOMA restaurant, see an exhibition at The Queensland Art Gallery, or borrow a book or two from the State Library of Queensland.
- Sunbake and swim at Australia’s only city beach, Streets Beach.
- Check out the Epicurious Garden and grab a bunch of herbs for your dinner.
- See a musical at QPAC.
- Visit the dinosaurs at the Queensland Sciencentre, which is not just for kids.
- Stroll through the Arbour, winding the length of the precinct, blooming with striking bougainvillea.
Woolloongabba and Kangaroo Point
So much more than the hallowed home of the ‘Gabba, these inner-city twin suburbs continue to flourish with age. While by day Kangaroo Point is all Lorna Jane-clad fitness buffs running up and down the stairs or hurling themselves off the side of the cliffs (this is a rock climber’s paradise), by night, the city twinkles across the river at Brisbane’s best outdoor BBQ spot. Ever.
Just up the road at Woolloongabba, it’s less cooking with tongs and more Euro sidewalk dining with sophisticated cocktails. And if you’re an antique fan, prepare to meet your mecca.
- The Logan Road precinct is packed with goodies: Pearl, 1889 Enoteca, The Crosstown Eating House, Sorrellina Pizzeria, gluten-free bakery Bakers Arms, and charcuterie and Canvas Cocktail Bar.
- Cat Bird Seat Bistro on Stanley Street is candle-lit French-bistro perfection.
- Marvel at the view of Brisbane from Kangaroo Point’s The Cliffs Café, while you tuck into the Belgian waffles.
- Visit Banneton Bakery for freshly-baked sourdough, coffee, salads and sandwiches.
- Love craft brews? Padre is a blink-and-you’ll-miss dive bar on Stanley Street just across from the original craft brewery Brisbane Brewhouse.
- Can You Keep A Secret is hole-in-the-wall cocktail bar, part vintage shop and we love its speakeasy feeling.
- Hard-to-find coffee warehouse Woolloongabba Social Club is cool with a capital ‘C’ and they’ve got the ping-pong table to prove it.
- Strip down to your birthday suit (not really!) at hidden bar Naked Whisky (inside the Morrison Hotel).
- Jamieson’s on Logan Road is an Aladdin’s cave of fashion, homewares and jewellery.
- Head to the ‘Gabba for a day out at the cricket (summer) or AFL (winter).
- Pump up your heart with a circuit of the Kangaroo Point stairs.
- Get paddling with a night or day kayak or climb the Kangaroo Point cliffs thanks to Riverlife.
- Kangaroo Point is best seen from above; do the Story Bridge Adventure Climb with views over the city for days.