How to make the most of Game Day at Caxton Street
16 teams. Eight games. Four days. The NRL’s inaugural Magic Round on May 9-12 in Brisbane is going to be bigger than a Kalyn Ponga side-step!
While Suncorp Stadium might be the best place to be for every Magic Round game, the nearby Caxton Street is the ultimate location for a pre or post-game drink and meal.
Famed for its atmosphere and variety of lively bars, Caxton Street is guaranteed to be buzzing all weekend long when thousands of rugby league fans from across the country descend on Brisbane.
So round up your friends, wash your jersey, and get ready to cheer, because your Magic Round will peak with these fan favourites.
Last-minute prep at The Barracks
Just like the players, all spectators should have their pre-game routine. It could be a quick stretch, dressing in a special outfit, or a slow-motion application of fluoro zinc on your face, warrior style while listening to Eye of the Tiger. But if you’ve forgotten your sunscreen, pop up to The Barracks where you’ll spot other game-goers picking up the necessities.
Whether it’s some Panadol for the hangover, a quick beard trim at Jimmy Rod’s Barber Shop (have to look good in case we meet our favourite player!), or a last-minute outfit, The Barracks has you covered.
Don’t forget, if you’ve pre-purchased your game ticket you can score free transport fares to and from Suncorp Stadium on all Brisbane Translink bus and train services for four hours before and after the game. So don’t fret if you’ve forgotten to organise a ride!
Get pumped up at The Caxton
Prepare yourself for an intense couple of hours of cheering by downing the first bevvie at a shrine to the great sports God; The Caxton Hotel. A favourite since 1884, it was recently awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence award, proving it’s gold both inside and out.
The Cacko, as it’s affectionately dubbed, is also a rite of passage for all game-goers and a sure way of getting into a competitive spirit. With three bars, big screens lining the walls, radio commentary and betting options up the wazoo, The Caxton Hotel is where the game is, away from the game.
But first, take a selfie at a pre-game street party!
As kick-off time looms the street closes to vehicles and within minutes the road overflows with crowds that will have you quoting Anchorman’s “well, that escalated quickly” to your mate. The cordoned-off section converts to a 25m-long street bash, becoming as loud as the stadium with the clinking of drinks, the cackle of laughter and chatter of revellers as they slowly make their way down the road.
Start your game day photo album under the iconic red Caxton letters that reign over the street. To lift your selfie game, be sure to take it facing the stadium to capture the crowds and the flattering golden background hues of the street.
Watch the crowds with dinner and a drink
Caxton Street may be the motherland of all pub grub, but the plethora of eateries that have flocked to the precinct have made the street quite the foodie haven. The best seats in the house are those curbside, where you can watch the swarms of game-goers grow, and the buzz of energy grow louder.
From Pad Thai to steak to cake to sushi, Caxton Street can satisfy any before or after-game food cravings.
For the hearty classics:
- Devour BBQ beef ribs or slurp down oysters at The Caxton Hotel as you soak up the atmosphere from the sidewalk; you can see all of Caxton Street from this golden throne.
- You won’t find any Beverly Hills here; instead, sitting at the top of the street is Hotel LA where you can eat like a royal (all hail Lord Alfred) or more accurately, taste Brisbane royalty at one of the city’s oldest and most iconic pubs. Stick with tradition and order a classic parmigiana, steak, or chicken wings.
- Challenge yourself to a rarity in Australia – a foot-long hotdog, or bratwurst as its affectionately called by German father and son owners of Brat Haus, Steve and Ben Crick.
- The art of the fry has been perfected by the newest Caxton Street resident: Fritzenberger Frites and Burger Brew Pub. These guys know the secret ingredient to a flawless burger and fries’ meal – a refreshing beer! That’s why the burger bar is also equipped with a micro-brewery.
For the modern diner:
- Fill up at Australia’s (and Queensland’s) Best Steak Restaurant, Black Hide Steakhouse by Gambaro. Boasting a Chef’s Hat for the third year running, this sleek bistro offers a bucket list experience for steak lovers.
- See what all the fuss is about at local seafood institution; The Gambaro. With 60 years under their belt, a new 5-star hotel and a refurbishment of the award-winning restaurant, it’s a Brissy icon of fine dining and a pretty damn fancy way to treat yourself before kick-off.
- Freshen up the morning of (or the morning after) with a wholesome and healthy snack from the Lorna Jane Nourish Café at The Barracks.
- As the name suggests, Spanish eatery Peasant (at The Barracks) will have you enjoying the simple things in life. Share some bite-size tapas with friends and be transported to a rustic Barcelona bar.
For the self-indulgent
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with a caramel tart, double choc brownie, or white choc macadamia cookie at Pamela’s Pantry. Be warned though, just looking at these dangerously delicious treats may cause a sugar coma and a purchase of five extra cookies for later.
- Leave Brisbane behind and enter a Parisian bakery cleverly cluttered with armchairs, pastries, and trinkets that line the crackled walls. With croissant in hand, you can find the quaint French Twist at The Barracks.
For the experimenters:
- Blend two cuisines together at Libertine, a decadently styled eatery that features an assortment of French and Vietnamese dishes. Although located at The Barracks, the grand chandeliers, detailed gold decorations, and locally-sourced timber will send you around the globe and back.
- Sit at one of the long picnic tables by the street at Statler and Waldorf and like its namesake, commentate the crowd’s silliness. This gastronomy pub puts a modern twist on the traditional pub grub. With handmade bread and pasta, and honey sourced from their rooftop beehive, your pre- or post-game meal will be right on point.
- Be transported to old-world New Orleans at Seymour’s Cocktails and Oysters; the result of a major transformation of the M*A*S*H themed Ginger’s Diner. Enter through the scarlet curtains and arrive in the 1920’s, but don’t forget where you are as you order local oyster concoctions.
Kick on with celebratory/consolatory drinks
The heart of Caxton Street beats strongest when masses of sporting fans spill onto the strip long after the game. Bond with thousands of others – on the footpaths, in the bars, even in the middle of the road – by belting out your team chant.
As its name suggests, Brewski Bar is all about the beer – 200 kinds and a daily rotation of eight taps. So if you froth over the golden nectar, this watering hole is for you. Take a break from sipping on an ice cold ale and sink your teeth into the Mac and Cheese burger; two of the tastiest junk foods combined.
If you’re up for a laugh, head up to Fritzenberger Frites and Burger Brew Pub. Sample local brews such as Newstead Brewing Co. and Burleigh Brewing Co. but make sure you and your mates order a schooner. It’s the only glass size that displays a moustache on the side so that when you take a swig, you can flaunt some mighty whiskers.
Cool Down the right way at Lefty’s
Part bordello (well, it once was), part honky-tonk saloon, Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall is the coolest way to wind down.
Voted Australia’s best bar by Australian Gourmet Traveller in 2014, and one of the 7 best live music bars in Brisbane, Lefty’s is American country meets old world burlesque; with candlelit leather couches and bordello red littered with stuffed moose and bear heads to butch up the place.
Wreaking of sin and fun, Lefty’s is the place to get up to mischief. Order a house favourite of whisky or apple cider, wear yourself out rocking out to the live bands and then recover with complimentary popcorn from the bar before calling it a night.