The best places to eat seafood in Brisbane
From riverside fine diners to elevated fish and chips, first-class seafood is having a moment in Brisbane right now.
You can choose to eat rarefied Italian with breathtaking views of the river and the Story Bridge, or head for the suburbs and go large on crisp-battered fish and hand-cut chips. Either way, you won’t go hungry.
Here’s 10 of the best places for seafood in Brisbane, plus the top takeaways and fresh seafood markets.
Arc Dining and Wine Bar
Arc Dining and Wine Bar opened in February 2019 and immediately became a hit with Brisbane’s bright young things, a relatively sedate oasis at the far end of a heaving Howard Smith Wharves precinct. Executive chef Alana Sapwell is a veteran of Sydney’s Saint Peters – arguably Australia’s best seafood restaurant – so it’s perhaps no surprise her menu is dominated by fish and crustaceans.
There’s Mooloolaba spanner crab served with gala apple and cranberry hibiscus; Cairns tropical painted crayfish with cultured butter; and crab pasta with periwinkle and garden gremolata. The food is backed by a fabulous 400-bottle-strong wine list compiled by award-winning sommelier Ian Trinkle. The venue itself feels more like a magnificent greenhouse than a restaurant – all the better to show-off its spectacular riverside views.
Where: 5 Boundary Street, Brisbane
Perch’d is about as quintessentially Brisbane as you can get, Jen Byrnes and Patrick Laws opening their elevated fish and chippery in an old ‘Queenslander’ shop in the bucolic south-side suburb of Coorparoo. Here, everything is prepared in-house, from the sauces and pickles to the perfectly fried hand-cut chips.
The kitchen dishes up a rotating menu of three types of fish – it might be local mahi mahi, snapper or blue-eye trevalla, the selection depending on market availability – along with calamari, prawn cutlets and potato scallops. The grub is matched to Australian small producer wines and beers from Green Beacon – one of the city’s best craft breweries.
Where: 1/252 Cavendish Road, Coorparoo
One Fish Two Fish
One Fish Two Fish is part of the wave of rarefied fish restaurants that has swept across Australia in recent years. Daniel and Amelia Miletic’s handsome little eatery occupies an old Queenslander in Kangaroo Point, just a stone’s throw away from the Gabba sports stadium.
It’s a beautiful spot to pull up in the front bar for claw sliders and cajun fish tacos, washed down with a couple of Balter beers. But the restaurant menu is where it’s at, chef Daniel flipping seafood pots-au-feu, fragrant seafood risottos and a whole salt-baked fish that the Miletics source locally whenever they can (Queensland goldband snapper and red spot emperor are regular examples). Where to sit? On the beautiful back deck with views across Raymond Park is best.
Where: 708 Main Street, Kangaroo Point
Aria Brisbane relaunched mid-2017 spruiking a greater focus on engaging with local suppliers and regional produce. Now, when running through head chef Ben Russell’s exquisite menu of pared-back entrees and mains you can choose from Mooloolaba spanner crab with bonito, corn and avocado, or Bundaberg snapper served with shallot, miso and daikon, all backed by arguably the best wine list in the city.
Besides, this is one of Brisbane’s go-to fine diners, with gobsmacking views overlooking the river. In town for a special occasion? This is where you need to be.
Where: 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane
Many choose to dine at Jellyfish simply for the stunning location. Outside on the terrace, looking across the river towards the Story Bridge, it’s about as Instagrammable as Brisbane gets. The food, though, from exec chef Angelo Velante and head chef Tom Swapp, is just as good. You can choose from an a la carte menu that includes Hervey Bay scallop ceviche and grilled Moreton Bay bugs served with shaved radish, olives, capers and a beurre noisette.
It’s the restaurant’s fish menu, though, that truly sets it apart. There’s grilled swordfish and mahi mahi from Mooloolaba, and crispy skin goldband snapper from Cairns. Match your fish to a side, order a bottle from the lengthy wine list and settle in to enjoy the sunset.
Where: 123 Eagle Street, Brisbane
Head chef Will Cowper’s brief when accompanying Otto Ristorante’s expansion to Brisbane was to create a menu rooted in the Sydney superstar’s approachable, classy Italian, but fine-tuned for Queensland’s warmer climate. It’s only natural, then, that it includes a heap of local seafood. There are Hervey Bay scallops with veal sweetbreads; raw Mooloolaba yellow fin tuna with smoked ham hock mayonnaise, capers and fried pig’s ears; and Mooloolaba champagne lobster spaghettini.
Cowper’s market fish varies but he often leans toward Mooloolaba mahi mahi or the latest catch of coral trout or red emperor from Chis Bolton, a line fisherman operating out of Kurrimine Beach in Tropical North Queensland. Perhaps the restaurant’s most unforgettable dish, though, is its Moreton Bay blue swimmer crab and mascarpone ravioli, which comes finished in a rich black garlic crema. Enjoy it with an imported bottle from one of the city’s best wine lists and some eye-popping views of the Story Bridge.
Where: 4/480 Queen Street, Brisbane
Brisbane is experiencing a revolution among its once humble fish and chippers, chicken salt and cheap tartare chucked out in favour of hand-cut chips and house-made malt vinegar. Leading the charge is Ol’ School in South Brisbane, chef Jesse Stevens writing a simple menu that offers just one type of fish – whatever was freshest at the market that morning (think halibut, goldband snapper or maybe dory) – grilled or battered, with your choice of chips, onion rings or salad.
Elsewhere, there’s swordfish katsu, fish burgers and salt and pepper baby calamari. As for drinks, there’s no soda fridge here – choose instead from a short list of local wines and beers such as Bia Hanoi, Moon Dog and Young Henrys.
Where: 58 Hope Street, South Brisbane
Gambaro Seafood Restaurant
Northside locals have for decades been calling upon Gambaro Seafood Restaurant as a go-to occasion restaurant. It’s easy to see why, this family-owned eatery peddling an abundance of the best seafood from across the region. There’s local live mud crab, Moreton Bay bugs, and Queensland barramundi and cod.
It’s the simple things, though, that Gambaro arguably does best: order from its menu of fresh fish served either grilled, battered or panko crumbed, throw in a side of hand-cut chips and you’re looking at elevated Brisbane comfort food. The charming Caxton Street location – beguiling during the day, heaving with revellers at night – accounts for the rest of appeal.
Where: 33 Caxton Street, Brisbane
One of Brisbane’s most iconic restaurants, E’cco Bistro has had a new-found pep in its step since moving into Newstead’s well-heeled Haven precinct, taking the opportunity to reorient itself towards pared-back food cooked in a straightforward style.
That includes the restaurant’s seafood offering, E’cco chef and co-owner Philip Johnson often heading down to River City Seafood fish market in Eagle Farm to pick the best produce for dishes such as kingfish crudo, a Moreton Bay bug risotto and pan-fried John dory. Happy hour at The Terrace, E’cco’s nearby alfresco younger sister, has quickly become a rite of passage for locals drawn in by $1 oysters and $6 beer, wines and ciders.
Where: 8/63 Skyring Terrace, Newstead
The menu at George’s Paragon is so long it’s almost intimidating: from mussels, oysters and chowder to seafood crepes, barbecued bugs and whole lobster thermidor, whatever your heart desires this riverside restaurant probably has it.
Such scale means seafood is sourced from across the wider region but George’s regularly deals in Moreton Bay bugs, oysters and squid, Mooloolaba king prawns and tuna, and north Queensland barramundi and snapper. This is unfussy eating, right down to the early bird specials and generous kids’ menu, but the quality and value of the seafood on offer can’t be beaten.
Where: 1/10 Eagle Street, Brisbane