The 15 best restaurants in Queensland
The best restaurants in Queensland aren’t just found in the state’s capital of Brisbane. You’ll find some of the finest dining institutions in the most unlikely of places.
Showcasing a smorgasbord of Queensland’s exquisite produce can be found right across the state, everywhere from intimate dining haunts to glamorous rooftop eateries. What can we say? It’s what makes the Sunshine State special.
From tropics to towns, beachside to bush, these are the best restaurants in Queensland you need to experience at least once.
Donna Chang, Brisbane CBD
Residing in a heritage-listed bank building in Brisbane’s CBD, Donna Chang is opulent Chinese dining at its finest. The vaulted ceilings and natural light make for a dramatic backdrop, but it’s the extraordinary dishes that will take your breath away.
A modern take on Sichuan and Cantonese dining, Donna Chang oozes with charm and creativity. As well as hand-crafted dumplings made daily for lunch, the kitchen takes dinner next level, utilising often hard-to-find ingredients while showcasing the breadth of detail and tradition in Chinese cuisine.
sAme sAme, Fortitude Valley
Brisbane institution and high-end Thai staple, LONgTIME, has migrated from its longstanding location in Chinatown. Changing its name and taking up residency in Ada Lane, James Street’s opulent new lifestyle laneway, and part of The Calile.
Great news for fans of Longtime’s menu; you’ll find all the classics such as the duck red curry at sAme sAme, but with new dishes added to celebrate the new venue. Featuring a slick, minimalistic limestone and oak fit-out, dining at sAme sAme is as much about the food as it is about the experience.
The upstairs bar is ideal for pre-dinner cocktails, and the casual dining seating overlooking the laneway is perfect for a quick bite to eat.
Hellenika at the Calile, Fortitude Valley
The boutique Greek taverna on the Gold Coast that came north to Brisbane, Hellenika was already a firm favourite with Nobby Beach locals and day tripping Brisbanites. Now, all grown up in breathtaking new digs atop the Calile Hotel, Hellenika is making a name for itself as one of the best Greek restaurants in the country.
Owner Simon Gloftis’ vision for Hellenika was to create a sleek, modern Mediterranean-style eatery in the heart of Fortitude Valley – and he’s certainly succeeded. Diners can sip on cocktails along the marble bar overlooking the hotel’s elegant rooftop pool, or choose to dine in the restaurant, where traditional Greek dishes such as salty pork belly, spanakopita and grilled octopus make for the perfect blow out.
Otto Ristorante, Brisbane
Boasting two chef’s hats and Wine List of the Year in the 2019 AGFG, Otto Ristorante is the first Queensland outpost from Sydney’s renowned Quay and Bennelong owners. So, you know it’s good. Very good.
Overlooking Brisbane‘s Story Bridge, the southern Italian menu has been designed with the Queensland climate in mind, executing iconic Italian dishes with flair: oysters with lemon and black pepper granita, Villani Culatello with balsamic watermelon, and house-made pasta.
Gauge, South Brisbane
Well before the accolades – including a chef’s hat in 2019’s AGFG – Gauge was doing something special in the south of Brisbane. Head chefs Cormac Bradfield and Phil Marchant utilise SEQ’s bounty of fresh produce to create a memorable dining experience in an intimate setting, where food is for far more than simple sustenance.
The menu changes with the season but expect exceptional dishes like BBQ lamb belly with Turkish chilli and fig leaf oil, sourdough noodles with braised broccoli and salted lemon. Its location also earns it a solid spot on the list; opposite South Bank’s famous entertainment quarter, QPAC, this is the restaurant to dine pre- or post-show. And it has the wait list to prove it.
Gerard’s Bistro, Brisbane
Named the Top Restaurant in Queensland in The Australian Financial Review‘s 2018 Top 100 Restaurant awards, you’ll find inspired dishes from the Maghreb and the Middle East, with a perfectly paired wine menu to match.
Stokehouse Q, South Bank
Multi-award-winning, and another AGFG regular, Stokehouse Q is a Queensland restaurant icon, perched on the banks of the Brisbane River at South Bank‘s River Quay precinct. Overlooking the CBD, and nestled amongst the mangroves, it may be one of the highest-awarded restaurants in Brisbane, but it’s anything but stuffy.
Inspired by traditions of the Mediterranean and Asia, the menu at Stokehouse Q is another champion of Queensland’s finest local produce. Elegant dishes like miso-glazed barramundi belly, saltbush & labne dumplings, and vanilla semifreddo, rosella sorbet and dark chocolate mousse makes it a top shelf dining experience.
Labart, Burleigh, Gold Coast
Since opening in mid-2018, Labart, in Gold Coast’s burgeoning Burleigh, has been a welcome addition to the new wave of fine dining options in the area. Given owner and Head Chef Alex Munoz’s experience in previous prestigious Australian dining institutions, big things were always on the cards.
A standout for the southern QLD coast, Labart houses a menu with a heavy focus on local produce from SEQ and northern NSW. The paired-back, French-style bistro feels a million miles away from the golden sands of Burleigh Beach, but has been booked out for months as it becomes the dining destination on the coast.
Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast
Named as one of the best dining experiences in the country by The Australian Financial Review‘s 2018 Top 100 Restaurant awards, Rick Shores is so close to the water it’s literally lapped by the waves off Burleigh Beach.
A culinary team drawn from the kitchens of Australia’s top South-East Asian restaurants (Spirit House, Longtime, Longrain), the food here almost outshines the view.
The high end, Thai-inspired menu is a what’s what of balanced, creative dishes, but it’s arguably their most famous bar snack, Rick’s bug roll, that has people hitting up the southern Gold Coast on the regular.
Pier 33, Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast
Overlooking the Mooloolaba Marina, Pier 33 has rejuvenated the dining scene in this relaxing beach town south of Noosa. A picturesque spot for lunch or dinner, Pier 33’s Hamptons style décor and outdoor terrace is the ideal spot to while away an afternoon.
Seafood is king here, with head chef Lewis Dockerill sourcing the freshest local seafood and seasonal ingredients from the Sunshine Coast Hinterland to use in the kitchen. Knock back a few natural oysters with chardonnay granita, followed by their signature Mooloolaba prawn roll with truffle aioli, then settle in to watch the sunset over the moorings in the marina.
The Long Apron, Montville, Sunshine Coast
When the hotel is actually a boutique homestead in the gorgeous Sunshine Coast Hinterland, and the restaurant is the type of place you’d book months in advance for that special occasion lunch or dinner. When the two combine, it’s magical.
Head chef Chris Hagan takes his inspiration from around the world, and being classically trained, he has a skill for clean precise dishes with an excellent balance of flavour and elegant presentation.
Sum Yung Guys, Sunshine Beach, Sunshine Coast
Sum Yung Guys was born from four mates’ passion for pan-Asian cuisine and a love of the Sunshine Coast headland. A stone’s throw from one of the most beautiful beaches on the Sunshine Coast, Sum Yung Guys is located in one of the most enviable dining locations in the country.
Named one of the 50 hottest restaurants by The Australian and top 100 restaurants in the country by The Australian Financial Review in 2018, progressive dishes like the Hiramasa kingfish, green scud and laksa, and the wok-tossed mussels with lemongrass, ginger and coconut water make this hidden Sunshine Coast gem an absolute must-try.
Central and Northern Queensland
Indulge Cafe, Bundaberg
There’s a simple ethos at Indulge Cafe in Bundaberg: “We know where it came from and how it was made”.
True to form, their undeniably outstanding use of fresh, local produce and giving the growers the kudos they deserve, has won not only our bellies over but a number of well-deserved accolades.
Open for breakfast and lunch, every dish has a story here and the owners of Indulge are more than happy to share.
Nu Nu, Palm Cove, Tropical North Queensland
If you want to know what Tropical North Queensland tastes like on a plate, make a beeline for chef Nick Holloway’s Nu Nu (you may have seen him on MasterChef in 2015).
Nestled nicely on the paperbark tree-lined esplanade of Palm Cove, with cracking views out over the Coral Sea and Double Island, this is fine dining with its tie not only loosened, but left at the back of the wardrobe.
A four or seven-course tasting menu is available and is perfect for those who can’t possibly choose between cinnamon roast Victorian lamb with caramelised Mungalli yoghurt and pumpkin custard; and wok-fried north Queensland mud crab with chilli tamarind, sweet pork, market greens, jasmine rice and ginger broth. (You understand the dilemma, no?)