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Amazing things have been happening in Brisbane for a good while now, and the local foodie scene has been leading the charge.
With a bunch of incredible gastro options and an array of fresh and fun bars, there’s never been a better time to eat and drink your way through the QLD capital. Here are just a few of Brisbane’s most exciting culinary gems.
Esquire (and Esq.)
With a deep dedication to seasonal produce and culinary artistry, El- Bulli- trained chef Ryan Squires’s Esquire has been lighting up palates and turning heads in equal measure since opening in 2011.
Esquire’s chic, Scandinavian-inspired décor and relaxed, avant-garde sensibility was one of the most talked new arrivals six years ago, and its reputation – and quality – continues to thrive. Expect an exceptional degustation, delicious paired wines, and service to match.
This three Chef’s Hat enterprise scored Gourmet Traveller’s coveted ‘best in QLD’ award this year, and it’s not difficult to grasp the allure.
Style, class and talent underscore every aspect of Urbane’s enterprise, from Alejandro Cancino’s tantalising five and seven-course degustations (omnivore and herbivore, respectively), to its note-perfect service. Another A-grade choice for discerning gastro aficionados.
For some of the best steak, seafood and atmosphere in the city, go all out with a trip to Blackbird Bar & Grill, which must be, for all intents and purposes, the most epic and historically authentic hotspot in the CBD.
Decked out in immaculate ‘Roaring ‘20s’ style, Gatsby himself wouldn’t feel too out of place here – the venue is split into two different bars area, one light’ and one ‘dark’, evoking the polar vibe of the era. Come for the mood, stay for the food: Blackbird’s fare is award-winning, and its views of the stunning Brisbane River and Story Bridge (if not the décor) ought to be as well.
As a bona fide slice of the Big Apple in the middle of Brizzy, New York basement style Brooklyn Standard remains one of the capital’s most popular watering holes: a little slice of the Big Apple in the middle of B-town.
For great drinks, great buzz and excellent live music, there’s nothing standard about the Brooklyn. Head here if you like good times.
Despite the eruption of Asian fusion eaterie across Australia’s capital cities in recent years, there are still only a handful that do it right.
Brisbane’s Madame Wu is amongst the tall players: Vintage gramophone, old 78s and oriental fittings coupled with Suzy Wong’s intimate interior treatment give this 200-seat dining hall a depth of old-school gravitas, yet the spectacular terrace views of the city, coupled with chef Brendan Baker’s incredible contemporary Chinese fare (including wagyu dumplings and fresh local oysters) make for a truly modern dining experience.
Sake Eagle St
With springtime heralding lighter gastronomic desires, Japanese fare is perhaps the best go-to option.
Choose wisely, and choose Sake: probably the city’s best, most delicate and most Chef Hat-adorned Japanese dining den (hatted six consecutive years in fact). Expect the customary trimmings (sunken tables, sake bar, delectable banquet menus), with truly magical flavours.
Plant-based dining never looked so good. Grown is West End’s newest sustainable, Vegan-friendly HQ, a feel-good hub that runs on locally sourced produce from regional farmers, and a roster of delectable single origins roasts for some of the best bean in the business.
This is one of the area’s most exciting new additions (dinner menu complete with vegan wine and beer to come).
Located smack-bang in the heart of the CBD, Coppa Spuntino leads the charge for authentic, mouth-watering Italian cuisine in Brisbane.
With an impressive all-Italian wine list accompanied by rustic wood-fired pizzas, moreish pastas and exciting small plates, it’s a no-fail choice for couples and groups alike.
Cheap and cheerful, this Brooklyn-inspired eatery boasts one of the CBD’s smallest kitchens, yet delivers some of the city’s punchiest flavours. Stop by to discover a mash-up of food truck favourites, from Philly cheesesteak to Peking duck tacos and classic hot wings.
Order whatever takes your fancy, perch at the 35-seat bar, sip on an American beer or whisky-based cocktail, and whatever you do, leave room for dessert: the deep-fried Oreos are a must.
Lead image: Grown/Facebook
There’s plenty to do and see this spring in Brisbane City. Find out more here.
Cam Hassard is an international penman, sax-wielder and rogue wayfarer who writes for Junkee, Carryology, Huckberry, Caddie, Fairfax Media, Carryology, Intrepid, Peregrine Adventures and Europe Up Close. He’s eaten ant salad in Laos, hauled trucks from NYC to Vegas, and destroyed himself on the Camino de Santiago. Originally from Melbourne, he currently calls Berlin home.