Bring your sunglasses and an appetite, because Brisbane’s thriving dining scene is in love with the outdoors.
By Jac Taylor
If ever a city was made for alfresco dining, it would be Brisbane. The subtropical climate, combined with a river with so many twists and turns that it’s easy to find prime riverside locations, means that any day or night of the week sees locals heading outside to dine.
Dining with a view
Riverbar & Kitchen
Grab a front-row seat with the famous Brisbane River before you and start the day right reword to clarify meaning of this sentence. Although Riverbar serves up three meals a day, it is a particularly good spot to enjoy a waterside breakfast, before or after a leisurely stroll around this scenic central location alongside the city’s Riverside ferry terminal. Be healthy with a paleo-friendly breakfast bowl of haloumi, avocado, kale and seeds, or indulge in a fry-up of bacon, eggs, mushroom, sausage and sourdough. The coffee comes from Sydney’s Single Origin Roasters but the brunch cocktail jugs (available from 10am) are pure Brisbane.
South Bank Beer Garden
The beer garden, which brings the pub vibe into the sunshine, is an essential part of Australian gastronomic life and this upscale take on it counts as the city’s only beachside beer garden. The location not only overlooks South Bank’s man-made Streets Beach, but provides 180 degree views of the river and the city from the venue’s decks. Beer and steak is the order of the day, but beer can translate to local craft beers, and steak ranges from local cuts to 9+ Japanese Wagyu beef. Most meats are cooked over the Beer Garden’s bespoke char-grill while house-smoked meats are another specialty. Try an Australian favourite, apple and pear crumble, for dessert.
At the point where the city’s famous artery of Queen Street meets the even more famous river, you’ll find the elegant scrolled columns and copper dome of Customs House. Dating back to 1889, the heritage-listed interiors are nothing short of beautiful, but the place to be and dine is on the glamorous River Terrace. This is one of the most awarded restaurants in the city, serving modern Australian dishes with an emphasis on local, fresh seafood, while the genteel high tea is an elegant way to mark an occasion, or to make an occasion out of any day.
Watt, New Farm
In the waterfront space beneath the arts hub of the Brisbane Powerhouse, in the tree-lined enclave of New Farm, tangles of fairy lights illuminate a path to Watt Bar where you can savour sophisticated snacks such as prawn sliders and mussels and fish tacos. If you prefer more formal dining, choose to eat at New Farmer’s Kitchen where the outdoor seating areas make the most of the fresh air and sunshine, but even the sheltered areas have an outdoorsy feel. Dining here in the evening light before catching one of the Powerhouse’s many live shows sets your night up to shine.
It’s hard to tell where the indoors end and the outdoors begin in this breezy waterside eatery, but there’s no mistaking Jellyfish's absolute dedication to fish. Between eight and 14 different species of fish are always on the menu, with a host of cooking options from saffron batter to Szechuan pepper crumo. All this, in a premium riverside location opposite the Story Bridge, seated in navy-and-white striped chairs, and you have the perfect recipe for a long lunch, Brisbane-style. Look out for some small winery drops on the menu in the expanded bar.
One of the newest faces in hip Fish Lane, near South Bank, is Hello Please, which is housed in a converted shipping container. Hello Please has occupied the small space, opposite similarly popular eatery Julius Pizzeria, with outdoor picnic-style seating, street art, and strings of lights festooning the alleyway. The locals rave about the crispy pork-belly bao (soft handmade buns) and do-it-yourself pork pancakes. cocktails with an Asian-flavoured accent accompany these bites beautifully. For lunch, a crispy banh mi (pork roll with salad and pâté) is a classic choice.
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