Brisbane has always done a brilliant neighbourhood restaurant.
Long before the inner city cemented its position as a top-notch dining destination, the suburbs thrived as places where locals would gather to be fed and watered. For years, some of the best Brisbane restaurants could be found on a leafy backstreet in an old shopfront or converted Queenslander.
That tradition lives on as the city’s suburbs continue to develop and become destinations unto themselves. With a little local help, we’ve rounded up some of the best Brisbane restaurants you can find in neighbourhoods across the city.
In the iconic former premises of Harry’s Diner on Newmarket Road, you’ll find Proof BBQ & Booze - a classy celebration of Kentucky-style barbeque and hospitality. In his two 24-inch smokers ('Daisy' and 'Dixie'), owner Ryan Lane prepares brisket, pulled pork and ribs to be sold by the pound or half-pound. Lane, a long-time manager of the award-winning Gresham bar, has also leaned into his drinks, with a back bar lined with hard-to-find whiskeys.
Location: 14/104 Newmarket Road, Windsor
Brothers Dane and Morgan Hoey opened the 60-seat Wooden Horse Restaurant & Bar in a beautiful heritage-listed shopfront in 2015. Inside, it’s one of the prettiest dining rooms in town, all dark timber floors and furniture, VJ-board walls and exposed lighting. Still, the food is where the restaurant really shines, the Hoey brothers sourcing much of their produce locally, including vegetables from Samford bio-intensive market garden Loop Growers. Beers and spirits lean local too, and the wine list heroes biodynamic Australian producers.
Location: 278 Junction Road, Clayfield
Hidden behind a butcher shopfront on Sandgate Road is Nick Pinn and Laurie Rogencamp’s Vaquero, a love letter to good produce, simply prepared. The centrepiece of the kitchen is a Josper charcoal oven, which pumps out artfully presented plates of smoked pork collar, woodfired lamb rack and Wagyu sirloin. The dining room, with its timber, brass and rope features, is a place designed to dwell, so stick around for apple fennel doughnuts and something from the keenly priced cocktail list.
Location: 344 Sandgate Road, Albion
In a beautifully converted brick motorcycle warehouse, celebrated ex-Spirit House and Rockpool chef Katrina Ryan is cooking elevated interpretations of pan-Southeast Asian cuisine at Golden Pig. Expect dishes such as scallops with miso butter and perilla, spicy three-pepper lamb ribs with smashed cucumber and peanut salad, and a beef-brisket green curry with Thai eggplant and roti. The food is backed by a wine list long on flinty whites and lighter-style reds, the better to cut through the richness and spice.
Location: 38 Ross Street, Newstead
Seasoned restaurateur Simon Hill’s Bar Alto is one of Brisbane’s unsung Italian stars. In a one-of-a-kind riverside spot at the Brisbane Powerhouse, chef Sajith Vengateri cooks artful takes on Mediterranean food, including delicately balanced ricotta, pumpkin, burnt sage butter crespelle, and octopus served with parsnip, heirloom peppers and chili aioli. For wine, regional Italian drops share the spotlight with a bunch of New World classics.
Location: 119 Lamington Street, New Farm
The celebrated former digs of French restaurant, Montrachet have been reimagined by young chefs Sebastiaan de Kort and Kevin Docherty as modern European bistro Nota with a focus on locally sourced share plates. You might eat Brisbane Valley quail with sweet corn polenta, or Fraser Isle spanner crab pasta with chilli and garlic. For drinks, there’s a neat list of cocktails and beers and a wine list that focuses on boutique Australian producers. The space itself, an old timber and brick shopfront, is a Brisbane classic.
Location: 224 Given Terrace, Paddington
Robin Yu fell in love with Kingsfood when he arrived in Brisbane from China as a student in 1997 – so much so that he eventually bought the restaurant in 2009 and expanded its already hefty menu of Taiwanese mainland Chinese classics (it now totals close to 150 dishes). Parked in the centre of Market Square shopping mall, Kingsfood’s unfussy digs are where to take the family for enormous servings of thee-cup chicken, green beans with pork mince, and white chicken in special sauce.
Location: 25/341 Mains Road, Sunnybank
The humble fish and chipper of your youth reimagined in a gorgeous old Queenslander shop in Coorparoo with fancy beer and wine – that’s the recipe behind the roaring success of Patrick Laws’s Perch’d. Diners pack in on weekends for a simple menu of three types of fish, a clutch of burgers and hand-cut chips, washed down by small-producer wines and beers. Yes, you can take away, but it’s best to enjoy your haul on the Perch’d leafy verandah overlooking York Street.
Location: 1/252 Cavendish Road, Coorparoo
The Coats Group’s winsome Il Molo Italian Kitchen + Bar, sits at the end of Oxford Street in Bulimba, overlooking Brisbane River. Locals flock for long lunches kicked off with antipasti before going large on pasta, pizza and classic mains such as porchetta and saltimbocca. For drinks, the wines steer Australian, but a terrific cocktail and spritz menu is well-suited to the waterside location.
Location: 1b Oxford Street, Bulimba
It might be the quintessential unfussy suburban eatery, but Mons Thai (as locals call it) is regularly rated as one of Brisbane’s best Thai restaurants. That’s perhaps on account of owners the Venzin family’s long-term investment in Thai talent in the kitchen. Head chef Surak Sithisuwan punches out fragrant, flavoursome interpretations of classic salad, noodle and curry dishes. What to order? It’s all good, but perhaps the beef cheek massaman curry is the go-to among diehard locals.
Location: 12 Martha Street, Camp Hill
Boucher’s reputation may not be known among the inner-city connoisseurs, but to westside locals it’s a star. In a cosy dining room with intimate lighting and parquetry floors, seasoned chef Peter Carter serves up Gallic classics – think bouillabaisse, steak frites and chateaubriand – washed down by a French leaning wine list that ranges across regions and years. The location in pretty-as-a-picture Graceville accounts for the rest of the charm.
Location: 365 Honour Avenue, Graceville
Head over to the Brisbetter Explore page for even more inspiration on where to go in Brisbane. With both day and night options, there’s loads of ideas for your next day out.
Editor's note: The featured content in Brisbane Explore is created to inspire residents and visitors to plan a day out exploring Brisbane and to buy local as part of the city's Economic Recovery Plan. Brisbane City Council disclaims any relationship with, or endorsement of, businesses featured in this video.
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