Brisbane

The Best Bars In Brisbane Right Now

Have the perfect night out.

Despite multiple lockdowns, ever-changing restrictions, and new ways of working and serving—Brisbane’s bar scene continues to flourish. You just can’t keep a good thing down. A plethora of European-style wine bars, late-night music dives, and laneway cocktail rooms have all recently entered Brisbane’s bar scene, giving locals an unbelievable amount of choice when it comes to deciding where new to try first. 

Brisbane’s best bars come in all shapes, sizes, and guises. Unsure where to bend an elbow at? Here are the best bars in Brisbane right now worth your hard-earned cash.

Bar Brutus

South Brisbane

Residing in the newly opened Town Square in South Brisbane’s burgeoning Fish Lane, Bar Brutus is the brainchild of Julius Pizzeria co-owner Aleks Dzajkovski and Julius barman Stefan Angelovski. Similar in feel to traditional Italian espresso bars of old, the tiny space is designed for drop-ins; in this case pre-dinner Spritzs or aperitivi with snacks. Five spritzes, five classic and five modern cocktails make up the bulk of the drink menu, with spuntini dishes of salted potato chips, olives, and small antipasti plates.

Its huge floor-to-ceiling windows open out onto Fish Lane, making the space feel anything but pokey while feeling connected to the bustling foot traffic down the laneway. The perfect pre-dinner kick-starter.

Susie Wong’s Good Time Bar

Fortitude Valley

Taking over the famous digs of The Bowery Bar on Ann Street, Suzie Wong’s Good Time Bar is exactly that: a good time. Described as a Hawaiian dive bar, Suzie Wong’s aesthetic is gritty, lived-in, with a scattering of neon signs, photos, old posters, and paintings adding to her character. 

Dinks adhere to the Pacific theme, too, with Suzie coladas rolling out thick and fast, but expertly made classics also get a run—in case a Fizzy Bubbly Boi doesn’t do it for you. A cocktail bar with a decided penchant for live music you can also expect gig nights and live performances dotted throughout the week and into the early hours on weekends. 

Tetto

Everton Park

Brisbane’s northern suburbs is the last place you’d expect to find an Amalfi Coast-style rooftop bar, but stranger things have happened. The crown in the newly opened Everton Plaza Park Lane precinct, Tetto has been welcomed with open arms by locals looking for a Spritz fix. 

White-wash walls, curved arches, paper lanterns, and striped umbrellas serve a decidedly Mediterranean aesthetic, while the drinks—including four spritz iterations and a dozen cocktails—make the perfect sundowners. Charcuterie boards, calamari, a few pasta dishes, and mains make for the perfect Sunday session or sundowner.

Kiki

South Brisbane

Natural wines and cocktails served in a corner of a verdant laneway, Kiki’s already in punters good books. Tucked under the train tracks in a beautiful Richards and Spence-designed urban space, Kiki slings coffee, artisanal pastries, and banh mi by day, before switching to hard liquor by night. 

An elegant circular kiosk, Kiki’s bar is largely alfresco, taking full advantage of Brisbane’s temperate climes and plays into the subtle Vietnamese undertone; crisp Asian lagers—Singha, 333 and Bia Hanoi—and refreshing, grown-up cocktails of mojitos and margaritas, each with Asian influences and ingredients.

La Valle

Fortitude Valley

Showcasing a few dozen Australian and European drops (plus a handful of beers to satisfy the masses), La Valle is a classy little wine bar-come-bottle shop with a big attitude. Offering wines by the glass and the bottle, you might savour a bold Montepulciano from Abruzzo, an aromatic Riesling from WA, or perhaps dabble in a couple of skin-contact oranges. 

La Valle does a mean selection of cheese and charcuterie boards, and four Italian-style focaccias, all stuffed with goodies the likes of heirloom tomatoes, prosciutto, and mortadella.

LOS Bar

Fortitude Valley

LOS (or Land of Smiles) may be located along one of Brisbane’s most sought-after dining precincts, Ada Lane, but it isn’t strictly visible from street level. To access Same Same’s ‘secret’ second-floor cocktail bar, you’ll have to sneak up the stone stairway, where you’re welcomed by a green-hued watering hole overlooking the street below.

Specialising in tequila and boasting over 140 bottles on the back bar, the cocktails lean toward the Thai-inspired: the ‘Thaijito’—gin, house liqueur, lychee, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaf, ‘one night in Bangkok—rum, charred pineapple, condensed coconut milk and lime, and ‘Thai-Tanic’—galangal tequila, peach aperitif, bergamot, and suze. Keep hunger at bay with light snacks, courtesy of the bar menu at Same Same 

Death and Taxes

Brisbane city

An award-winning whisky bar down a CBD laneway, Death and Taxes is reminiscent of the classic speakeasies of old – an incredibly rare thing in Brisbane. The vision of Brisbane bar industry hall of famers responsible for Savile Row and Cobbler, this is a very grownup space – such is their instantly recognisable aesthetic. Lured in by dimly lit chandeliers and well-worn leather chesterfields, this is the place to nestle in dark corners, nursing a whisky neat and solve the world’s problems.

An impeccable drinks list, cocktails vary from stalwarts like an old fashion to modern classics like the ‘bone chapel’ – Bladnoch 10 scotch whisky, oloroso, fernet branca, strawberry and sherry vinegar. The back bar boasts a 600-strong selection of the best whisky, scotch, and gin, and is so tall it brushes the ceiling (the bar staff nimbly climbing the dedicated ladder to access the rarest drops).

Alba Bar & Deli

Brisbane CBD

A small 50-seater Basque-style tapas bar in one of Brisbane’s famous city laneways, Alba Bar & Deli pairs the tantalising tapas of northern Spain’s San Sebastian with fortified wines and cocktails. Oh, and iconic hip-hop beats overhead. Go figure. But it works.

Wine, particularly of the Spanish varietals, take prime position, Alba pouring several red, white and ranges by the glass, while the neat cocktail list changes semi-regularly and has that unexpected nod to hip-hop classics; ‘Ante Up’—woodfired reserve, zucca, lemon, orange marmalade, and ‘Sure Shot’—illegal joven (mezcal), tequila tromba, mango and pineapple. Serving until midnight six nights a week, Alba’s actitud relajada really rubs off on you after a couple of sherries…

Will & Flow

Brisbane CBD

Floating on the river’s edge between the QUT Gardens Point ferry terminal and Goodwill Bridge, Will & Flow has busted onto the Brisbane bar scene as a glittering riverside cocktail bar. With surprisingly few bars taking full advantage of the water’s edge, Will & Flow has a monopoly on views overlooking South Bank’s art precinct.

Take your pick from classic negronis, cosmos, and margaritas, wine, champagnes, and local beers, before heading out onto the deck for what might be the best sunset going. Hungry? The woodfired pizza oven perched on the edge of the deck keeps itself busy, slinging fresh pies to accompany a glass of bubbly.

Lobby Bar

Fortitude Valley

Spilling out onto Fortitude Valley’s Ada Lane, the aptly named Lobby Bar is the Calile Hotel’s achingly chic bar in the ground floor lobby area. Decked out in lashings of rose-hued marble, soft sphere lighting, and gold furnishings the space all but glows from within.

Take a seat at the bar, beside the pulled-back bi-fold windows, or outside on the lane’s cobbled path.

Kick back in sumptuous surrounds with an ‘una aventura’—reposado tequila, grapefruit, agave, lime, and egg whites, ‘lobby loco’—run, pineapple, mint, coconut, and lime served straight up, or house favourite ‘Calile spritz’—gin, Aperol, crème de peche, lime and soda.

Boom Boom Room Izakaya

Brisbane CBD

A subterranean Japanese izakaya-come-cocktail lounge, Boom Boom Room has reimagined the basement of the iconic heritage-listed bank on the corner of Elizabeth and George Street. A space that feels equal parts opulent bar and dining destination, executive chef Jake Nicolson and beverage director Aaron Clark nails the Japanese izakaya-style dining brief. 

Come for dinner, stay for drinks, or vice versa, Boom Boom Room’s mixture of sunken bar seating and dining areas make it work. The cocktails pack a punch, tapping into meticulous Japanese artistry and Australian produce, while the bar stocks a superb selection of Japanese whiskies, sake, beers, and wine. For the whiskey connoisseur, however, you’ll want to spend some time in the vault, where 27 rare and limited release Japanese drops await your tastebuds (and your wallet).

Maker

South Brisbane

The thing about Maker is it just continues to challenge the new kids on the block, consistently serving up the best cocktails and small-batch wines in the game. The tiny 18-seater may have more competitors now than ever before but this laneway lovely still features in the best bars lists country-wide, quietly winning multiple awards as it goes.

Intimate, approachable, you won’t find frilly cocktail names, just a list of ingredients describing the final product. Emphasising the seasonal nature of the neat drinks list, small-batch wines are ordered in by the dozen, and there’s a tiny space for small bites to be assembled in the back corner. You’ll never have a repeat experience at Maker, and that’s all part of her charm.

Brisbane

The 12 Essential Food Experiences To Have In Brisbane

Same Same

Knowing the way to her inhabitants’ hearts is through their bellies, Brisbane is flush with food experiences you won’t find anywhere else. While many of them can be found in classic dining institutions across the city, some of the best things to eat in Brisbane are where you least expect them.

For without perseverance there is no reward, or something like that. Here’s 12 essential food experiences in Brisbane. Dig in.

The Prawnster

Dockside
The dish: King prawns and Moreton Bay Bug platter
Given Brisbane’s moniker as ‘the river city’, it continues to surprise that there aren’t more restaurants taking advantage of said river and its million-dollar views. The Prawnster, a 1970’s ex-trawler boat moored in the CBD’s dockside, knows that location is everything—and when you’re serving up fresh seafood, the river serves as the perfect backdrop.  

One of the best things to eat in Brisbane is the region’s incredible array of fresh seafood, not least because of its proximity to Moreton Bay, home of the Moreton Bay Bug. Order one of their towering seafood platters, complete with Moreton bay bugs, king prawns and salmon sashimi, then squeeze a wedge of lemon over your hoard. Job done.

SK Steak & Oyster

Fortitude Valley
The dish: Kiwami steak
Carving out a reputation as one of the best fine dining restaurants in Brisbane, SK Steak & Oyster’s modus operandi is to bring back the old-fashioned glitz and glamour of dining out. White tablecloths, polished silver, a grand baby piano by the bar, and the finest wines and produce money can buy, this is luxury in all its glory. Two dishes you’d expect to be particularly show-stopping are the restaurant’s oysters and steaks. It’s in their name. With a marble scoring of 9+ (translating to ‘outstanding excellence’ in Japanese wagyu rating) SK’s kiwami steak is, by all interpretations, the best of the best. Order medium rare and pair with SK’s side of classic mash and gravy. You will not regret it.

Ramen Danbo

South Brisbane
The experience: Authentic Japanese noodle bar straight from the southern island
While there are dozens, if not hundreds of excellent ramen joints dotted across Brisbane, when Ramen Danbo opened its first Brisbane store on the southside, it was met with much fanfare. A humble Chikushino ramen operation, from the southern island of Kyushu, gained enormous popularity in Japan, and has since become one of its most famous ramen exports.

Their secret? It’s their strict adherence to a traditional tonkatsu ramen recipe; the broth must be made just-so to get its famous silky texture and umami flavour. With only eight dishes on the menu (including one vegan option), Ramen Danbo is the finest example of Japanese ‘ramen-ya’ and should be a must-try on any discerning Brisbanite’s quest for the best food in the city.

Agnes

Fortitude Valley
The dish: Smoked lamb neck, ancho mole, herb salad, garlic yoghurt, flatbread
The concept at Agnes is very simple; cooking over open flame and smoke, resulting in a unique dining experience not much explored in Brisbane’s dining scene to date. While head chef Ben Williamson turns the humble vegetable into something that would turn even the most carnivorous, there is something to be said about the cuts of meat coming out of the kitchen – the smoked lamb neck in particular.

Charred on the outside, perfectly tender in the middle, the lamb falls off the bone and is served with house-made flatbread, ancho mole, herb salad and garlic yoghurt, designed to be constructed (devoured) at the table.

Sprout Artisan Bakery

Rocklea Markets 
The experience: Market-born artisan bakery producing some of Brisbane’s best pastries.
Making a name as one of the tastiest little bakeries in the Brisbane produce market circuit, Sprout has been wowing tastebuds with its delicious iterations of classic European pastries. A wildly popular 2020 pop-up on Robertson Street in Fortitude Valley only solidified Sprout as masters of their craft—with news of a permanent location to hit James Street later in 2021.

Get your fix of their famous tarts with perfectly flaky, Portuguese-style bases, or their exceptional takes on classics like the blood orange and almond frangipane on sweet Bostock, or buns with peanut butter jam and peanut brittle. Just don’t leave without getting one of their miche sourdoughs to go.

Kiki

South Brisbane
The dish: Breakfast Banh Mi
Kiki is doing big things down one of Brisbane’s burgeoning laneway. Operating as a breakfast haunt from 6am daily, Kiki switches gears after lunch, turning into a sexy little cocktail bar, giving the people a classy spot day and night, the clever chaps. Not an obvious place to break the fast, Kiki’s tight menu of all-day Banh mi—a vegetarian option and Laos sausage, with egg and Vietnamese salad—plus a handful of Doughluxe doughnuts and Choquette pastries, make for a welcome alternative to that breakfast wrap you were eyeing. 

Superthing 

West End
The experience: A pastel-hued croissanterie serving up beautiful flaky creations
Quite the departure from NYC Bagel Deli owners, Eddy Tice and Ania Kutek’s Superthing combines Parisian baking sensibilities with a kaleidoscopic fit-out and an equally nutty menu to match. Naturally, the classics—pain au chocolate and plain, buttery croissants—are all present (and perfectly formed), but there’s also eye-catching versions stuffed with strawberries and cream, coated in lashings of hazelnut sauce, or dusted with matcha. There are also little gems like kouign-amaanns, cruffins, and croissant dough buns stuffed with vanilla custard for when you need a sweet fix.

Snack Man

Fortitude Valley
The dish: Char sui bao
Brothers and owners of Brisbane dining institution, Happy Boy, Cameron and Jordan Votan kept it in the same culinary vein for their follow up venture, Snack Man. Residing right next door to Happy Boy, the original concept was to support to overflow of customers, keeping diners suitably satiated with their enticing menu of natural wines and a few snacks before their booking over at Happy Boy. As it happens, and in typical Votan fashion, Snack Man is equally as successful, having evolved into a dining destination in its own right.

The selection of small plates on offer means technically, you could, and should, get a bit of everything. But the one non-negotiable is the Char Sui Bao. All steaming, pillowy soft goodness filled with BBQ chicken, your choice of being steamed or fried. Okay, two: the Yan Si ji crispy chicken ribs are too good to pass up.

Shunsai

East Brisbane
The experience: A tiny 18-seater Japanese restaurant specialising in the exceptionally rare cuisine of kaiseki.

The height of Japanese haute cuisine, Kaiseki is more than a meal—it’s an art form. The simplest description of ‘kaiseki’ is a traditionally prepared Japanese meal comprising of many small dishes, but to belittle centuries of tradition and its deep ties to Buddhism would be remiss. So rare is this particular style of Japanese cooking in Australia, Shunsai is the only restaurant of its kind in the city.

Owner and head chef Shun Mori has recreated the exact look and feel of a traditional kaiseki restaurant in East Brisbane’s Wellington building, offering a selection of set-course menus as is the cuisine’s tradition. Grilled eel, handmade sushi, perhaps some satsuma wagyu (with an eye-popping MB+12 score), each dish is meticulously presented and accompanied with sake or plum wine. Guests sit along the bar (akin to a chef’s table environment), where dishes are skilfully prepared in front of you by Mori himself. Special doesn’t even begin to cut it.

Same Same

Fortitude Valley
The dish: Roasted pork belly pad see ew, with pickled chilli
A marriage of old and new, Same Same showcases the very best of Thai cuisine, serving reimagined classics that show off the diversity and complexity of Thai food. The Richards and Spence-designed space is a light-filled palette of beige marble and vast ethereal-like ceilings; a striking contrast to the explosion of colour and flavour in Same Same’s menu. Perhaps the ultimate comfort food, Same Same’s pad see ew is a turbocharged riff on the humble noodle dish, loaded with salty, crispy cuts of pork belly tossed in short, round, chewy noodles instead of the traditional flat variety.   

Commercial Road Public House 

Newstead
The dish: Spicy Boi pizza with extra burrata
Pizza, cocktails, and club beats; Commercial Road Public House flips the humble pizzeria on its head, opting for a New York Fashion Week, circa 80s aesthetic. Décor aside, the pizza is some of the best in the city. With only five pies adorning the menu, if you find yourself unable to pull the trigger, defer to the ‘Spicy Boi’; adorned with Calabrian nduja, roast capsicum, capers, basil, and lashings of chilli oil. Ask for their house-made burrata to be chucked on top. A very nice touch.

Stanley

Brisbane CBD
The experience: Sunday champagne yum cha
A dazzling Cantonese restaurant overlooking the Brisbane River, Stanley sprawls across its pocket of Howard Smith Wharves, taking in uninterrupted city vistas. Split over two levels of the heritage-listed building, it is one of only a handful of locations in the city where you can indulge in exquisite Southern Chinese fine dining. 
While Stanley is revered for its Cantonese-style roast duck, Sundays here are dedicated to yum cha and champagne – and Brisbane loves a long lunch. Designed by head chef Louis Tikaram (of EP & LP fame in Los Angeles) a traditional banquet of dumplings and small dishes—handmade prawn har gow, scallop siu mai, xo seafood dumplings, garlic chive & prawn dumplings, and pork siu mai—are served alongside Louis Roederer champagne.

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