No longer playing second fiddle to Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane’s cafe scene has exploded in recent years. Here are 11 of the best places to eat, drink and be merry.
1. John Mills Himself
Many of the best cafes, bars and restaurants are hard to find and the intimate John Mills Himself cafe and bar is no different (hint: it’s on the ground floor and access is via Elizabeth Street).
The coffee and hot chocolates here are next level – it is a multi-roast cafe, meaning it sources beans from different suppliers such as Mecca, Small Batch and Wood & Co. During the day, the deeply caramelised canelé (French pastries flavoured with rum and vanilla) are the go-to sweet treat, but when evening falls, be sure to sample local brews from Brouhaha and Sea Legs Brewing Co.
Address: 40 Charlotte Street, Brisbane
2. King Street Bakery
When the first of the bakers arrive at this Brisbane institution in the (very) early hours of the morning, they do a special check. They test the temperature and moisture levels in the air and adjust their sourdough recipe accordingly. No wonder then – given that level of attention to detail – the artisan breads and handmade viennoiserie, tartlets and cakes are so good.
Grab one of the bench seats by the exposed and weathered red-brick wall, but be sure to bring a crowd because you’ll want to try everything.
Address: 20 King Street, Bowen Hills
3. Campos Coffee
If you’re after coffee with a conscience, then Campos Coffee Long Island in Newstead is for you. As well as using ethically sourced specialty-grade beans, Campos has a social heart; funding projects throughout Africa such as a school in Ethiopia and surgery for children in need in Rwanda. So settle down in their largest flagship café and know that Campos is brewing something really special.
Address: 18 Longland Street, Newstead
4. Rafter and Rose
OK, so this darling cafe isn’t exactly in Brisbane (it’s 40 minutes away in Ipswich), but believe us, it’s worth the drive. Full of beautiful provincial vintage furniture, lush greenery and homemade preserves, prepare to feel as though you’ve stepped into the best version of your nana’s place.
For those with a sweet tooth, the flaky, buttery pastries are sublime, as are the jam brioche doughnuts and the flower-scattered cakes. Lunches take the form of hearty frittatas (think roasted sweet potato, spinach, mushroom and feta) and luscious eggs benedict with Boston beans. Nana would definitely approve.
Address: 1/17 Ellenborough Street, Ipswich
Don’t you just love a cafe that thinks of everything? When the weather turns chilly (and let’s face it, early winter mornings in Brissy can be brisk), Plenty has got you covered, literally. Grab a monogramed blanket and order from the all-day menu that has made this cavernous rustic cafe a local institution.
Specials may include inventive fusion dishes like potato and kimchi waffles with Korean fried chicken, kimchi yoghurt and poached eggs or Insta-worthy plates of beetroot and ricotta pasta with parmesan, pine nuts, basil and sorrel.
Address: 284 Montague Road, West End
6. El’ rosa
If you’re not a fan of millennial pink, then this Insta-haven is not for you. El’ rosa by Arc + Family is an events space and cafe where it’s hard to take a bad picture. Think giant cacti, oversized pots with verdant greenery, blushing pink milkshakes topped with wisps of dusky pink Persian fairy floss and (you guessed it) pink-hued cocktails. The coffee is great, but people come for the view as much as the brew.
Address: 85 James Street, Fortitude Valley
7. Wild Canary
The rhythms of the seasons are vitally important to the chefs at Wild Canary – a bistro renowned for being botanically minded. It’s not unusual for vegetarians and vegans to be a second thought at cafes, but not here.
Eat the rainbow with the vegetarian farmer’s board, often served with free-range eggs, golden haloumi and a cornucopia of roasted and grilled local, seasonal vegetables. It really is the best way to start your day.
Address: 2371 Moggill Road, Brookfield
8. The Soul Pantry
It might not look like much from the outside, but trust us; The Soul Pantry is beautiful on the inside. Tucked inside a spacious warehouse (and some shipping containers within the warehouse) is a luxe garden centre, cafe and artisan cheese counter.
It seems like an unusual combination, but again, trust us. The menu matches the size of the warehouse and it’s hard to pick a favourite from the extensive list, but we love the freshly baked cheese puffs hot from the oven and the nourish bowl with quinoa, avocado, pickled red onion, roasted vegetables and a zingy passionfruit dressing.
Address: 31 Wolverhampton St, Stafford
9. Plum Tucker Cafe
Sometimes you just want a cosy cafe with great food and Plum Tucker delivers that in abundance. They offer half sizes on the menu (such as the petite eggs benedict), but for those who want to go the whole hog, it’s hard to go past the fully loaded avocado, bacon and chorizo eggs benny. If a vego feast is more your thing, never fear, its vegan Mexican special events are fabuloso.
Address: 5 Enoggera Terrace, Red Hill
10. Sassafras of Paddington
With a dog menu as long as many kids’ menus, Sassafras is the pet-friendly cafe in Brisbane. Once you’ve got Rover settled with a puppuccino, it’s time to get down to business.
With a strong emphasis on local, seasonal and organic produce, you can’t go wrong with any of the dishes, from specials like Cajun chicken, potato and broccoli hash to the plump ricotta hot cakes with maple syrup and honeycomb butter. If your pup is jealous, you can always order them a home-made dog treat.
Address: 88 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington
11. Lokal + Co
A touch of Scandinavia in Brisbane? Yes please. This sleek timber, copper and white-walled cafe wears its Nordic influences lightly – think potato waffles served with house-cured salmon gravlax, cured onions, salmon pearls and labne. And who can go past a Danish Mary morning cocktail? It’s similar to a Bloody Mary, but with the herby and spicy hit of Aquavit.
Address: 6 O’Connell Street, Brisbane