When you think of Australian cuisine, you probably think of salty Vegemite spread on toast, chocolate-coated Tim Tam biscuits with tea, and shrimp on the barbie. Although these are all iconic Australian foods, Queensland’s native flora and robust agriculture make for a much more complex culinary landscape, and the perfect place to explore the state’s cuisine is the capital, Brisbane.
Over the past couple of years, Brisbane’s culinary scene has grown significantly. In addition to delicious multicultural restaurants, the city is home to a multitude of eateries focused on serving food made from local ingredients. Being near the ocean, Brisbane is known for its fresh-caught, delicious seafood, and due to its tropical location, fruits and vegetables like avocados, bananas, and pineapples are readily available. Brisbane chefs have been hard at work incorporating these fresh ingredients into innovative dishes for the public to enjoy.
Here are some restaurants you shouldn't miss if you're hoping to try some delicious local cuisine.
Kennigo Social House
With a motto like “We support local, so you can eat local,” Kennigo Social House is bound to have some of the best local cuisine in the city. The restaurant can walk the walk, too: In December 2018, it was awarded TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence and was ranked the number-one restaurant in Brisbane. The establishment is known for its great service, professionalism, and local offerings.
Located in a 130-year-old classic Queenslander home, Kennigo Social House features balconies, an exposed brick interior, and subtle copper embellishments. In addition to the stylish design and relaxed ambiance, the dishes concocted by chef Anthony Carman keep patrons coming back for more. Each season brings new produce, flavors, and colors to the menu. Beetroot gnocchi, duck confit waffles, avocado panna cotta, and matcha-cured salmon all make an appearance on the winter menu. The award-winning restaurant also offers vegetarian and gluten-free options.
The Gunshop Café is made up of two buildings, one of which was a gun shop from 1953 to 1997. To pay homage to that history, the owners decided to name their eatery the Gunshop Café. Although it looks small from the outside, this restaurant has an expansive interior that opens into an outdoor area in the back. Under the overhang, you can enjoy your meal rain or shine.
Not only does the Gunshop Café use locally sourced ingredients from farmers markets, but it also makes its own honey -- there are two beehives on the roof! You can order your choice of artisan bread with fresh honey, jam, or Vegemite.
Don’t miss the popular potato and feta hash cakes. Cooked soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, and topped with herbed sour cream, spinach, and tomatoes, they're the perfect combination of hearty and refreshing.
Set in the center of South Bank within the Rydges Hotel, Bacchus provides a luxurious evening of degustation. The restaurant has been recognized by the Australian Good Food Guide and Gourmet Traveller WINE as one of the best places to try local cuisine in Brisbane.
Having worked at numerous Michelin-star restaurants, chef Massimo Speroni offers quality modern Australian dishes with local ingredients like wild-caught Queensland swordfish, Tasmanian sea urchins, and New South Wales tender lamb. The Bacchus menu even features a Discovery Australia section that includes several indigenous types of meat. Try the flavorful emu, strip loin of kangaroo, or crocodile served with dill, cabbage, and native macadamia nuts. Nowhere else can you get these kinds of artistically paired ingredients.
An in-house sommelier is available to pair your dish with a delicious wine. If you’re unable to make it to Bacchus for a full meal, you can sample some of the wines on Wednesdays starting at 5:30 p.m.
Sleek and stylish E’cco Bistro has been turning out fine Australian cuisine for 23 years. Celebrity chef Philip Johnson uses plenty of local produce, and he can often be found at the River City Seafood fish market buying the local catch for his mouthwatering menu.
Named after the bay near Brisbane, Moreton Bay bugs are lobster-like crustaceans found in the tropical waters of Australia. They’re a favorite of Brisbane residents and are executed exceptionally well at E’cco Bistro in its signature risotto dish. Start your meal with a few cabernet sauvignon mignonette oysters, then try the kingfish crudo or kangaroo tartare, and finish with the risotto, market fish, or hanger steak.
George’s Paragon Seafood Restaurant
Not only is George’s Paragon Seafood Restaurant one of the best restaurants in Brisbane, but it also offers amazing views from pretty much any seat in the house. Set on the Brisbane River with a straight-shot view of the Story Bridge, the restaurant is a must-visit at sunset.
The seafood choices are out of this world, from the garlic prawns (shrimp), oysters, and barramundi to the calamari, seafood crepes, and lobster. These ocean-dwelling delicacies are sourced from the nearby Moreton Bay, Mooloolaba, and North Queensland.
With seafood being Brisbane’s specialty, the prices are not always so friendly. Thankfully, George’s Paragon offers half-price lunch (and half-price dinner if you are seated between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.).
Rogue Bistro is tucked away in Brisbane’s Newstead neighborhood amidst warehouses and car dealerships. Rated the number-two restaurant in Brisbane on TripAdvisor, Rogue lives up to its name, offering something a bit different from other restaurants.
The simple but elegant interior mimics the minimalist dishes: fresh-caught fish, pan-seared scallops, and burnt butter gnocchi with a touch of creamed pumpkin. Leave room for dessert, which almost always includes local ingredients such as strawberries, passionfruit, and macadamia nuts.
Focusing on quality over quantity, Rogue Bistro is only open for dinner from 5:30 p.m. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, you can bring your own wine for just a $10 corkage fee. Reservations are recommended.
Brisbane Brewing Co.
For relaxed Aussie dining, pop into the West End’s Brisbane Brewing Co. There’s an alleyway entrance, so be sure you don’t miss the turn! Past the narrow entrance, the brewery opens up into an open-air space with tall wooden tables and a bar in the back.
Although the company started as a craft brewery, Brisbane Brewing Co. now offers delicious meals featuring Australian favorites like fish and chips, chicken Parmesan, and juicy brisket. It prides itself on its relationships with local suppliers who provide quality produce.
Since Queensland is a major dairy producer, make sure to try the cheese platter filled with brie, vintage Cheddar, blue cheese, fig paste, honey, and crackers. Don’t forget to grab an Australian International Beer Award-winning Brisbane pale ale to complement your meal!
After spending an afternoon appreciating the masterpieces at the Gallery of Modern Art, appreciate the masterpieces on your plate at the museum’s very own GOMA Restaurant. Cooking is, after all, an art form.
Like many of the restaurants that use local ingredients, GOMA features a menu that changes with the seasons. Being in such a creative environment, it’s no surprise that the chefs at GOMA aspire to make their dishes works of art. They do so without sacrificing quality, taste, or sustainability.
Over the years, the menu has featured native ingredients such as wattleseed, eucalyptus, finger limes, and pineapples. The Exhibition menu provides a taste of five dishes, from starters to dessert.
Like many modern Australian restaurants, Billykart sports a contemporary interior. The front door consists of a whole wall, making the restaurant open, airy, and comfortable in Brisbane’s subtropical climate.
Billykart’s menu is peppered with local ingredients, from kingfish ceviche with papaya and oysters to finger limes to Stradbroke Island mullet roe and sand crab spaghetti.
Although Billykart has some incredible lunch and dinner options, don’t write off its breakfast menu. The crispy corn fritters topped with sliced avocado, heirloom tomatoes, basil, and chili are delightful. Pair them with the perfect Campos brew, and you’ll have the best start to your morning.