Having consulted a few “Best of” lists, including Australian Good Food Guide, this is our round up.
Best Budget Eats in Brisbane
Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Fastfood
142 Albert Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000
+61 7 3188 1703
Sun-Th 10am-10pm, F&Sat 10am-11pm
Be warned: the spicy stuff was intense. You can order a burrito, but I recommend getting 3 soft tacos, so you can try 3 different flavors. The server recommended spicy chicken guerrero, we almost didn’t survive the heat. We preferred the barramundi, so freaking fresh and tasted like home. They serve margarita–I had to have it, first time drinking alcohol at a fastfood joint. We spent A$36 for two.
The Noosa Chocolate Factory Snacks
144 Adelaide St, Brisbane, QLD 4000
This chocolate shop is AWESOME. (They have another shop a few doors away, but this shop is more fun.) Great for tourists to buy back to give to colleagues, friends, and relatives. My 90% dark cocoa iced chocolate (A$5) was kick-ass, rich, slightly bitter, and not so thick, so I could finish it on my own. The bestseller rocky road (A$5 a pack), marshmallow covered in chocolate, was a wonderful combination of soft and hard, grainy (coconut) and smooth, sweet and bitter, that I ate 2 packs.
Red Hook Brisbane New York-Styled Street Food
88 Creek Street, Shop 3, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 4000
+61 7 3220 0462
Red Hook Brisbane Menu
M-F 7am-midnight, Sat: 4pm-midnight
Lived in New York for four years, and the street food I ate there was tacos, hotdogs, and Middle-Eastern food. But at Red Hook, literally a hole-in-the-wall bar for afterwork crowd, its bestseller is Brooklyn cheeseburger (A$12). And it was not bad, juicy and a very nice cheese. The lobster roll (A$20) wasn’t as good, but still acceptable. My eating companion said this is his favorite eatery in Brisbane. We spent A$36 for two.
Swampdog Fish & Chips Australian
186 Vulture St, South Brisbane, Queensland 4101
+61 7 3255 3715
Swampdog Brisbane Menu
I love everything about Swampdog: from its shack-like decor to its sustainable seafood. You choose the type of fish available that day (think we had a barramundi and a mackerel), and they cook it fresh on the spot for you–very, very hot. I love hot food! I also love how they slice everything thickly, like the chips and the calamari, filling the mouth. You can carry the food and picnic by the river, about 5 minutes’ walk away. We spent A$40 for two.
Taro’s Ramen Japanese
363 Adelaide St, Ground floor Boeing House, Brisbane, QLD 4000
T: +61 7 3832 6358
11.30am-3pm, 5.30-9pm daily
Recommended to me by Brisbane blogger, Kelly, it is a shop run by Japanese with a very cute Jap boy. A bowl with char siew and half a free range egg costs less than A$15. The ingredients, including flour for noodles, are sourced locally and the food has no MSG. The tonkatsu broth was great, not greasy and still full of porky flavors. Noodles were awesomely al dente. But as a whole, it was a tad bland… until we added sauce from a bottle labelled “seasoning,” which was of course MSG. No MSG in the food but the customers add themselves.
Toby’s Estate Cafe
79 Albert Street, Brisbane QLD 4000
+61 7 3211 2484
M-F 6.30am-5pm, Sat 6.30am-2pm
Long queue of office crowd. The best coffee I had in Australia. The sandwich and scrambled eggs were delicious too. It was too commercialized for me; I prefer an independent cafe, but really, there was nothing to complain. A$30 for two.
Best Fine Dining in Brisbane
145 Eagle St, Brisbane 4000
+61 7 3220 2123
T-F 12-2.30pm, T-Sat 6pm-late
The offshoot of the only 3 Chef’s Hats restaurant (equivalent to 3 Michelin Stars) in Brisbane, Esquire, Esq is similar to a tapas bar, serving Australian food. Most dishes were pretty decent, especially the Asian-inspired ones. But the lobster (A$20) that came in 2 morsels was overly salted, robbing the delicate taste of the crustacean. The desserts were out of this world. Must try the campari sherbet (A$12). Immaculate service. We spent A$102 for two. Full review here.
Goma Restaurant Australian
Stanley Place, Cultural Precinct
South Bank, Brisbane
Queensland 4101, Australia
+61 7 3842 9916
W-Sun 12-3pm, F 5.30-10pm
Recommended to me by Brisbane food blogger, Food Me Up Scotty. Chef Josue Lopez heads Goma restaurant which is awarded one chef’s hat. The restaurant uses seasonal, organic, local, fresh produce whenever possible. On the 2nd storey, the restaurant shares similar opening hours with the museum (free admission), so it is mostly open for lunch. For lunch, the restaurant serves 2-course (A$50), 3-course (A$60), or 7-course degustation (A$75). Full review here.
Il Centro Italian
1 Eagle Street, Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane 4000
T: +61 7 3221 6090
Noon-3pm, 5.30pm-onwards. Closed for lunch on Sat.
White people, white people everywhere in this restaurant overlooking the pier. Awarded one chef’s hat, helmed by chef Catherine Anders. The famous crab lasgne was drenched in a thick creamy sauce of sweet tomato–not bad but surfeit on second bite. Immaculate service but the food was run of mill. We paid A$110 for two. Full review here.
In conclusion, the mid-range food is better valued and tastier than fine-dining. My top three picks for Brisbane are:
2. Guzman Y Gomez
Note on rating: Any restaurant that receives a B and above is satisfactory.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.