The round-up: Brisbane’s best Middle Eastern eateries
The world of Middle Eastern cuisine is as varied as it is delicious. Drawing upon some of the oldest living cultures in the world, this type of food is not just about filling your belly – it’s about the experience of sharing with friends and family. These communal vibes combine with amazing traditional cooking techniques and ancient recipes to create a dining experience that truly transports you to another world – and luckily, Brisbane is bursting with its own amazing pockets of Middle Eastern eats to try. From shakshuka to shawarma, we’ve rounded up the best Middle Eastern restaurants in Brisbane that will make you feel like part of the family.
Gerard’s Bistro, Fortitude Valley: When it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine in Brisbane, Gerard’s Bistro has been a kingpin in the scene since opening in 2012. The James Street institution is famed for its refined and inventive take on the style of food, using traditional techniques showcasing local produce – kangaroo kafta, anyone? Executive chef Adam Wolfers’ authentic malawach with smoked labne and dukkah is a must-try.
ZA ZA TA, Fortitude Valley: From day to night, the stunning surrounds of ZA ZA TA will fulfil all of your Middle Eastern food fantasies. The gorgeous space lends itself well to the shared-style menu of eats inspired by centuries-old recipes across brunch, lunch and dinner. Highlights include the fried goats-cheese pretzel with house-made lamb bacon and yolk aioli, and the Fremantle octopus with camel-hump ‘Nduja.
Mecca Bah, Newstead: Who says you have to wait until sundown to enjoy a Middle Eastern feast? Part lavish restaurant and part sultan’s palace, local icon Mecca Bah takes its menu from day to night with a series of inventive dishes made authentically – as if starting your day with dukkah eggs and basturma doesn’t sound like a total dream! The full menu standouts include Persian-style dumplings and stone-baked Turkish pizzas.
Naïm, Paddington and South Brisbane: If brunch is your game, Naïm is the name you need to know (try saying that three times, fast). Boasting two locations – the OG in Paddington and the newer spot in South Brisbane – this beloved institution has been pumping out impeccably made Middle Eastern dishes with heart. The chicken shawarma flatbread, shakshuka and kusheri are all extremely legit (and delicious).
Caravanserai, West End: Ask any West End local where to go for true Turkish delights (not just the sweets) and Caravanserai will inevitably get a glowing mention. With more than 20 years of business under its belt, this beloved spot does traditional Turkish cuisine like no other. Take a big crew, order a bunch of the share platters and thank us later – everything is delicious.
Ahmet’s, South Bank: Follow the sound of jangling jewels to Ahmet’s, an Istanbul-inspired haven in South Bank loaded with lively atmosphere. If the regular appearances by belly dancers weren’t enough to sway you, the food will certainly do the trick. The two banquets on offer (one vegetarian) are both packed with perfect share options – pide, borek pastry and Turkish breads with dips to match will have everyone in your crew drooling.
Little Beirut, Indooroopilly: Lively and energetic Lebanese bistro Little Beirut brings a little slice of authentic culture to Indro, focusing on amazing share options and hearty traditional mains done brilliantly. Choose from a selection of hot and cold mezza options to start, then fill your belly with dishes like shish tawook, mixed shawarma or a heavenly samkah harrah.
Downtown Istanbul, Hawthorne: Traditional flavours with a contemporary twist is what Downtown Istanbul is all about. Boasting a bustling Turkish bazaar atmosphere, this lively spot serves up tasty eats and treats along the lines of gözleme, pilic sehrezat and ali nazik. The rich flavours and hearty portions will ensure you leave totally satisfied.
The Persian Restaurant, Bardon: Considering Persia boasts one of the oldest and richest cultures in the world, it makes sense to draw upon its influences to create amazing food. Bardon’s The Persian Restaurant transplants a little piece of Persia into the ‘burbs – the menu is all about balance, flavour and authenticity. Hot tip: the vegetarian menu here is a winner if you’re not into meaty morsels.
Byblos, Hamilton: Channelling the bustling, cosmopolitan and international fare found on the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon, Byblos serves up exotic Middle Eastern flavours and tastes in a lavishly appointed setting. Start with a trio of dips (hommos, baba ghanouj and labneh, of course) with freshly baked bread, then move on to larger mains like moghrabieh before finishing with something sweet – kataifi bi jibn (a baked sweet cheese pastry) will make you drool.
Baba Ganouj, South Bank: Ever heard of saj? You have to head to Baba Ganouj to get a taste. This authentic Lebanese haunt specialises in this unique dish – a freshly baked bread cooked to order on a dome-shaped hotplate, sprinkled with toppings as it simmers away. Sign us up! You can also find classic dishes like shawarma, kafta, soujouk and loads more.
Farah, Spring Hill: Tasty, healthy and generous are three words we would use to describe the fare at Farah in Spring Hill. The extensive menu celebrates the best of Persian cuisine cooked exceptionally well – think mains like Persian kebabs, fish with mixed green rice and slow-cooked stews alongside traditional desserts such as saffron ice-cream and faloodeh.
Istanbul 1923, New Farm: New Farm’s Brunswick Street gained a very delicious tenant with the opening of Istanbul 1923. Affordable prices, genuine flavours, generous servings and outstanding hospitality have combined to create a favourite spot for locals to come together and dine. Dips, salads, sides, pide, mains and more create a huge menu with something for all tastes.
Olive Thyme, Albion: The team at Olive Thyme really walk the talk when it comes to imbuing true culture into their food – founders Sibel and Yalcin are migrants on a mission to bring the real tastes of Anatolia to Brisbane. Starters like sesame calamari and Mediterranean octopus set the scene for main courses including pirzola, imam bayildi and lamb shish. Oh, and don’t forget to leave room for baklava!
Mado, South Brisbane: Mado is all about teaming local produce with authentic flavours, all wrapped up with a sophisticated Turkish and Ottoman cooking technique. Turkish dumplings, kibbeh, ali nazek and moussaka are all stand-out dishes that will have you coming back for more, while the dessert selection is well worth exploring – the kunefe is to die for.
Limon, Underwood: Those on the southside need look no further than Limon for a legit Middle Eastern foodie fix. This family-run affair places utmost importance on authentic flavour and high-quality ingredients. The seafood menu here is something quite noteworthy – fish tagine, garlic chilli king prawns and crispy calamari break up the rest of the meaty options.
Honourable mentions: King Ahiram in West End, Abboud Bakery in Underwood and NoNo’s in Red Hill – more cafe-style settings but each truly boasts an authentic Middle Eastern vibe, flavour and experience.
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