The round-up: Brisbane's best Middle Eastern eateries
The round-up: Brisbane's best Middle Eastern eateries
The round-up: Brisbane's best Middle Eastern eateries
The round-up: Brisbane's best Middle Eastern eateries
The round-up: Brisbane's best Middle Eastern eateries
The round-up: Brisbane's best Middle Eastern eateries
Mecca Bah | Brisbane's best Middle Eastern
Naïm | Brisbane's best Middle Eastern
Beirut Bazaar | Brisbane's best Middle Eastern
Little Beirut | Brisbane's best Middle Eastern
Downtown Istanbul | Brisbane's best Middle Eastern
Byblos | Brisbane's Best Middle Eastern

The round-up: Brisbane’s best Middle Eastern eateries

Just as diverse as it is delicious, Middle Eastern cuisine is to thank for some of our favourite foodie experiences. From a late-night kebab to fine-dining flair, the rich flavour profiles and even richer cultural heritage has made Middle Eastern a culinary chameleon. Sourced from some of the world’s oldest living cultures, the region’s tradition of sharing with friends and family lets Levantine food not only fill your belly but soothe the soul. From shakshuka to shawarma, we’ve rounded up the best Middle Eastern restaurants in Brisbane to transport you to this epicentre of culinary history.

Gerard’s, Fortitude Valley: When it comes to Middle Eastern cuisine in Brisbane, Gerard’s 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. The restaurant delves deep into lesser known regions of the Middle East, plating up dishes such as ‘Awamat’ savoury donut with persimmon safar, Margra lamb collar with acili ezme, labne and Mount Zero olive oil, and spatchcock served with silverbeet marshoosheh, Persian figs and Jenin spice.

Ach, Hamilton: The Hamilton-haunt of Ach (pronounced ‘ah-k’) has combined the wine bar concept with the framework of a Middle Eastern bistro – and the result is just as good as it sounds. The menu is decked in Levantine delicacies such as buttery slabs of malawach, succulent shashliks and share plates like the Margra lamb ribs with harira, kibbeh and chermoula. Ach has fine-tuned its home country’s culinary classics to suit the wine bar setting, boasting woodfired fare that pairs perfectly with a glass of vino. With a curated wine list of diverse drops – think sauvignon blanc from the Aegean Coast, a syrah from Morocco, and an orange wine from Lebanon’s Wadi Annoubine, Ach has brought a unique authenticity to Brisbane’s Middle Eastern food scene

ēmmē, Fortitude Valley: ēmmē is nestled within the James Street Market precinct, firing up a flame-licked menu of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African-inspired dishes. Patrons simply have to follow the yellow-tinted glow that streams from the restaurant’s coloured windows along with the heavenly smell that wafts out of ēmmē’s state-of-the-art woodfired oven. The eatery explores its cuisines of choice through breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, injecting a fresh perspective into authentic dishes without veering into fine dining. Discover menu favourites like barbecue chicken with grilled shishito peppers on a bed of garlic labneh or the swordfish koftas with saffron yoghurt and pickles.

The Green, Fortitude Valley: From the flame-powered menu to the pastel-pink tinged interior (inspired by the cedar trees of Lebanon), the crew behind The Green have interwoven its Lebanese identity into the eatery at every turn. The kitchen has balanced the culture’s flair for both comfort and complexity in a tight menu of elevated Middle-Eastern dishes – as well as its Dark Green dinner series, which invites you to “Come for dinner, Habibi.” In the morning, The Green is serving up its beloved Lebanese sausage and egg muffin with haloumi, pickles and shatta and by dinner service you’ll find the likes of a wagyu flank skewer with zhoug and pine nut dukkah, and a whole menu dedicated to the heavenly duo of chicken and toum.

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 its shared-style meat-free menu of eats inspired by centuries-old Middle Eastern and Mediterranean recipes. Highlights include Yemenite butter bread with lemon scented goats curd, shish barak-style pumpkin dumplings with burnt chilli butter, barbecue cauliflower shawarma paired with labneh mornay, kohlrabi, curry leaf and silverbeet-and-fetta börek fingers with heirloom tomato and organic egg.

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. From the prawn-and-mussel pilaf with harissa rice and char-grilled chicken shish skewers to the spinach and five-cheese filo pastry cigars and the Turkish pide dripping with garlic butter – everything is delicious.

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 steamed Persian green-style dumplings, spiced shredded lamb with fresh cucumber and baby spinach, and Moroccan seasoned honey and sesame chicken tagine.

Naïm, Paddington: If brunch is your game, Naïm is the name you need to know (try saying that three times, fast). This Paddington institution has been pumping out impeccably made Middle Eastern dishes with heart for ages – including Turkish-style eggs with sautéed wild greens and crispy basturma, Tunisian-style baked carrot falafel shakshuka, and Turkish Delight waffles. Naïm also opens for dinner from Thursday to Saturday, serving up mezze boards, charmoula steak shish, Lebanese-style steamed pipis, confit harissa chicken.

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 (hummus, baba ghanouj and labneh, of course) with freshly baked bread, then move on to larger mains like moghrabieh before finishing with something sweet – the kataifi bi jibn (a baked sweet cheese pastry) will make you drool.

Babylon, Brisbane City: Perched on the banks of Brisbane river, Babylon celebrates the cuisine of the fertile crescent from 145 Eagle Street. With a sister venue down south, Babylon has made a name for itself in the growing Levantine culinary community. The share-style menu is flame licked via the kitchen’s custom-built 3-m-long mangal (a style of Turkish grill) and two rotisseries, which cook an assortment of morsels over wood and charcoal. On the menu, sample from the likes of  freshly baked bread with za’atar spiced butter and wood-roasted broccolini with harissa tarator, walnuts and pomegranate molasses as well as shish tawook and hünkar beğendi-style woodfired Angus beef. The Babylon dining experience is paired with the venue’s sensational Story Bridge views as well.

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 food offer draws its origins from centuries old recipes and is designed to be shared. Two banquets are on offer – one for carnivores, the other for vegetarians – to make the decision-making process simple. If you’re eager to go a la carte, you’ll spy the likes of Turkish chorizo pides, manti lamb dumplings, cheese and spinach gozleme, lamb iskender and Nutella baklava.

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. Guests can choose from a selection of hot and cold mezza options to start (think Lebanese style minced-meat sausages, fetta cheese with herbs and spices, and creamy dips) then fill your belly with marinated chicken shawarma, samkah harrah (marinated barramundi), marinated lamb cutlets with fattoush salad or a heavenly Beirut vegan plate.

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 pilic sehrezat (char-grilled chicken, beetroot, creamy mushroom and rice pilaf), guvec (traditional Turkish casserole with braised lamb) and a range of pides. The rich flavours and hearty portions here will ensure you leave totally satisfied.

Baba Ganouj, South Bank: This authentic Lebanese haunt specialises in the unique dish of saj – a freshly baked bread cooked to order on a dome-shaped hotplate, sprinkled with toppings as it simmers away.  The family-owned-and-operated eatery serves up traditional Middle Eastern flavours from its sleek outpost in the heart of South Bank. Find an array of classic dishes masterfully prepared 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 family-owned 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.

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 kunefe – a dessert featuring shredded kadayif, soft cheese, sugar syrup, roasted hazelnut, vanilla-bean gelato.

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. Plus, on Thursday and Fridays nights, you can fine in the company of a belly dancer.

Taameya, multiple location: Regulars at the Jan Power Markets can attest to the tantalising fare cooked up by Taameya. Famed for its falafel – delicious crispy discs coated in freshly cracked coriander and sesame seeds – the stall serves up an Egyptian-inspired menu to lines of market patrons practically every week. Its falafel pita pockets are paired with zingy pickles, sweet tomatoes and crunchy red onion mixed with fresh mint and parsley. Following its success on the market circuit, Taameya is launching a lunchtime pop-up every Thursday at Spencer Lane in the City.

Honourable mentions: We’d be remiss not to mention Red Hill institution No No’s Lebanese Cuisine, which serves up sensational food in a fast and casual setting. If the craving strikes for traditional Middle Eastern pastries, Watany Manoushi in Mount Gravatt is home to an array of authentic goodies and groceries to choose from.

The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.


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