The round-up: Brisbane’s ten best restaurants as voted by you
The past 16 months has seen Brisbane’s restaurant scene boom in terms of its profile and standing amongst Australia’s major cities. New restaurants opened, and several old favourites underwent significant shake-ups. This meant that the stage was set for the most anticipated EAT/drink Awards in recent memory, and our readers didn’t disappoint. The 2019 EAT/drink Awards were some of the most hotly contested in the lifespan of the competition, and our marquee categories naturally drew a lot of attention. After an entire month of voting, the winners and runner-up venues have been announced, but there were many other fine establishments that still received an overwhelming amount of votes. This year we have a brilliant crop of culinary destinations comprising the upper echelon of Brisbane’s Best Restaurant vote getters, so we figured we’d acknowledge the cream of the crop and list the ten best restaurants in town, as voted by you!
Winner: LONgTIME, Fortitude Valley
Last year saw LONgTIME score a runner-up accolade in this very category, but 2019 marked a return to the top for the beloved Fortitude Valley restaurant. Located just a twist and a turn off Ann Street, diners are enamoured both with LONgTIME’s hideaway locale as they are with the fare. LONgTIME’s take on southeast-Asian cuisine has seduced tongues since it first opened its doors, and it’s clear that the standards have remained as high as ever. From its char-grilled beef short rib and soft-shell crab baos to prawn larb tacos and spiced yellow curry with steamed snapper, LONgTIME’s dishes are both sophisticated and memorable. Thanks to this, LONgTIME has rightfully earned its spot in Brisbane’s top echelon of eateries.
Runner-up: Gauge, South Brisbane
Last year’s top dog Gauge might have been pipped at the post by the slimmest of margins, but don’t let that speak for its overall quality. One of Brisbane’s most awarded and acclaimed restaurants is still at the peak of its culinary powers – every repast is considered and executed sublimely. Head chefs Cormac Bradfield and Phil Marchant combine their respective progressive dining playbooks to craft a menu of tantalising delights. Gauge’s seven-course menu currently features the likes of pork sirloin with black sesame, corn tortellini with onion broth and pork cheek, and the famed black garlic bread with brown butter and burnt vanilla. If you want a top-tier dining experience, Gauge is up there with the best.
Runner-up: Gerard’s Bistro, Fortitude Valley
Gerard’s Bistro is no stranger to our Best Restaurant list – it’s consistently held a spot in the top three for the last five years. The acclaimed dining destination has clearly retained its world-class appeal, and now with new executive chef Adam Wolfers at the helm it’s likely the restaurant will maintain its stride moving forward. Adam is unearthing the tastes of lesser-known regions of the Middle East, while also imbuing the fare with flavours inspired by his own Jewish heritage. Keen for some examples? We’re smitten by the sounds of Adam’s coal-roasted bavette with matbucha and baby fennel, slow-cooked lamb neck with toum, pickles and saj, and bone marrow with potato lahoh and sesame.
Julius Pizzeria, South Brisbane
Italian fare rarely gets as good as the kind served at Julius Pizzeria. The younger sibling of Teneriffe institution Beccofino, Julius prides itself on doing justice to time-honoured classics while also invigorating its offering with some new-age dishes. Wood-fired pizzas and hand-made pasta dishes are a specialty, while mains such as crumbed pork sirloin, slow-cooked beef shin and the signature duck and tomato ragu are the kinds of dishes that have helped elevate Julius into the realm of Brisbane’s best.
Blackbird Bar & Grill, Brisbane City
This Eagle Street mainstay has enjoyed numerous (and well-earned) successes, and its reappearance on this list is a testament to its overall consistency. The Ghanem Group’s crown jewel boasts impressive river views, which serve as the perfect accompaniment to its stellar menu. The menu is made using the finest seasonal produce sourced sustainably from local suppliers, and revolves around Blackbird’s naturally fuelled, open wood-fired grill. Although beef serves as the centre-plate protein, Blackbird’s menu also boasts Gooralie free-range pork cutlets, Longreach white lamb and Brisbane Valley quail – not to mention a thoroughly researched selection of hand-picked wines to complement every meal.
Happy Boy, Fortitude Valley
Nestled under the branches of numerous fairy-lit trees on East Street, Fortitude Valley’s Happy Boy has steadily evolved from one of Brisbane’s best-kept secrets to one of its shining beacons of quality. The menu is loaded with dishes boasting a contemporary regional Chinese focus, each certain to enliven the senses. Crowd favourites include the mapo tofu with special spicy sauce and ground pork, red-braised pork belly, cha-siu-style barbecue chicken with honey glaze, and sticky-beef ribs. The Happy Boy crew also has a phenomenal selection of wines by the glass to boot, and its new wine-bar addition Snack Man is perfect for pre- or post-dinner sipping.
1889 Enoteca, Woolloongabba
If you want to be pointed in the direction of Brisbane’s best pasta, all roads inevitably lead to Roman-inspired restaurant 1889 Enoteca. Woolloongabba’s home for top-tier Italian has made a place for itself in our best-of lists – with a groove so well worn they’re almost inseparable from excellence. Sumptuous handmade fare, a mind-boggling selection of wines and a classic heritage aesthetic is what makes 1889 Enoteca worthy of inclusion and it seems you wholeheartedly agree.
Martha Street Kitchen, Camp Hill
Although entering our top-ten list for the first time, Martha Street Kitchen shouldn’t be unfamiliar to those of you with a nose for quality nosh. This fashionable suburban restaurant from Patrick Laws and Jennie Byrnes attracts diners far and wide with its contemporary approach to humble Italian cuisine. Fans of Martha Street Kitchen’s menu rave about the likes of pizza topped with prosciutto, artichokes and bocconcini, bresaola, creamed leek and black garlic, and mushroom and ricotta, as well as charred-cauliflower risotto, lamb shoulder ragu and a selection of new-wave non-intervention wines.
OTTO Ristorante, Brisbane City
The Fink Group’s fantastic Brisbane addition has continued to match its lofty expectations with flair, wowing tastebuds with a sublime approach to modern Italian. With dishes such as braised oxtail and smoked bone marrow-filled pasta, octopus tentacles in spicy Napolitana sauce, and butterflied spatchcock with pancetta on the menu, you don’t have any reason to second-guess its placement in the top ten.
Hôntô, Fortitude Valley
Although it opened in 2018, Hôntô has already blitzed its way into several of Brisbane’s best-of lists. It’s no wonder why –Hôntô’s younger sibling LONgTIME took out top honours, so you know the pedigree is there. Like LONgTIME, Hôntô is located on an out-of-the-way street in Fortitude Valley. Make your way past the threshold and marvel at the restaurant’s moody and minimalist interior, with wall and ceiling surfaces covered in blackened and charred wood panelling illuminated by ornate chandeliers. Once seated, you’ll be treated to a feast of cutting-edge Japanese fare including grilled Hokkaido scallops with nori butter and bonito flakes, Moreton Bay bug katsu sandos, shiitake and vegetable dumplings with kombu dashi, and smoked chicken with soybean and cultured-cream puree, burnt butter and black garlic. Expect Hôntô to vie for a greater position on this list for years to come.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.