Sass in The City – Comuna Cantina opens its colourful new flagship on Creek Street
When it first sprung up on our radar in 2016, it didn’t take long for Comuna Cantina to cement itself in our regular rotation of inner-city party spots. Over the years the brand has expanded far beyond the confines of its neon-lit Albert Street haunt, spreading to the suburbs before making its triumphant return to the bustling CBD this week. Marking the culmination of four years of evolution, the drinking, dining and dancing institution has shimmied and sashayed back into the city spotlight with its colourful new home on Creek Street, serving up scintillating South American-inspired snacks alongside a jaw-dropping selection of cocktails.
Tim Johnson and The Corbett Collective might be one of the hardest working hospitality groups in Brisbane. After a banner year in 2019, which saw the opening of their bustling micro precinct in the heart of Everton Plaza, Tim and co. have turned their attention back to the inner city – the place where the group’s story started five years ago. In September 2015 the collective opened perennially popular Italian eatery Corbett & Claude and its coffee-oriented sibling Mr Claude at the base of the Corbett Chambers building on Elizabeth Street. Less than six months later they followed up with Comuna Cantina – a Latin-inspired bar and snack spot tucked away on Albert Lane. Despite welcoming droves of revellers with its mix of vivacious personality, menu of Instagram-worthy eats and drinks, and a dose of feisty flamenco flair, the diminutive size of Comuna Cantina’s little laneway locale prevented it from becoming the all-encompassing party hub Tim knew it could be. Fast forward back to 2020 and the concept has finally been realised with Comuna Cantina’s brand-new multi-faceted flagship on Creek Street. The venue is the final piece of the puzzle for The Corbett Collective’s anticipated dining quarter situated on the fringe of the Golden Triangle (the nexus of Elizabeth Street, Creek Street and Eagle Street), which sees the group replicating the approach taken at Everton Plaza to craft another self-contained party precinct featuring three of its lauded hospitality concepts.
After securing the tenancies at the base of Dexus‘ new office-building development The Annex, Tim and his team have spent much of the year transforming the interior and its street-front strip with the intention of creating a free-flowing day-and-night destination offering multiple cuisines. October saw the opening of Mr Claude’s new corner coffee and cannoli joint, which activated a portion of the footpath for European-inspired grazing. Comuna Cantina’s jaw-dropping additions stretch the remainder of The Annex’s 700-sqm Creek Street frontage and need to be seen to be believed. Tim’s vision for a many-sided experience has come to life thanks to the implementation of eight different zones, which include a strip of tiered road-facing perches leading up to the shaded alfresco area, a collection of laneway spaces (including the colourful Toucan Hideaway and the Corbett Chambers laneway) and the interior. The main inside space is dominated by a 15-metre long Corian bar that illuminates from within and can cycle through a rainbow wheel of colours, pairing perfectly with the dappled sunlight-inspired roof above. Inside guests will find a clutch of cushy booths and a DJ set up, which will play host to a roster of names performing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. The venue’s kitchen has been smartly built separate to the bar space, with brand-new chargrills, fryers and combi ovens installed to efficiently accomodate dine-in and takeaway orders. The entire space boasts Comuna’s signature dusty pink and white styling (accentuated with slashes of neon, of course), with design cues taken from the bars of coastal Mexico, Brazil and Spain (think large cacti and eye-catching tile work).
The food and drink
While Comuna Cantina’s design is certainly a feast for the senses, the venue’s food and drink menu gamely matches the vivid aesthetic with tantalising tastes. As usual, the fare runs the gamut of South American flavours, from starters like crispy seasoned calamari, fried-chicken strips with chipotle dipping sauce and chargrilled corn to nine kinds of tacos (including a new lamb ragu option), cheesy quesadillas and filling arepas. As for the booze, well, Comuna Cantina has managed to outdo itself – we’re talking one truly massive stockpile of mezcals and tequilas, as well as signature cocktails that look too good to drink. The cocktail list is headlined by three noteworthy newcomers – the sweet Berry Delicious (vodka, creme de sotol, strawberry puree, milk, amaretto and gingerbread syrup topped with a macaron), the zesty Easy As Pie (citron vodka, limoncello, lemon cordial, lemon juice and lemon curd topped with lemon meringue) and the velvety Creme Boujee (vanilla vodka, Horchata liquor, advocaat creamy liqueur, white-chocolate syrup and milk topped with a scorched sugar shard). Add to that a killer selection of wines and beers and you’ve got the makings of a primo party. Tim has also overhauled Comuna Cantina’s functions and catering menu in order to better service private bookings.
In the future The Corbett Collective will look to flatten the Corbett laneway, creating an easier flow between venues and allowing guests to order from multiple menus via their phone. For now, you can find operating hours and menu details for Comuna Cantina in the Stumble Guide.
The Stumble Guide is our comprehensive Brisbane dining guide with more than 2400 places to eat, drink, shop and play.