Bars & Pubs

10 Best Old-School Watering Holes In Brisbane

By Daniel Colasimone
16th Mar 2017

best pubs brisbane

The Breakfast Creek Hotel is not up for sale, despite Midnight Oil’s claims back in 1987. The song in which it’s mentioned, though, Dreamworld, was lamenting the fact that so many of the traditional drinking venues were disappearing and being replaced by blandness. And 30 years on, the erosion has only gotten worse.

Themed bars, foodie pubs and craft beer joints are awesome (we visit them with a vengeance multiple times per week), but every now and then you want to sit down for a cold, cheap domestic beer in a pub that has barely changed in the last half-century or so, with all its character formed over generations.

Here are 10 of Brisbane’s best old-school watering holes. Let us know where you go!

The Breakfast Creek Hotel

Breakfast Creek

Yup, the one from the Midnight Oil song is still going strong. We can’t think of the Brekky Creek Hotel without salivating, such is the premium qualify of the steaks which only seem to get better over the years. But this pub is about so much more; the vibrant atmosphere, well-priced drinks and the magnificent architecture. You haven’t been to Brisbane until you’ve had a drink or four here.

Pineapple Hotel

Kangaroo Point

It’s almost impossible to go to the Piney without having a rollicking good time. Especially after sporting events (or, we suppose, Adele concerts) at the Gabba, this big Queenslander the best place in town to be. The clientele are typically Brisbane, which covers a fair range of people, and you’ll get to know them intimately because the place will be packed to the rafters. Also, do you love sport? Good, because there are like 48 big screens showing all the sports.

Mansfield Tavern


Live music, a function room … a bistro! That’s a proper pub, in a leafy setting. There are pool tables and hearty meals; Mansfield Tavern has it all and so much more. Actually, that’s mostly it, but what else do you need?

Ric’s Bar and Café

Fortitude Valley

Everyone who has dabbled in the Brisbane night scene knows Ric’s like a close friend, no matter what generation you’re from or your musical interests or sub-culture. And pretty much everyone who is a Valley regular probably considers it one of their ‘locals’. It may not be the funkiest or most stylish venue around, but it – and the quieter RG next door - are the glue that binds any big Valley night together.

Edinburgh Castle Hotel


This Kedron classic looks like the suburban pubs you see in Australian movies from the 70s and 80s. So yeah, it’s awesome. If you love thick, juicy steaks raffle wheels and Wednesday-night poker, the Edi is the place for you. If you don’t … what are you even doing here?

Royal Exchange Hotel


A few summers have passed since some of us went to Uni, but while the world changes around us you can always rely on one thing: The RE will be pretty much the same as always. Over the years this two-level pub with its pleasant beer garden has undergone a few makeovers, but it only takes a few rowdy Thursday nights before it kind of looks just the same as it did before. You know what you’re going to get, and it’s live music, cheap jugs, jacked-up bouncers and drunk students. Oh, and the best chips and gravy on the planet.

Holland Park Hotel

Holland Park

A corner location surrounded by greenery in suburbia? Check. A steakhouse? Check. Beer? Check. The Holland Park Hotel knows what makes the good people of Brisbane happy and delivers in spades. Yep, there are meat tray raffles too, and when we heard about Free Sausage Sizzle Saturday we cancelled social netball and made a bee line for Holland Park.

Bardon Bowls, Or Basically Any Bowls Club


The renewed interest in bowls clubs among young folk in recent years can be put down to their complete lack of pretention, super casual atmosphere and dirt-cheap prices. I mean, that’s why you’re reading this article in the first place, right? Local clubs like Bardon Bowls, the New Farm Bowls Club, the Red Hill Community Sports Club or Merthyr Bowls Club have absolutely nailed it, whether they meant to or not. Here’s a hot tip for you, too, you don’t even have to actually play bowls to drink there. Not sure why you wouldn’t, but at least you know that now.

The Indooroopilly Hotel


Like the RE, the Indro has been done up inside a few times over the years but you can walk in there and still see the same clientele as back in ’98. Not sure if it’s actually the same people, but they look pretty similar. And let’s hope they never change the glorious deco exterior as it’s as much a Brisbane icon as the Story Bridge.

The Plough Inn


Established in 1864, The Plough Inn these days finds itself nestled in a much more vibrant Southbank district than in times past, yet its owners have done a brilliant job of updating it just the right amount so none of the old-school charm is lost. The pretty Queenslander has a beer garden, a sports bar and a deck – the holy trinity of a great Aussie pub. Southbank has a lot to offer nowadays, but we reckon nothing can match a few cold beers and some live music at the Plough.

Because of course you want more beerspiration! Here's our pics of the best pubs and bars in Brisbane.

Image credit: Breakfast Creek Hotel

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