10 Iconic Brisbane Restaurants You Should Have Been To

By AJ James
25th Apr 2015

The Euro | Image Credit: Ariana Gillrie

Be it a chocolate paddle pop, white t-shirt, or LBD, you really can’t beat a classic. It’s timeless. It doesn’t fade, and while time brings some trendy new competition to the scene, a classic holds its own.

Time after time it gives the people what they want, and while the freshly arrived competition can try with all their might, it’ll take them quite some time to get to the same echelon of excellence.

This holds particularly true for restaurants. It’s a tricky and tiresome business, and to run a restaurant service after service is no mean feat. It’s a salute-worthy endeavour, and while you can think your job drains the energy from you, you can bet it’s nothing on running a restaurant, managing staff, and creating the kind of place where the people willingly flock regularly. Their names are known, and everyone has their favourite order

While it’s fun to celebrate the new and trendy, we’ll always love and appreciated Brisbane’s classic restaurants. Here are ten of the city’s finest classic restaurants.

e’cco Bistro

Brisbane CBD

When it comes to classic Brisbane restaurants it’s hard to argue with e’cco Bistro’s status. In 1995 when Philip Johnson opened the doors of a refurbished building on the fringe of the CBD, it signified the start and re-invigoration of Brisbane’s dining scene, and gave the city an entity that could ‘give the bird’ to the southern restaurant scenes.

Continental Café

New Farm

If you haven’t been to Continental Cafe, then get yourself a booking pronto. It’s like the cooking of your friend who really could open a restaurant and does both the classics and creating new ones incredibly well. The thick beef sausages with mash, and roasted tomato jus is just a delight.

Harveys Bar + Bistro

New Farm

When Matt and Kate Harvey opened their bistro on James Street many moons ago, it played a major role in shaping the identity of this now eclectic precinct. Fast forward today, and under the direction of now chef/owner/rockstar PJ McMillan, the sky is the limit for Harveys. His cooking, featuring the best of seasonal ingredients prepared with finesse, is what other Brisbane restaurateurs aspire to.

Bar Alto

New Farm

It’s a sad thought to think there are some self proclaimed dining enthusiasts out there who are yet to visit Bar Alto. Namely because A) if you haven’t had their goat ragu pappardelle or zucchini fritters you haven’t lived, and B) the staff, surrounds and food is just so darn lovely. And the wine list is lush. And so too is drinking wine from their deck as you look over the river and New Farm park. Talk about iconic.


Brisbane CBD

We love Urbane. It was cool back when it opened, and it's still cool now. Award winning, internationally renowned fine dining, and there's a bar for you to kick on to as well. A full tummy and then a few sneaky cocktails? Oh, yes please. The addition of more casual dining space, The Euro makes this Brisbane restaurant veritable wonderland of yum.

Restaurant II

Brisbane CBD

This has origins back to Two Small Rooms in Toowong, which in its prime with Andrew Mirosch running the kitchen was a delicious place to eat. Michael Conrad opened Restaurant II years back, and chances are you’ve driven or walked past it one too many times without going in. You should.

Il Centro

Brisbane CBD

Yes, on a Friday Il Centro's packed with every property agent on Eagle Street, but with good reason. The service is slick, the sand crab lasagne a real treat, and it’s one of the last remnants from the pier’s days of old.

Crosstown Eating House


The boys who created Crosstown (the classics have nicknames) really deserve a round of applause, because when they showed that informal dining could be really good and just as delicious as that eaten on white table cloths. And this is where we all saw and embraced the idea of sharing our food, taken from splitting a sandwich, to covering our table with many options.

Enjoy Inn

Fortitude Valley

“When I was your age, the only restaurant we had nearby was the Chinese one”—my dad*. Owing to the excellent cultural diversity in Australia, Chinese restaurants hold a soft spot in any city, particularly when it’s one that is a true cracker, and sits in pride of place in a certain iconic mall. At Enjoy Inn The salt and pepper king prawns are excellent. And unlike other prawn dishes offered by the competition, they are based on fleshy, sweet beauties and not those tiny uniform frozen ones.

*NB my dad is not ancient, and is actually a cool and hip young buck.

Cha Cha Char 

Brisbane CBD

An oldie but a goodie, and who with a hankering for steak (and some moula in their wallet) hasn't headed to Cha Cha for a meat centric meal? Exactly. Eye fillet, medium rare and some Hot English Mustard, if you please. 

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