Bars & Pubs

Brisbane’s Secret CBD Bars

By Catherine Blake
25th Aug 2015

Mr Edwards Alehouse | Image credit: Ariana Gillrie

You may have heard of some of them before but don’t be so cocky when it comes to actually scouting them out. With demure frontages, and hiding spots usually down a god-awful alleyway, many a born and raised Brisbaner has no clue these places even exist. These are the bars and speakeasies that exist in the catacombs and grout of Brisbane’s corporate kingdoms.

Here is our comprehensive roadmap to the strumming and tipples lurking beyond the city streetfronts:

Sonny's House of Blues

I know it’s not exactly a secret if we keep harping on about it, but Sonny’s is so coy you’d never know where that southern dulcetry was echoing from otherwise. Known for honkytonk tunes and hefty burgers to make you weak, Sonny’s is a fountain of good times and sweet memories. And there’s something oddly mystical about the neon ember glowing in the darkness at the back of Rowes Lane…


Hip and hidden since before it was cool, Brisbane’s OG laneway bar does a roaring trade from dawn and doesn’t stop until it reaches the wee hours. Whether it’s coffee, drinks, or anything in between, source your satisfaction from the crypt of Burnett Lane and Brew’s grungy rumpus.

Super Whatnot

A quick toddle up the hill to the other side of Burnett will bring you to the multi-leveled wonderbox of Super Whatnot. Big thirsts are sated at the bar while hungry bellies will love their menu of American tasties reaching beyond the usual sliders, ribs and wings. Featuring the Brazilian cheese bread, pão de queijo; chilli dogs, prawn skewers, or the Jamaican peppered Rasta chicken, Super Whatnot is about as predictable as a bucket of skinks on acid.

Brooklyn Standard

Vaulted on the elbow of Eagle Lane, cool kids have been buzzing around the red arrow like moths for months. Brooklyn Standard showcases the best local talent in funk, soul, and R&B every night of the week, cranking out good vibes and house cocktails on tap. The bar staff are pretty damn fine too.


Just off George Street there’s an alley that looks seedy as all hell, but perseverance is key. We implore you to disregard the line of empty kegs, the overflowing bins and make it right around the back to the fire escape. Don’t climb it, duck beneath and you’ll find yourself Bean: the cheekiest little wine den you could possibly imagine. Ideal for anyone and everyone sick of blasting Tiesto. 

Mr Edwards Alehouse

Every so often a new eatery will open up and completely throw out our routines and this Mr Edwards is just the lad for the job. He almost swaggered onto the bar scene without us noticing, but the smell of potted crab and the sound of clinking glasses tipped us off. Ideal for a midweek pit stop or Friday night drinks, make sure you get to know the staff before everyone hears about it.

John Mills Himself

By day John Mills is responsible for the mass caffeination of suits in the know, but at night this little nook becomes a cheeky broom cupboard bar. Enter via the back of Archive books or down what looks like a cars-only driveway for a craft beer and maybe catch a little piano magic at this perfectly clandestine jumping off point.


Another chic little spot to take you from day to night is my main man Strauss, roosting in a laneway entrenched in glass and corporate chat. The coffee is spectacular, as are the cocktails, wine, and beer from Teneriffe’s Green Beacon, perfect for everyone from the street trasch to the late romantics.

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