Bars & Pubs

Fave 5 Hidden Bars in Brisbane

By Sophia McMeekin
3rd Feb 2015

When we love something we really, truly LOVE something! And that’s exactly how we feel about our new relationship! Some things just go together. Like cookies and cream, Brandon and Brenda… The Urban List and MINI! 

Our two families have collaborated to bring discerning readers and drivers a new fortnightly series – MINI Fave 5s. The must-try guide to Brisbane, celebrating the launch of the new MINI 5-door hatch

So, Urban Listers, clear the diary and get excited for our Fave 5s. There’s a whole year of eating, drinking and discovering to be done… 

The annoying thing about cool Brisbane bars is that it's the joints you don't know about that have all the cred.

Any old bod’ can strut into a flashy riverside establishment and over order on the Appletinis, but it takes a really cool cat to know which laneway to go down, which non-descript doorway to push through, and which out-of-the-way suburb has that boutique bar with the best menu out.

Brisbane’s bar scene has been bustling with new openings of late, but there are some under-the-radar establishments that you might have missed if you haven’t had your eyes peeled and your ear pressed firmly to the ground.

These are the Brisbane bars you won’t run into your ex at. Here are five of our favourite hidden bars in Brisbane.

Brooklyn Standard

Brisbane CBD

Hyped as one of THE coolest new bars in Brisbane, Brooklyn Standard is pretty darn hard to find, but well worth the chase. Venture down CBD laneway, Eagle Lane, squint hard and you’ll be lucky to see their signage—the security guard manning the door is the giveaway. Mosey down two sets of stairs and you’ll be rewarded with a way-chilled live music venue and bar that’s already scored a cult following among Brisbane’s party people. Brooklyn Standard is all about the dinge-factor, with free pretzels, dark booths, old neon signs, and a house shot that tastes like apple pie. 

Gerard’s Bar

New Farm

You may have heard whispers about this mythical ‘Gerard’ and his impressive cured meat offering. Let us tell you, though Gerard’s Bar may be hard to find, once you’ve been, it’s a Brisbane bar you’ll never lose again. Venture through the laneway that’s home to Gerard’s Bistro (yep, Gerard’s Bar is their little brother venue, so you know it’s gonna be legit), keep marching through the car park and stop when you see the beautiful people spilling out of a Euro-swanky hole in the wall. 

Gerard’s Bar is a charcuterie and tapas bar, and boasts a bar menu that could rival any Brisbane restaurant. They cure their own meats in house, and if you fancy something more substantial the list of bar snacks is well worth eating your way through (if in doubt order the cheese burger, always). Originally designed as a holding pen for the bistro, you’d be forgiven for never moving on.

The Menagerie

Kelvin Grove

Cafes that magically morph into bars when the sun goes down are a long-standing crush of ours. If said café/bar happens to be adorably shabby, hosts live novel readings, bands, and artsy events, and has a bangin’ cocktail list, we’re tempted to upgrade to love. Some of you may have visited The Menagerie in its former life as Room 60, but the venue has recently been taken over by the hot-chocolate prodigy behind Roost Coffee and the result is a very cool new Brisbane bar space. The cactus garden seals the deal.

Sonny’s House of Blues

Brisbane CBD

Dive bars are having a moment, and trust the cool kids behind Lefty’s to open the divey-est of the lot. This new Brisbane bar is tucked in a basement under Rowes Lane (it’s in the same block as Rosie’s used to be, if that gives you any indication of the level of Brisbane-party chops we’re talking). Sonny’s has an ‘80s LA vibe—think booths, live music, Mexcian chow, and a tequila-focused drinks list. Yes, frozen margaritas are on the agenda. And yes, this place is as awesome as it sounds. 

Gypsies Wagon


In a city where your ‘local’ is usually a slightly decrepit pub with carpeted floors serving over-priced steaks, there’s something about finding a truly cool suburban bar and making it your own that feels so good. Enter Gypsies Wagon, a boutique Gaythorne bar with a Latin-American feel. Part bar, part diner, you’ll find burgers, chilli cheese fries, ribs and wings, and one of the best pisco sours in town on the menu. This is the kind of establishment that’s not afraid to hold a delicious-sounding evening like ‘Beer’n’Bacon Night’; the kind of place you’re proud to call your local. 

We're thrilled to partner with MINI to bring you our Fave 5 series—our fortnightly guide to the best of the best in Brisbane. From food to fashion, Campari to Crossfit, each Fave 5 edition is researched and recommended by The Urban List, and driven by the new MINI 5-Door Hatch—putting the city at your fingertips and giving you the freedom to explore it!

Image credits: Daniel Maddock and Hannah McCawley

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