When it comes to food in northeast Australia, Queensland has access to some of the best seafood and produce that has been attracting culinary talents from all across the country. Sunny Brisbane, is thriving with an up-and-coming food scene that has increased in diversity with more people wanting to move to the city. Outdoor dining is the star here — with waterside destinations alongside both river and oceans — as well as cozy wine bars tucked away in inner suburbs and trendy establishments by the railway. It all makes for a restaurant scene with a lot to discover for any occasion. Here are the best special occasion restaurants in Brisbane.
E’cco Bistro (Newstead)
Chef Philip Johnson presents contemporary Australian dining in a bistro atmosphere that captures the effortlessly cool essence of a bistro. The one hat Australian Good Food Guide restaurant that Broadsheet calls “a Brisbane culinary icon” had been operating since 1995 in its original Brisbane CBD location before relocating in 2018 to its current sleek space in the inner suburb of Newstead. A five-course menu is offered Wednesday through Saturday with the likes of cured red snapper with strawberries and daikon or grassland ribeye with bone marrow, asparagus, and barley. A trimmed-down three-course version is also served on Wednesday and Thursday. Wine pairings of Australian or international wines are available.
Dining at the restaurant: The dining room is minimalistic and chic, with eight kitchen counter seats and several bar seats.
Takeaway: The restaurant does not do takeaway or delivery, but catering is offered.
The Golden Pig (Newstead)
More than just a stellar Pan-Asian restaurant, The Golden Pig is also a cooking school with internationally inspired classes such as “Little Tastes of Spain” and “Moroccan Summer Delights” that serve as truly special options for celebrating and great gifts. Chef Katrina Ryan, formerly head chef at celebrity chef Neil Perry’s Rockpool, teamed up with husband Mark Ryan to transform a converted warehouse into the one hat Fairfax Media’s Good Food Guide restaurant it is today. The restaurant’s banquet-style dining features 11 dishes, ranging from smaller bites such as miso butter scallops to large plates of braised Chinese pork belly. Vegetarian/vegan, gluten-free, and lunch versions are also available.
Dining at the restaurant: The spacious and rustic warehouse space dotted with plants is ideal for large parties and groups.
Takeaway: Orders for takeaway can be placed on the website.
Perched on the riverbank with views overlooking Brisbane River, OTTO Ristorante and its all-day dining bar OTTO Osteria boast a long list of accolades, including two hats from AGFG and “wine list of the year” in the Good Food 2019 awards. The modern Italian kitchen is helmed by chef Will Cowper, accompanied by Alan Hunter who has selected a wine list of Italian varietals. Seasonal northern Italian fare shines through in dishes such as agnolotti filled with brisket and smoked bone marrow and served with mushrooms, Tuscan kale, and gremolata. Market fish is accompanied by tomato, capers, caperberries, olives, and herb butter. OTTO channels the “la dolce vita” spirit with stunning views and top-notch food and service that prompts Broadsheet to declare that “it’s arguably Brisbane’s best Italian restaurant.”
Dining at the restaurant: Bask in sunlight and enjoy river views as you watch ferries and yachts pass by. Snag an al fresco seat for the best vantage point.
Takeaway: The restaurant does not offer takeaway or delivery.
Tartufo (Fortitude Valley)
Chef Tony Percuoco’s love for cooking started when he was a young boy at his family’s restaurant in Naples. That early start is evident in the family photos on the restaurant walls, and in his classic Italian food that has garnered him multiple accolades and a cookbook with family recipes. The warm and inviting dining room is the setting for dishes that showcase Percuoco’s hometown and surrounding regions of Tuscany, Umbria, and Abruzzo. Menu options include carpaccio, fresh pasta, sous vide pork loin, grain-fed local ribeye from Victoria, and Neapolitan pizza. Tartufo takes pride in its cocktail creations and selection of Italian beers, wines, and coffee to complete a meal. It all adds up to what feels like a trip to Percuoco’s family home in Italy.
Dining at the restaurant: Indoor dining on plush red leather sofas in warm ambient lighting evokes a vintage feel while the outdoor patio is more casual.
Takeaway: Takeaway orders can be placed by emailing the restaurant.
It’s almost been a year since Joey’s landed atop the Kangaroo Point Cliffs with 180-degree views spanning the riverfront and city skyline, and it’s still the prime spot for everything from weekend brunches to long lunches, sunset drinks, and romantic dates. The elevated outdoor restaurant takes inspiration from European summers with light interiors and rattan lights, so you can sip on a spritz between bites of fresh prawns and fritto misto, or choose from the wine list curated by award-winning sommelier Ian Trinkle.
Dining at the restaurant: The covered deck combined with breathtaking views make up for the missed European escapades.
Takeaway: A separate takeaway menu is available on the website.
Deer Duck Bistro (Auchenflower)
Tucked away in the quaint suburb of Auchenflower, Deer Duck Bistro specialises in fine dining and degustation menus of five, seven, or nine courses. The new spring menu launched this month with a beautifully plated dish named “3 little pig” consisting of pulled smoked pork shoulder with piadina, pork belly char siu with red cabbage, and pork cheek with port wine sauce and polenta cubes. It’s indicative of the inventive dishes served in a vintage environment with French Renaissance-style furniture and antique paintings that have all come together to garner its title as the Australian Good Food Guide Readers’ Choice for fine dining, with a designation as “a hidden Brisbane gem.”
Dining at the restaurant: The indoor dining space is intimate and cosy with framed paintings and French Renaissance armchairs.
Takeaway: The restaurant does not offer takeaway or delivery, but you can purchase a degustation as a gift.
Manly Boathouse (Manly)
It’s hard to believe this gem exists just 30 minutes outside of Brisbane CBD with unparalleled views of Manly Harbour and Moreton Bay. From Nikki and Greg Kay — the power couple behind Reef Seafood and Sushi in Newstead — this light and airy seaside restaurant has it all. Savour the fish of the day grilled and served with truffled cabbage, poached squid, and spring onion relish. Share larger plates of ultra-tender, 48-hour slow-cooked short rib with chimichurri, confit garlic, and mustard leaf. Better yet, get the set menu for the table to try a bit of everything. For an extra-special experience, book a private boathouse for up to eight people.
Dining at the restaurant: The indoor space opens up with French doors flung open to let the breeze in, or sit at the patio’s picnic tables under striped umbrellas.
Takeaway: Takeaway is offered, or stop by for a caffeine fix at the coffee window.
In an unassuming storefront on Fish Lane in South Brisbane lies a gorgeous three-storey space from the team behind Rick Shores in Burleigh Heads and the now-shuttered Little Valley. Broadsheet calls Southside “one of the most ambitious new restaurants of 2020,” seen through the different vibes on each level of this Pan-Asian restaurant. The ground floor is a lush urban jungle that feels like you’re under a canopy, opening up to sister cafe Kiki outside where rays of sunlight streams through the building’s gaps. The second floor is more contained with concrete ceilings marked by hanging plants, while the third floor is reserved for private dining with wood floors and large windows. On all three floors, modernised sharing plates and dim sum come à la carte or banquet-style with options such as caviar siu mai, Hainanese poached chicken, and char siu pork with rose honey and Sichuan mustard.
Dining at the restaurant: This unique space under the monolithic train bridges sets the scene for this trendy multi-level eatery.
Takeaway: Delivery and takeaway are currently not offered but may return in the event of another lockdown.
Mosconi (Fortitude Valley)
This two-storey, high-end European restaurant and wine bar in Fortitude Valley, just off James Street, is the brainchild of restaurant veteran and co-owner Daniel Rotolon of the massively popular Vine Restaurant in New Farm. Inside Mosconi’s igloo warehouse from World War II is a cosy bistro with a hallmark curved roof. Chef Catherine Anders, formerly of Il Centro, presents an à la carte menu with the likes of sourdough with caramelised onion butter, Brisbane Valley quail with gorgonzola gnocchi, and veal cotoletta with lemon sauce. Finish your meal with the dulce de leche mousse with honeycomb granola and burnt meringue for a meal to remember.
Dining at the restaurant: Downstairs features a bar surrounded by tiled floors and marble tabletops, while the upstairs has an extensive wine shelf, wooden tables, and flooring. The outdoor patio is done up with bistro chairs.
Takeaway: Mosconi does not offer takeaway or delivery.
Black Hide Steakhouse (Brisbane)
From highly regarded hospitality group Gambaro — with more than 60 years of restaurant experience and countless awards to its name including “Australia’s Best Steak Restaurant” in the national Restaurant & Catering Awards for Excellence — you know you can trust your steaks to be nothing short of perfection. As the only Queensland restaurant to serve beef from the coveted Stanbroke farms in an exclusive partnership, Black Hide’s steaks have some of the highest possible wagyu and Angus marbling. Round out your meal with sides such as hand-cut chips with aioli, roast pumpkin with garlic yoghurt, and beer-battered onion rings. If you’re vegetarian, Black Hide has plenty of standout options like brown butter pumpkin ravioli, grilled halloumi cheese with roasted grapes, and even a three-course vegan menu.
Dining at the restaurant: Classy white tablecloths don the tables with soft warm lighting and a framed photo wall.
Takeaway: The restaurant does not do takeaway or delivery.