Whether you’re craving a feast for the ages, a well-executed cocktail with rooftop vistas or a laneway shopping haul, Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley has the answer.
Known as ‘The Valley’, this lively corner of Brisbane was Australia’s first dedicated entertainment district and continues to be a draw card for visitors from all over the country looking to discover local live music, the next big thing in fashion and some of the city’s tastiest food and drink. From rooftop bars and multi-cultural restaurants to Instagrammable cafés and outdoor shopping, these are Fortitude Valley’s must-see sites.
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The Rose Room
Phones at the ready: The Rose Room is the Instagrammer’s latest paradise, with an all-blush colour scheme that will have you… tickled pink. Wander by the rose-gold champagne bottles lining the entryway and stop to admire the rose murals on the walls before finding your table under the Ottoman-inspired lights. This pink wonderland isn’t just about the looks though: the Turkish-inspired café menu proves it offers substance as well as style. Think mushroom croquettes, Turkish eggs, breakfast pide pizza or the ultimate: The Sultan’s Turkish Breakfast, a feast of mixed mezze for two.
Just make sure you leave room for dessert, as Baba’s homemade baklava can’t be missed.
14/20 Constance St
If you can’t hop on a plane just yet, L’Americano is your next best bet: this café, bar and bistro on Wickham Street will instantly transport you to the Italian Riveria, offering up a slice of the Mediterranean without leaving Australia. Pop by in the morning for artisanal coffee and European takes on Aussie breakfast classics, like the L’Americano breakfast brioche and croque monsieur, served in Brisbane’s version of a 1950s espresso bar. Come lunch, take your pick of piadina flatbreads, paninis, salads or pasta – just make sure you leave space for tiramisu.
400 Wickham Street
There are good restaurants in Fortitude Valley and then there are places like sAme sAme – a Southeast-Asian restaurant re-writing the rules of street-inspired Thai food. Its dishes capture the pure energy, variety and intricacies of its inspirational homeland.
Follow the sounds of sizzling woks down Ada Lane to find this hidden gem, where authentic ingredients are cooked over coals to create dishes like grilled southern calamari with Chinese celery and kaffir lime, and stir-fried pork belly with snake beans, garlic and Thai basil. Curries, salads and smaller plates are equally as appealing, so we’d suggest letting the chefs do the hard work of choosing a dish for you by opting for the banquet.
Shop AM3 Ada Lane, 46 James Street
There’s no guessing what’s on the menu at Kid Curry – this contemporary Southeast-Asian restaurant celebrates the sheer diversity of saucy and flavour-packed dishes found across Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka. Tease your palate with smaller snacks before diving into the rotating list of vegetarian, seafood and meat curries from around the subcontinent. Paired with a tight selection of wines and cocktails, it’s a feast for the senses you won’t want to end. Kid Curry’s minimalist interior is worth a look in itself, but if sun’s shining, the best tables are under the fairy-lit fig trees in the enchanting courtyard.
An offshoot of renowned Fortitude Valley restaurant Agnes, Agnes Bakery is a celebration of what happens when you combine flour, water and fire. Nestled in a heritage-listed cottage on a sunny corner of James Street, this beautiful bakery offers a range of sweet and savoury baked treats, all made with ancient and sustainably grown grains and baked by fire. Sit in with a zucchini and stracchino cheese kouign-amann and flat white, or grab a loaf of sourdough or strawberry and burnt vanilla danish to go – whatever you choose is bound to please.
85 James St
There’s no better way to experience Brisbane, the ultimate outdoor city, than soaking it all in drink in hand on a rooftop. Do it in style at Cielo Rooftop, a sky-high oasis on Fortitude Valley’s Brunswick Street, where unique yet approachable cocktails are served alongside a concise menu of Italian-inspired treats. Opt to enjoy charcuterie and a cheese board while sipping on a Positano (Ketel One Vodka, Aperol, toasted coconut, citrus, house perfume) or Why Perche?, a tempting concoction of Poor Toms Strawberry Gin, StrangeLove pear soda, rose vermouth, citrus and Poor Toms Strawberry Gin-infused lollipop.
209 Brunswick Street
Channel your inner scientist at Viscosity, a lab-based cocktail bar that takes molecular mixology to the next level in the heart of Fortitude Valley. Choose your experiment from the list behind the bar, or make it easy by choosing one of the cocktail racks, where five of the most popular concoctions are on offer. Flavour combinations can range from Skittles (apple, berry or grape) to gumballs and watermelon.
If you’re going ‘out out’, don’t miss their shots – past options have included fruit loops, zombie brains and jellyfish.
25 Connor St
Fortitude Music Hall
Enjoy a drink on the rocks at Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane’s premier live music venue. From heavy metal gigs to light-hearted comedy, this entertainment hub in the heart of The Valley is a magnet for local and international talent.
Tucked inside the hall’s four walls is The Outpost, an alluring post-punk-inspired venue that promises handcrafted cocktails and intimate performances until 3am. Sink into a booth and work your way through an extensive menu of top-shelf spirits and creative concoctions curated by the talented team at Proof & Company.
8 Warner Street
Reverends Fine Coffee
Worship at the altar of the humble coffee bean at Reverends Fine Coffee, home to some of the city’s best brews and beverages. Serving specialty coffee from Coffee Supreme, as well as hosting guest roasters, this all-day café is dedicated to a ‘damn good brew’, offering up coffee any which way you like it (even decaffeinated). The food menu is equally as considered, with something to munch on during a morning pit stop, over a work lunch or on a relaxed weekend morning with friends. Keep it classic with smashed avo or banana bread, or mix it up with chorizo and potato omelette, or a chilli bacon and cheese bagel. Should your day call for something a little stronger than just caffeine, this cosy spot also serves beer, wine, cider, cocktails and basic spirits.
372 Brunswick Street
City Winery Brisbane
Forget the Yarra, Barossa or Hunter Valley – Fortitude Valley is home to a winery of its very own. City Winery Brisbane sources high-quality grapes from across Australia’s key growing regions, bringing them to inner-city Brisbane, where winemaker Dave Cush works his magic. The result is artisanal, small-batch drops that speak of their terroir, while remaining approachable and most importantly, delicious.
Sample his hard work in a converted warehouse on Wandoo St, where you can learn more on a tour or cellar door tasting. For the full experience, dine among the barrels in the restaurant, where chefs prepare dishes over a custom four-metre fire pit.
11 Wandoo St
Discover the crème de la crème of Australian style on James Street, Fortitude Valley’s leading lifestyle precinct. With more than 110 specialty stores, it’s home to everything from design havens to fashion boutiques, all found in a leafy outdoor setting. From big-name brands like Bec + Bridge and Zimmermann, to Nimble Activewear and Mister Zimi, you’re bound to find something to delight.
Melbourne isn’t the only city known for its laneway retail therapy – Fortitude Valley is home to a couple of iconic laneways of its own, each home to treasure troves of boutiques, cultural attractions, cafés and bars.
Fall down the rabbit hole to find the wonderland of Winn Lane, where a community of local artisans, designers and foodies await. Search for your next iconic piece of jewellery at Jess Blak, treat yourself to a new outfit at Phoebe Paradise, or book in for extensions at Kiki Hair or a trim at Babylon Falls Barbershop.
Visit Bakery Lane to peruse Bessette Bridal, Phase 4 Records + Cassettes and Destacarse Boutique, before picking up a snack from Cakes & Shit – ‘Brisbane’s sassiest bakery’ – or Johnny’s Pizzeria. If you’ve worked up a thirst, pop by Laruche for a cocktail before you go.
Hark back to simpler times down California Lane, where neon signs, pastel walls and retro styling surround a collection of unique independent businesses just waiting to be discovered. YP Threads and LJC Designs are two to watch, each offering their own take on bold prints and eye-catching fashion.
Winn Lane, Winn Street
Bakery Lane, 690 Ann Street
California Lane, 22 McLachlan St
Ready to book your Brisbane escape? Check out our selection of exclusive offers here.
Hero image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland