Food trails have become one of today’s most popular holiday excursions. It’s easy to do, you can (usually) go at your own pace and there’s much to learn and eat or drink.
If you only have a day to spare in the Australian city of Brisbane, Queensland, you may want to join a walking tour, specifically one that will help you navigate through the city’s hip laneways.
The Laneways and Cafes Tour, for example, is operated four times a week by Walk Brisbane. The three-hour tour will take you to a handful of cafes around the city centre, during which you will be able to see several interesting landmarks and local artwork.
Oh, and try copious amounts of coffee, and some decadent desserts, too.
Brisbane boasts over 1,500 cafes and restaurants, but the really good ones are usually a little harder to find – at least for tourists. Felix For Goodness, for example, lies along the back lane of some dreary-looking office buildings. On weekends, the lane fills up with people lining up to get into the cafe, which is located on the first floor.
On the weekends, the place becomes very lively at night as there is supposedly a hip speakeasy bar close by.
Another one of Brisbane’s laneway gems is Coffee Iconic, a cafe with a tiny space out front that’s perfect for working folks who are just looking to grab a coffee and brioche before heading straight for the office. If you walk into the tiny lane next to it, however, you will find a nice little garden with tables, chairs and benches for customers to leisurely enjoy their cup of coffee.
If coffee is not your thing, don’t worry as you can order other beverages as well. Whenever the baristas or wait staff are not busy, feel free to ask them some questions like the types of coffee (or tea!) they use, or even Brisbane’s bustling cafe culture.
Walk Brisbane also offers other specialised walking tours such as the Small Bars of the Valley Tour and the Art & Design Tour. You can find out how much each tour costs on their website (walkbrisbane.com).
Of course, you can also create your own food/bar adventure in Brisbane. Perhaps the best place to do this is along the Riverwalk, where countless bars, restaurants and cafes line the 870m trail. At one end of the walk is The Fantauzzo Art Series Hotel, a new boutique hotel that opened in March this year. The hotel is right underneath the Story Bridge, which is colourfully lit up each night.
The Fantauzzo is also part of the historical Howard Smith Wharves (constructed in the 1840s), which has been revived to become the city’s new cultural hub. It is now home to funky bars and restaurants including Felons Brewing Co, Greca Restaurant and Mr Percival’s Overwater Bar. When we stayed at the hotel some time in May, the area was buzzing with activity almost every night … and day!
The golden trio
Always end your holiday on a high note. For many, this means splurging on a big meal at a really nice restaurant. Brisbane has several of these places to offer, but here are our top three: Hellenika at The Calile, Three Blue Ducks at W Brisbane and Montrachet.
Hellenika specialises in home-styled Greek cuisine. The menu includes lots of sharing plates and banquet-style dining options, presumably catering to large groups. But if you’re dining alone and wish to try more than five dishes from the menu, no one will judge you. In fact, you should consider ordering the dips, dolmades, grilled octopus, zucchini chips, spanakopita and braised beef shank.
Three Blue Ducks is a restaurant that began in New South Wales with three friends; today, there are 15 chefs and cooks who either run or own the four outlets (the Brisbane restaurant is the only one outside of NSW). If you’re a cocktail fan, there’s lots of fun ones to try here.
At Montrachet, you can take part in its Supper Club event where you get a five-course dinner – with wine pairings, of course – specially crafted by its award-winning chef, Shannon Kellam. It’s been billed as a “bucket list experience” in Brisbane, though perhaps the price may be a bit steep for casual tourists. But then again, you know what they say, you only live once.