Brisbanites get up early – and why wouldn’t they when it’s “beautiful one day, perfect the next”? But a before-sunrise alarm requires coffee and a good meal to go with it. So it makes sense there is an abundance of cafés throughout the city offering both. Here are 10 to tick off on your next visit to the Queensland capital.
Nick and Kristina Maschke have worked just about every Brisbane espresso machine worth visiting. Little surprise, then, that Camp (their first venue together) could lay claim to the city’s best coffee. The Albion café’s first pour is the much-celebrated Parallel Roasters, with filter coffee coming from East Brisbane’s Light Coffee. Food is simple but filling: try the dark rye sandwich with roasted peppers and corned beef.
50 Hudson Road, Albion
This longstanding yardstick of Brisbane’s café scene is as good as ever despite a recent change in ownership. With its Parisian-chic exposed bricks, wooden floors and bentwood furniture, Pearl will always be one of best-looking eateries in town but it’s the quiet, unfussy service and sprightly menu — citrus pancakes drizzled with orange blossom syrup and figs, say, or a Byron Bay pork belly accompanied by cherries and greens— that seal the deal. Use it as a jumping-off point to explore a surrounding precinct full of boutiques, bars and restaurants.
28 Logan Road, Woolloongabba; (07) 3392 3300
In some ways, Naïm is typical of Brisbane café culture. Set in an old workers’ Queenslander in well-heeled Paddington, on weekends it overflows with good-looking punters. They come, though, for food that’s anything but typical: a pan-Middle Eastern and North African menu peddling dishes such as Tunisian-style baked eggs in tomato and capsicum sauce or a simple avo on toast gussied up with dukkah, pomegranate gel and dill. If you can’t make it up the hill, try the exquisite looking miniature instalment in South Brisbane.
14 Collingwood Street, Paddington; (07) 3172 1655
Hunter & Scout
In the middle of 2017 what had been a poky western suburbs op-shop transformed into Hunter & Scout, a new contender for Brisbane’s prettiest café. Inside the heritage-listed shopfront it’s all hardwood and brick and patterned tiles but the place to be is out back in the enormous courtyard. With its greenery and handsome rattan furniture, it’s a brilliant spot to eat some elevated café fare – think a lamb-and-potato salad with a generous dollop of garlic ranch dressing. If nothing else, Hunter & Scout is a good excuse to journey across Walter Tailor Bridge to Graceville, a beautiful, bucolic enclave even locals rarely explore.
307 Honour Avenue, Graceville; (07) 3379 4527
King Arthur Cafe
King Arthur is the brainchild of Mairi Mackinnon, Jarrod Huey and Josh Russell, three of the city’s most highly respected hospitality gurus. Occupying an old Fortitude Valley blister hangar, King Arthur deals in highly evolved all-day breakfasts such as fermented chilli scrambled eggs and avo plates built on kimchi bread and topped with yuzu miso custard. The café itself mixes sharp service with a laid-back, communal vibe. It’s a great place to kick-off a shopping session on the highfalutin James Street.
164C Arthur Street, Fortitude Valley; (07) 3358 1670
Billykart Kitchen is TV chef Ben O’Donoghue winding down from the high life and introducing some innovative cuisine to Brisbane’s breakfast crowd. The newer café in West End is easier to get to, but it pays to seek out the Annerley original – at the confluence of a bunch of suburban streets and surrounded by Queenslanders, it’s as Brisbane as it gets. Prepare for clever dishes such as corn dogs sobrassada or baked huevos rancheros heavy on yellow squash and plantain.
1 Eric Crescent, Annerley; (07) 3392 9275
Café, bistro or fully-fledged restaurant? Gauge is comfortable blurring the lines. This South Brisbane eatery flips effortlessly from breezy, bright breakfasts in the morning to dark and moody degustations at night. Still, its soul seems to lie in clever brunch options such as soft eggs, smoked almond cream and kale on sourdough or brioche matched with pork bolognese, cabbage and a fried egg. The crisp, wood-lined digs provide the rest of the charm.
77 Grey Street, South Brisbane; (07) 3638 0431
It’s hard to believe this handsome, 1920s-built Petrie Terrace shopfront sat empty for 16 years before Susannah Whitehouse and Candy Smith snapped it up to create Scout in 2013. Such is the popularity of a cosy café that has a happy knack of making you feel like a local no matter where you’re from. Scout is known for its bagels, from firey toppings such as pastrami, jalapeno mayo and pickled schmear to sweetly sedate bagels with homemade jam.
190 Petrie Terrace, Brisbane; (07) 3367 2171
Plant-based eating isn’t boring at Brisbane’s vegan superstar, Grown. The menu boasts items such as a hash brown with roasted tomatoes, spinach and confit capsicum sauce and a housemade yeast extract (think Vegemite) served on sourdough with avocado and sesame cheese. Owner Sacha Muchall is a specialty coffee veteran and can usually be found behind the counter pumping out expertly made espresso and filter from a variety of local roasters.
Shop G03/21 Buchanan Street, West End; (07) 3036 7213
Corner Store Cafe
Kim Malouf opened Corner Store Cafe in 2011 and almost single-handedly revived Toowong’s sluggish breakfast scene, transforming an old weatherboard convenience shop with crisp tiling, inviting patios and an extensive herb garden out back. Tables can be hard to find on a Saturday morning but never fear — Malouf has just opened a second venue, Pitch and Fork, 800 metres up the road.
113 Sylvan Road, Toowong; (07) 3870 2223
Top image: Grown