For many years, The Valley was an after-dark Brisbane destination renowned for its edgy live music, arts scene and a frenetic energy that continued into the wee hours. But it has evolved into a hip and high-end precinct with new restaurants, bars, boutique hotels and retail offerings.
This charming little café is housed in a quirky two-storey space just off James Street. The carefully curated all-day breakfast menu is focused on local organic produce and offers dishes such as grilled broccoli with pumpkin, tomato, smoked chèvre, sausage crumb, miso dressing and eggs.
Nickel Kitchen & Bar
Retreat from the bustle of Ann Street to this plush Art Deco-style restaurant, replete with a crystal chandelier, mahogany-lined bar and luxurious leather banquettes. The dishes are a contemporary twist on European classics like Grimaud duck breast with parsnip purée and wallaby tartare with spiced yoghurt.
In the heart of the swank James Street precinct, this contemporary bistro – inspired by Middle Eastern and Maghreb cuisines – is lauded for good reason. Firm favourites are the Bekaa wings with yoghurt and dried rose petals, the slow-roasted Wagyu brisket and the pistachio, rose and barberry nougat for dessert.
Hip younger brother of Gerard’s Bistro, The Apo is set in a beautiful 150-year-old terrace and former apothecary. Pop in for a bespoke cocktail and snacks like the Lebanese taco with spiced goat and garlic yoghurt.
With its champagne garden, rustic underground cellar with leather chesterfields and antique curios aplenty, Baedeker bar and wine room is proof that The Valley has come a long way.
Spicers Balfour Hotel
While there’s no shortage of hotels in Fortitude Valley proper, none encapsulates the character of the area like Spicers Balfour Hotel, down the road in New Farm. Its king and queen rooms are nestled within a grand old Queenslander in a quiet residential street just a short walk from the action. The hotel’s restaurant (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner) has a wraparound verandah surrounded by frangipani trees and the rooftop bar offers views of the city and Story Bridge.
Go gallery hopping Start at the Institute of Modern Art on Brunswick Street and work your way east for an inspiring spread of small galleries: Artisan, Jan Murphy Gallery, Philip Bacon Galleries and Heiser Gallery.
Shop for local fashion James Street is full of little Australian stores that are big on style. There’s the relaxed aesthetic of Lee Mathews, exotic prints at Camilla, voluminous dresses by Brisbane designer Gail Sorronda and whimsical creations by Gorman. Other favourites include Sass & Bide, Zimmermann and Scanlan Theodore, with high-end international shoes at Maryon’s completing the outfit.
Take in some live music It’s actually in nearby Newstead but The Triffid – brainchild of Powderfinger’s former bassist, John Collins – is the darling of the live-music scene. Set in an atmospheric old commercial aircraft hangar, it has an impressive events calendar, a laid-back beer garden and state-of-the-art sound.
But first, caffeine...
It’s hard to decide what’s loveliest at Reverends (372 Brunswick Street): the raw honesty of the red-brick interior, the artwork on the walls or the excellent coffee.