Where to eat and drink in Brisbane: Fortitude Valley

I’m changing things up here on the blog today.

If you’re new around these parts, when I’m not talking fashion or beauty, I indulge my passion for food, drinks and travel. And often the best of those three things is found on your doorstep.

It’s eight months since we made the move from the Sunshine Coast to the city and in that time we’ve barely scratched the surface of where to eat and drink in Brisbane.

The reason for this is two-fold: life is busy and and I love being able to just step out the door and walk somewhere locally.

So when our friends and fellow bloggers, Mr and Mrs Romance, announced they were coming to visit again, we sprung for a small cab fare and headed a few kilometres across town to explore one of Brisbane’s fun dining and drinking precincts.

Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley has a seedy past and a party present. For better or for worse this gives The Valley character.

When I was growing up and we’d come and visit my grandparents at New Farm (long before it was a hip and happening place to live), the Valley was where you shopped if you wanted to shop at a department store. The city’s Queen Street Mall was only a pipe dream.

Now The Valley is more boutique-y than big stores and it’s an area of Brisbane that has evolved as developers realise the potential of once-industrial areas.

This has seen the rise of different precincts within The Valley. The main area still centres around Chinatown and Brunswick Street. Plus, there are the newer James Street and The Emporium precincts.

In this post, I’m focussing on the entertainment precinct on and around the corner of Alfred and Constance Streets.

Most of the restaurants and bars on this block are owned by The Griffiths Group. It’s an area of the Valley that was once dominated by a multi-storey carpark and office buildings.

The carpark is still there but the corner is now an entertainment destination.

By chance and good engineering, last week we spent two nights enjoying the hospitality of the area.

Dutch Courage Officers Mess

The first night we booked in for an Aussie gin tasting event hosted by The Gin Queen at Dutch Courage Officers Mess (the only non-Griffiths Group venue and newest kid on the block).

Dutch Courage Officers Mess | Fortitude Valley Brisbane

This cocktail, gin and share-plate bar offers up an impressive selection of more than 100 different types of gin. We got to taste four Australian gins that left me loving gin even more (if that were possible!). And quite fancying a Negroni as my new favourite way to drink it.

Negroni | Dutch Courage Officers Mess

Special guest on the night was Mark Watkins from Mt Uncle Distillery, a small but heavily awarded distillery on the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland.

Botanic Australis Gin | Dutch Courage Officers Mess

I’m extremely studious … look at that gin-tasting note-taking.

Limes Hotel Rooftop Bar

The following night we were guests of the Griffiths Group, starting our night with a twilight drink at Limes Hotel Rooftop Bar.

Limes Hotel Rooftop Bar | Fortitude Valley | Brisbane

(When Mr and Mrs Romance last visited we visited another of the Valley’s roof-top bars, Elixir.  I think the UP bar at the new TRYP boutique hotel further down Constance Street might be the go for their next visit.)

Limes was quiet early on this Thursday night but it was gearing up for a movie showing on the outdoor screen. You even have the option of watching from the comfort of a hot tub.

We left our clothes on (best for all concerned) and instead headed downstairs and next door to Alfred and Constance.

Alfred and Constance

These once run-down Queensland cottages are now home to four separate dining and drinking options.

Alfred and Constance | Fortitude Valley | Brisbane

We were treated to a look at the new spring menu at The Vanguard and were not disappointed.

At one point Mrs Romance and I looked across the table and laughed at the apparent food coma that Mr SY and Mr Romance had found themselves in.

Both were leaning back against the wall, smiling with a shared delirium that follows indulging in really good food.

They went hard, optimistically aiming for burgers after the starters of soft shell crab avocado rolls, crispy calamari, slow-roasted pork belly and lamb ribs. Mrs Romance and I shared a main of barramundi and pulled pork from the grill. I’m still dreaming of the crispy crackling.

Look away my vegetarian friends.

Slow-cooked pork belly at Alfred and Constance | Fortitude Valley Brisbane

Alfred and Constance | Fortitude Valley Brisbane

Food coma or no food coma, dessert was ordered and devoured.

This WAS a piece of banoffee pie.

Banoffee Pie | Alfred and Constance | Fortitude Valley Brisbane

Other places to visit

This won’t be our last visit to this entertainment precinct.

We have Alfredo’s – a late-night Italian – and Kwan Brothers – a modern take on Asian dining and also open late – in our sights and stomachs.

More Brisbane

Check out this post: 100 things to do in Brisbane.

And get excited hotel lovers, The W is heading Brisbane’s way.

Over to you … been to Brisbane lately? What did you do? Live in Brisbane? Share your favourite places to eat and drink out.

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  • Dianna Jane

    I too am enjoying rediscovering the treasures of being out and about in Brisbane after 6 years on the Sunshine Coast. I have grown up kids who clue me up…as to where I can and should go. Such an adventure.

  • Kel

    Sounds like a great couple of nights! There’s so many new places opening up and around that area. A girlfriend and I went to Gerard’s Bistro the other week and I can highly recommend it. Sixes & sevens is good for pre dinner drinks too. Am off to Blackbird on Tues for my birthday ( a rare child free meal with hubs), so looking fwd to some good food!

  • StyledbyBec

    In this season of my life i rarely go out for dinner but I know those Streets like the back of my hand because dad and I would drive around the city and Valley for work and I would know all the eating haunts. Brisbane really offers some amazing choices when it comes to food. I look forward to eating out again when Phoebe is at an age of being left for a couple of hours.

  • Ok, I have just had dinner so am reading this on a full tummy….BUT….this post made me HUNGRY! Food and me are besties and I’m always on the hunt for new places to try in and around Brisbane / Gold Coast. I’ve never been to the Limes Hotel Rooftop Bar – but have now added to my ‘must do list’. Great post Nikki.

    Hubby and I also love Sake on Eagle Street Pier for child-free dining and Sixes & Sevens for drinkies.

    Claire x

    http://www.mumscloset.com.au/

    • You do get some wonderful date nights happening Claire … yes you’d love this one!

  • Mish Young

    I’ve just moved to Brisbane from the Gold Coast & my son, who has been here a while took me to the Eat St Markets at Portside the other week. It’s got a great atmosphere & plenty of gluten free food options!

  • Petra

    I somehow think eating and shopping go together – you can really get a feel for a place when you go out to cafes and just sit and watch the locals. It’s a great hobby of mine, plus finding a place that has GREAT coffee makes you feel more at home when you’re new to an area.

  • 26 Years & Counting

    Oh I was in James St for an interview after work a few weeks ago, really hungry and the restaurants were all just starting to cook for the evening – amazing smell that made me even hungrier!

  • Nic

    Sounds fun and fabulous! Brissie’s never really been on my hit list for getaways before, but I love these reviews – def on my list now! x

    • It’s worth a visit Nic … so much happening these days and a very good vibe x

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Wow it all looks amazing so many lovely places to visit and not enough time,I’m glad you had a great time with Mr and Mrs Romance Nikki!

  • PrincessEatsPeaSoup

    So many new restaurants opening all the time in the Valley. I love dumplings for lunch, see – Fat Dumpling, The Brunswick Social Club and Harajuku Gyoza – all within a few meters of each other! Spoilt for choice.

    • I tried Fat Dumpling and Harjuku Gyoza at the Night Noodle Markets during Good Food month … need to go to the actual restaurants!

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