This month saw Brisbane welcome an authentic taqueria, a punk-inspired cocktail bar, a yellow-hued all-vegetarian eatery, a dispensary of primo Portuguese tarts and a slick two-in-one coffee spot and wine bar. Here are our picks for this month’s best openings …
Cartel Del Taco, Hawthorne
Okay, yes – we featured Cartel Del Taco back in March, but the Hawthorne taqueria’s opening date was actually Friday April 1, so it counts here. This phenomenal eatery, the brainchild of Mexican ex-pats and friends Marco Ramirez and Erick Martinez, is as close to an authentic taqueria experience as you’ll get in Brisbane. Why? The duo spent three years venturing back and forth to Mexico, sourcing everything from furniture and crockery to artwork and decor, ensuring every detail was as reflective of the genuine article as could be.
Now complete, Cartel Del Taco’s eatery and bar spaces feel lively and considered, with a kitchen equipped with the necessary gear to ensure the food is as on-point as the aesthetic. Speaking of which, Cartel Del Taco’s menu boasts seven tacos to choose from (including al pastor, birria, carne asada and beer-battered prawn varieties), plus snacks like chargrilled corn and slow-cooked pork ribs, as well as mains such as lamb barbacoa shanks and cauliflower steaks.
Over at the bar, margaritas and mezcalitas are a specialty, and bottles of Tecate, Pacifico and Modelo, plus hard seltzer from Topo Chico in Monterrey, will keep thirsts quenched.
Stranded, Fortitude Valley
The Saints are undoubtedly one of Brisbane’s most beloved and revered musical exports. The band’s debut record (I’m) Stranded is a seminal entry into punk music lexicon, putting them in the same influential stratosphere as genre contemporaries the The Ramones. Fortitude Valley’s rough-and-tumble Stranded looks to pay homage to the legends of the scene with its rock ‘n’ roll-inspired offering.
Luke ‘Boo’ Johnston, Cat Clarke and Shane Chidgzey – owners of similarly iconic Brisbane music venue The Zoo – have taken over the former home of QMusic above Winn Lane, implementing a decorative pivot that could best be described as ‘a dive bar that has grown up’.
The venue pays homage punk alter-culture of the 70s and 80s, evoking the spirit of renowned bars like Max’s Kansas City. At Stranded, tequila and mezcal is a specialty, with more than 50 varieties filtering into a tight range of cocktails like tequila-infused old fashioneds and mezcal margaritas.
The Zoo’s kitchen, helmed by Luigi De Santo, dishes up a range of share-style meals with roots in Mediterranean cuisine – think 32-hour slow-cooked mezcal-infused and coffee-rubbed beef cheek, slow-cooked sovereign lamb ribs and mezcal-cured salmon with Davidson plum citronette. The cherry on top is the DJ booth, which hosts vinyl DJs spinning an assortment of tunes, from rare old-school 45s to more contemporary records.
Lisboa Caffe, South Brisbane
The incredibly moreish pastéis de nata that Lisboa Caffe has been peddling since 2014 are a highly praised and widely adored specialty in Brisbane’s sweet-treat scene. This month saw Lisboa Caffe owner Joe Rocha finally make good on his dream of opening a bricks-and-mortar dispensary, giving Brisbane a reliable go-to source for Joe’s mouth-watering egg custard tarts.
Lisboa Caffe on Hope Street (just a short walk from Fish Lane) is an inviting red-and-white-coloured bolthole that not only sells an assortment of tarts (including traditional, Nutella custard and goats cheese with walnut and honey varieties), sausage rolls and specialty coffee from Padre, but also gives customers a glimpse of what Joe calls the ‘sexy’ portion of the tart-making process.
Pre-prepared dough is stored on site until a fresh batch is needed, upon which the team hand slices the dough, moulds it into shape and fills it with silky creme-brulee-like custard before popping it in the oven to cook and caramelise. Tarts can be consumed on site or boxed up for take-home indulging – all we know is that it’s hard to devour just one.
Sunshine, Fortitude Valley
Sunshine is the kind of venue that Simon Gloftis has dreamed of opening for years. The acclaimed restaurateur, who also owns Hellenika and SK Steak & Oyster at The Calile on James Street, has yearned to replicate the traditional eating habits of the Mediterranean – think a vegetable-forward diet built upon whole foods and delicious ingredients.
At Sunshine, Simon and business partners Theo Kampolis and Kelvin Andrews have done just that, adopting a casual point-and-plate approach that allows you to order with your eyes. Here, diners can browse the eatery’s 35 kinds of nourishing nosh displayed in glass cabinets – we’re talking spanakopita, orzo pasta, moussaka and jalapeno and chickpea salad – selecting whatever tickles their fancy while the staff dish it up.
Much like a deli, you pay per weight – just under $5 per 100 g, no matter what you choose. Your plate can then be packed up to take away or enjoyed outside beneath the sunbeam-coloured shades and olive trees, with an iced tea, wine or house spritz in hand. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Trust us when we say it very much is.
Coffee by day, wine by night – that’s the MO at Priorities, a fresh-on-the-scene caffeinery and vino bar in Alderley. Run by a couple of hospo veterans that know their way around a piccolo and a pinot gris, Priorities looks to make sourcing the essentials (that’s your morning pick-me-up and evening unwinder) a cinch.
The morning starts with coffee from Industry Beans and artisanal pastries, enjoyed in the sun at the outdoor picnic table. Soon, Friday nights will be for wines – natural Australian drops by the glass, plus bottles available retail to take home. Bridging AM and PM has never been easier!Jump to next article