NUG. General Store, Fortitude Valley: One of Brisbane’s best chefs teams up with a pair of interior-design experts to open a casual eatery and homewares store. Was there any chance this spot didn’t end up on our end-of-year list? NUG. General Store in Bakery Lane is a dreamy haunt conjured up by Sarah Baldwin of acclaimed restaurant Joy. and Jarrod Applebee and Shane Phillips (formerly of Finnley Home), who describe the space as Mediterranean villa mixed with a dash of Tasmanian shack. It’s a one-stop shop for things tasty and handy. During the day, NUG. fills its cabinet of goodies with big, fat flavours courtesy of morsels like chicken katsu sandos with tonkatsu sauce and dijon mustard, miso-pumpkin baguettes, and potato salad with orange zest. On the shelves sits an assortment of pantry fillers that can start a meal or enhance one, like fresh fruit and veg, gourmet olives, olive oils, passata and NUG.’s own range of pickled goods. You’re going to need something to serve these edible delights and, coincidentally, NUG. has just the thing. The store’s retail area houses decorative items, ceramics, tableware and glassware, with quirky, playful and eye-catching pieces from artisan Australian makers. This place makes us want to host a dinner party every time we visit and we’re not mad about it at all.
Priorities, Alderley: A trend has been forming lately of local cafes transforming into casual neighbourhood wine bars at night. Priorities in Alderley is one such spot doing the day-night juggle incredibly well. Owner Jesse Williamson, who is well versed in both coffee pouring and cocktail making, has established Priorities as a multifaceted community minded hub that pumps out caffeine in the mornings and vino on weekend evenings. The locals responded with great enthusiasm – the venue’s crisp interior is often packed with pals chatting over flat whites and batch brews, while the street-facing lawn is often similarly buzzy with guests soaking up some sun. Industry Beans’ Newstead blend is piped through a custom-painted Sanremo Cafe Racer, which swiftly dispenses sublime brews to go with bread and pastries from Cordelia Sourdough Bakehouse. The shelves are lined with a range of natural Australian wines, which are poured after 5:00 pm.
Citron Bayside, Wellington Point: A piece of the Mediterranean made itself at home in the Redlands in early November, instilling a bit of sun-soaked splendour to Wellington Point. Citron is the newest venue from Giorgina Venzin (Pawpaw Cafe, Melrose), who has teamed up with Darvella Patisserie head chef Lindsay Krahenbring to open the all-day eatery on the fringe of the Main Road business centre. With an established pedigree for concept creation and an eye for locations, Giorgina has once again knocked it out of the park with Citron. Textural rendered concrete walls, marble tabletops, mosaic tiles and bright pops of yellow match sublimely with the suburb’s coastal position, while the kitchen menu (which stretches from breakfast and lunch to dinner) has been given the same amount of shine. Take the loaded omelette with tomato, fetta, parsley, spinach, kalamata olives and marinated artichokes, for example, or the grilled king prawns with lemon chickpeas, dukkah and chilli oil – it’s the kind of fare that plonk your taste buds somewhere near the Ionian Sea. Citron is already a perpetually popular spot for catch-ups over boozy spritzes and brunch – the kind of response we’ve come to expect from one of the city’s savviest operators.
Mis.Spelt Bakery and Blackout, Paddington: We’ve got a cheeky double entry here, but before you become a stickler for the rules, just know that these two venues are linked. Not just metaphorically, but literally – there’s a portal connecting the terazzo-toned croissant dispenser and the revamped grungy coffee slinger on the inside. Mis.Spelt Bakery and Blackout (operated by the crew that also run wine bar Noir, just down the road) form two halves of the same coin, with both serving coveted essentials. Mis.Spelt hawks breads and pastries from partner bakeries Doughcraft, Cordelia Sourdough Bakehouse and Chouquette, as well as pantry stuffers (think all of the nice things you want to put on bread). Blackout pours silky coffee from The Black Lab Coffee Co. Simply start on one side and then move to the other. It’s that easy. This two-for-one tandem has ignited its little section of Latrobe Terrace, with crowds flocking on Saturday mornings to nab their weekend essentials.
Sunshine, Fortitude Valley: Eating healthy has never looked so good. STK Group’s Simon Gloftis, Theo Kampolis and Kelvin Andrews (Hellenika, SK Steak & Oyster, Sushi Room) expanded their James Street presence to the other side of the road this year, transforming the old Chow House space (just outside of the cinemas) into a Mediterranean-inspired all-vegetarian eatery Sunshine. The street-side eatery, shaded by sunbeam-coloured umbrellas and olive trees, showcases the food of Simon’s youth – nourishing and seasonal eats served via a casual point-and-plate approach. Sunshine’s smorgasbord has loads of things worth piling on your plate (just a heads up, you pay per weight), including spanakopita, orzo pasta, moussaka and stuffed vegetables. There’s also beer, cocktails and a wine list filled with sustainable, organic, biodynamic and vegan drops from a clutch of forward-thinking Australian wineries.
Inter/Section, Brisbane City: Again, this entry is a combination of venues. But, as they’re all located under one roof, we have no qualms smushing them in together here. Inter/Section is the name of the chic new lane connecting Charlotte Street and Mary Street though Midtown Centre. It’s the ambitious brainchild of Adam Wang, founder of Coffee Anthology and The Maillard Project who has taken the opportunity to craft an all-in-one hub that unites coffee and food into one eye-catching package. Inter/Section was realised in stages throughout the year. First came Coffee Anthology’s new kiosk at the Charlotte Street end, which puts its workhorse coffee machines (a La Marzocco Strada EP and a Slayer Espresso machine) to use dispensing a range of brews showcasing multiple roasters. Then came Fika, Inter/Section’s in-house cafe that dishes up a creative cuisine-bending menu of breakfast and lunch eats like coronation scrambled eggs (a curry-tinged dish inspired by UK specialty, coronation chicken) and tender beef cheek in kare kare curry sauce with kailan and Szechuan chilli oil. Finally, The Whisk – Justin Yu’s acclaimed Upper Mount Gravatt patisserie – opened a shiny new pastry slinger half way along Inter/Section’s laneway. Nutella wheels, caramel pear danishes and ham-and-gruyere croissants fill the kiosk’s windows on a daily basis, giving inner-city denizens the chance to nab a baked beauty to go with their hit of killer coffee.
Deli Dakota, Mount Gravatt: Brisbane’s obsession with sandwiches reached fever pitch in 2022, and few eateries celebrated the salivation-worthy staple quite like Deli Dakota. The spiritual successor to beloved Wishart cafe The Gift Shop, Jordan Iovenitti and chef Mitch Haworth have decided to scale back operations to focus on a truncated menu of hand-held eats and coffee. A range of flat sandwiches and melts, made fresh on bread from The Bakeologists, include the Ham from the Heavens (smoked free-range ham, cheddar, Swiss and parmesan bechamel on sourdough) and The Good Vegan (roast pumpkin and capsicum, beetroot relish, hummus, za’atar and vegan mozzarella on ciabatta). More elaborate sangas, including the Dakota Fried Chicken (spiced buttermilk fried chicken, lettuce, kimchi mayo, Kewpie and coriander on a milk bun) and Deli Dakota’s take on a banh mi (free-range roasted Kingaroy pork belly, pate, pickled veg, kewpie and coriander on a milk baguette) showcase some ingenious creativity. Served alongside delicious coffee from Melbourne-based Rosso Roasting Co., Deli Dakota isn’t just one of Brisbane’s best new cafes – it’s also in the running to be named the city’s finest sandwich shop.
Good Company, Scarborough: Much has already been said of the culinary boom taking place on the Redcliffe peninsula, but all that chatter wouldn’t have been as lively if not for the July arrival of Good Company, the brainchild of Jack Wakefield (who also co-owns Anytime Coffee in The City). On the corner of Thurecht Parade, Jack’s opened the kind of cafe that he’s long believed the suburb has needed. It’s a spacious and breezy locale that serves a simple but quality offering anchored by perfectly weighed cups of coffee from Passport Specialty Coffee, kettle-boiled bagels, eggs Benedict on Wholly Crumpets, chorizo scrambled eggs and more. It’s packaged in a sun-soaked locale boasting glass frontage, polished concrete floors and natural sheen plywood furnishings, with shaded picnic tables and a large alfresco area out front for dog-friendly dining. It’s a real charmer – the kind of spot you wish was at the end of your street. Thankfully for Scarborough locals, Good Company is theirs to enjoy.
Gather Bistro, Brisbane City: Jack Kortlang and Dae Kang spent much of 2022 building up their inner-city cafe portfolio, opening small dispensaries Public, No Standing and Weekday in different nooks around The City. Gather Bistro saw the duo up the ante considerably. The gleaming eatery and bar (wrought from recycled concrete, earthy stone, brass and pink tiling) opened in a one-of-a-kind space at the base of Heritage Lanes on Ann Street, immediately enhancing the all-day dining offering by several notches. Catering to breakfast, lunch and afternoon drinks, Gather Bistro’s multifaceted appeal is one of the main reasons for its inclusion here. Pop in and sit down to a plate of buckwheat waffles with fried duck egg and salted vinegar butter piccalilli and a cup of Five Senses coffee or swing by at lunch for a takeaway bacon-and-egg sarnie. At lunch it’s wagyu cheeseburgers and baked harrisa cauliflower, accompanied by Unico Zelo Esoterico and Four Pines on tap. Gather’s arrival is a boon for The City, which has seen a significant upswing for the first time since the pandemic sent us all scurrying indoors. Good to know – the crew will open high-end coffee spot Austin House in early 2023, which could be a contender for next year’s version of this list.