With more than two million locals and another seven million tourists visiting each year, Brisbane is fast becoming one of Australia's top foodie destinations. Local producers are known for their high quality meats and seafood, while the tropical climate in northern Queensland provides a steady supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The city's strong migrant communities—including residents with Chinese, Indian, Taiwanese, and Greek heritage—are also a fundamental part of Brisbane's culinary offerings. Read on for our list of the essential foods to try in Brisbane.
Moreton Bay Bug
Also known as a flathead lobster, Moreton Bay bugs are marine crustaceans. Taking their name from the bay off the coast of Brisbane, they taste similar to a traditional lobster, with between one to two ounces of meat in the tail of each bug.
Moreton Bay bugs are distributed around the northern coast of Australia, while another variety—Balmain bugs—are mostly found further south. They are commonly served grilled or barbecued. In Brisbane, head to George's Paragon on the waterfront or Gambaro in Petrie Terrace to try a bug for yourself.
Dinner for Breakfast
The creativity of Brisbane's dining is most apparent in its range of dinner-for-breakfast offerings. The most well known is Morning After in West End, which serves a delicious mushroom and pancetta carbonara, while Hawthorne's Sister Cafe is all about breakfast gnocchi.
At Cafe O-Mai in Annerley, you'll find traditional beef, chicken, or vegan pho, and Pourboy in South Brisbane does modern burgers all day long. These spots are especially popular on weekend mornings after a night out, but most are open on weekdays, too.
If you're in the mood for a sweet treat, Brisbane is bursting with excellent bakeries. Doughnuts are the city's speciality, although croissants and cronuts also appear on many menus.
NoDo is the reigning champion of doughnuts in Brisbane, with outposts in Newstead, Camp Hill, South Bank, and the city center serving a fully gluten-free menu. You can also visit Brisbane City Markets on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon to snag a Doughlux slow-rise doughnut or swing by Brewbakers for the sourdough variety.
Queensland produces almost half of Australia's beef, so it's no surprise Brisbane is packed to the brim with burger purveyors of all kinds. Many restaurants work with local producers of grass-fed, organic, and free-range meats, though chicken and veggie burgers are almost always available.
Brisbane is home to a thriving Chinese community, with around five percent of the city's residents reporting Chinese ancestry. This is reflected in the dozens of incredible Chinese restaurants spread across the inner city and beyond, especially in the southern suburb of Sunnybank.
While there are plenty of delicious Chinese-inspired dishes to sample, you can't go wrong with dumplings. At Donna Chang, native Australian ingredients are incorporated to create dishes like Moreton Bay bug dumplings and spiced lamb buns. New Shanghai and Umami are also excellent choices.
Brisbane's love for greasy food doesn't end with burgers; the city serves up some of the country's best chicken wings, the perfect snack after a long day of sightseeing. From Buffalo to Bee Sting, Brisbane has a huge variety on offer.
King of the Wings was voted the city's best food truck for the past four years running, and they recently opened a permanent restaurant in the northern suburb of Stafford. We also recommend Lucky Egg in Fortitude Valley for Korean-inspired wings or Buffalo Bar in the city for classic American wings.
Fish and Chips
Fish and chips may have risen to popularity on the cold and rocky beaches of England, but Australia has well and truly adopted this simple yet delicious dish. The seaside suburbs of Shorncliffe, Brighton, and Sandgate are the best places to find fish and chips—especially if you're looking for freshly-caught barramundi or snapper—and are only 30 minutes east of Brisbane's city center. Grab takeout from the Sandgate Fishmonger or Fish on Flinders to eat in the park while you watch the sunset, or visit the historic Post Office Hotel for a more substantial meal and local beers on tap.
You may have heard of the iconic meat pie, but its little brother, the sausage roll, is just as common throughout Australia. With a minced meat filling, the sausage roll is best eaten with ketchup straight out of the brown paper bag.
The convenient size and shape of sausage rolls make them a common road trip snack, so you'll likely have many chances to enjoy one during your visit to Australia. At Flour and Chocolate in Brisbane, the beef and bacon sausage rolls are always in demand, while the pork sausage roll is a local favorite at King Street Bakery.
Since the 1920s, Brisbane has grown into a hub for the Greek community in Australia. Many migrants have settled in the neighborhood of West End, where you will come across many of the city's best Greek restaurants. The grilled-meat souvlaki in particular is top-notch, and is often accompanied by pita bread, hummus, tzatziki olives, and other delights. You can find it at both sit-down restaurants and late-night takeout joints. We recommend the Little Greek Taverna in West End and the Lamb Shop in Fortitude Valley.