Tastemakers: Where Brisbane Chef Jimmy Richardson Eats and Drinks in the River City

jimmy richardson best brisbane restaurants

Welcome to The Latch Tastemakers, where we sit down with people who know a city’s scene like the back of their hand to ask their must-try restaurants, cafes and bars. Dive into our Tastemakers series and curate your ultimate hit-list, whether you’re exploring your own city or venturing somewhere new.

Working in kitchens in Europe and Australia, including those with Michelin stars and chat hats, since the age of 15, Scottish-born Jimmy Richardson was picked to launch Gerard’s Bistro in Brisbane in 2021. Since then, he’s watched the city’s dining scene change dramatically.

“In the short time I’ve been here, there have been some great new restaurants opening, some real quality chefs through the scene,” he says. “It’s just looking really exciting.”

Richardson says the largest concentration of new restaurants is in Fortitude Valley. But West End, southwest of the CBD, is also home to a few. While Brisbane will never be quite as multicultural as Sydney and Melbourne, the city has geographical pockets with authentic cuisine, he says.

When it opens in August 2024, The Star Brisbane at Queen’s Wharf precinct will also be home to a handful of new restaurants. The additions to the precinct, along with the developments planned to prepare for the city hosting in the Olympic Games in 2032, are set to change Brisbane’s dining scene even more than in recent years, predicts Richardson.

“It’s really going to build more and more restaurants, attract more and more people,” he says. “And that can only help with the dining scene.”

Ahead, Richardson shares some of his top picks for where to eat and drink in the River City. From a speakeasy bar hidden behind an orange door, to an authentic French bakery with two-day fermented croissants, this is his edit of the current best Brisbane restaurants and bars.


First up is naturally where Richardson heads the kitchen: Gerard’s. Along the Valley’s main drag James Street, the restaurant is all natural materials, neutral colours and pops of greenery.

“We’ve got a fairly extensive menu,” says Richardson. “Definitely, the baba ghanoush is a huge draw. Our snacks seem to go down really well. And also, our braised lamb.”

Richardson calls it a serious take on Levante cuisine, focusing mainly on food from Lebanon. The menu mixes classic dishes with contemporary and has a section for vegetarians, with many of the dishes cooked on a grill.

Jimmy Richardson best restaurants Gerards
Image: Instagram @gerards_restaurant

“Friday, Saturday here, we don’t stop,” he says. “We open at 12pm for lunch and we pretty much almost run all the way through. It’s very hot in the kitchen with the two fires going and the charcoal going, but it’s a buzz.”


Richardson also recommends you try Pneuma on George Street in the CBD. Opened in 2023, the restaurant is a partnership between two of Brisbane’s most influential chefs, Dan Arnold and Matt Blackwell. It blends modern Australian and European cuisines with influences from around the world.

“They’re doing some amazing things,” says Richardson. “It’s top-notch food, great staff and beautiful ceramics and location. The whole menu’s pretty good.” 

Christian Jacques Patisserie

Another on Richardson’s Brisbane venue hit-list is Christian Jacques Patisserie, a French bakery under the Story Bridge at Kangaroo Point. Under the direction of French chef Christian Jacques, the bakery’s croissants are slow-fermented over two days and use premium French butter.

“It’s a must on a [Brisbane] visit,” says Richardson. “The croissants are out of this world and he’s [Jacques] truly a master of his craft.”

Happy Boy

When Richardson is craving Asian food flavours, he heads to Chinese restaurants Happy Boy or Snack Man. Next door to each other in the Valley and by the same owners, Cameron and Jordan Votan, the restaurants serve Chinese food in generous portions alongside wines from some of Australia’s best small producers.

“They do some really good food,” says Richardson. “No frills, in and out sort of thing.”


Next up on Richardson’s must-visit Brisbane venue list is restaurant Agnes, in the Valley. In 2023, it won Australia’s ‘Restaurant of the Year’ at Gourmet Traveller’s annual awards. The venue was built entirely around cooking on an open fire and is spread across three levels, with a main dining room, wine bar and terrace.

“It’s a quality venue,” says Richardson. “[Owner and chef] Ben Williamson’s doing some great stuff there.” 


When Richardson ventures to Howard Smith Wharves, between Story Bridge and New Farm cliffs, along the Brisbane River, he heads to Greca. Opened in 2018, the restaurant serves Greek food, with all dishes meant to be shared.

father's day lunch brisbane
Image: Greca

“I went to Greca a month ago,” says Richardson. “We had the oven-baked lamb, the calamari and the pita bread. It’s right on the water and always busy. It’s just really fun dining, nothing too serious.”

Mr Percival’s

Also at Howard Smith Wharves is pink and green overwater bar Mr Percival’s. The bar serves small and large plate snacks, like burrata, tuna tartare and lamb cutlets, and pizzas, alongside a long drinks list. This includes beer, including options from Felon’s Brewery Co a stone’s throw from the venue, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.

“It’s great for a nice drink in the afternoon,” Richardson says. “Gets a bit rowdy towards the end of the night.”

Merlo Coffee

Richardson’s go-to Brisbane café is Merlo Coffee, which has multiple locations around Brisbane, though he heads to its Valley spot. The Merlo family opened its first café in Queen Street Mall in 1960, while Merlo Coffee as it’s known today launched in 1992. Richardson’s order is always a long black.

“They [the Merlos] came from Italy 50 years ago, so they really know their stuff,” he says. “They roast their own beans.”

Savile Row

Finally, when it comes to Brisbane bars, Richardson suggests you don’t go past Savile Row, a whiskey and cocktail bar behind an orange door in the Valley. Owned by Brisbane hospitality heavyweight Martin Lange, the bar has over 1000 spirits on offer.

“It’s almost a speakeasy,” says Richardson. “It’s got a beautiful chandelier. It’s got a superb range of whiskeys and it’s a real step away from Ann Street, really.”

Related: Danielle Alvarez’s Favourite Places to Eat and Drink in Sydney

Related: Matt Moran’s Two Favourite Restaurants in Canberra (Apart From His Own)

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.