Where to Eat, Drink, and Party in Brisbane’s Nightlife District

things to do fortitude valley

Every city has a corner of a tarnished past. For New York, it’s well, everywhere; in Sydney, it’s Kings Cross, and in Brisbane, it’s Fortitude Valley. Frequented by night owls, the inner-city precinct has long been established as the nightlife district—the go-to for after-hours activity. While it still remains the drinking and partying capital, it has also grown up, shaking off its red light district reputation, ushering in a new age of restaurants, cafes, shopping, and hotels.

Along its narrow streets, you will find some of the best restaurants in the city and hip laneways filled with designer labels and boutique fashion. From dusk to dawn, Fortitude Valley beckons. Make the most of your visit with our guide to the best of the precinct.

things to do fortitude valley

Explore eat street

Eat street isn’t just one street; it is more of a compilation of strips from Brunswick to James Street and further afield to Constance Streets. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there’s no shortage of eateries in the Valley. Harvey’s has a libations menu from 10 am that boasts five brunch cocktails for those who love a boozy brunch. Looking for a quality cappuccino? Look no further than the nomadic Jamie’s Espresso Bar, which has changed address a few times but is always reliable for a good cup of joe. Furnished by Coco Republic, L’Americano is as glamorous as cafes come, and hunt down The New Black for a creative breakfast dish.

For lunch, look for the Italian masters at Gemelli, who serve a range of pasta in dough bowls. We highly suggest ordering the gnocchi al forno—it’s a crowd-favourite, and after trying it, it’s our favourite. Next door is Gemelii’s sister venue, Bar Tano, which focuses on cocktail culture. Gerard’s Bistro is another great option for lunch, and of course, Hellenika is always a classic choice.

When the sun goes down, Fortitude Valley reincarnates as a wild, glamorous, and fun lady about town. One of our favourite places for good food and drinks is Iris Rooftop Bar and Restaurant. This Spanish oasis in the clouds has great city views and an even more impressive menu. Think tapas-style dishes, such as patatas bravas, mushroom croquettes, shaved cuttlefish salad, and grilled baby octopus with chorizo. Head Chef Lloyd Evans is a master at taking comfort foods and elevating them to the next level without retention. Instead, expect a pleasant dining experience with comfort foods and a creative cocktail list.

things to do fortitude valley

Settle into a drinking den or cheer on a rooftop bar

It’s no secret Fortitude Valley still has a thriving nightlife. Whether you’re sipping a negroni in a clandestine bar underground, downing a pint in a brewery, or toasting champagne on a rooftop bar, there’s something for every occasion. Iris Rooftop has some of the best views in town and an inventive cocktail list with background music. Maya is another rooftop bar towering over the Valley, serving a huge range of tequilas, mezcals, and margaritas. For a slice of the Italian Riviera, perch yourself at Cielo Rooftop and enjoy aperitifs and snacks. If you’re looking for something on the ground floor, venture to the Valley’s most renowned drinking holes; The Wickham, Ric’s Bar, or grungy-Hawaiian Suzie Wong’s Good Time Bar.

On the weekends, settle into a brewery and sample pints until you run out. There’s Soapbox Beer, Valley Hops Brewing, or Stone and Wood. City Winery is also a chill place to hang out and drink from Brisbane’s own urban winery.

things to do fortitude valley

Shop until you run out of hands

The Valley is a mecca for shoppers, with James Street awash with boutique shops, big and small. You will find household names, including Zimmerman, Aesop, and Mecca, as well as some independent, small names, such as Calexico. The big names occupy the main strip, and the burgeoning laneways are where you will find eclectic retailers. Venture down Winn and Bakery lanes for fashion, art, jewellery, and even record stores. You’re only a stone’s throw away from St Barts, Coco Republic, Pottery Barn and West Elm for homewares.

things to do fortitude valley

Where to stay

To get the full Valley experience, you need to stay in the Valley. There are a few hotel options, but the stylish, new five-star hotel, Hotel X, offers the complete package. Upon arrival, a DJ starts the party in the lobby, and the complimentary welcome cocktail keeps the party going from the elevator ride to your room. Each room is spacious and has views of the Valley, which is extra special when the sun goes down. Just minutes from the bars of Howard Street Wharves, the boutiques of James Street and the best restaurants and clubs in Brisbane, Hotel X literally marks the spot. The rooftop pool is a slice of Mediterranean oasis and the perfect place to soak up the sun during the day or sunset over the city. Next door is Iris Rooftop, which you might recall we’ve mentioned in our dining and drinking guide. Downstairs for breakfast, guests flock to Bisou Bisou for French fare. Hot tip: the croissants are light, buttery, and fluffy. You won’t regret it. There are also loaded croissants stuffed with mushrooms, smoked salmon, or bacon. If you’re not a breakfast person, Bisou Bisou is open for lunch and dinner, serving elegant French fare all day long. If you’re looking for a relaxing destination, which is also in the midst of the nightlife and a stone’s throw away from every restaurant or shop you could need, then Hotel X is where you want to book.

MORE: 12 Essential Food Experiences To Have In Brisbane

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