Fortitude Valley has never been so popular. Here are the best places to try, regardless of the time of day it is when you visit.

Fortitude Valley is the centre of Brisbane’s nightlife, but it wasn’t always that way. For most of its history since its settlement in the mid-19th century, it was the city’s department store hub: somewhere to shop – and do little else. That changed when the tram network closed in the ’60s, which choked off the area’s retail appeal.

After that, brothels, sex shops and illegal gambling dens moved in, earning the Valley a reputation as Brisbane’s hotbed for sleaze. But it also became a haven for the city’s alternative scene. Clubs such as The Terminus and The Beat Megaclub fostered Brisbane’s queer community, while the rest of the bars and clubs in the area nurtured nascent music genres: first punk, then electronic.

Although that dissident energy has persisted, these days the Valley is squarely back in the mainstream. Thanks to those initial pioneers this is still the best place in town to drink, catch a gig or have a dance, but it’s also fast becoming the best place in Brisbane for a meal, too.

Thanks to developments such as the Calile Hotel, the Ada Lane food precinct and Howard Smith Wharves (at the Valley’s doorstep), chefs from around town are jostling to set up shop here.

Restaurants

Bisou Bisou

Restaurant

You'll find this new wave French brasserie on the ground-floor of the luxe Hotel X. Enter for French favourites and remixed classics (including cod beignets and escargot on toast), plus a cheese trolley, an oyster and caviar bar, and a 200-strong wine list.

Iris

Restaurant

An immaculate rooftop bar and restaurant from the Donna Chang crew. Expect cocktails, sangria, a tight wine list and a broad menu of Mediterranean share plates served against a backdrop unlike anything else in the city.

Essa

Restaurant

A moody 60-seat restaurant. It’s designed to put guests up close and personal with an ever-changing menu of woodfire-inflected dishes such as burnt and pickled Kohlrabi served with fresh curds bay leaf, pistachio and nasturtium, and a Black Angus short rib.

Book a Table

Same Same

Restaurant

Same Same is the successor to Longtime, one of Brisbane’s most celebrated Thai restaurants. And as the name would imply, none of Longtime’s DNA has fundamentally changed, it’s just been refined. The service is sharper, the space is more beautiful inside and out and the food is more vibrant than ever.

SK Steak & Oyster

Restaurant

SK is restaurateur Simon Gloftis’s second restaurant at The Calile Hotel, after Hellenika. But where Hellenika focuses on the delicate flavours of Greek cuisine, SK focuses on big and bold ingredients such as dry-aged beef and prestige seafood. The room is expansive and so is the wine list. If you’re after New York steakhouse glamour, this is where you’ll find it.

La Costa Restaurant

Restaurant

This fast-paced Italian diner from the Eterna and Salt Meats Cheese team serves pasta, pizza, and a clutch of classy main dishes in beautiful heritage-listed surrounds.

Cafes

Jocelyn’s Provisions

Cafe

A grocery and bakery for sweet treats and take-home meals.

Paradise Cafe

Cafe

An old pizzeria reborn as a beautiful coffee and breakfast spot.

Reverends Fine Coffee

Cafe

A trinity of good beans, chilled vibes and gluten-free donuts.

Halo Ground

Cafe

Restaurant quality food in a sophisticated cafe setting: that’s the concept behind Halo Ground Coffee and Food.

Milk Box Coffee and Tuckshop

Cafe

A specialty coffee joint turning back time.

King Arthur

Cafe

Local produce reigns supreme at this sustainable, semi-suburban cafe.

Bars

Queens

Bar

Housed inside an ex-barber’s shop, this Brunswick Street boozer serves low-intervention drops and snacky, wine-friendly plates of burrata, patatas fritas and sardines in grungy, low-lit surrounds.

Kings

Bar

The bright and airy counterpart to Queens around the corner is a tropical-style bar where music, colour and cocktails are king. To eat, you might find Po boys and tacos stuffed with fried chicken, prawn or roasted cauliflower on the menu.

Cielo Rooftop Bar

Bar

A Fortitude Valley rooftop bar from the Salt Meats Cheese and Eterna crew. Come for small plates, stunning views and cocktails designed by Maybe Sammy – one of the world's best bars.

The Prince Consort

Bar

Four different food menus, 89 beer taps and capacity for more than 2000 people. This restored, 130-year-old pub is one of the Valley’s most ambitious venues ever, ready to fulfil whatever need you have, from drinking to dancing.

Gerard’s Bar

Bar

Share some charcuterie at the more casual cousin of Gerard’s Bistro.

Snack Man

Bar

A small plate-centric wine and cocktail bar from the Happy Boy crew.

Shops

Calexico

Shop

Womenswear from Isabel Marant, Acne Studios and more.

Elka Collective

Shop

Timeless trans-seasonal basics in the thriving James Street retail precinct.

Deli By The Standard Market Company

Shop

This long-running deli has one of the biggest ranges of smallgoods and pantry essentials in Brisbane.

Optiko

Shop

Bold lines and vintage frames leap from the walls of this Brisbane eyewear boutique.

St Agni

Shop

The Brisbane flagship for Byron Bay's enormously popular minimalist luxury brand.

Bassike

Shop

Some of Australia’s favourite basics.