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

Same Same

Restaurant

Longtime's successor Same Same is one of the restaurant openings of the year.

Ripiena

Restaurant

Brisbane’s first pasta laboratory, which aims for complete authenticity in its pasta and sauces.

Umami

Restaurant

Pan-Asian share plates and an impressive drinks list in a moody Valley dining room.

Les Bubbles

Restaurant

A single-dish menu makes this restaurant distinct (and then there’s the bathhouse downstairs).

Happy Boy Fortitude Valley

Restaurant

Modern Chinese food and a killer wine list from brothers Cameron and Jordan Votan.

City Winery

Restaurant

This urban winery boasts a cellar door, a 70-seat restaurant and beautiful 20-seat private dining room.

Cafes

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.

Bellissimo Coffee

Cafe

A small-batch roastery that smells every bit the part.

Bars

Ling Ling

Bar

Enter for arcade games, DJs and cheesburger spring rolls.

Stone & Wood

Bar

The 150-seat, eight-hectolitre brewpub is the brand’s first taproom outside Byron Bay.

Ivory Tusk

Bar

A Palm Springs-inspired restaurant and bar in the space which formerly housed Woolly Mammoth.

Bloodhound Corner Bar and Kitchen

Bar

The place to soak up The Valley’s history over a few modern beers.

Shhh!

Bar

A hidden gin den inside Fortitude Valley's 155-year-old pub, The Osbourne.

Soapbox Brewing Co

Bar

A 100-seat brewpub with eight beers on tap, including three rotationals, and a menu of share plates and mains – many of which feature beer.

Shops

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.

The Valley Wine Bar

Shop

A bar-slash-bottleshop hosts a boutique-wine library specialising in natural drops, alongside charcuterie or even BYO food.