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

Eterna

Restaurant

Brick walls, leather banquettes, house-made pasta and Italian wine.

Uh Oh Spaghettio

Restaurant

At this neon-lit, two-storey late-night pasta joint, you'll find $15 serves of house-made pasta, $13 glasses of wine and late-night beats.

Lucky Egg

Restaurant

A diner serving burgers, fried chicken, soda and beer.

Happy Boy Fortitude Valley

Restaurant

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

Umami

Restaurant

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

Joy

Restaurant

A couple of young guns cooking (and doing the dishes) in a tiny, 10-seat omakase-style fine diner down a pokey laneway.

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

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.

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.

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.