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Australia’s third-largest city is beaming with light and brimming with energy. With just shy of 300 days of sunshine each year, Brisbane is the ultimate subtropical metropolis. With a passionate arts scene, an active outdoors culture, and a fabulous collection of bars, cafés, galleries and restaurants, what’s long been described as a “big country town” is now coming into its own.


There is no shortage of quality eating and watering holes in Brisbane. For upscale dining, it’s hard to beat Esquire on the CBD’s chic Eagle Street, with its degustation menu available for both lunch ($60–$85) and dinner ($110–$150).

If you’re seeking something more casual, Umami in Fortitude Valley offers a convivial share-style menu of Asian fusion dishes. The mouth-watering Wagyu striploin steak and the octopus skewers with chili lime sherbet come highly recommended. Pair your meal with one of Umami’s quirky cocktails – such as the Smoking Eye of the Dragon, a spicy, fruity, rum-based concoction designed to share.

Forays into the river city’s suburbs will also be amply rewarded. Pizzeria Violetta, named after the courtesan in the favourite opera of owner Renata Roberts, offers rosse (red) or bianche (white) Napoli-style pizzas blistered to perfection in a wood-fired oven. Roberts also presides at the helm of Sichuan Bang Bang, featuring the sensuous, sassy cuisine of south-west China’s “heavenly country”. The hot, humid climate from which this style of cooking derives is a perfect fit for Brisbane natives. The Gunshop Café at West End is a top breakfast joint. And if you need any convincing that this café was a gun shop until Australia tightened its firearm laws, look for the bullet holes in the polished wooden floor. Health food junkies will appreciate the virtuous fare on offer from Miss Bliss Wholefoods Kitchen and Finiky Patisserie, both in West End.

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