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The Best South Bank Eateries

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published April 27th 2015
Let's go for a stroll in the parklands looking for food
The Best South Bank Eateries

Everyone heads to South Bank, locals and visitors alike. One of the most common reasons is to enjoy a nice meal, as South Bank is home to many of the most consistently good restaurants in Brisbane. The biggest problem is the bewildering array of excellent choices and the fact that South Bank tends to lack in restaurants that offer anything really different or outstanding.

So lets take a stroll through the South Bank parklands and up through Little Stanley and onto Grey Street looking for the best of the best.

Note: My biggest complaint about South Bank isn't the quality, but that everything is a bit much of a muchness. A main course will generally be between 20 and 30 dollars, the food will be good, if not, great, but it is unlikely to be anything unusual, exceptional or innovative. It is hardly a negative thing to say South Bank is home to quality food at a reasonable price. But it does make it hard to point to something and say this stands out.

Best Fine Dining: Stokehouse

Despite its popularity as a dining district, South Bank has not managed to associate itself with the fine dining scene of Brisbane. By fine dining, I mean that sort of place you feel you had best dress up to eat at and dishes are small enough that you can comfortably finish off an entree, main and dessert.

Stokehouse Restaurant
Courtesy of Stokehouse Restaurant

South Bank consistently delivers good quality food at a reasonable price with serving sizes that rarely leave room for dessert and certainly don't warrant an entree.

However the Stokehouse restaurant, nestled against the river front stands out from the crowd at South Bank, though not from the other fine dining restaurants around Brisbane.

Courtesy of Stokehouse Restaurant
Courtesy of Stokehouse Restaurant

This is the place to go for a refined evening of dining with great views. The only complaints seem to come from people ordering the steaks (which I haven't tried), but if you want those it is better head to the pub. The other meals are always superb, innovative and the staff ready to accommodate requests. It is fine dining, so expect to spend around $100 per person.

Courtesy of Stokehouse Restaurant
Courtesy of Stokehouse Restaurant

Best Fast Food: Cactus Republic

Southbank selection of fast food and takeaway tends to be very dissappointing, which is surprising because of the quality of restaurants in the area. However there is a growing Mexican food scene in South Bank (though I would prefer to use the more accurate Tex-Mex label as it is that US style of Mexican food that the world is falling in love with).

Courtesy of Cactus Republic
Courtesy of Cactus Republic

The best of these is Cactus Republic, whose quality and decor makes me question whether this restaurant should be in the fast food category. But the quality of the food here is just another step up from the nearby Burrito Bar and the ever popular Guzman y Gomez.

The best bit is the way you select your burritos in a 4 step process, as well as cheap nachos, delicious quesadillas and a nice selection of Mexican beers. Eat in is great, but burritos are perfect food to take away and eat elsewhere. It is also a good place to simply snack while you get drunk on cocktails.

Best Pub Meal: Ship Inn

There are several pubs in South Bank and I would choose most of them over the Ship Inn for place to have a drink or party. But for me the Ship Inn stands above other pubs in both the quality, style and price of its meals.

Courtesy of Ship Inn
Courtesy of Ship Inn

Whether they are serving pub grub classics such as Rib Fillet, Fish and Chips and Bangers & Mash with impeccable style or impressing with great salads, pastas and paellas, this is the place to eat. The Ship Inn is a forgotten treasure down the far end of South Bank that is worth seeking out.

Most Unusual Dining Experience: The Wheel of Brisbane

Brisbane doesn't really do much in the way of unusual dining or cafe experiences. This lead me to put the Wheel of Brisbane down as the most unusual way to dine in South Bank. Okay so you won't be able to get a full meal except on special occasions such as Valentine's day. But if you book a Ride and Refresh Package or a VIP Package you can have a romantic 25 minute ride with music of your choice and an appetiser platter. You can also purchase additional drinks (champagne is the recommendation).

If the prices of $60 for 2 people seem a little steep, the try Groupon or other discount websites for cheaper tickets. Definitely something to try if you want to do something unusual.

Courtesy of the Wheel of Brisbane
Courtesy of the Wheel of Brisbane

Best Cafe: Espresso Garage

South Bank is better known for its bars and restaurants than its cafes, but Espresso Garage stands above all the rest. You may not even have noticed this hole-in-the-wall cafe off Grey Street, but those that do come back.

Courtesy of Espresso Cafe
Courtesy of Espresso Cafe

When it comes to coffee, Espresso Garage is fantastic. There is also food which is generally simple and easy meals fitting of a place whose focus is on coffee.

Courtesy of Espresso Cafe
Courtesy of Espresso Cafe

The biggest let down is that it closes at 5 pm on weekdays and 3 pm on weekends. But on the plus side, it does open at 6 am. So obviously it is a favourite stop for early morning joggers and riverside cyclists, as well as people on their way to work in the city.
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Your Comment
I didn't know The Wheel of Brisbane was also a dining experience. Something to keep in mind for a special occasion.
by Jenny Rossiter (score: 3|4069) 1631 days ago
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