Many of these restaurants stand out from the crowd
The Best Restaurants in South East Queensland
Foodies of the world know that an essential part of any trip is not just what you see and do, but what you eat. There are many iconic restaurants and cafes around the South East Queensland area that range from making a special trip to see through to being a place to eat if you are in the area. Here is a list of some of the best.
There are many restaurants that are worth the trip to enjoy in South East Queensland
I am going to borrow an idea from the Michelin Restaurant Guide. They divide restaurants between 1 star (if you are in that place, this spot is worth checking out), 2 stars (you should make a detour to visit this spot) and 3 stars (the restaurant is worth making a special trip just to eat in.)
Mind you, I dumped all the Michelin pretense. These are just good restaurants and range from takeaway places through to fine dining. I also added in honourable mentions for places people talk about but I probably wouldn't recommend it, but you may want to go anyway and see for yourself.
Don't forget to add your recommendations as well
This is in no way meant to be a definitive list. I am sure I have left off many places worth visiting and people have different preferences. Of course, many great dining establishments have closed, burned down or changed ownership and the quality has dropped. So any updates or opinions are appreciated.
There are some places so good that they are worth planning a trip around. How far you should travel depends on your own preference, but many of these restaurants attract people from far and wide.
I want to head this list with the Spring Creek Mountain Cafe, which is literally a fine dining restaurant in the middle of nowhere. This is a restaurant you really only go to by going out of your way. When you drive the Head Toad from Boonah to Killarney, there are only two places to stop to eat on the way. But if you decide to pop into the Spring Creek Mountain Cafe on the weekend without a booking, chances are you will be turned away. The view is that spectacular and the food is delicious as well.
Enjoying a platter of fresh ingredients at the Spring Creek Mountain Cafe
A great spot that I only ever go to because it is basically a convenient place to go after a hike, theLamington Teahouse, attracts casual visitors coming up to enjoy the view from the cafe, or more serious diners on Friday and Saturday nights coming for both the food and entertainment. Yes, you can eat lamingtons in the Lamington Teahouse in Lamington National Park (it wouldn't make the list if you couldn't), but there are great light and full meals on offer as well.
I know some people who are reluctant to eat at hotels, imagining nothing beyond basic pub fare, but there are lots of amazing hotels around South Eat Queensland and the Sandstone Point Hotel is definitely the one worth going to at any time and even more so when they are hosting events. This hotel is set on a wide-open ground overlooking Pumicestone Passage and Bribie Island. Their bistro is one of the best I have been to and if you don't fancy even fancy pub food, wander down to the water's edge for seafood at the Oyster Shed. They, of course, host all sorts of events as well on the grounds.
The Breakfast Creek Hotel is famous for its great steaks. You might think so what, there are plenty of pubs across that have great steaks. In fact, many of the best steaks are in other hotels run by the same people as the Breakfast Creek Hotel. Well, first of all, it is Brisbane's oldest hotel (yes, there is one older pub in a suburb outside of Brisbane, but we are not counting that one here). What is more, not only do they do great steaks, they also serve them in the classic pub manner. You know, that basic salad with onion, not the fancy salads you get in other pubs. Well worth the trip.
Breakfast Creek Hotel is Brisbane's oldest pub and does great classic steaks
Most people haven't heard of Fortitude Brewery because they will usually just call it the Mt Tamborine Brewery which you have to admit is a better name because it tells us exactly where it is. The reason to go here is the beer, and especially get a sample selection of beers. You don't need an excuse to go to Mt Tamborine but the brewery is worth the trip.
WhenDan Arnold opened his eponymous restaurant in a slightly out of the way place in Fortitude Valley, it didn't have amazing decor or a great view, but it did have Brisbane born French-trained, Michelin starred restaurant experienced Dan Arnold cooking. So basically this place has a great reputation because of what Dan is making in the kitchen. This is the must go-to restaurant in Brisbane.
Dan Arnold has made a name for himself with his Fortitude Valley restaurant
When you are in a place doing something else, then it can be worth making a detour or side trip just to go to certain dining establishments. My criteria here is that I would take friends to these restaurants and cafes if we are in the area.
This combination of country cafe and auto museum is not really near anywhere, so you have to take a detour or even a special trip to get to The Barn and Scotty's Garage. If country cooking and tea served in old metal cups doesn't make it worth the detour, then a look inside Scotty's Garage definitely is.
The Barn and Scotty's Garage are worth making the detour to visit
Someplace are worth visiting for the view and one of the best of these is the Glass House Mountains Lookout Cafe. You can go here just for the food, coffee and cake, or the view. I almost listed this place as a spot to go-to in its own right, in that you can just make a trip here to view the mountains but in reality, it is a great spot to detour to if you are in the area.
2 Small Roomsbrought fine dining to Brisbane and has stayed. Yes, it is a restaurant in two small rooms but with great food and the ambience of being in a restaurant in two small rooms, makes it a must-visit dining destination. If you don't live near the inner suburbs, you should consider making a trip here.
If you are looking for a cafe that is in a very meditative location, then the Water Drop Teahouse located in the grounds of a Buddhist temple is the place for you. They feature tea, coffee and vegetarian food. The temple, The Fo Guan Shan Chung Tian Temple, is in Preistdale bordering on the Daisy Hill Conservation Park. As I like to hike to a temple, park your car at the far end of the bushland reserve and walk to the temple, pray to Buddha, get a fortune, and enjoy some tea and cake. Then walk back.
Enjoy tea at the temple at the Water Drop Teahouse
If you are looking for a cafe with a view, then the Mountain View Cafe at the Mary Cairncross Reserve is perfect. You have great views of the Glass House Mountains and the cafe is part of the only old-growth rainforest reserve left in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. It is this combination makes it worth detouring to get to.
The view from the Mountain View Cafe at the Mary Cairncross Reserve
When I went to the restaurant at the Commercial Boutique Hotel, there were people there who had driven down from Warwick just for the delicious Tenterfield steaks. Yes, they have other things like pizza and seafood but really the reason to head across the border is to eat beef and lamb grown tender in the rich Tenterfield soil and mild climate.
It is worth popping over the border to enjoy the beef and lamb raised on the rich fertile land of the area
AtLick! Ice Cream it is all about the flavours. They not only experiment with flavours in their shop but they supply ice cream to over 100 restaurants across South East Queensland, often creating specific flavours for different outlets (think shiraz ice cream for a winery). They now have several shops, including Paddington, Morningside, Graceville and Coopers Plains. Go for a scoop or an ice-cream based dessert.
why settle for just a scoop when you visit Lick! Ice Cream
Sometimes, whenever you visit a place or whenever you are passing, there is a place that is always worth visiting. You wouldn't go out of your way to go there, but when there, they really stand out.
There are a lot of great pubs spread across South East Queensland. You can still find some real country pubs with the most basic food and service. But for some reason, many people don't realise that there are a lot of pubs pushing to do something a bit better and different. I just want to mention one, the Landsborough Hotel, with city style pub cuisine and country-style prices. Of course, you are going to go to the pub if you are in Landsborough. Why would you be in Landsborough you ask, well maybe you are hiking the historic rail trail through an old rail tunnel in Dularcha National Park, going for a dip in the Ewen Maddock Dam or visiting the Australia Zoo,
If you are in the Landsborough area, you can always get a great cheap meal at the Landsborough Hotel
When driving along the Warrego Highway from Ipswich to Toowoomba, most people choose between diverting to little towns or heading straight to Toowoomba. But if you need some coffee, cake or a meal, then the Porters Plainland Hotel is not only a historic pub but has recently focused on great cafe service with good coffee and amazing cafes.
On the drive between Brisbane and Toowoomba, it is always worth stopping at the Porters Plainland Hotel
When driving over The Head and doing the falls drive, you don't have many places to stop between Boonah and Killarny, but the Queen Mary Falls Cafe is worth it for a stop. Visit Queen Mary Falls, feed the birds, and have a great value for money lunch.
Even if you don't want some country cuisine, it is worth stopping at the Queen Mary Falls cafe to feed the birds
There are a lot of places to go and eat in Maleny but if I was to choose one option just for the food, it would be theMaleny Food co. It has everything here, with things like a nice sandwich or a gelato, a ploughman's board or a cake from the display. There are also a lot of locally made products to buy in the shop section of the cafe.
This section is all about those places that have passed down in South East Queensland legend as places to go to and eat. Many of these places might bring back nostalgic memories from when they were young and Brisbane was not much more than an overgrown country town. Because the world has moved on and these places have stayed the same, they no longer really meet the criteria, but maybe still worth a look.
Scoopy's Ice creamery was a bit of a legend back in the day and was an integral part of going to Bribie Island for many kids. These days, the basic ice cream and food is okay, but nothing to go out of your way for.
Scoopy's Ice Creamary brings back fond memories for people who visited Bribie Island when they were a kid
Yatala Pies is still a favourite among people who love pies. Its main stand out feature is that it is one the few places left in the Brisbane area that still does great pies. Downside, they sell pies. Highly recommend though by people who love pies and haven't been to some of the better places around Australia for pies.
I know many people who go out of their way to head to Peters Fish Market on the Gold Coast when they want to enjoy some seafood. But in reality, it is just a glorified fish 'n' chip shop. Take your friends visiting the area here as the seafood isn't bad, but otherwise, there are plenty of good alternatives all along the coast of South East Queensland.
Peter's Seafood Market on the Gold Coast attracts visitors who make the trip just for the seafood, but is it worth it?