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5 Best Secret Bars, Cafes, Restaurants & Locations in Brisbane

Home > Brisbane > Parks | Lists | Cafes | Bars | Restaurants
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published December 16th 2019
These are the coolest hidden secret spots in Brisbane
Discover the Coolest Spots in Brisbane

Whenever a great city gets to a certain size, venues start popping up in hidden and secret locations around the urban centre. You are not a true resident until you know several secret locations that people walk past all the time. Here are some that I know about, but I am sure there more.

There are hidden spots in Brisbane you could walk past, but go in and they are packed with people who have discovered the secret
There are hidden spots in Brisbane you could walk past, but go in and they are packed with people who have discovered the secret


What makes a venue secret is that it is a place that people might walk past every day and not even know it is there. To be successful then, they rely on repeat customers and word of mouth. So you know these places are good because if they weren't, they would have closed a long time ago.

These are the ones I have discovered. But of course, I am sure there are many other secret places around Brisbane. If you know more, please add them to the comments.

Best Hidden Bar: B. Lucky & Sons

Between the Brunswick Street Mall and the Chinatown Mall in Fortitude Valley are a couple of little arcades. In one of these is a place called B. Lucky & Sons which appears to be a pawn shop. If you go in, at the back of this shop is a curtain which if you step through, you will find yourself in a gaming room.

This pawn shop in a non-descript arcade hides a secret bar
This pawn shop in a non-descript arcade hides a secret bar


Yes, obviously this is a reference to those classic gambling backrooms that might have once been found in the back of shops and restaurants in Chinatowns all around Australia until legal casinos came along. Though this bar has some Chinese themes, all the gaming is arcade games instead of Mahjong.

Discover this hidden bar in Fortitude Valley
Discover this hidden bar in Fortitude Valley


This hidden bar is a hipster dream, being deliberately hidden, having retro (but not too retro) arcade games and of course serving Chinese snacks. This is a bar you have to discover and drag your friends to experience. It is certainly a spot more interesting that other Brunswick Mall bars.

All the classic arcade games you know and love are at B. Lucky & Sons bar
All the classic arcade games you know and love are at B. Lucky & Sons bar


Best Laneway Cafe: Brew

There are lots of reasons to list Brew as the best laneway cafe. The main one being that it is the cafe that started the laneway trend in Brisbane. Before the cafe and microbar laws were changed, they had to game the system to be both a cafe and a bar.

Brew is Brisbane's original laneway cafe and bar that set the standard for all those that have followed
Brew is Brisbane's original laneway cafe and bar that set the standard for all those that have followed


Some people will tell me that this is not a secret any more, but given the number of people who frequent the city but have never visited or even heard about this cafe means it is still a secret. I remember heading here when it first opened when often there would be few people here. But over time people have discovered this location and returned, so it can hard sometimes to find a spot and on Friday and Saturday nights it can be crowded.

Image courtesy of Brew
Image courtesy of Brew


Ultimately Brew is the benchmark and template for how to run a secluded cafe in Brisbane. While other laneway bars, cafes and restaurants have come along, none have quite managed to replicate the same attitude and vibe of Brew.

Best Basement Restaurant: Birrunga Gallery and Dining

Birrunga is definitely a spot you could walk past many times and not even know there is a restaurant and gallery here. In fact, when I went to an exhibition opening here and was talking to a person who had known this cafe, restaurant and gallery had been in place for months, had tried to find it, but couldn't.

You would walk past this office building many times and not realise that there is a gallery and restaurant in the basement
You would walk past this office building many times and not realise that there is a gallery and restaurant in the basement


Those that do discover it come back. The restaurant is open mostly for breakfast and lunch and features a modern Australian menu with many indigenous ingredients and flavours.

Enjoy indigenous inspired food surrounded by artwork by great local artists
Enjoy indigenous inspired food surrounded by artwork by great local artists


The gallery's origin was the Henderson Gallery in South Brisbane, which focused on indigenous and outsider art, quickly gaining a reputation among corporate buyers and collectors. When that gallery had to close due to renovations, they moved to the city centre and reopened as Birrunga with a stronger emphasis on indigenous art. You can buy original paintings through to souvenirs from the gallery.

Art, souvenirs and food at Birrunga
Art, souvenirs and food at Birrunga


On Friday nights, they stay open later for dinner with live music and of course a fully licensed bar. This is the place to be to get something different in terms of food and entertainment at the end of the working week.

Best Hidden Garden: Hobbs Park: Green Space on the 4th Floor

The CBD in Brisbane doesn't have a lot of Green Space, but there is one place you might walk past and not even realise it is there. Located at 480 Queen Street in the city, this is a park located on the 4th floor of an office building.

Head up this elevator to this hidden green space
Head up this elevator to this hidden green space


While not a park in the normal sense, it is accessed by the lift or escalator. The space itself has a paved area with benches and is surrounded by greenery. There are also views of Custom House and the river, as well as the church on the other side.

Hobbs Park is a hidden pocket of green on the 4 floor of an office building
Hobbs Park is a hidden pocket of green on the 4 floor of an office building


There are a couple of restaurants and cafes here, but you can also just visit for free to sit and relax. As far as I know, at the moment it is open during office hours during the working week, and they close it off on the weekends and in the evening.

There are great views from the park
There are great views from the park


Best Underground Historic Venue: Spring Hill Reservoir

On the edge of the city in Wickham Park, next to the old Windmill, is a low nondescript building with a corrugated roof. It would be hard to tell from the outside that this is one of the hardest to get into theatre and entertainment spaces in Brisbane, because below the building is the old water reservoir.

You can walk past the Spring Hill Reservoir and realise what is below ground
You can walk past the Spring Hill Reservoir and realise what is below ground


You can only visit the reservoir during the annual open day or when they have an event on, and events are not that common and often sell out very quickly. People are attracted here because of the unusual location. You have to keep an eye out for the next time they have something on in the reservoir.

Spring Hill Reservoir is one of the best alternative entertainment venues in Brisbane
Spring Hill Reservoir is one of the best alternative entertainment venues in Brisbane


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Why? You are not cool until you have a secret venue that you take your friends
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