What is the perfect pub or bar? Everyone has their favourite bar. In Brsbane's changing bar and pub scene, a few classic icons seem to standout as perennial waterholes that continue to attract patrons over the years.
Note: Brisbane has a large number of great historic and iconic pubs.I tried to find pubs that have been staples for a long time and are going from strength to strength. They should also stand out in some way that if you were to walk past them, you would probably notice them.
Breakfast Creek Hotel: Best steaks in Brissy
If you want excellent steaks, there is one place that comes to mind for the people of Brisbane, and that is the Breakfast Creek Hotel. A pub has been on this location since 1848 and the current building opened in 1890.
Here you have great pub food. Nothing fancy, just fantastic quality meat served in the classic pub style with a choice of popular sauces. Of course, you are paying for that quality, so a steak at the Breakfast Creek hotel is a little more price than some other pubs Brisbane.
If you find the Staghorn Beer Garden's decor a little cheap, you might try eating at the adjoining Spanish Garden Steakhouse that also does great steaks for much the same price but in a far more elegant setting.
This bar, despite its out of the way location across Breakfast Creek from Newstead, always manages to attract a crowd of both locals and visitors to Brisbane. While the steaks of the stand out feature of this pub, it is also an excellent place for a schooner or two of beer off the wood. That is beer poured from a wooden casket.
The Stock Exchange Hotel: Iconic City Pub
There are many bars and pubs in Brisbane's city centre, and the Stock Exchange Hotel is one that you could walk past and barely notice, yet in many ways, this little pub manages to be an all round CBD pub. Oh and no one calls this place the Stock Exchange Hotel. Most people will refer to it as the Exchange Hotel or the Exchange, but for the regulars it is always "The Stocky" or maybe just "The Stock".
First of all, there is a classic bar downstairs. A perfect place for a beer with your mates after work or before heading off to some other venue on a weekend. While the decor is nice, it manages to capture that classic pub feel which many older bars abandon during refurbishment.
Upstairs is great rooftop bar, which I have to admit, is the place we always head to. The area is partially covered so it is a great al weather venue and attracts the more upmarket crowd.
Courtesy of the Stock Exchange Hotel
The Stock Exchange Hotel is also one of the best places for a pub lunch with their $15 lunch specials, that include vegetarian lasagna, steak, fish & chips, chicken schnitzel and burgers. You might be thinking, nothing special, but like everything about the Stock Exchange Hotel, and the reason why it is such an icon, is that it does the ordinary just a little better than everyone else.
The biggest downside is often the crowds. If you are not early, forget about getting in and out for a quick pub lunch, and Friday nights it fills with office workers drinking away their weekday blues.
Normanby Hotel: Everything a pub should and could be
It is hard to describe what the Normanby Hotel actually is. On one hand it is your typical pub in a classic beautiful old building. During most of the week it attracts an upmarket crowd, who go for the great pub meals or a drink after work. On Saturday and Sunday nights it becomes a more of a night club.
So let's start with the food. Meals are mid price range and while they would seem to be your typical pub meal fare, they are done with style and perfection that makes them a step up without becoming too upmarket. This is fine dining without pretension.
Saturday and Sunday nights, well really from the afternoon, this pub attracts a young crowd looking to party in the beer garden. Sunday is probably the best time to visit the pub because it one of the few Sunday evening venues that really go off.
Overall this is a pub that has transformed to be everything that a pub could be without abandoning the heart of what an Australian pub is.
The Elephant Hotel: a Fortitude Valley staple
People have been calling this pub the Elephant for years so the owners decided to shorten the name from the Elephant and Wheel Barrow to the much easier to say "Elephant". While bars are always coming and going in Fortitude Valley, the Elephant remains.
We are talking here about beers, entertainment, a roof top beer garden, and tasty pub food. Maybe you won't stay the whole night here, but you will definitely stop in for the first beer of the night. Of course, you might not decide to leave as the action picks up over the course of the night and the live band starts playing.
There are lots of bars in the Valley from the deliciously grungy to the yuppingly hoity toity, and everything in between. However if you are looking for a classic pub then the Elephant should be your destination.
You can almost imagine what the Ship Inn used to be like in the days when South Bank was a working port. Now of course it is a gentrified bar with lovely modern pub cuisine in the quiet end of South Bank's Parklands.
Courtesy of Ship Inn
This hotel is iconic because it stands out from the other buildings. It is also one of the few older pubs in the area that hasn't been bastardised into being a modern pub.