A writer and editor with interests in travel, adventure, permaculture, music, arts and lifestyle.
Published June 29th 2015
Townsville's own little piece of America
The Courtyard Bar & Restaurant, nestled in City Lane just off Flinders Street, pays homage to American street food with a blend of Tex-Mex, burgers and hotdogs. It also offers a new alternative to Palmer Street and Flinders Street bars for nightlife, as the small laneway comes alive on the weekends with music and mingling.
The Courtyard, City Lane
The venue features snug booths up against an Astro turf wall at the back. Tables show off a pot of herbs, napkin dispensers and the utmost necessary in American condiments, mustard and tomato sauce – err, I mean ketchup! The bar is central in the spacious room and boasts an array of different beers, spirits and cocktail choices. There is a street-graffiti touch to the interior with a multitude of vibrant murals painted on the walls. Brightly coloured bar stools and large pixel-printed umbrellas offset by the muted pine bar and bench-tops. Various pictures are framed and hung on timber-paneled walls, and the main exposed red brick wall sets another interesting contrast to the décor, and brings home the theme of street food.
Busy nights at The Courtyard in City Lane
To one side of the large horseshoe shaped bar there are shelves built-in and weighed down with big glass jars filled with colourful knick-knacks, like matchbox cars, pick-up sticks, and buttons. The owners seem to have a thing for gnomes too, with quite a vast collection on display. Tables are well distanced from one another, yet there are plenty of seating choices inside, and in the beer garden. The Courtyard is a child-friendly establishment – at least for the earlier hours. Highchairs are available and there is a kid's menu sporting 'The Little Gnomes Cheeseburger' and the 'Junior Dog', as well as ice-cream sundaes, malty milkshakes (salted caramel and Oreo sound good to me), and Spiders.
Jam jar cocktails at The Courtyard
You wouldn't have a funky bar without cocktails served in jam jars, so expect no less from The Courtyard. They also have a selection of craft beers, like Blue Moon and Brooklyn Lager, as well as ciders to wet your whistle. For those after a non-alcoholic drop, try Hanks Root Beer for a true American treat. The wait-staff can be spotted easily in their large Mexican hats, and when we visited they all appeared very friendly and accommodating.
Pork Tacos at The Courtyard
The Courtyard attracts a lot of customers with their specials throughout the week. $2 Taco Tuesday is a big draw-card, but be warned that this only applies to the Pork Tacos. On Thursday nights it's all about the trusty schnitzel. Only, these fellas look a bit different from your usual pub fare. You can choose between chicken and pork, and the meat is pressure fried, crusted in a special mix, and served with corn-on-the-cob, coleslaw, chips and gravy. How deep south can you go? They come with a beverage for only $15. You can also choose from a wide range of toppers for an extra $4 each.
BBQ Mexican Street Corn ($9)
The BBQ Mexican Street Corn is delicious, but weighs in at a hefty $9. It is smothered in chili butter and finely grated cotija cheese, with cayenne pepper, fresh lime and coriander on top. I really enjoyed this corn-on-the-cob, but unfortunately my Mexican Bean tacos were a little lacking in flavour and seasoning. The kidney beans were naked and without sauce it all fell a bit flat. My partner enjoyed his 9-hour slow-cooked pulled pork tacos.
Lunch at The Courtyard
For those after a snack with drinks the menu offers popcorn shrimp, fish fingers, and guacamole with tortilla chips. You can also share some Gnasty Gnome Nachos for $14 or "snarf" down an all-time American favourite, the Philli cheesesteak with mushrooms. The American fare continues with sloppy Joes, a range of burgers and gourmet hotdogs. You can also get a quarter bird, half bird or whole bird of Alfred's fried chicken. For dessert I have been recommended the cinnamon coated churros with chocolate dipping sauce, accompanied by a chili hot chocolate. It sounds like something I will definitely be back to try.
Chicken Schnitzel at The Courtyard
This friendly Townsville bar and restaurant also likes to play host to various events throughout the year. You can participate in Cinco de Mayo, and also Fourth of July celebrations. On Independence Day, The Courtyard will be having local bands performing, Loves Lane and The Sexys. Between sets you can expect to hear good old-fashioned American tunes pumping. It will be a party not to miss! They will also bump up the menu with the Waffle Cheese Burger and Sticky Beef Ribs.
The Courtyard certainly is bringing a taste of America to Townsville, and it has been met with open arms. So why not ride like a cowboy and get into town for some Tex-Mex messiness and good times! They are open Monday to Sunday from 11am-12pm.