If you’re anything like me, you'll love hiking, nature, adventure…and eating out. That last one might come as a surprise to a few of you! However, my friends know me as the one always on the hunt to discover “locals only” cafes and restaurants on my travels. I secretly pour over food blogs, I follow chefs on social media, and I watch Anthony Bourdain’s show ‘No Reservations’ to uncover top places to eat, serving up the most amazing food imaginable, that only a local would know. Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central recently asked me to uncover the five best places to eat in in the coolest suburbs to celebrate the opening of the new hotel in the city. I love finding hidden gems within walking distance of where I’m staying, and because I love a challenge, I couldn’t refuse.



Set in a heritage listed medicine dispensary Apothecaries Hall built in 1862, The Apo now functions as a sophisticated bar and restaurant for all discerning Brisbane foodies. Overlooking the hustle and bustle of Ann Street in the Fortitude Valley and boasting a dining room, balcony’s, a courtyard, and private dining room, expect an uncomplicated European menu with a Middle Eastern twist focusing on share plates and snacks. By day, Brisbane foodies flock here for lunch and dinner. By night, expect The Apo to come alive as the après dining cocktail abode in Brisbane. I can’t go past the Pan fried king fish with brown butter, raisins, mint and wakame.

Address: 609 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane 4006


Getting There: A ten-minute walk from the Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central



Ask any Brisbane foodie where their secret dining mainstay is, and they’ll always reply with Il Centro. Located along the Brisbane River in the heart of the business district at Eagle Street Pier in the CBD, Il Centro is without a doubt Brisbane’s favourite modern Italian restaurant. And if you want to dine like a local, then you simply must order the Lasagne alla Granseola, which is their famous crab lasagna with creamed crustacean sauce. A visit to Brisbane without stopping here and having the crab lasagna is almost considered a crime by locals.

Address: 6/1 Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane City, 4000


Getting There: A ten-minute walk from the Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central



Open seven days a week from 7am, King Arthur is a local joint with a hip setting that won’t send your wallet running! Serving up creative café meals, expect the unexpected from its rustic floorboards, whitewashed walls and curved ceiling makes this ‘hole in a wall’ popular amongst Brisbane foodies. Not sure what to get? I love the Not Waste Bowl served with fresh greens, spiced chickpeas, tempeh, a boiled egg and tahini dressing. I also can’t go past the French Toast made from house corn bread, grilled stone fruit, spiced ricotta and miso caramel. Um, mouthwatering to say the least.

Address: 164c Arthur Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane 4006


Getting There: A fifteen-minute walk from the Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central



A foodie experience so great that many, many Brisbane locals won’t want you to know out about in case they can’t reserve a table themselves, Gerard’s Bistro is a secret treasure. After fueling up with a free breakfast from Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central (they also do a handy, Grab and Go option), you’re in the best location to be able to head out for some exploring until lunch rolls around. Hidden down a laneway on James Street in Fortitude Valley, the chefs offer a modern Australian tapestry of flavours woven with inspiration from the great cuisines of the Maghreb and Middle East. Whilst guests are encouraged to share the menu in a banquet experience, the food is so good it’s totally acceptable to polish off your own plate. I loved the Roasted Zucchini with whey, lemon puree, shankleish, muntries and almonds to start, and the Roasted Pork wrapped in vine leaves, mango puree and sweet cranberries for the main. Sadly, there was no room left in my contented tummy for dessert.

Address: Gerard’s Lane 14 James Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane 4006


Getting There: A fifteen-minute walk from the Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central



Located in the hip suburb of West End, Miss Bliss Wholefoods Kitchen is the brainchild of Jacqui Toumbas. From blogging about fitness and health, to selling her nutritional Miss Bliss Balls in cafes around Brisbane, to opening Miss Bliss in 2015, it’s been a very busy few years for the entrepreneur. Gain notoriety by creating healthy, nourishing and delicious wholefoods that are unprocessed and refined sugar free, Miss Bliss the definitive ‘go to’ for locals who love to eat brunch and don’t want to spend a lot of money on food. My favourite menu on the item? Israeli Orange Chia Loaf with coconut caramel panna cotta, smoked coconut granola, rooibos tea pearls and chervil.

Address: 84 Vulture Street, West End, Brisbane 4101


Getting There: A ten-minute Uber from the Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central



As a little bonus tip, I thought it would be worth mentioning one last recommendation - Happy Boy. A tiny hole in the wall offering some of the best Chinese food in town, Happy Boy is popular amongst locals as it offers authentic Chinese food with an extensive wine list and boutique beers. Just one street over from the Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central, it’s the perfect place for those of you who feel a little lazy and don’t want to venture too far from the hotel, especially when it’s late at night.

Address: 2/36 Mein Street, Spring Hill, Brisbane 4000


Getting There: A five-minute walk from the Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central


I literally had the best time uncovering these hidden gems for you guys! And after my busy culinary journey through the streets of Brisbane, I couldn’t think of anything better than beating my food coma with a short walk back to my room to rest in a comfortable bed with a good book and a great view of Brisbane’s glittering CBD. A divine way to spend a weekend in Brisbane!



What: Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central

Where: 186 Wharf Street, Spring Hill, Brisbane 4000


Website: www.

Reservations: 1800 669 562