Brisbane’s Best Romantic Restaurants [2024 Guide]

Cruise-Brisbane-River

Scrolling for the best restaurants in Brisbane? You could easily design your whole Brisbane holiday around food, glorious food — which is why we’ve got all your date nights sorted with this delicious shortlist. From suburban gems to riverside icons to Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant of the Year, we reveal where to book a table for two in Queensland’s sun-dipped capital. Let’s eat!

Agnes: Flame-fuelled superstar

Agnes Restaurant - Brisbane Australia - interior dinner service

When Agnes was named Gourmet Traveller’s 2023 Restaurant of the Year, food lovers everywhere took note. Cooking around an open fire serves as inspiration for this unique Brisbane dining destination, arranged over three levels in a characterful warehouse on Agnes Street, Fortitude Valley. The restaurant’s centrepiece is undoubtedly the open kitchen where the glow of two charcoal pits (one for seafood/starters, one for meat) and a wood-fired oven reminds you everything here is cooked with coal, fire and smoke. Executive Chef and co-owner Ben Williamson’s menu moves with the seasons but is always exciting, memorable and delicious.

The service is similarly top notch to ensure a seamless date night experience. Arrive early for city views and a drink at the rooftop terrace bar, indulge in the main dining room, and linger longer for a nightcap at the downstairs wine bar. Part of the Brisbane-based Anyday hospitality stable (that includes sAme sAme, hôntô and Biànca, see below), Agnes is a must for your culinary itinerary.

Oh, and if you can’t nab a table, drop by the Agnes Bakery on James Street for hand-crafted Kouign-Amann, Basque cheesecake and all manner of flame-kissed treats.

1889 Enoteca: Italian icon

For the best Italian restaurant in Brisbane, it’s hard to go past Woolloongabba’s much-loved 1889 Enoteca. A little slice of Rome in the heritage-listed ‘Moreton Rubber’ building (circa 1889), the restaurant’s charming interior features timber, brick, and marble with shelves of unique, rare, and biodynamic Italian wines you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in Brisbane. Celebrating the flavours of Rome, 1889 Enoteca is renowned for its exceptional pasta dishes. The cacio e pepe, made with handmade spaghetti, aged pecorino Romano, and black pepper, perfectly captures the essence of this timeless dish. Other standout dishes include pork and fennel sausage gnocchi, chilli prawn tagliatelle, and Cape Grim bistecca. Buon appetito!

For another of Brisbane’s best Italian restaurants, see pint-sized pink beauty Biànca on Ada Lane, Fortitude Valley.

Joy: Tiny wonder

Our tip for dining in Brisbane? If you want to experience Joy, book early. Tucked away in Fortitude Valley’s Bakery Lane, this unique culinary gem was co-designed by owner-chef Sarah Baldwin and showcases her exceptional talent and clarity of vision. The chef’s table of just ten (highly prized) seats all face the kitchen where Sarah runs the show with right-hand man, Oliver. Joy’s degustation-only menu offers an explosion of creative flavours and textures, with intricately crafted dishes that never fail to delight. Though it’s always booked solid for months in advance, this tiny wonder is worth the wait.

Donna Chang: Chinese beauty

Donna Chang Restaurant - Brisbane - Interior - by Markus Ravik
Donna Chang | Image: Markus Ravik

One of Brisbane’s best Chinese restaurants is also one of its most beautiful. Donna Chang is a must-see in the CBD, housed in a breathtaking heritage building, once theQueensland Government Savings Bank (circa 1914). Cosy up in one of the plush pink booths and marvel at the exquisite chandeliers of the dining room before perusing the sublime menu of Sichuan and Cantonese dishes. Think succulent rock lobsters, Chinese roasted duck, and cumin-spiced lamb dim sums with a wine and cocktail list thoughtfully curated to complement the unique flavours of the cuisine.

For a memorable nightcap, head downstairs to the Japanese restaurant and basement bar Boom Boom Izakaya for sultry vibes and a selection of rare spirits.

Restaurant Dan Arnold: Modern Australian elegance

If food is your love language, Fortitude Valley has all the answers when it comes to booking a table for two in Brisbane. Don’t miss Restaurant Dan Arnold for its celebrated pairing of homegrown creativity and exceptional produce. Chef Dan Arnold spent seven years in France refining his skills before returning to Brisbane to open his eponymous modern Australian restaurant. Expect pure and delicate works of art with the utmost respect for seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.

Inside the elegantly relaxed dining room, Dan and his team offer three menus ranging from a three-course experience to a Carte Blanche gourmet adventure of 7-8 dishes chosen by the chef. There’s also a superb wine list of mainly French and Australian drops, curated to complement the dishes. Consistently honoured by the likes of Gourmet Traveller, the Australian Good Food Guide, and La Liste, Restaurant Dan Arnold is one for the wish list.

Related: The Best Things for Couples to Do in Brisbane

Stanley: Delicious waves of nostalgia

Stanley Restaurant - interior

Step back in time to 1930s Shanghai at Stanley: a two-storey Cantonese restaurant with a stunning Howard Smith Wharves location and a sumptuous design. The interior features deep jade-toned walls, a grand staircase adorned with a mural of the restaurant’s namesake, Hong Kong’s Stanley Bay, and colonial/Oriental-inspired decor, sealing its place as one of Brisbane’s most beautiful restaurants. A covered terrace provides panoramic views of the river, Story Bridge, and city skyline while the interior houses three bars and opulent dining rooms. Chef Louis Tikaram presents a combination of classic and modern Cantonese dishes including favourites like dim sum, Peking duck pancakes, bug spring rolls, and five-spice roast duck. And the perfect nightcap? A romantic riverside stroll, of course!


Hellenika at The Calile: Impossibly chic Greek

Hellenika-Brisbane-Food

Brisbane’s swish James Street precinct is home to two of the hottest tickets in town: The Calile hotel and its signature restaurant, Hellenika. Overlooking the well-dressed streetscape on one side and the hotel’s much-posted pool on the other, Hellenika is the vision of restaurateur Simon Gloftis. Following in the fabulous footsteps of his Gold Coast restaurant of the same name, Hellenika celebrates modern Greek cuisine in an expansive, light-filled setting of blond timbers, marble and brass designed by Richards & Spence.

Each plate will take your tastebuds straight to those fabled isles so settle in for a culinary journey and a half. Our tip? Add the Kolokithia zucchini chips with kefalograviera to your table. So good. And, if you happen to be bunking down at what is widely touted as Brisbane’s best hotel, head down for Hellenika’s poolside breakfast washed down with a peach Bellini.

TAMA: A historic reimagining

Tama Restaurant - interior - dining area

The much-anticipated glow-up of Fortitude Valley’s historic GPO site has its star attraction in TAMA: an elevated steak and seafood experience from co-owner and chef Richard Ousby (ex-Stokehouse). Though this is clearly fine dining, TAMA feels light, contemporary and decidedly unstuffy, thanks in no small part to the guidance of Alan Hunter (award-winning sommelier and former GM at Otto).

Go all out with a traditional caviar service and warm native Akoya-pearl oysters or fan the flames with exclusive Queensland wagyu cooked in the Spanish-imported Josper oven. The gorgeous building and innovative menu make this one of Brisbane’s most exciting new restaurants: perfect for a long lunch or date night dinner. Arrive early to explore the $9 million redevelopment that also houses an art deco-inspired bar, The Gatsby.

In the mood for another elegant steak and seafood experience? See SK Steak & Oyster. Located within The Calile Hotel, this gorgeous space is billed as “a place for a long lunch and a few too many martinis.” Sold.

Nota, Paddington

If you find yourselves trawling the Paddington boutiques in Brisbane’s inner west, stop and enjoy the charm and modern Euro vibes of Nota. Foodies may recognise the heritage shopfront as the former home of French institution Montrachet (now at Bowen Hills and another of Brisbane’s best restaurants). In 2019, Sebastiaan de Kort and Kevin Docherty made the space their own, creating a relaxed eatery where good food and top-notch local ingredients reign supreme. Expect European flavours, delicious wines, and a warm welcome.

sAme sAme: Thai hotspot

sAme sAme - Restaurant in Brisbane Australia - exterior

Hot date? Head to one of Brisbane’s coolest diners: sAme sAme in Ada Lane (just a stiletto toss from The Calile Hotel). This modern Thai restaurant takes cues from the flavour and energy of Southeast Asian dining culture with its lively open kitchen and gimme-more menu of creative Thai-inspired raw bites, creative snacks, wok-seared mains, curries and desserts from head chef Arté Assavakavinvong.

It’s a wonderful second act to Tyron Simon‘s popular LONgTIME restaurant, with a fresh energy and a sophisticated Richards & Spence fit-out. Feel like a snack? Try the betel leaves with eggplant and pomelo or prawn ‘tacos’ in rice-paper shells. Ravenous but can’t decide? The two banquet options come highly recommended. Want something to start … or finish? Head upstairs to the restaurant’s serene-green bar space LOS (aka Land of Smiles) for Thai-inspired cocktails.

Rothwells: Inner-city classic

Rothwells Bar and Grill - Brisbane Australia - interior - kitchen

Staying in the city? Nothing beats a fabulous meal after a little retail therapy in Brisbane’s CBD. Park your shopping bags and follow the glow of chandeliers to Rothwell’s Bar and Grill: a classic restaurant housed in a heritage building just off the Queen Street Mall. Scooch into one of their gorgeous green booths or front up at the marble bar and sip around the superb wine and cocktail list as you decide whether you’re ready to tackle the signature Beef Wellington. Or perhaps a dozen fresh oysters served on English silverware is more your style? Dan Clark (the talent behind 1889 Enoteca, see above) and Ben Russell (ex-Aria) looked to institutions such as London’s Savoy Grill when creating this perfect rendezvous for two.


hôntô: Modern, moody Japanese

Honto - Brisbane Australia - interior - kitchen

Step inside one of Brisbane’s best hotels, the Brisbane Marriott

There’s something so seductive about hôntô’s all-black dining interior, lit primarily by the warm glow of the kitchen. The walls and tables of this contemporary Japanese restaurant feature shou sugi ban (a traditional Japanese method of treating wood with fire) to set a darkly handsome mood that feels perfect for date night.

Take a ringside seat at the beautiful Raw Bar and watch the team work or settle into the main dining room where the larger open kitchen takes centre stage. Head chef Tom Jack serves up an inspired menu of raw delights, snacks, ‘sandos’ (the Japanese nickname for sandwiches), sushi, dumplings, grills and desserts washed down with a drinks list that includes rare and unusual Japanese whiskey and sake.

Looking for another of Brisbane’s best Japanese restaurants? Try The Calile Hotel’s new Sushi Room. From the theatrical dome-shaped ceiling to the Japanese hinoki timber counter, this is a stepped-up sushi experience from the crew behind Hellenika and SK Steak & Oyster. Or book a private tatami room at Portside Wharf icon Sono. Brisbane’s most awarded Japanese restaurant has been plating up sublime dining experiences since 1997.

Greca: River views & Med vibes

Greca Restaurant in Brisbane Australia - kitchen

Come for the setting (right on the river in Brisbane’s buzzy Howard Smith Wharves precinct), stay for the food at Greca. This modern Greek taverna takes full advantage of the sunshine and plum location with a choice of indoor and outdoor dining spaces and a delectable menu of seafood, meats, and specialties like taramasalata and spanakorizo. Trust us, the cheesy goodness of their pan-seared saganaki is a must-try along with the super refreshment of their compressed watermelon, mint and ouzo dessert.

Greca Restaurant in Brisbane Australia - food plating

While the chef behind Greca, Jonathan Barthelmess, also operates two other Greek eateries (The Apollo in Sydney and Tokyo), Greca has a unique identity while sharing a heritage and some menu items with its culinary cousins. Perfect for a relaxed lunch or a romantic dinner by the river.

Happy Boy: Your new happy place

For those times you just feel like a fun night out in Brisbane (but good food is a non-negotiable), follow the locals to Happy Boy. Not your typical Chinese restaurant, this lively wine bar and eatery can be found beneath the fairy lights at the James Street end of Fortitude Valley. Its open-air deck is perfect for a relaxed sundowner while a cleverly crafted menu draws from thewok cooking of Southern China and Hong Kong as well as traditional barbeque cooking in the Guangdong style.There’s also a thoughtfully compiled wine list featuring boutique Australian producers, beers and well-brewed coffee. Love their vibe? Check out Happy Boy’s new sibling, Mini French bistro.

Babylon Brisbane: Middle Eastern metropolis

Babylon is a lively Middle Eastern restaurant in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD, set right on the riverfront with plenty of options for indoor and outdoor indulgence. Nab a dusty-pink banquette in the atmospheric dining area or pull up a chair and watch the City Cats glide by. Known for its share-ready menu, friendly service, and picturesque location, Babylon’s menu is inspired by the ‘Levant’ cuisine of the Middle East, cooked using wood and charcoal over a custom-built Turkish grill and rotisseries. Sharing is caring here so don’t be shy about piling your table high with dish after delicious dish.

Essa: Harvest-driven cuisine

Clearly, we could dedicate a whole dining piece to James Street and its bountiful surrounds. Our final tip for two here is ESSA Restaurant & Wine Bar, tucked away behind the main strip on Robertson Street. Head chef and co-owner Phil Marchant (formerly head chef at Gauge) spins a harvest-driven menu of raw, pickled, smoked and wood-fired dishes with an excellent drinks list to seal the deal. Though the vibe is deliciously dark, and we can’t keep our hands off the glorious green marble bar, there’s a relaxed neighbourhood feel about ESSA.

Drop by on a Wednesday for Five Chefs / Five Plates: a chance for experimentation with guest chefs and seasonal ingredients. Or join the locals for Sunday School when a family-style lunch is served at noon.

Deer Duck Bistro: A suburban gem

Rounding out our list of some of Brisbane’s best restaurants is a suburban gem, Deer Duck Bistro in Milton. The dining room’s richly eclectic blend of antique furnishings and art feels akin to a luxe country estate while the menu blends modern Australian culinary leanings with European flavours and techniques. Our tip? Book one of their incredible degustation menus, ranging from five-course samplers to a long-course feast with a vegetarian option (love that). A real feast for the senses.


How to spend 48 hours in Brisbane

Scroll to Top