Queensland Good Food Guide's top gourmet cafe

Contemporary dining at Fourthchild.
Contemporary dining at Fourthchild. Photo: Supplied

212 Given Terrace, Paddington 3367 8663
Competition for tables is fierce on weekends and the cake cabinet alone could be worth the wait – groaning with big, beautiful favourites. The range of fresh, wholesome food makes for a delightfully difficult decision – the fact you can’t hear yourself think over the hubbub at times doesn’t help.

Au Cirque
618 Brunswick Street, New Farm 3254 0479
Even on weekdays elbow space is at a premium as people cram in for the great selection of all-day breakfasts – from wholesome muesli or fruit salad and fresh juices, to humongous hangover cures and the all-important bloody mary.

Ave Cucina and Coffee Bar
16 Eva Street, Coorparoo 3161 5937
Following the hype of their 2010 My Kitchen Rules win, Shadi and Veronica Abraham serve their unique blend of Lebanese-Italian hospitality in a relaxed neighbourhood setting. Nibble on delicate Lebanese biscuits or tuck into rustic Sicilian poached eggs in tomato sugo with ciabatta for dipping.

Shop 22 Emporium, 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley 3252 0511
If the cheery candy-striped awnings don’t put a smile on your face, the choice of food will. Separate breakfast, lunch and brunch menus, daily specials and a section for kids and ‘big kids over 65’, ensure there’s something to please everyone.

Cafe Bouquiniste
121 Merthyr Road, New Farm 3254 1226
French for ‘bookseller’, Bouquiniste is a charmingly ramshackle little cafe crammed with books, curios, eclectic furniture and hip bookish types. The handwritten menu has a small range of simple, homemade food.

The Chelsea Bistro
2/61 Petrie Terrace, Paddington 3367 1288
The emphasis here is on fresh, contemporary fare. Brunch in the breezy courtyard in the shadow of the heritage-listed former army barracks, or get a cosy candlelit table for two and soak up the smart bistro interior for dinner.

Comfort at my Table
Shop 5/19-23 Cribb Street, Milton 3162 8574
This is the home of nanna chic. It’s not just the pretty-as-a-picture pastel interior and the frilly, floral staff aprons – you’ll find jars of homemade chutney and jam, old-fashioned baked goodies and generous food that’s obviously made with love.

Corner Store Cafe
113 Sylvan Road, Toowong 3870 2223
This tarted-up old corner store strikes the perfect balance of charming and chic, with lollies on the counter and a sprawling veggie garden out the back. Like the surrounds, food is simple, stylish and lovely to look at.

4/43 Blackwood Street, Mitchelton 3355 7990
A cosy, welcoming little spot tucked away at the end of Mitchelton’s high street. The modest menu is all about quality produce and old-fashioned food made from scratch.

Dudley Street Espresso & Collectables
494 Ipswich Road (Corner of Annerley and Dudley Streets) 0413 485 434
There’s no escaping the rumbling traffic but this noisy little corner cafe brings charm to a grungy strip. Browse the quirky collectables while savouring the perfect golden ham and cheese toastie and the best coffee in the neighbourhood.

Egg Bistro
989 Stanley Street East, East Brisbane 3891 1675
Egg exudes Old World charm, with a chic menu to match its interior. While the decor is tres traditionale French Bistro, the menu is more modern and extensive, including a barramundi and crab burger in addition to Franco-favourites such as souffle and terrine.

1/208 Given Terrace, Paddington 3367 8816
Partly laid-back Paddo and partly Euro-chic, this light and airy cafe-cum-bar takes a fresh approach to food, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or tapas with drinks after dark.

5B Winn Street, Fortitude Valley 3252 7557
This grungy laneway hangout makes a big impression. The homemade sausage rolls (weekends only) have a cult following. Where else in Brisbane can you perch on a psychedelic stool, surrounded by giant pink palm trees and nibble a Mars Bar chocolate crackle?

4/380 Cavendish Road, Coorparoo 3324 0999
The folks at Flute are not trying to be cool or particularly innovative, and for that, the locals love them. They’ve built a loyal following based on simple, stylish food and decor, and friendly service.

6/126 Brisbane Street, Ipswich 0413 776 567
An old high-street shopfront got a fresh new face with the arrival of this urbane eatery. The blackboard menu changes daily depending on locally available produce – expect vibrant, uncomplicated fare.

Gillian’s Garden
999 Stanley Street East, East Brisbane 3391 1001
Not your average cafe. Seriously good food is served within the lush setting of a garden nursery. If you’re amazed by your main course, just wait until you sample the cakes on display in the courtyard.

The Gunshop
53 Mollison Street, West End 3844 2241
Arguably West End’s best breakfast, this vibrant cafe in a beautiful old red-brick shopfront draws the crowds as much for its buzz as its creative food.  

Grub Street
440 Samford Road, Gaythorne 3855 9580
The name says it all. There’s no pretension here, just good honest grub served in a pint-sized dining room on a very busy street. The vibrant relishes featuring in burgers, sandwiches and breakfast dishes are made in-house and available in take-home jars.

Hamptons Home Living
180 Latrobe Terrace, Paddington 3367 2005
Breeze into this oh-so-stylish cafe within a homewares store when you need a little break from the everyday. Enjoy bright, fresh food and one of the best views in town – and don’t worry, it’s not just for the beautiful people.

In a Pickle
2 Martha Street, Camp Hill 3398 6399
Locals have been trying to keep it a secret. They’re not just dropping in for the Guinness and beef pies and homemade cakes and coffee – some have stopped cooking altogether thanks to a fridge full of hearty take-home meals made on the premises.

Jude Cafe
Eagle Street Pier, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane 3220 2201
City workers flock to this easy, breezy riverside spot for food that’s a cut above the rest. Super fast, fresh salads, burgers, tarts and daily specials are generous and tasty, and all available to take away for superior al desko dining.

Lady Marmalade
269 Logan Road, Stones Corner 3324 2480
The all-day breakfast menu and display cabinet brim with food that screams homemade – wholesome soups, organic breads and local produce. An eclectic array of arty posters and mismatched retro furniture helps create a laid-back vibe, making it a feelgood spot for lazy brunches.

296 Wynnum Road, Norman Park 3310 4744
From the crisp black-and-white colour scheme to the concise menu, there’s a refreshing simplicity here. All dishes are made from locally sourced ingredients and are available gluten-free – including the kid’s menu featuring boiled eggs and soldiers, and peanut butter sandwiches.

The Little Larder
1/76 Moray Street, New Farm 3358 2024
It’s a colourful, rough and ready neighbourhood favourite occupying a leafy corner of New Farm. No matter what time of day, it always seems to be popular for its hearty all-day breakfast and laid-back vibe.

Little Pantry
92 James Street, New Farm 3254 3882
This is James Street but not as you know it. The location as well as the organic food and coffee set Little Pantry apart from the pack. This earthy corner cafe is the place to go for healthy, wholesome fare.

Pablo Espresso
893 Brunswick Street, New Farm 3254 4900
It might be small and unassuming, but Pablo punches well above its weight when it comes to food and service. It puts the shine back on old brunch favourites, with little tweaks and touches that set the food apart.

Pearl Cafe
28 Logan Road, Woolloongabba 3392 3300
One of Brisbane’s oldest buildings was lovingly transformed into perhaps its most charming dining space with the arrival of Pearl. Everything about it comes across as effortlessly chic, including the beautiful local produce showcased with style and restraint.

The Ponycat
693 Brunswick Street, New Farm 3254 2883
Graffiti art and poster collages set the scene for an all-day breakfast with plenty of street cred. Burgers, sandwiches and milkshakes come together in a no-nonsense menu that is more satisfying than suave.

233 Given Terrace, Paddington 3367 2274
Yes, there are plenty of cafes set in charming workers’ cottages with leafy views over Paddington. Really tasty, homely food is the reason Ruby was easily able to carve out a spot for itself on this crowded strip.

9 Creswell Street, Newstead 3257 4567
This is cool ’70s kitsch in an industrial warehouse setting. Even the pancakes are hip, cooked in an old-school jaffle iron. Coffee options are thoroughly modern with Black Star espresso or cold press. Brunch favourites are made with quality ingredients and love.

500 Boundary Street, Spring Hill 3839 4995
You’ll feel the love straight away. It’s there in the home-baked goodies lining the counter, the fresh, comforting food on your plate, the fantastic blended drinks and the relaxed vibe. There’s even love to go – take home a little jar of pesto or relish.

Sourced Grocer
11 Florence Street, Teneriffe 3852 6734
Is it a cafe within a green grocer, or is it a green grocer within a cafe? Either way, it’s all about beautiful, unadulterated local produce. Sit at the big communal table or perch on the stairs among buckets of blooms and embrace all things wholesome.

Sparrow and Finch
100 Creek Street, Brisbane 3236 5353
If you can elbow your way through the hordes at lunch time to order from the display cabinet, the reward is a staggering selection of food: tasty pizzas, Italian sandwiches, wraps and salads all served in record time.

Spicers Balfour Hotel
37 Balfour Street, New Farm 1300 597 540
Sit outside among the frangipanis and enjoy the privacy and tranquillity of this plush boutique hotel. The food is as classy as the surrounds. Graze daintily from the continental breakfast bar or go all out with ‘Royal High Tea’.

Three Girls Skipping
365 Honour Avenue, Graceville 3379 1688
Less is sometimes more. Deciding on what to order for lunch is a cinch, with only a handful of freshly baked quiche and pie options or fresh salads, soups and sandwiches. Choosing which of the baked goodies to have afterwards is not so easy.

Willow and Spoon
Shop 2, 28 Samford Road, Alderley 3113 3810
Despite novelty menu names, the breakfast selection is impressive. Edible flowers adorn the ‘Forbidden Fruit and the Garden of Eden’, which is possibly Queensland’s prettiest version of fruit salad. The rear dining area resembles a charmingly scruffy share-house garage but the food is all class.