Queensland is known as the sunshine state for a few good reasons, though a recent turnaround in retail and dining options has made it a travel destination for reasons other than a tan. While the combination of hot weather, general lack of cloud cover, pristine beaches and lush rainforests makes the entire state a haven for those looking to wander off the beaten track, its capital city, Brisbane, has gone from a sleepy afterthought for visitors who would rather get sand between their toes. Today to a veritable hive of activity, abuzz with restaurants, small bars and small businesses, all making their mark on the place.
Fortitude Valley (known to the locals simply as “The Valley”–how Hollywood is that?), is undeniably the epicentre of all that is cool in BrisVegas, as it hosts some of the best shopping, dining venues and watering holes, and as such, takes pride of place as Brisbane’s cultural hub.
We headed to Fortitude Valley this week to check out a list of places recommended by you guys, to report back on how we like to shop small in Brisbane’s retail mecca. If you have your own suggestions on great small businesses that contribute to your local community, head to the bottom of this article to find out how you could win a AUD$5,000 travel voucer, thanks to American Express.
From chic brekky spots to get your day started, to nightclubs that pump fresh tunes until the wee hours, and everything else in between, it’s easy to spend a day or two immersing yourself in the lifestyle of this neat place.
We headed to Fortitude Valley this week to check out a list of places recommended by you guys, to report back on how we like to shop small in Brisbane’s retail mecca.
Twin Palms Barbershop
A day of shopping, drinking and dining should be started out with that oh-so-fresh feeling that only a barber can offer. Twin Palms barbershop is just the place to get your buzz, fade or short back ‘n sides in order before you start giving your wallet a workout.
The small team of professionals at Twin Palms are adept at everything from classic cuts to modern trends, and will even furnish you with a beer or a whisky while you’re getting clippered.
10am – 8pm, 60 James St, Fortitude Valley, QLD. Ph: (07) 3254 3408
Fortitude Valley has myriad options for women looking to score some new threads, but not loads for blokes, making Calexico Man an oasis of cool gear in a desert of frocks. Housed inside their new digs at the Calile Hotel (a designer hotel that perfectly synergises with the Calexico Brand), this is a must-visit outlet for menswear.
Oh, and if you’re shopping with the missus, don’t despair, Calexico also has a women’s store super close by.
9:30am -6pm, Shop G.13 The Calile Hotel, 48 James Street, Fortitude Valley, QLD. Ph: (07) 3252 8216
Catering to just about every taste and demand a guest could make, X Cargo is the Fortitude Valley’s most happening social hub. A multi-level venue built out of used shipping containers, this is where you can both start and finish your night, if you’re so inclined.
With a selection of individually designed bars, outdoor dining and an open-air beer garden slaking the thirsts of many happy visitors daily, X Cargo is a must-see spot.
7am – 1am, 37 McLachlan St, Fortitude Valley, QLD.
This minimalist dining room is instantly brought to life when the colourful and eclectic food is dropped on the table. With a very fun and modern Asian-inspired menu of tasty treats to share (if you can).
With more on offer than you’ll be able to try in one visit (and believe us, you’ll want to try it all), Happy Boy has fast become one of Brisbane’s go-to spots for good food and a good time.
8am–2pm, 5:30–8:30pm, East Street (under the fairy-lit trees), Fortitude Valley QLD. Ph: 0413 246 890
A happening cultural hub isn’t a happening cultural hub without a decent burger joint, and any visit to The Valley calls for a stop in at Ben’s Burgers. With simplicity at the core of their menu, this is one of the best cheap eats around, and their delicious house-made patties keep regulars coming back to their Winn Lane location time and time again.
With a simple selection of drinks on offer, including their house-made sodas, all your bases are covered, though we’d recommend going for one of their killer milkshakes for an authentic and satisfying junk-food experience.
11am -10pm, 5B Winn St, Fortitude Valley, QLD. Ph: (07) 3195 3094
Offering a modern take on traditional Maghreb and Middle Eastern dishes, Gerard’s Bistro is one of Fortitude Valley’s most dynamic dining options, serving wholesome food made from fresh, locally-sourced ingredients in a funky setting.
One of the owners is an architect by trade, which is evident in the unique and fun design of the space, both in terms of layout and interior design, making this a very cool place to sit and enjoy some tasty food with an expertly paired Australian wine.
12-3pm, 6-12am, 14/15 James St, Fortitude Valley, QLD. Ph: (07) 3852 3822
Eleven Rooftop Bar
It’d be rude to visit anywhere as sunny at Brisbane and not check out a rooftop bar, and Eleven has it all. Cocktails flow from the skilled bartenders’ shakers while the kitchen pumps out perfect bar food to keep visitors sated in between drinks.
Eleven gets its name from the fact it’s eleven storeys up, overlooking the busy streets of Fortitude Valley below, providing a great opportunity to people-watch and while away a sun-drenched Queensland afternoon.
8:30am – 12am, 757 Ann St, Fortitude Valley QLD. Ph: (07) 3067 7447
American Express $5,000 Shop Small Competition
Getting lost in a new place with money to burn on the things you love is a great way to discover a city, and with American Express’ #ShopSmallFave Instagram competition, you are given the chance to win an AUD$5,000 travel voucher (plus one for your nominated business), just for snapping and sharing your favourite small business on Insta.
Open to the public now, this competition gives everybody the chance to show off the store, bar, cafe or local business that makes their day every time. From the barista who remembers your name (and makes your coffee just right every time) to your favourite clothing store, we all know at least one place that manages to put a smile on our face even if we’re just walking past; the Shop Small campaign from American Express is your chance to give back to the place that’s looked after you.
Scoring some sweet travel money for yourself in the process is just a bonus.
To enter, post on Instagram explaining in 75 words or less why this small business is your favourite. Include #ShopSmallAU, #ShopSmallFave and make sure your profile is set to public if you want to be seen! Competition closes November 14 and T&C’s apply.