Brisbane’s breakfast-restaurant boom of the mid-to-late 2010s has well and truly run out of steam post-pandemic.

Of all the cafes that have impressed us so far this year, perhaps only one could be considered a true full-service spot. The rest tend to be smaller places that drill down on a simple idea and do it well, or address specific pandemic demands, whether it’s speciality coffee, fancy sangas (and fancy homewares) or even flaky Portuguese tarts. Here’s what to check out.

And if you missed our recent round-ups of Brisbane’s best restaurant and bar openings of 2022 (so far), find them here and here.

Bellissimo Coffee Bulimba, Bulimba
Bellissimo Coffee has refurbed its grungy Bulimba operation, completely reinventing the space as a classy full-service cafe in December (too late to make our ’21 lists). The venue retains its outside seating area, but inside the roastery and warehouse has been converted into a beautifully appointed eatery with terracotta tiles, polished concrete floors and marble counters. A raised section at the back is decked out in long timber banquettes, and there’s hanging greenery and pendent lighting throughout. The ceiling has been left exposed, celebrating the venue’s warehouse past. For food, a brunch menu includes truffle scramble; onion bhaji with sauteed spinach, poached eggs and coriander yoghurt; and a broccolini salad with ribboned cucumber, shaved fennel, edamame and pomegranate. A Mediterranean-inflected small-plate menu also kicks in at lunch. For drinks, there’s Bellissimo’s typically stellar line-up of coffee, served as espresso, batch brew or cold drip, backed by a selection of chilled drinks that includes an espresso frappe, house-brewed iced tea and a banana-caramel smoothie. Later in the day, craft beer on tap, wine and boutique Australian spirits all feature prominently.

Coffee Anthology, CBD
Coffee Anthology closed its much-loved original outlet in October last year after owner Adam Wang couldn’t agree on terms for a new lease with his old 126 Margaret Street landlords. It’s fair to say, though, that Wang has landed on his feet with Anthology’s terrific new premises. Located on Charlotte Street inside Midtown Centre, an ambitious office tower development atop the 1883-built , heritage-listed Walter Reid facade, Anthology is the beachhead for a 700-square-metre indoor laneway precinct called Intersection, which will eventually include a new Coffee Anthology kitchen, an outlet for cult Upper Mount Gravatt patisserie The Whisk, a guest roaster bar and capacity for 120 guests. South Brisbane’s Clui Design has produced a tiered space that drops down to the large arched windows overlooking Charlotte Street. The final design incorporates the enormous brick wall that backs Anthology’s coffee bar, and features plenty of stone, arched brass features and warm lighting. What hasn’t changed is Anthology’s laser-sharp focus on presenting the best roasters from around the country, including Padre, Proud Mary, Almanac and Passport – it remains a yardstick for specialty coffee in Brisbane. Coffee is available as pour-over, batch brew and of course espresso, via Wang’s favoured La Marzocco Strada EP coffee machine. Until its own kitchen opens, Anthology is serving a selection of muffins prepared at sister venue Maillard Project just down the street, with sandwiches to come online shortly.

Cordelia Sourdough Bakehouse, South Brisbane
Ania Kutek and Eddy Tice, the pair behind NYC Bagel Deli and Superthing, opened Cordelia Sourdough Bakehouse at the entrance of the Opera apartment building on Cordelia Street, with an industrial-inspired interior accentuated by pops of gold and plenty of natural light. Cordelia’s menu includes filled bagels and loaded croissants from NYC Bagel Deli and Superthing, alongside some decadent toasties, served “really big, with plenty of cheese”, and burgers served on milk buns, including a classic bacon and egg number and a smoky rib one with a boneless glazed rib, apple coleslaw, cheddar and pickles. For breads, Kutek and Tice are baking white and seeded sourdough, light and dark rye, sourdough baguettes, and a caramelised onion and cracked pepper loaf. There’s a cabinet full of sweet baked goods, including a cinnamon scroll, monkey bread, seasonal danishes and classic croissants (pain au chocolat, plain and almond). Rounding out the menu is a Basque cheesecake and sourdough waffles. The food is accompanied by Padre’s light-medium roast Daddy’s Girl espresso – the blend of choice at all of Kutek and Tice’s venues.

If You Say So, St Lucia
Eli Rami and Sam Holman’s If You Say So opened in January in a tiny old shopfront on Gailey Road. Holman did a lot of the fit-out himself, including the large terrazzo-topped coffee bench. There’s a bright colour scheme with terracotta pink walls and pops of greenery, while the exterior of the building has been painted white with dark blue highlights. A handful of tables are located inside and out. Rami and Holman also operate The Black Lab Coffee Roasters, and have taken what they’ve learnt from opening cafes such as Blackout in Paddington and The New Black in Fortitude Valley (they’ve since sold the latter) and applied it to a concise menu mostly geared towards takeaway. There’s Blackout’s popular breakfast muffin (an English muffin filled with bacon, egg, cheese, pesto and mayo), house-baked croissants, Doughluxe doughnuts and Butterbing cookies. For drinks, Rami and Holman are running The Black Lab’s Platinum as the house blend, while there’s also cold drip and a selection of bottled cold drinks. There’s also batch brew on tap – customers can grab a cup from the counter and pour it themselves.

Lisboa Caffe, South Brisbane
After numerous building delays, Lisboa Caffe finally opened on Hope Street in April, serving pastéis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) and Padre coffee. It’s the realisation of a seven-year dream for owner Joe Rocha, who began making the flaky, perfectly blistered tarts at former food incubator turned restaurant and farm gate Wandering Cooks. The fit-out at Hope Street is fairly simple, with white-tiled flooring, pops of red and a scattering of greenery. Rocha says it was important to ensure the layout allowed customers to watch the tarts being made in front of them. Behind the counter you can see the shell – made using Pepe Saya cultured butter – get moulded into shape. Then it’s filled with custard and baked in an extremely hot oven (much hotter than what a domestic oven can achieve) to gain a slightly caramelised top with a silky, crème brûlée-like filling. Other than the traditional pastéis de nata, Rocha is offering a Nutella version; a savoury goat’s cheese, walnut and honey tart; and a chicken and herb tart. There are also miniature versions of the pastéis de nata and a classic Portuguese almond tart. Rocha plans to introduce more items down the track, including a full breakfast menu.

Nug General Store, Fortitude Valley
Nug General Store opened in late May in the old Cakes & Shit premises at the far end of Fortitude Valley’s Bakery Lane. Owners Sarah Baldwin, Jarrod Applebee and Shane Phillips have refurbed the space in timber, tiles and crazy-paver floors. Nug sells fancy pantry staples and homewares curated by Applebee and Phillips (who own Finnley Home in California Lane), and also a rotating menu of sandwiches and salads prepared by Baldwin, who’s best known for her celebrated Joy restaurant. Nug is neatly split into two small rooms. The first has a front counter with a glass cabinet stocked full of cakes, fresh fruit and more, while the second is dominated by a large communal table for those who want to stop and eat. Throughout, fetching wooden shelving is stacked high with pasta, rice, oils, locally made passata and everything else in between. For homewares, Nug is stocking serving boards by The Wood People, candles by Black Blaze and stainless steel vases by Urban Eden, among many other items. For food, Baldwin is preparing a menu of five sandwiches, backed by a rotating selection of salads. The sangas change every couple of weeks, but expect creations such as prawn and crunchy lettuce, and a vegan tofu number served on fresh ciabatta. You can help them down with some Moccamaster-brewed Semi-Pro coffee, if you plan on sticking around.

Priorities, Alderley
Luke Reimers (Mr Chester) and Jesse Williamson (best known for her tenure as a barista at Blackout Paddington) opened Priorities at the start of April in a charming milk-white weatherboard space on Samford Road in Alderley. In a nod to post-Covid simplicity, its offering plays it dead straight: coffee, pastries, baguettes and wine during the day, with the venue transforming into a wine bar on Friday nights and function space on Saturday nights. From its coffee bar, Priorities is running Industry Beans’ Newstead blend through a customised Sanremo Cafe Racer espresso machine, with guest roasters featured on batch brew and filter. There’s also a short selection of cold drinks, including cold brew, juices, and kombucha and cascara. For food, Cordelia Sourdough Bakehouse is supplying pastries such as croissants and doughnuts; takeaway loaves of sourdough; and ham-salad and chicken-salad baguette sandwiches. The wine list is a constantly rotating selection of somewhere between 20 and 30 bottles that favours small-producer, drink-now vino.

Honourable Mentions:

Mountain River Patisserie: The celebrated dessert maker graduates from Salisbury’s Food Connect to its own natty space in Runcorn.
Doughcraft: Craft’d Grounds lands a Europe-inspired bakery and deli that peddles bread, panini, pastries, pasta and charcuterie boards.
Neighbour: The Bunker Coffee crew open a slick grab-and-go (think salads, sweets, breads and wine) spot next to the celebrated Milton original.
Kurtosh: The Sydney import arrives in Brisbane, serving kürtőskalács – crunchy, caramelised coils of dough with a soft, brioche-like interior – out of a slick West Village shopfront.