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Brisbane's Best New Cafes of 2018

These six cafes serve up more than just top-notch coffee.
By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018
By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018


These six cafes serve up more than just top-notch coffee.

Cafes are no longer just serving great coffee. They're serving great locally roasted coffee in many forms (from cold drip to batch and single origin espresso), great fare that caters to all dietaries. They also boast interesting decors and are passionate about sustainability and the ethical sourcing of ingredients.

And our favourite cafes of the year do an impressive job at covering it all. From gluten-free doughnuts and perfectly flaky croissants flown in from France to vegan eateries and all-day spot serving V60s through to raspberry mojitos, these six cafes are doing it all.

At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Brisbane to be a better, braver city. And so, these six new cafes, opened in 2018, were nominated for Best New Cafe in Concrete Playground's Best of 2018 Awards. You can check out all the winners over here.

  • 6

    Vegan eats can’t be hit and miss. You want a kitchen that sources fresh, high-quality ingredients and isn’t afraid to experiment with taste combinations. In this, Dicki’s certainly delivers. From an understated New Farm nook of sleek white wood with indoor and footpath seating, it offers plant-based meals bursting with flavour. Once you’ve had smashed avo with macadamia ‘feta’ ($12), you’ll never look back. Bad memories of buckwheat? Try them as waffles with stewed apples, cinnamon crumble and salted caramel ($16.5). Bright and fresh dishes like the Nurture Bowl ($16.5) and maple-roasted granola ($12.5) with seasonal fruit and coconut yoghurt are picture perfect, as is the decadent cake selection. Then, on Friday and Saturday nights, dinner and drinks are available till 10pm. Prosecco, local beers and refreshing cocktails are paired with tasty plates like burritos with crumbed tofu and black beans ($15.5), as well as the big house-made mushroom burger with fries ($18.5). Trust us: you won’t even miss the meat.

    Words: Stephanie Monteith. Images: Dane Beesley.

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  • 5

    This industrial-style eatery in Ashgrove, decked out with exposed bricks and neon lightbulbs, is serving up vibrant and beautifully plated dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. During the day, you’ll find tweaked American-style classics — such as honeycomb, ricotta and lavender hotcakes ($19) and a New York-style reuben ($19) with house-made pastrami and spicy mayo — and at night, the menu roams the globe. Crispy chicken drummets ($14) arrive with sweet, sticky sauce, pork belly is served inside steamed buns ($15), tacos ($14) are topped with fish and sriracha, and for dessert there’s an old-school eton mess ($13). Macho Macho also runs a seasonal ‘supper club’ — a three-course feast for $50 — and offers V60 filter for us enthusiastic coffee nerds. Swing by for ‘Small Plate Sunday’ and enjoy some discounted tapas-style titbits (three plates for the price of two), Happy Hour from 4-6pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, or catch live music on Thursday evenings from 5pm.

    Words: Stephanie Monteith. Images: Dane Beesley.

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  • 4

    Cake enthusiasts of Brisbane will know Alphabet Cafe well, and its cakes, doughnuts, cookies, muffins, slices, brownies and cherry cheesecake brioche, too. Alphabet’s treats have been popping up in Brissie’s best cafes for years and now you have the chance to get even more familiar with these delicious desserts and pastries. Making good on the latter part of the business’ name, sisters Zoe and Meghan Tulleners have branched out and opened their first bricks-and-mortar establishment. Situated on West End’s Boundary Street, Alphabet Cafe boasts top-notch joe with Coffee Supreme beans, as well as a small dine-in menu which features produce from Food Connect and Loop Growers in Samford. The menu has a good sweet-to-savoury ratio, so you can enjoy a fried egg sandwich or some crispy bacon, before picking out a treat from the killer cake cabinet. Happy gorging, sweet tooths.

    Words: Sarah Ward. Images: Savannah van der Niet.

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  • 3

    If you’re a fiend for pastries but you’re not so keen on gluten, then you’re probably a Nodo fan. In addition to its signature dessert dish — gluten-free doughnuts that are baked, not fried — it whips up plenty of other treats. And, it’s serving them up at its revamped Newstead cafe, which first opened back in 2015 and has undergone quite the facelift. It’s the latest step for the busy Ella Street spot, which initially started out slinging takeway doughnuts, then expanded to take over the space next door. In its new, concrete-heavy form — think concrete counters and polished concrete floors, plus clean lines and light-filled spaces aplenty — it now boasts an upgraded kitchen and bakery, as well as more seating. There’s also table service if you’re eating in and a grab-and-go system if you’re nabbing a bite on your way out the door. While doughnuts and other baked goods remain Nodo’s main focus, the relaunch brought something new, food-wise. That’d be brunch, so prepare to stop by mid-morning. Hungry diners can tuck into baguettes stuffed with crab and egg scramble, kimchi waffles topped with popcorn chicken, souffle hotcakes with yuzu gel and stacked brisket cheeseburgers. Then, wash it down with Coffee Supreme coffee or one of six types of healthy shakes, including chocolate, mint choc chip, coffee and caramel. Just save some room for the doughnuts, obviously.

    Words: Sarah Ward.

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  • 2

    Owning her own café had been a dream since childhood for Freja Rasmussen, but it took a move across the equator for this Danish pastry chef’s dream to finally be realised. Together with her partner Nathan Dunnell (formerly of Stokehouse Q), Rasmussan created the Scandi-styled Freja’s Café. After nine months spent looking for the perfect site, a former Indian restaurant in the heart of Wilston was secured, and lovingly transformed into a bright and spacious, 35-seat cafe. Rasmussan’s meticulous handmade sweet treats can be seen on the front counter, alongside perfectly flaky croissants (flown in from France). The Strada coffee machine is one of only ten in Australia and is stamped with a stylised leaf pattern to match the dove grey takeaway cups. The summer menu is a deftly curated combination of decadent (pulled beef cheek croissant) and saintly (matcha pancakes with macadamia), with a sweet nod to Freja’s Danish heritage also snuck in (smoked salmon and sous vide egg on light rye). With representation from some of our local liquid faves (Seven Miles Coffee Roasters and Mayde Tea), this inner-north brunch spot has had a very bright year.

    Words: Eliza Crisp. Images: Grace Smith.

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  • 1

    Penny Coffee Co feels like it’s run by your ultracool best friend, you know, the one that’s always ten steps ahead when it comes to trends. While the cafe serves up standard brekkies, like toast with “two yolky boys” (eggs, if you were wondering), its strength lies in its ability to create wholly original dishes. Tuck into piña colada panna cotta with coconut-cashew granola, minted pineapple and a piña colada pour ($17) or okonomiyaki with sriracha aioli, edamame, radish, crispy lotus roots and nori dusted yolky ($19). As we said, ultracool. Coffee is served both espresso-style and filter — V60 and Aeropress — and the beans come from a variety of roasters. If you’re not a coffee person, there are some tasty Assembly teas available, as well as 9 Spices chai and Kali hot chocolate. In addition to the top-notch food and drink, Penny Coffee Co promises to provide “awesome service, cozy vibes and dank tunes”. A promise which it most definitely keeps, with its friendly staff and buzzy atmosphere. Situated in Dutton Park, the cafe boasts large bi-fold windows — perfect for people watching — subway tiles and a colourful mural. The space is at once neat and inviting, the handiwork of Clui Design, and is the perfect place to hit up on your next brunch date.

    Words: Stephanie Monteith.

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Image: Alphabet Cafe by Savannah van der Niet.

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