Fortitude Valley means different things to different people. It has a seedy past but it’s always been on trend, despite the grungy appearance of its businesses (and inhabitants). But times have changed in the Valley. The grunge has been washed away and the gentrifiers have built an entertainment precinct with options for every taste.
Here’s one way to spend a night in the Valley.
4pm: Check in to Limes
A few years ago Constance Street was a blip on the map in the Valley. Now it’s a thriving art-house artery with a selection of must-see venues including this boutique hotel with hot staff, cool design, small but well serviced rooms and a pumping rooftop bar.
One of Brisbane’s first rooftop bars, this sleek space is inspired by New York City’s mega-fashionable Standard Hotel. That means a bubbling Jacuzzi, plenty of astroturf, lawn furniture, a vertiginous outlook (well, five floors up) and chiselled bar staff serving fresh cocktails over the latest tunes.
From this vantage point, Brisbane is clearly growing up, with ever-climbing high rises and glistening new apartment buildings.
6pm: A tipple at Alfredos
Head downstairs and around the corner you’ll find this newish pizza bar, with retro neon signage and graphic photo wallpaper. Alfredos is an upmarket spin on the late-night Italian diner, with thin crust pizzas delivered around the Valley late into the night. A seat in the front window is a great place to knock back an aperitif and crunch a few fried olives stuffed with feta.
The heart and soul of the new Valley, A&C is a sprawling original venue that spans two artfully restored Queenslanders connected by an al fresco deck. Every corner reveals more quirky ephemera hand-picked by designer Alexander Lotersztain. There’s the elephant in the room, oversized medical lights, plants, hanging skeletons and more – and somehow it all works. Lotersztain’s riotous mis-match combines “the grunginess of Berlin with the casualness of Barcelona”.
The menu from Brisbane food identity Jocelyn Hancock is the perfect match. Fun, fresh share plates with mod-Oz stylings, including croquettes, calamari and healthy grain salads. Oh, and there’s an epic burger.
Venture up the stairs at Alfred and Constance and you’ll find White Lightning. This no-holds-barred tiki bar specialises in lethal four-person cocktails served in porcelain “scorpion bowls”, with a DJ spinning fun tracks to get you on the dancefloor amongst the surfboards, potted plants and cane furniture. The track of the night? Pony by Ginuwine. It’s that sort of place.
It’s time to leave the Damian Griffiths’ ghetto and wander towards Ann Street and the dark heart of the Valley. Kerbside is where the cool kids settle in to mismatched op-shop furniture for creative cocktails and cool music. Housed in a vaulted warehouse, the lengthy beer list is worth the visit alone. You may never want to leave, but you have tickets to …
10pm: A gig at The Zoo
The Zoo lives up to its name. Since 1991 the legendary Brisbane live-music venue has hosted the likes of Nick Cave, Regurgitator, Spiderbait, Powderfinger and an eclectic array of international artists. Coming up next month? The Smith Street Band, Yo La Tengo, Everlast and Dan Sultan.
11pm: A nightcap at the Bowery
If you’re still standing after the gig, this slinky cocktail bar offers more killer rock ‘n roll stylings, with Brisbanites sipping espresso martinis in the near dark till 3am. Many a local has ended the night here.
Now … you just have to find your way back to the hotel.
The New Daily travelled to Brisbane courtesy of the Limes Hotel.