This one’s for all the Brisbane (and beyond) peeps who are about to make the trip up the hill for the First Coat Festival (19-21 May).
We’ve noticed a steadily increasing stream of Instagrammers from Brisbane visiting our garden city. You’re getting your selfie on in front of our street art and marveling that good coffee exists outside Brisbane. And we love seeing your snaps, keep them coming, and hashtag #toowoombaliving while you’re at it. However, we couldn’t help but notice you’re visiting all the same places!
We’re here to help you find the very Insta-worthy spots you might not have noticed at first glance. Read on!
You’ve heard of Ground Up…
Ground Up rightly has the trophy for founding laneway/coffee culture in Toowoomba. They showed us the ways and we are grateful. The service is always great and the food is delicious. We have it on good authority the coffee is tremendous too. However, if you can’t get a seat at Ground Up or you’ve been before and want to try something different there are other places you can go.
But have you heard of…
Bunker Espresso. Located on Margaret Street, Bunker has a prime spot for downtown people watching and is located comfortably close to Gelatissmio (coffee + ice-cream = winner) and the murals you can find down Club Lane. They offer single origin coffee and turmeric lattes as well as the added fun of a record store and the occasional pop up market from local creators.
The Bungalow and Basket. Hanging down on Ruthven Street near the Bell Street Mall (your gateway to the monkey goodness that lies in Bank Lane) Bungalow is a sweet haven of gifts and baked goods. The girls will sort you out with some of the best carrot cake and banana bread you’ve ever had, which you can enjoy while nestled into chairs lined with sheepskin mats. Pick up a Mandle candle or The Beach People roundie while you’re there.
You could also try: Cool Beans Espresso a hole in the wall on Ruthven Street or Crazy Goat Espresso which serves up coffee and treats, right near the Fintan Magee elephant on Union Street. Michelle’s Café offers vegetarian treats and vegan cupcakes, while Pony Espresso on Bowen Street has the snacks and the perfect position near the polar bear on Becker Lane.
You’ve heard of The Finch
Ever since it opened The Finch has been a Toowoomba favourite for tasty lunches, treats and Fonzie Abbott Espresso. They were the first to bring banh mi to Toowoomba and they still reign (especially on Wednesdays when it’s only $5). You should definitely try the BBQ pork tacos, salads and burgers too…drool. Yeah, we love The Finch. However, if you’ve worked through their menu already there are other places you shouldn’t miss.
But have you heard of…
Ortem. Go check out what awaits you in Beech Lane and Snell Street and then take your tired feet over to Ortem where you’ll get a plate full of delicious-ness. They do different sweet and savoury specials that slay, along with the usual staples involving avocado and bacon. You should try their bruschetta too – yum. Plus, Ortem is full of fun things to look at. See how many Lego men you can spot or just grab a pile of newspapers at the huge square communal table near the window (for best Instagramming light) and relax.
Inbound. As you might have worked out from the name, Inbound is at Toowoomba’s Railway Station. The former Refreshment Rooms are still incredibly refreshing – they do delicious morning tea and lunch, and Friday and Saturday night dinners. You can also book a high tea and enjoy it in the heritage-era setting, or perhaps on the couch next to the fire.
The Sauce Kitchen. If you’ve ever been to an event catered by The Sauce Kitchen then you’ve lived a good life. Offering catering, a cooking school and a cafe, Sauce is a foodie triple threat. You’ll enter through their edible garden and weave your way through must-have kitchenware and gifts before reaching the café, where you’ll find hearty, local fare. They’ve just updated their menu for autumn, so get in to try their Green Goddess Lasagne or Crispy Pork Belly. They’re on Station Street right next door to a Gimiks Born mural. You can see Sirum’s angel lady in Mylne Street from the carpark too.
Also in the area is Artisan Pizza and Sandwich, a carb heaven offering soft flatbreads, burgers and of course pizza. It’s conveniently located on Russell Street near the many street art wonders in Keefe Street. Little Seed by Firefly has been recently revamped and offering all plant based and gluten free morsels, and if you like healthy, well Homegrown Health is the place for organic goodness.
You’ve heard of The Baker’s Duck
There’s no doubt about it, The Baker’s Duck is the absolute best. We will happily line up for however long it takes to get our hands on their incomparable sourdough loaves and baked goods. However, they’re only open for retail on Saturdays from 7am to 1pm and can sell out super quickly. Trust us – you don’t want to miss out, so we have the low down on where else you can get your fix if you’re not in town on Saturday, or having a slow start to the day.
But did you know…
The Baker’s Duck supply their goods to Ground Up and Homegrown Health Monday to Friday. You can also find their danishes and muffins at new kids on the block Milk and Honey Espresso – they’re open every day.
If pastry is your deal, and we hope it is, stock up at Bonjour Boulangerie, Toowoomba’s authentic French bakery located in Grand Central (the shopping centre is also the site to sweet street art – visit Dent Street). Wendland Fine Foods over on the corner of Bridge and Mary Streets delivers divine flaky, buttery pastry and Merlo Coffee. Find more sourdough at Deli Delicious, which has everything you need for a lunchtime bite or picnic supplies and their own blend of coffee. If you’re up in the Mort Estate call in to ParisiAnn Patisserie for friendly service and a swag bag of homemade baked goods. And, you won’t be sorry if you happen to visit Red Bench Café the minute their Nutella donuts hit the shelves!
Speaking of cafés not in the CBD, take your wheels to Piccolo Papa for a breakfast to remember (their French toast is mandatory, but the café is only open Friday to Sunday, you can get pizza for dinner all other days though). Café Valetta is across the road from Queens Park and serves up seriously yum food in a historic and totally Gram-worthy setting.
Also scoot to Urth Café Bar on Hume Street (a short walk to the Frank and Mimi While We Flourish piece on Thorn Street) for healthy, hearty breakfast and lunch options. And pick up a sweet treat to die for at Impressions on Scott.
You’ve heard of Junk…
It’s hard to remember a time in Toowoomba before Walton Stores opened and brought with it quality eating options in Junk, Hello Harry and 2Birds Fried Chicken (and now Nitrogenie too). The relaxed, family friendly setting and tasty but affordable dining options are what makes Junk a Toowoomba favourite. Their Crispy Pork Belly, Beef Massaman and Vietnamese Noodle Salad are all total winners.
But have you heard of…
Kajoku. You want incredible Korean fried chicken and the best pan fried gyoza in town? You got it. Located upstairs in Ruthven Street, Kajoku combines fun, energetic service and tasty food with karaoke! Add a burny shot of Japanese whisky for a real kick to the pants too 😉 Kajoku is a super fun place for groups and thankfully is open late (in Toowoomba this means past 8.30pm).
O Banh Mi. In Duggan Street – across from the new Grand Central – is an unassuming little Vietnamese place that does a busy lunching trade. Always, always friendly and polite, they serve up Pho, banh mi and rice paper rolls (which are hard to come by in Tbar).
You’ve heard of Fitzy’s…
A Toowoomba icon, especially for those of us who still hazily remember it as Fibbers, Fitzy’s offers consistently good food and drink – both out the back and out the front at Tapestry Bar. For a great night out or a Sunday session Fitzy’s is hard to beat.
But have you heard of…
Muller Bros? Probably. Ever since it opened the popularity of Toowoomba’s only rooftop bar has gone, well, through the roof. However if you’re new to Toowoomba you might not know this classy joint is hiding in Bell Street Mall and offers a churrasco restaurant, café and rooftop space for drinks and casual eats. The mouthwatering meats and vegetables in the restaurant will see you rolling out the door, while the rooftop is the perfect selfie backdrop. Sadly their small plates don’t start until 7pm, but when they do, order up! Especially the dumplings!
The Office and The Chelsea. You might have heard of The Office, but you might not know it has just reopened after changing hands and undergoing renovations. The revamped space brings an enclosed laneway bar and incorporates a brand new concept for Toowoomba, the speakeasy bar The Chelsea. It specialises in grown up cocktails, gins and whisky and has only been open for a week. Toowoomba’s excited about this joint, so come check it out with us!
Tom Collins Bar is another spot for drinks and nibbles, and the bonus is the menu is all gluten free. Zev’s Bistro boasts a tantalising wine and cocktail list to round out their food offerings. In April Toowoomba edged that bit closer to cool when boutique craft brewery Four Brothers Brewery opened. They’re open Friday to Sunday, midday to 10pm, in Brook Street. If wine is your preference, Preston Peak is our own local winery. They’re open Wednesday to Sunday 11am to 3pm for tastings, so Uber out! (Yeah. We got Uber too.)
Not a pub or bar, regardless, Sofra Turkish Cuisine shouldn’t be missed for dinner – and you should always book ahead to make sure you get a chance to taste their homemade Turkish bread. Gips is the place to go if you have something to celebrate.
You’ve heard of Picnic Point, Queens Park and the Japanese Gardens…
We’re known for the Carnival of Flowers every September, so it’s no surprise most people know of these three picture-perfect sites. Picnic Point is a must do for visitors – the view over the Lockyer Valley is stunning and there are walking trails for the fit-types. There’s also a waterfall to be discovered and a kick-ass kids play area.
Queens Park in the centre of town is host to markets and events or is a wonderful spot for simply rambling through the Botanic Gardens or spreading out a picnic blanket on a sunny autumn day. The Japanese Gardens are a small sea of tranquility with lots of Insta opportunities.
But have you heard of…
So many people head to the Japanese Gardens and bypass Laurel Bank Park. It’s our personal favourite. While we think it’s best seen at spring and during Carnival (the wisteria arch gives us heart eyes) if you’re not here in September, don’t worry, Laurel Bank is gorgeous any time of year. You’ll find topiary plants, a scented garden and vast patches of grass to soak up the sun. And a café in Urban Grounds directly across the road – it doesn’t get much better as a relaxing Saturday spot.
Boyce Gardens. The definition of a hidden gem, Boyce Gardens were once a private oasis, and has now been gifted to the University of Queensland for care. The garden was started in 1930 and is now heritage listed; it features native and imported plants and a rainforest area. Located at 6 Range Street and open to the public during the day.
Newtown Park and Queensland State Rose Garden. A multi-faceted space, this park features almost 2000 roses, playground and sporting areas. It’s also a hotspot for cute doggos doing a run around. It’s bound by Holberton, Taylor, Tor and Pottinger Streets – grab a coffee from Extraordinary Joe and go for a wander.
You’ve heard of the Toowoomba Farmers’ Market…
The market that really got us pumped for fresh local produce has evolved from a trial event in a paddock to a weekly market in bustling Walton Stores. Wander around and pick up a Two Moos coffee, healthy breakfast material from Brown Paper Pantry or fresh fruit and veges from a variety of providores. It’s on every Saturday from 7am to 11am.
But have you heard of…
My Local Feast Farmers’ Market. Explore the grounds of the Empire Theatre every Thursday evening from 3pm to 7pm. Visit Ben & Co, UB’s Farm and hang out and listen to live music. This market also runs every second Saturday at Cobb and Co Museum.
The Original Mix is a collective that organises regular fun for Toowoomba, including street food and designer markets. Their Dine Down Town market is on every month at St Luke’s and features food vans, kids’ activities, and music to chill to.
You’ve heard of Grand Central…
Have you? You probs have, but this is just an excuse for us to tell you if you’re keen as a jellybean to get your hands on Betty’s Burgers while you’re waiting for them to open in Brisbane, well you can do that here. Currently undergoing a massive redevelopment, Grand Central has recently opened up many huge brands we never had access to in Toowoomba before. If you need a H&M fix while you’re in town you can get it here. Sheike, Kikki K, Mecca Cosmetica, Seed, it’s all here, along with some local shops such as our very own Lolli Shop. Retail therapy sorted.
But have you visited…
Florence and Marabel. Located in the Australia Arcade in Duggan Street, this boutique is run by a mother daughter duo with impeccable taste. Find cool casual wear, something special, and accessories you won’t be able to go past, from a whole range of designers including Binny, Eb & Ive and Jac & Jack. Once you’re in the arcade wander up to Little Chiefs Boutique for cool kids clothes and Polka Dot Pop for cool clothes for expecting mums.
But that’s not all we have to offer in the way of indie boutiques. Ivy Designer Collections gives us Zimmerman to lust over while Smoke and Mirrors has edgy casual and frocks for a dressy occasion. Ophelia Boutique will set you up with Status Anxiety and Auguste the Label and is home to a Alex Lehours First Coat piece.
You have to explore the eclectic homewares available in Harold’s Finishing Touches (and immediately follow on Instagram for daily design inspo!) And finally, no retail therapy is complete without blooms, pick up a bunch at the Toowoomba Flower Market, open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4pm and Saturdays 7am to 12pm at 11-15 Tointon Street.
This is a small taste of things to eat, see, and do in Toowoomba. If you’re a local add your favourites in the comments!
Don’t forget to check our list of 11 cafes open in Toowoomba on Sunday too!