Is it just us, or does it feel like things have been turned up a notch in the hospitality world lately?

There has been a massive shift away from restaurants that are ‘just’ restaurants and bars that are ‘simply’ bars, towards largescale, multi-faceted eating and drinking ‘precincts’ that offer customers food with a side of experience.

We’re not complaining – this trend has brought us places like Eat Street and Miami Marketta, and more recently Fortitude Valley’s X Cargo. It’s also seen temporary market-style eating precincts like the Night Noodle Markets at Southbank (on now!) and über-niche ‘festivals’ like the Espresso Martini Fest and the Chicken Nugget Festival.

But why? These dining destinations aren’t just markets or glorified food courts – they’re clever ‘social activations’, designed to draw customers in, week after week, by encouraging patrons to not only buy food and drinks, but share them on social media. It’s taken the ‘food-stagram’ trend and run with it. Going out for a bite is no longer about what you’re eating, but where you’re eating it – and which hashtag you’re using to talk about it.

It might seem contrived, but these dining destinations have given small businesses, local performers and advertisers an unprecedented platform to reach hordes of potential fans and customers. They’re diversifying the marketplace and giving us, the consumers, a literal smorgasbord of dining, drinking and entertainment options.

From shopping centres to former shipping yards, dining destinations are popping up everywhere. Here are some places you can go to get in on the action:

In it for the long haul:

GOLD COAST // Miami Marketta
Where: 23 Hillcrest Parade, Miami
When: Wednesday, 5-9pm; Friday, 5pm-late; Saturday, 4pm-late
What: street food, bars, live music, one-off festivals

GOLD COAST // NightQuarter
Where: 1 Town Centre Drive, Helensvale
When: Friday and Saturday, 4-10pm
What: street food, bars, retail, live music, entertainment

GOLD COAST // The Patio
Where: Pacific Fair Shopping Centre, Broadbeach Waters
When: 10am-9pm daily (10pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday)
What: a collection of casual dining restaurants

BRISBANE // Eat Street Northshore
Where: 221D Macarthur Avenue, Hamilton
When: Friday and Saturday, 4-10pm; Sunday, 12-8pm
What: street food, desserts precinct, bars, live music, retail

BRISBANE // Mount Gravatt Marketta
Where: Mt Gravatt Showgrounds, Logan Road, Mt Gravatt
When: Saturday, 4-9pm
What: street food, bars, live music

BRISBANE // Fish Lane
Where: Fish Lane, South Brisbane
When: various restaurants’ opening hours
What: a collection of bars and restaurants

BRISBANE // 8 Street
Where: Westfield Garden City, Upper Mount Gravatt
When: 10am-8pm daily (9pm on Thursdays)
What: a collection of Asian dine-in and takeaway restaurants

BRISBANE // North Shore
Where: Westfield Chermside, Chermside
When: Monday-Wednesday, 11am-9pm; Thursday-Saturday, 10:30am-9:30pm; Sunday, 10:30am-9pm

Where: 43 McLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley
When: 7am-11pm daily
What: ‘food truck’-style dining and bars in stacked shipping containers, live entertainment, functions

Here for a good time, not a long time:

Night Noodle Market
Where: Southbank, Brisbane
When: from 5pm weeknights, 4pm weekends, July 25-August 5
What: dozens of Asian food stalls selling dumplings, bao, noodles and more, plus a range of dessert and drinks options

Espresso Martini Festival
Where: Fish Lane, South Brisbane
When: 5:30-10:30pm, Tuesday, August 14
What: a selection of nibbles, pop-up bars, lounge spaces and – of course – every espresso martini variation under the sun

Brisbane Burger Fest
Where: The Triffid, 9 Stratton Street, Newstead, Brisbane
When: 11am-8pm, Saturday August 25
What: exactly what you’d expect… burgers, burgers, burgers (and beer!)

Sample Food Festival
Where: Bangalow Showgrounds, Bangalow
When: first Saturday in September
What: a collection of the region’s best food and fresh produce

Anastasia White

Anastasia White  

Anastasia (‘Anny’ to her friends and family, thanks to some nickname experimentation in year 4 that unfortunately stuck) is a born-and-bred Brisbanite with a love of coffee and her cat, Olive. Having recently finished a degree in journalism, Anastasia loves being able to learn and write about so many different topics for a variety of audiences.