Brisbane’s best Middle Eastern restaurants
Vibrant, full of flavoursome spices and offering plenty of excuses to dream of what your three wishes would be if you ever found a magic lamp (uh, number one: being able to eat anything without our waistline gaining a centimetre, thank you), Middle Eastern fare is as exotic as they come.
Lucky for you, we’ve eaten our way through the best Middle Eastern restaurants in Brisbane, so you can hop on your camel (read: get in an Uber–there’s cocktails to drink, after all) and go try them all.
BEIRUT BAZAAR | WEST END
The new kids on the block have definitely shown they’ve got the Midas touch when it comes to Lebanese fare and cocktails. This gorgeous bar and restaurant calls the new West Village precinct home and you will want to mark it on your map; absolute standouts are their chicken or lamb shawarma, but we have been caught with our mouths full of their sambousek (meat or cheese-filled fried pastry pockets).
Pilpel | Redcliffe
Who needs the Spanish coast, anyway? You couldn’t ask for views prettier than those at this waterfront tapas spot (and, let’s face it, Redcliffe makes for a slightly easier commute). Enjoy a shared lunch on the northern coast with excessive consumption of dishes like their slow-cooked lamb shoulder and house rubbed and smoked pulled brisket.
Gerard’s Bistro | Fortitude Valley
Tucked behind the bustle of James Street, along the charming Gerard’s Lane, this innovative Middle Eastern eatery has been turning heads for almost a decade. Gerard’s has continually surprised with their signature combination of fresh seasonal produce and traditional Middle Eastern cuisines. The menu changes frequently due to seasonal availability and is designed to be shared (but you won’t want to). Make sure you experience everything Gerard’s has to offer by opting for the set menu – you will not regret it.
TARBOUCHE | WEST END
Tarbouche brings vibrant Lebanese dining to Fish Lane, with live drumming, belly dancing, and their magnificent interior wall art waiting to be experienced. Don’t miss fresh breads off the outdoor saj grill, or their extensive list of hot and cold mezza, as the name suggests. If you need more convincing to visit (we certainly don’t!), feast your eyes on the loaded shawarma towers, if you dare.
Byblos | Hamilton
Ready for a challenge even Jafar would quake at? Byblos’ mixed grill is heaped with mounds of hummus, tabouleh, grilled veggies, garlic sauce, bread and grilled meat skewers. It will all go down easier with one of their creative cocktails, especially if you find yourself a spot out by the river views (and finish it with a platter of their traditional Lebanese sweets, of course).
Caravanserai | West End
Ok, you might not be able to honour this “camel stop on the ancient silk road” with the traditional transportation method, but camel-free cars have officially been given the A-OK by Caravanserai. Sorry to break it to anyone who planned to stop by for a light meal, but you officially don’t stand a chance. Say hello to your new friend, the banquet menu. Thank us after you’re finished feasting on haloumi, chorizo, hummus, chicken shish, and braised lamb shanks.
Mecca Bah | Fortitude Valley
Step through the doors of Mecca Bah and you’ll feel like you walked into an Arabian palace, with funky décor and plush booths for your whole tribe. Even Aladdin’s genie couldn’t have conjured up feeds like these, with scrumptious Middle Eastern-inspired pizzas with toppings like spit-roasted lamb and haloumi, drool-worthy mezze plates like sesame glazed falafels and seared lamb cutlets, and a cocktail list that will leave you wishing you had 1001 nights to enjoy it.
Arabella’s | Mount Gravatt
Sorry to complicate things, but we need to include a second Arabella’s on the list! While the usual charcoal-grilled suspects can be found here, Arabella’s offers up loads of vegetarian options, too, including cauliflower zahrah with tahini, zingy baba ganouj, fatoush salad with pomegranate dressing and a loaded veggie plate with skewers, falafels, fried cauliflower, cheese sambusek, vine leaves, mujaddara, salata and two dips with fresh bread.
ZAZATA | FORTITUDE VALLEY
Nestled beneath Ovolo The Valley, this vibrant vegetarian Israeli-inspired eatery is absolutely buzzing with flavour and character. Be sure to try the Middle Eastern dumplings filled with pumpkin, lentil and mushroom or jackfruit. Although you won’t find any meat on their chargrill, you will not be able to go past the eggplant h’raime with tomato gazpacho, tahini and autumn greens.
OLIVE THYME | ALBION
Olive Thyme is one of the best Turkish delights around. The menu clearly reflects the owners’ passions for bringing Ankara to Brisbane, like bazlama inspired by their grandma’s recipe or borek with an unforgettable taste from their childhood. For the sips, Olive Thyme boasts boutique wines, a variety of Middle Eastern cocktails (the Raki n’ roll is a must try), or traditional Turkish coffee that is highly concentrated and perfect for a supercharged pick-me-up.
With so many choices, we have a feeling picking where to eat will be a tahini bit difficult…