Pop up to Brisbane from the southern states and you somehow step into carnival atmosphere with a stunning selection of outdoor eating destinations. And on a Friday or Saturday evening when no one can be bothered cooking and the temperature finally starts to drop, you can head to burgeoning Hamilton Wharf to try Eat Street Markets – a weekly festival of food and fairy lights – for a fine feed, and maybe a bevvie or two.
A relative newby on the foodie scene, Eat Street Markets kicked off in November 2013, and has garnered a solid following of locals since. The packed parking areas and crowds remind you of that, though it’s a calm and friendly crowd.
It’s a veritable little pop-up village, with alleyways of little restaurants in painted shipping containers and tents, and paths of fairy lights to guide your way.The food choices are immense with selections from around the globe. From potato slinkies to salt & pepper calamari, paella to pork buns, from sushi to oysters, just about anything you could be craving is likely to be there. Go as healthy or hard as you like, but don’t miss the Turkish gozleme – ten out of ten. The more friends you’re with, the more you get to sample. And the best thing? It’s really good food.
Grab yourself a little stool or crate somewhere and soak in the pink sky as the sun goes down and the fairy lights emerge, draping the way down the little alleys. It reminded me a little of being at the Royal Easter Show – but prettier and with way better food.
And when you think you’re completely sated, there’s a few dessert choices it’s hard not to sample. Think flowing chocolate fountains, Canadian pancakes with fab berries, Dutch pottertjes, or honey puff doughnut ball thingies (surely there was a name for those), and more. I was coerced into trying Dippin’ Dots, those little frozen balls of ice cream in an assortment of flavours – actually way more mouth-fun than I’d anticipated. Or if you want to suffer splurgers’ remorse, you could try a Cronut – a rather bizarre cross between a doughnut and a croissant, with an obscene selection of chocolate and creamy additives to add more calories. The long lines attest to their popularity.
For the shopoholics out there, there’s even an array of little galleries and stalls selling original work and quaint gifts and jewellery, so bring a bit of cash for surprise purchases (although ATMs are on site). Apparently there’s a ukulele man though I missed him. Next time.
And for those in need of an evening beverage (it is pretty hot in Brisbane, after all), there’s an array of wine bars or stalls selling hand crafted cool ales. Try a lager or a pale ale at the Burleigh Brewing Company microbrewery stall, or the delightfully named My Wife’s Bitter. For teetotallers I can recommend a refreshing Aussie-made Krazy Lemon drink or slushie. Then with your drink in hand, you can settle back to listen to the live music under the fairy lights – which is a great way to justify the slightly annoying expenditure of $2 entry fee.
For visitors or locals alike, it’s worth a visit. My only gripe is that all those plastic and paper plates and cups go straight into the rubbish bins. Surely a bit of recycling could be put in place, Mr Organisers??
A good feed, and there’s no washing up.
Addendum: Two years on and there’s a bigger and better location, with even more fairy lights. Sooooo many fairy lights. And good to see there’s now an effort to address the recycling.