Brisbane’s Eat Street Markets
A preliminary review.
Getting there was hard. I’m from the west side of Brisbane but even for somebody central to the city, making your way to Eat Street is always going to be difficult. Weirdly, when I put Hamilton into google maps and clicked ‘public transport’ the only way here was by bus, and then another bus, and then a ferry. If you have a car, it’d be loads easier, but for somebody who normally gets around pretty easily by bus, it was something of a hike!
I’m not adverse to a challenge though, especially when the rewards are this epic. Not only was the ferry ride over from Teneriffe (one of my favourite suburbs in Brisbane) a treat — think sail boats, open water and a gorgeous view of the many colonial buildings in the area — once I arrived on the dot at 4pm the place filled up surprisingly quickly with vendors, people and more atmosphere than you could poke one of those curly chip sticks at.
A few of the food stalls were a little samey: the kind of fried food or hot dog vans that you might find at the EKKA, but for the most part, the food and drink on offer at Eat Street is ridiculously inventive and equally delicious. Poulet and Porc caught my hungry eye first. They do rustic ‘modern european cuisine’. Turns out that translates to burgers they call ‘nice buns’ that are packed with crispy pork belly, house-made pickles, apple slaw and a rich chipotle sauce that will completely blow your mind. I’m no food critic, but I’m pretty sure Matt Preston would get his kicks on it.
After having a good wander, I grabbed a ‘mocktail’ — a tropical blend of passionfruit and coconut — from Mobile Mocktails right at the entrance of the grounds. It came on recommendation by one of the cheery dudes that will make them up in a cocktail shaker for you and tasted something like a pina colada — minus the rum, of course. I tried to snag a table in the live entertainment area, but the grounds were already really crowded and I ended up sharing my table with an enthusiastic couple eating vegetarian kebabs. According to them, polenta is a great substitute for shredded beef. Who knew?
The entertainment that evening (it had just gone 5 by the time I sat down) came in the form of two smiley, young guys on acoustic guitars playing lazy afternoon rock covers. Again, I’m hardly a music critic (although I used to be — shock twist!) but they did pretty well to keep the vibe chill and relaxed. Even better, when I arrived the sun was hot and high in the sky, but after being there for an hour, there was a light breeze and most of the seating areas were undercover. Looking around, I could tell people were just getting comfortable — the Eat Street Markets don’t end till 10pm, and you could easily spend a good chunk of your night there.
I reluctantly left the music and the breeze in search of more food to inspire me — and my stomach. If you haven’t cottoned on by now, Eat Street is near strictly a foodie market. There are a few stalls peppered here and there that sell handmade nick-nacks and some art, but people are mostly here to fill their stomachs and satisfy their sweet tooth. I wandered past Jake and Ellie’s, a rustic black food stall with a chalk menu that will deliver you a Mac n Cheese made from three different types of cheese — cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan!
It sounded amazing, but I was a little apprehensive about ingesting that much cheese at once, so I kept going and came across Sticky Dees. The stall, with its pastels and elegant displays, was really inviting, and I was compelled to make a pit stop by a lady handing out samples of their gourmet chewy Oreo and caramel coated candy apples. They look completely moorish and come in so many flavours (rocky road, honeycomb and coated chocolate, just to name a few) that I couldn’t possibly pick just one. She posed for a photo for me and explained that the imaginative foodies behind Sticky Dees are based on the Gold Coast and take their business to Hamilton for Eat Street almost every week.
There was so many more stalls that I could have mentioned — the famous Conuts w/ Golden Gaytime Soft Serve by Chocolate Komberry Co., for example, but there’s something to be said for being left to discover them for yourself. I hadn’t heard too much about Eat Street before today, so spending 2 hours roaming the grounds and talking to vendors felt like I was discovering something really unique. I took a blissful ferry ride back into the city and saw the sun set over the cityscape on my way in. Not a bad way to end a Saturday.