Five Must-Try Cafes in Brisbane

Have you ever had the day off work and thought – I want to try somewhere new for breakfast today, but I don’t know where? I’m here to tell you – try out one of these five (or all of them). You’ll leave happy, with a full tummy and your wallet won’t be too much lighter!

One. Bonsai Botanika, Brisbane City

This nifty place is bigger than it appears, with multiple levels of comfortable seating. The rustic, wooden look is warm and welcoming and the kitsch astroturf and fake plants actually work here, bringing life to this funky inner-city joint. Some online reviews comment on how expensive the food is – I found the menu to be varied and certainly not exorbitantly priced. There are options that are around $20 for breakfast, which is fairly average for Brisbane these days and certainly acceptable in the middle of the city; I found a delicious breakfast option for only $8 which I enjoyed thoroughly. There are several other cheaper options, all of which sounded well worth trying! I ordered the toast with lentils and guacamole, at the recommendation of the waiter, and he was 100% right – it was absolutely delicious. The bread was super fresh and soft, the toppings were fantastically flavoursome, and it didn’t take long to be prepared and served. I couldn’t have been happier! I also enjoyed one of their incredible coffees, which are consistently tasty and lovingly made. With the current chill in the Brisbane air, I opted for a mocha over my usual iced latte, and I was certainly not disappointed. The coffee is served in one of two sizes of glass, with the couverture chocolate served on the side, in a beaker that makes you question why you ever bothered going to chemistry class in school when surely this is the only appropriate use for such a vessel? You can choose between dark, milk and white chocolate – I think I might have to come back enough times to try them all! The service was phenomenal, with the gentleman working when I visited having a very welcoming attitude and giving excellent recommendations. I will definitely visit again when I find myself in the city and would highly recommend others do the same!

Bonsai Botanika

Open:    Monday – Thursday, 7am – 5pm

Friday, 7am – 9pm

Saturday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm

A: 109 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane City

P: (07) 3210 0059

I: @bonsaibotanikabrisbane

bonsai inside

Inside Bonsai Botanika, Brisbane City

Two. Dovetail on Overend, Norman Park

Tucked away on a quiet little residential street is a busy little café, which has been open on both of the public holidays on which I recently visited. The level of care the staff have for their customers is extraordinary and rarely found in hospitality these days, which makes me want to return time and time again. When I popped by on Good Friday, the café was so busy people were lining up for tables. I was only there for takeaway coffees for my girlfriend and myself, and the short wait was well worth it. They also do fresh juices, and I partook in one of their breakfast shots while I waited. I was nervous that because of how healthy and nutritious it purported to be, it would just taste like a spirulina shot and leave a bad taste in my mouth (no matter how good I felt afterwards). I was so very wrong. The shot contained a whole bunch of fresh, healthy ingredients, including wild blueberries, which meant it actually tasted delicious and left me wanting more!  While I was waiting for my coffees, I read through their menu, and I couldn’t help but start to salivate. My goodness! The food sounds truly sensational and I will be back to try it as soon as I can. Supporting small local businesses is always a factor for me when I’m choosing where to spend my money, and I will be spending more of it at Dovetail on Overend, that much is clear!

Dovetail on Overend

Open:    Tuesday – Friday, 7am – 1pm

                Saturday – Sunday, 7am – 2pm

                Monday, Closed

A: 85 Overend Street, Norman Park

P: 0435 224 407

W: http://DovetailOnOverend.com (only available on tablets and smartphones currently)

I: @dovetailonoverend

F: www.facebook.com/DovetailOnOverend

Three. Little Sista Cafe, Coorparoo

Go. Just go. Don’t hesitate, don’t dilly-dally. You will not regret it. I have been a semi-frequent visitor to Little Sista for years, since it opened up around the corner of a house I used to live in, and it has only improved with time. The incredibly decent portions of food are mouth-wateringly delicious, beautifully presented, and well-priced. The coffee is great, the smoothies are wonderful and inventive, the baked goods are tempting and tasty. On top of all of that, the décor is lovely, with indoor and outdoor seating. The staff are super friendly and there is parking readily available both under the café and in the streets nearby. Little Sista is easily one of my favourite Brisbane cafés, I don’t doubt it will become one of yours too!

Little Sista

Open:    Daily, 6:30am – 2pm

A: Shop 5, 148 Chatsworth Road, Coorparoo

P: 0421 130 564

W: http://www.littlesistacafe.com/

I: @littlesistacafe

F: www.facebook.com/littlesistacafe

little sista coffee

Iced dirty chai latte at Little Sista, Coorparoo

Four. Lady Marmalade Cafe, Greenslopes

Anyone who doesn’t know about this place has had their head under a rock for a good few years now. I used to visit Lady Marmalade before I moved into the area and lust after it when I was elsewhere – after moving to Coorparoo, I visited at least once a fortnight and took anyone and everyone I could there with me. It’s a tiny place, so you may have to wait briefly for a table, but you won’t regret it. The servings are perfectly sized – not so big you end up wasting half of it, but not so small you would ever leave hungry. The prices are incredibly reasonable; cheaper than most other equal-quality cafés I know of. And if you do still have room in your tummy once you’re done with your main course, you can indulge in some of the amazing sweets they have on offer. There are always plenty to choose from and you can’t possibly make a bad choice.

Lady Marmalade Cafe

Open:    Monday – Friday, 7am – 3pm

                Saturday – Sunday, 7am – 2pm

A: Shop A & B, 269 Logan Road, Greenslopes

P: (07) 3324 2480

W: www.ladymcafe.com

I: @ladymarmaladecafe

F: www.facebook.com/ladymarmaladecafebrisbane

Five. Billy-Max, Bulimba

I visited this place for the first time recently, when one of my best friends and I were wandering through Bulimba wondering where to stop in for a good coffee and a cute friend-date. We passed on the multiple places along the main stretch of Oxford Street, noticing that they were super busy and loud as was to be expected in the middle of a busy weekend day. We thought we’d passed by all of the cafés when we came across this cute little place, and decided to give it a shot. Their cabinet of baked delicacies looked incredibly inviting, but when my friend decided to save room for lunch I thought I’d better follow suit. I’ll be back to correct that error another day… The coffee was great, though it did take a little longer than expected given we were the only customers at the time. I’ve read reviews that the service tends to take a long time, so maybe don’t head there if you’re in a rush. That said, I have no qualms with a place taking a little while if the end product is delicious and I have good company (or my laptop) to entertain me while I wait! Given it’s a little bit out of the heart of Bulimba I feel that this place misses out on a lot of the custom the other places get whether they want it or not, just because of their location. I’d love to see more people going for a longer wander to visit Billy-Max and let me know their thoughts!

Billy-Max

Open:    Monday – Saturday, 7am – 4pm

                Sunday, 7:30am – 4pm

A: 1/124 Oxford Street, Bulimba

P: (07) 3395 6011

F: https://web.facebook.com/www.billymax.com.au/

little sista brekky

Breakfast Croissant at Little Sista Cafe, Coorparoo

5 Things Not to Miss in Puebla, Mexico

One. Lucha Libre

I had no idea that I’d enjoy las luchas as much as I did.

Originally I assumed it was going to be like wrestling or boxing, or maybe a combination of both. Either way, I’m not a fan of violence and don’t tolerate watching it happen very well at all. Luckily, I decided that when in Mexico one should do as Mexicans do, so I thought “what the heck, I’ll close my eyes if it comes to it”, paid my 100 peso (~AUD$7) entrance fee, and in I went. And I couldn’t be happier that I did. There’s no real violence, it’s much more of a show involving theatrics and stunts and humour than anything else. There’s a lot of skill to the moves performed, and it’s extremely entertaining.

Every Monday night you can see los luchadores at Arena Puebla, Ave. 13 Oriente 402, starting at 9pm. Tickets cost between 90 and 200 pesos; I strongly recommend buying at least the 100 peso tickets.

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Los luchadores doing what they do best! 

Two. Eating ice cream in the park

At least once during your stay in Puebla, make your way to Parque del Carmen. The park itself is a great place to people-watch, with novice skateboarders practising, shoe shiners everywhere, families walking their dog or children learning to ride bikes, a lovely big fountain in the middle, and many people enjoying the sensational ice cream that can be bought right next to the park. If you’re not sure what flavour you want (and there are many!) you can get as many tastings as you like (from my experience); and at only 20 pesos (~AUD$1.40) for a big cup of two flavours (mediano size), it’s great value. My favourites are jamaica (hibiscus) and tejocote (a small orange fruit that tastes like applesauce). An added bonus to this park is the beautifully decorated church right next door that you can admire from a distance as you eat your delicious treat.

You can find Parque del Carmen on 16 de Septiembre between Calle 15 Oriente and Avenida 17 Oriente.

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Delicious hibiscus ice cream – YUM! 

Three. Visiting Los murales del barrio de Xanenetla

There is a whole suburb of Puebla, north of the zócalo, that is decorated with incredibly beautiful street art. I had no idea it existed until a local teacher showed me around, and I’m so grateful he did. Warning – there is quite a lot of walking to be done, so wear good walking shoes! You won’t regret spending your afternoon wandering these amazing streets and alleyways; make sure you have plenty of memory and battery left on your camera because you will definitely want to take lots of photos!

You’ll find this enchanting space starting at Bulevar 5 Mayo, where it intersects with Calle 4 Norte.

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One of the many incredible pieces of artwork found in this jaw-dropping neighbourhood full of talent expressed on walls

Four. Learning about the history of the famous Cinco de Mayo battle at Zona Histórica de los Fuertes

A decent walk out of the centre of town, Los Fuertes is a beautiful area filled with monuments commemorating the incredible history of Mexico, particularly in relation to the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. There are several museums, fountains, cafes, lakes, and an incredible view over the magical city of Puebla. Budget a day for this – the walk from town is at least 40 minutes; you’ll want to spend a good while wandering around the historical zone; and you can wind your way wistfully through El Barrio de los Murales on your way back, too.

To get to Los Fuertes, ask anyone about Centro Cívico 5 de Mayo Los Fuertes; or you can usually just ask about Los Fuertes and someone will be able to direct you.

Some of the museums there are only open Tuesday through Sunday, so don’t schedule it in for a Monday! General admission to the Museo de Sitio, Fuerte de Guadalupe is 50 pesos (around AUD$3.50), but on Sundays you can enter for free. Each of the several museums has its own admission price, so be prepared for that.

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The Historical Zone

Five. Trying some of the local delicacies

Puebla is known as the gastronomic capital of Mexico, and for excellent reason. The food is sensational, varied, and unique. Once you’ve left Puebla, you’ve left behind the flavours, scents, and experience of eating typical comida poblana (Pueblan cuisine). If you’ve journeyed so far out of your comfort zone as to be in Mexico, make sure you continue that journey. Try things on the menu, the names of which you can’t understand. Trust locals when they say they want to take you out for tacos, and you end up at the dodgiest-looking place you’ve ever seen. Stop in at that place you’ve walked past that smelled so good you couldn’t help but salivate. Live, eat, enjoy – the only thing you’ll regret is not trying enough!

For more information about what to try in Mexico, check this out.

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My favourite meal in Puebla – chilaquiles con mole y huevos at Cafe Milagros

 

Twin Fin Hostel in Bocas del Toro, Panama – A funky new accommodation option for adventurers

On the eighth of February, 2017, an exciting new accommodation option opened up in Bocas Town, Bocas del Toro, Panama. It’s rustic, minimalist, stylish and funky, and it’s called Twin Fin Hostel.

When you walk in to the hostel from either of its inviting entrances, you find yourself intrigued and wanting to see more. On one side, you’ll find a lovely outdoor beer garden, with a small bar offering cheap, ice cold beverages on a hot day. On the other side, you’ll find reception, where a member of the small, personable team will welcome you with a smile. The staff are all passionate and knowledgeable about their workplace and the vibrant town in which it is located, and are happy to answer any questions you might have.

Scattered around the brand-new hostel are gorgeous artworks, many by artist Ernesto Mago (find him on Instagram: @ernesto.mago). Adding to the funky feel of this nifty little place is the blue-white-brown colour scheme, reminding you of your proximity to the incredible Caribbean Sea just a short walk away.

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A huge wall mural by Ernesto Mago

Upstairs, you’ll find a deck with a sitting area, a library, and a fully equipped kitchen. Once they’ve added a few more comfy seats to the equation you’ll have a perfect upstairs chill-out space for guests. You’ll also find the dormitories on this level, with 3-bed, 4-bed and 8-bed options. They’re working on providing private rooms soon, so stay tuned for that development.

The rooms are simple, with fans and windows for cooling, and plenty of room for your backpacks. One big bonus is that they don’t only provide bunk beds – they also have twin beds in the rooms, so if you’re lucky, you might be able to grab one of these for your stay, and enjoy the comfort of not having to worry about a bunk-mate.

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The three bed dorm

Almost all of the dorm rooms have lockers, varying in size. In the bigger dorms with more beds, the lockers are big enough for a small backpack or laptop and other valuables; in the smaller dorms there’s room for a camera, passport and purse. You should bring your own lock for these lockers – though there are a few available to borrow, there aren’t enough for everyone.

The three bathrooms don’t have hot water, but most people don’t find that to be much of an issue in a place as warm and humid as Bocas del Toro. On the plus side, you can enjoy fast, reliable wifi throughout the property, and breakfast is included with every booking! For your convenience, I asked what breakfast was, and you won’t be disappointed – pancakes, fruit and coffee every morning from 8am to 10am! There’s night-time security for your safety, and the hostel even allows you to have guests join you in their beer garden! Beers are super cheap at only USD$1.50 each, and in the near future the hostel is looking to stock more drink options in their bar. On top of all of this, you can even get your laundry done right on the premises, for only USD$5 per load.

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Twin Fin is decorated with plenty of cute little touches like this!

The whole property is large, open, bright and airy, which means you can’t help but feel happy and relaxed no matter where you spend your time. There are plenty of common areas to hang out in, which provides every opportunity to meet fellow backpackers and strike up conversation about your travels; plus, there’s a bike rental place right across the road (though it’s not the cheapest, so you might want to ask around before renting).

The hostel is still working out a few kinks that come with being so new, including making sure breakfast is ready on time, and improving their sound proofing. At the moment, because of the rustic design, it’s easy to hear other guests walking around no matter where in the property you are. Make sure you bring earplugs to ensure this isn’t a concern for you – there are plenty of reasons to stay for these few small sacrifices!

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There’s a book exchange for readers

The centre of Bocas Town is a short walk away, where you’ll find restaurants, shops, a park, the bank, and transport to anywhere you want to go; but Twin Fin is far enough away from the hubbub that you don’t have to worry about missing out on a good night’s sleep because of all of the noise.

Twin Fin’s ratings are currently sitting above 9/10 on booking.com – visit them and find out why!


The best way to book at Twin Fin Hostel is to send them a message on their Facebook page, or you can also check them out on booking.com.

A bed in their 8-bed dorm will cost you USD$13 per person per night.

To stay in their 4-bed dorm you will be paying USD$15 per person per night.

If you want more privacy, you can stay in their 3-bed dorm for USD$17 per person per night.

Each of these options includes breakfast.


Check In: From 11am

Check Out: 10am

A: Avenida Norte, entre la Calle 4ta y la Calle 5ta Isla Colon, Bocas Town, Panama

P: +507 760-8134

W: www.twinfinhostels.com

I: @twinfinhostels

F: https://www.facebook.com/twinfinhostel/


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Disclaimer: I did not personally stay at Twin Fin; but I did spend time there speaking to one of the managers, Nina; and interviewed two of my good friends who stayed two nights. I was treated to a tour of the hostel and given answers to every question I asked. I did not receive any form of compensation for writing this article; I simply wanted to help out a new hostel in this beautiful part of the world.