Favourably known as the most stylish street in Brisbane, James Street is brimming with glamorous shops, tasty eateries, buzzing bars, and the freshest of fresh food outlets.
This iconic Brisbane strip, a dazzling spectacle that intertwines the bright and shiny with the quintessential laid-back Brisbane lifestyle, comes from humble beginnings. Having evolved over the years and with now more than 110 specialty stores, James Street boasts a veritable banquet of delicacies (both food and retail-related).
In this blog, we’ll guide you through our top tips on James Street. Find out where to eat, drink, play, and shop, and how to get around in the utmost style.
Exploring the Cultural Melting Pot of James Street
Perched on the fringe of this delectable precinct, Rambla @ Perry House has close ties with the many shops, cafés, restaurants and bars that line James Street. We never miss an opportunity to recommend its offerings, and if you’ve stayed with us before, you’ll know it’s just a quick trip from our serviced apartments to the bustling bazaar.
In addition to its boujee shops, James Street is home to a cultural melting pot of goods. Cuisine spans countries to offer guests a bounty of choices, from the Mediterranean-inspired Cantinho Café and the classic Italian at Bianca, to the best of Japanese food at Fresh Sushi Co. and the magnifique French patisserie staple Jocelyn’s Provisions.
You’ll also stumble across plenty of home and design James Street shops that possess their own unique taste in different art styles and cultural backgrounds. Find chic architectural minimalism at Astra Walker. Bright and vibrant creations at Designer Rugs (which also houses stunning collaborative works from leading Australian artists). And, bold natural elements at Dinosaur Designs that blend art and nature in a magical array of pieces.
Whatever you’re on the hunt for, James Street can offer you on a silver platter. Surrounded by a rich concoction of fabulous shops and eateries, you’ll feel immersed in the community’s diverse culture from the moment you walk its pathways.
A Brief History of James Street Brisbane
We’re suckers for a bit of historic background, and we always love to know the origin of a place we become so fond of. Let us turn back the clock for you, just for a moment, and give you a glimpse into the fascinating history of James Street Brisbane.
A centrepiece of Fortitude Valley and perhaps the most renowned shopping strip in the inner-city suburb, James Street actually comes from humble beginnings – as does Fortitude Valley itself.
Fortitude Valley: Back in Time
Originally and rightfully inhabited by the Turrbal and Jagera peoples of Meanjin (Brisbane), Fortitude Valley gained its modern name later in the land’s timeline. The beginnings of the now-large Brisbane enterprise involve an intriguing and culturally-inclusive tale.
Named after the 1849 ship Fortitude, which carried about 250 British immigrants to settle in Brisbane, Fortitude Valley played host to a lively and interested community of people. The immigrants were part of England’s artisan classes, meaning they were of slightly higher rank than working-class men and women.
The Fortitude’s travellers were intelligent, keen, and resilient, which saw them begin work on what would one day become one of Brisbane’s most lively and vibrant city pockets.
As more ships brought more passengers to the shores, the small village of Fortitude Valley outgrew its position as the ‘Cinderella of the City’ and began to develop into a thriving hub.
Over the years, Fortitude Valley (and by extension, James Street) wore many different hats. From working-class barrens to smokey industrial workings to the seedlings of retail and dining. Brisbane’s James Street has certainly been on a journey of self-discovery weaved by cultural richness.
James Street Market, one of the key players in the retail hub’s network and a testament to the precinct’s cultural diversity, was founded by Lebanese immigrants. The iconic fresh food market, which incidentally deserves at least half a day to reap all the delicious offerings, continues its legacy through brothers Michael and Cal Malouf.
Now, the strip is a booming trade in luxury fashion, world-class dining, and high-end entertainment. The hub attracts more visitors than can be counted, and even on a weekday, it’s buzzing with activity and vibrancy.
James Street Shops
It’s difficult to narrow down the top few stores that sparkle with life on the tree-lined paths of James Street. Every outlet carries its own unique charm, and each offers unparalleled cultivated goods in a wide range of retail, fashion, design, and lifestyle brands.
If you’re visiting James Street for a limited time, or if you’re keen to hit up a few well-chosen gems, these delightful hand picks are a great place to start.
Set foot in this iconic strip and you’ll be greeted instantly by a slew of luxury fashion labels, both Australian-owned and international, all calling James Street their home. Bring your wallet and get ready to play the big spender when you delve into these high-end, yet warm and welcoming, fashion stores:
- Assembly Label
- Bec + Bridge
- Camilla and Marc
- Nudie Jeans Co
- Silk Laundry
- St Barts
- Wolfe & Ordnance
…and that’s just to name a few!
Home and Lifestyle
Redecorating? Searching for that one treasured item? Shopping for a few pieces to make your Rambla @ Perry House apartment truly feel like home? James Street’s selection of home, lifestyle, and design pieces will scratch your homewares itch:
- Living Edge
- Museum of Small Things
- The Green
- The Modern
- Trit House
- West Elm
- Wheel & Barrow
Feeling home inspo peckish? Be sure to hit up these ultra-fabulous home design James Street shops.
Health and Beauty Services
Pamper your senses and indulge your inner-health guru with James Street’s selection of exclusive health and beauty shops. From cosmetics and spas to beauty bars and perfumeries, there’s plenty to indulge in throughout James Street, including:
- Brooklyn Beauty Bar
- Endota Spa
- Libertine Parfumerie
- Lyla Clare
- Twin Palms Barbershop
Go on – treat yourself and quench your thirst for that much-needed TLC pamper session.
Nothing says ‘James Street Brisbane’ quite like the string of tantalising restaurants and cafés that call the strip home.
Whether you’re in town for an extended period and want to get cosy with the best culinary corners, or you’re here for just a weekend and need quick tips on the best James Street restaurants, this list is perfect for you.
There’s a never-ending pot of gold when it comes to restaurants on James Street, and while it was pretty tricky, we’ve cultivated a list of must-visit eateries during your next visit:
- Cru Bar & Cellar
- Gerard’s Bistro
- Same Same
- Sushi Room
- SK Steak & Oyster
After something more casual to complete your plate? Perhaps you’re on the go during a day of retail therapy and need that caffeine and cake thirst quench. The bottom line is, when it comes to daytime cafés, James Street has pretty much everything you could possibly want.
Take your pick from our top picks:
- Agnes Bakery
- Cantinho Café
- James St Bakery
- King Arthur Café
- Spoon Deli Café
What’s a night of dining without a fabulous nighttime drinks escapade? One thing you won’t fall short on during a visit to James Street Brisbane is bars.
These aren’t ordinary bars, however; James Street delivers the evening goods with some of the city’s best bars and nightlife all in one scrumptious place.
- The Nixon Room
- Bar Tano
- Gerard’s Bar
- Harvey’s Bar + Bistro
- Lobby Bar
- Sixes and Sevens Public House
Play and Entertainment
What’s a famous inner-city precinct without a handful of quality entertainment options? James Street is Brisbane’s ultimate destination for leisurely yet high-end entertainment options.
Palace James St
Experience the enhanced and revamped Palace James St (formerly known as Palace Centro), boasting a remarkable selection of ten screens. Among them are three upgraded auditoriums equipped with plush recliners, as well as five luxurious cinemas adorned with handcrafted chairs imported from Spain.
Notably, the front two rows of these cinemas feature semi-reclining seats, ensuring optimal viewing angles for an unparalleled movie-watching experience, regardless of your chosen seating location.
This alternative to mainstream cinemas offers a diverse repertoire of high-quality blockbusters, international and local art-house films, and a string of renowned film festival showings.
Additionally, all ten cinemas possess full licensing, enabling guests to indulge in the thoughtfully curated beverage menu, expertly complemented by delectable cheese platters, charcuterie, and the perfect opportunity for post-film discussions.
Markets and Fresh Food
At the beating heart of James Street is its selection of ever-growing fresh food outlets. These go-to markets and pop-ups not only dish up some of the finest Brisbane foods, but also form the tight-knit Fortitude Valley community we know and love.
James Street Market
Prepare to be captivated by the array of floral arrangements, freshly baked treats, and exquisite culinary delights offered at James Street Market. Bid farewell to mundane grocery shopping, as this expansive retail destination promises an exciting and fulfilling experience.
Seize the opportunity to start your day with a delectable meal at Spoon. Indulge in a refreshing smoothie courtesy of Quench. Sample a variety of delectable offerings at the Nut Market. Relish a fine dining experience at Cru Bar. Or, explore the assortment of handcrafted wonders, succulent seafood, and vibrant blooms at the Standard Market Co.
Although we could continue extolling its virtues, we wholeheartedly advise you to personally venture forth and immerse yourself in the remarkable ambience of this extraordinary locale.
Stay Close to the Excitement of James Street
Got the bug for James Street Brisbane? We don’t blame you. This renowned hub is part of the reason why we chose to set up camp in the nearby suburb of Bowen Hills.
Rambla @ Perry House is smack bang in the middle of the action, while keeping its humble distance from the raucous late-night frivolities of James Street’s hopping bars and hotels.
This means you can take full advantage of the precinct while savouring the peace and quiet of Perry House, which is within walking distance or a short drive from James Street.
Book your stay in our brand new serviced apartments and get ready to live the good life, Brisbane style.