Behind the main streets, tall buildings and typical shopfronts lies a hidden land of laneways. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds, but packed full of promise, Brisbane’s laneways are ready to be discovered. Each week we explore a new laneway to see what’s on offer and why it’s worthy of a visit.

M&A Laneway (standing for McLachlan & Ann) was our destination this week and as we walked through the collection of cafes, restaurants and stores, our senses were bombarded with exotic smells, the sights of various art installations and industrial design and a plethora of dining options.

One of the most recent inclusions on the list of Brisbane laneways, what makes M&A Lane so interesting is the fact that it was built to be a retail and eating precinct, rather than a redeveloped and reimagined existing laneway.

The venues that fill this inner city urban space were carefully selected to match the area’s aesthetic and draw a crowd organically. In some cases they have succeeded and in others, the choice seems a little odd. However there is easy parking underneath the entrance from Connor Street and you receive up to four hours free parking when dining on site. Just remember to get your ticket validated.

The line up of culinary choices is extensive for such a small space and it puts Brisbane foodies in a pickle when faced with making a decision about where to eat dinner.

Gordita, Papa Jack’s and Nikuya are the restaurants that flank the front side of the laneway, and as you step away from McLachlan Street, these are your first choices.

And what delicious choices they are.

Gordita was brought to life by the team that created the award-winning and much-loved Brisbane dining hot spots Peasant and Cabiria. The name itself comes from the Spanish slang term for a cute, spunky chubby girl (basically someone you can’t resist — who in turn can’t resist temptation, particularly from food). If you’re heading in to sample the goods, expect wholesome Southern Spanish food along with a wine list so fat with artisanal wines from around the world, you can practically feel it groaning in your hands. You mustn’t leave without trying their infamous sangria recipes.

Papa Jacks prides itself on delivering a slice of New Orleans in the heart of Fortitude Valley. Don’t be surprised if you swing by on the weekend and find live music. The cocktails looks delicious and they serve finger-licking good Creole food daily. As an example, one of the specials this week was a Creole-spiced sirloin with handcut chips and green peppercorn sauce. You’ll go because of the food but you’ll stay because of the chilled-out and easygoing atmosphere.

Nikuya Japanese BBQ and Tonkatsu Restaurant is the latest restaurant to open its doors on M&A Lane and the authentic Japanese aromas that waft out will be sure to tempt you into their stylish interiors. One of the best-looking fitouts we’ve seen in quite some time, this restaurant serves up too many delicious dishes to count. Nikuya means ‘meat shop’ in Japanese. Staying true to that, they only use the highest quality, premium grade Australian meat and seafood in every dish. And their Tonkatsu sauce is specially made in house with the customer in mind. The owners claim that it is cooked to the perfect flavour and texture and it’s the best accompaniment to their signature crumbed meats.

Mighty Mighty Cue & Brew have taken the best bits of American culture, the Southern smokehouse cuisine and the soulful city beats, and created magic in our little home town of Brisbane. The food is melt-in-your-mouth good, the music is as smoky as the meat and the chips take potato to a whole new level. Plus they’ve got an art mural that fills one entire wall and the whole place smacks of urban cool. And in case you aren’t filled to bursting point by main’s end – they have a chocolate brownie that will cause your tastebuds to implode. From deliciousness.

Locanda Osteria & Bar is the place to pop by for a plate of traditional handmade pasta, grilled meat or seafood. The restaurant serves traditional authentic dishes from regions throughout Italy. They encourage you to drop by for some antipasti and a glass of crisp Prosecco after work or make a real meal of it and have a long lunch with a serious piece of beef from a north Italian-inspired spit rotisserie ‘spiedo’.  The open air dining option and contemporary modern interiors invite you to linger over your meal and sip your wine slowly.

Flaming Olive Restaurant and Bar is all about taking contemporary dining to the next level. It’s the creation of owner Gordon Yu, a food enthusiast and designer who, after traveling and experiencing the flavours of the world, developed his vision for a unique dining experience inspired by his love of olives. The salty Mediterranean fruit is the signature ingredient in his restaurant, and in Yu’s search for the finest ingredients and flavours, everything on the menu is made on the premises. Head chef Wayne is passionate about fresh seasonal ingredients and focuses on flavour. All this combines to create a unique experience that has people coming back time and time again.

Stellarossa is a tiny little wooden shopfront that boasts coffee, gelato and pizza among a selection of another tasty treats. The Stellarossa brand itself has been around for many years and was born out of a passion for coffee and excellence in service and this tradition has been maintained at this inviting venue. Sit outside in the fresh air and sunshine on the large wooden communal table to enjoy your morning latte or lunchtime choices.

Wrapped Café has a motto: “Healthy food needs to taste good. If it tastes good then everyone will want to eat it.” This simple philosophy runs through their entire business and the focus is on food that tastes delicious and makes the body sing with health. Providing one of the fastest and most convenient lunchtime options in the area, the Wrapped team are all smiles, warm greetings and simple healthy food options.

And the last Lane additions include the Quick & Easy Convenience Store (need we say more about how quick and convenient this place is?) and the 4Ever Men Icafé Ishop — a unique fusion of technology, fashion and food. The store includes an Apple-authorised reseller with all the latest products, fashion and lifestyle brands for the stylish man (including Denmark’s Lindbergh and Shine Denim) and an iCafe where customers can relax over lunch and view the news on the Cafe’s iPads. This concept store is the first of its kind in Queensland and Adam, Shai and their team are passionate about curating the essetials for the modern man in one store.

M&A Lane is on the block between Ann, McLachlan and Connor Streets in Fortitude Valley. For more information on parking, opening times and seasonal specials, click here.

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