Ipswich could well be the home of the burger in Queensland. As drovers pushed their mobs north from NSW and west into Queensland, they must have stopped along the way for dinner and a nap, allowing the cattle time to rest. There’d be no better meal than that already on hand, barbequed over an open fire and stuffed between two chunks of damper.
Those burgers are still in evidence today, with every decent joint in the Ipswich area showing off magnificent burgers of which their forebears would be truly proud!
What has changed, however, is the drovers’ appetite, each diner having their own preference of bun, filling and sauce. We’ve rounded up a range of the best to share with you, given them the taste test and our tick of approval. Find your favourite or work your own way through the list for pure enjoyment!
There’s no cooler place for a girl to dine than at Bakehouse Steakhouse, a chic new restaurant specialising in premium dry-aged Stanbroke steaks and excellent cocktails. Owned by Nick, Alastair and Chris Stevenson, the brothers have carefully restored the heritage-listed Haley’s Bakery, retaining the wood-fired oven as a feature on one wall. With its exposed brick lightened by light musk pink tiles and white counter fronts, the venue is inviting, a sassy ‘Hey Sugar’ winking neon from one wall.
On a short but well-priced menu, the solitary Bakehouse Cheeseburger features house-ground premium steak, Gillies bacon, cheese and pickles, lettuce and tomato, caramelised onion, Bakehouse sauce and bottomless fries. You can also get the burger gluten-free.
Leave room for some sweets from the dessert corner, the ‘flurry’ machine crunching up treats like Maltesers and violet crumble with ice cream to make soft serve treats.
- Corner of Darling St & West St, Ipswich Ph: 07 3281 8132
Tap’d at the Prince Alfred (PA) Hotel
The Prince Alfred Hotel dates back to 1842, when it was a two-storey timber hotel surrounded by cotton fields. In more recent times the venue, which has undergone a massive transformation, was named Australian Hotel of the Year 2016 at the QHA awards. This iconic hotel is worth visiting for its décor alone. Tap’d is the largest bar in Queensland boasting 72 taps, each one pouring a different craft beer, the beer theme extending to keg light fittings and a spectacular greenery-fringed tap waterfall on one wall.
The PA breaks boundaries in almost every way. Stylish, with three main dining areas under one roof, the chefs are intent on turning tradition on its head. ‘Burgers’ are presented on ciabatta rolls with fillings of slow-cooked brisket or 7+ wagyu steak. There’s even a hunger-busting Veggie roll with a sweet potato and bean patty, salad, cheese and aioli served in a ciabatta roll with a side of chips. Gluten-free and vegan versions are also available. Bet you didn’t expect that!
- 170 Brisbane Rd, Ipswich Ph: 07 3282 1577
The Retro Diner
There’s no greater hunger busting burger in the area than the Retro Diner’s ‘Carnivore challenge’. Close to a foot tall, the burger itself is a construction feat, held together by one big long flamingo skewer. First, Angie and the girls make the burger with a huge beef patty, salad, beetroot, egg and cheese, steak, bacon, chicken schnitzel and a stack of onion rings piled into a bun. Then there’s the thick shake with almost a litre of ice cream, as well as a huge basket of fries.
Down the lot in 10 minutes and the shirt and honour are yours. Odds aren’t good, with only 3 out of 40 contestants being successful so far. How did I go? Well, I was waiting for you to turn up!
- 195 Brisbane St, Ipswich Ph: 07 3143 9623
Pumpyard Bar and Brewery
We can’t visit Ipswich without tasting the latest offering from Four Hearts Brewing Company. With craft beer being one of the drinks of the moment, there’s no better place for a tasting than the Pumpyard Bar in the historic 88 Limestone Street complex. In the middle of the actual brewery, the bar, surrounded by shining brew tanks, serves a full menu of favourites including pizza, share plates, burgers and even beer-flavoured ice cream.
For many, a burger and beer is a combo made in heaven. The Pumpyard Bar offers several burger options including burger-sized bao stuffed with pork or tofu and their signature Pumpyard special. We chose the Southern fried chicken burger, the bun filled with seasoned crispy fried chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese and pickles with chipotle mayo to accompany a glass of the tropical flavoured Sunshine rice lager.
- 88 Limestone St, Ipswich Ph: 07 3143 9623
The Chang family’s Café 63 at Winston Glades is a huge open-faced venue seating over 100 people. This busy café is popular with Western Ipswich diners for its ambience and excellent service. Situated on the outside of a shopping centre, you can either dine inside in air conditioning booths or table seating or outside on the veranda lined by flower beds in bloom. Flowers are for sale at the front door of the café as well, giving a celebratory tone.
Open from early morning until late afternoon on weekdays and 9pm on weekends, the café’s seasonal menu covers all bases and is well-priced. Famous for their all-day classic breakfast dishes, lunch and dinner branch out into salads, burgers, sandwiches and wraps, with mains including pork belly, steak and salad and slow-cooked lamb shoulder with beer battered fries.
We choose the Marilyn Burger, a premium 200g rump steak cooked medium rare with bacon, grilled onions, green leaves, tomato and mayo served with fries and a side salad. It’s a hearty and delicious meal.
- Winston Glades Shopping Centre, 259 Ash St, Flinders View Ph: 1300 636 300
When your local burger joint grinds the meat, make the patties from 100% rump, cooks the brisket low and slow, pulls the pork and makes all the sauces, then you know that the burger you’re eating has got to be great! Getta Burger is a family business, begun by Amy and Brent Poulter, which now has 14 stores in Queensland.
We tried the Beef Brisket Burger laden with double American cheese, grilled onion, bacon, chipotle and house-made BBQ sauce and can tell you it’s one of the best burgers we’ve ever tasted. What makes it great? The slabs of Cape Grim brisket (some of the best beef in Australia) that’s been cooked for 12 hours low and slow until it’s tender and juicy, and that smoky BBQ sauce made to a special family recipe. These may be burgers made the hard way, but man they sure do go down easy!
- 31 Springfield Lakes Blvd, Springfield Lakes, ph 07 3818 3286.