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FOOD & DRINK

Our Sydney: Here Are Our Readers' Favourite Spots to Visit in Glebe, Ultimo and Pyrmont

Sip brekkie cocktails in a sunny courtyard, then catch a gig in one of Sydney's best small bars.
Flip the switch below and discover Sydney by day or night
By Melanie Colwell
March 29, 2021
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By Melanie Colwell
March 29, 2021
  shares

OUR SYDNEY: HERE ARE OUR READERS' FAVOURITE SPOTS TO VISIT IN GLEBE, ULTIMO AND PYRMONT

in partnership with

Sip brekkie cocktails in a sunny courtyard, then catch a gig in one of Sydney's best small bars.

Occupying the shoreline that stretches from Rozelle Bay to Pyrmont Bay, the suburbs of Glebe, Ultimo and Pyrmont have had many identities over the years. They were once known as primarily industrial suburbs. Then, following a period of disrepute, the 21st century saw the area reinvent itself into a thriving entertainment hub.

Its storied past is evident in its restored terrace houses and preserved buildings, many of which are now home to grungy bars and a diverse range of restaurants. Pair these with dozens of eclectic shops, galleries and live music joints and you can easily lose days discovering everything these suburbs have to offer.

To help you explore more of this part of Sydney, we teamed up with City of Sydney to ask Concrete Playground readers what businesses they love to visit and support around Glebe, Ultimo and Pyrmont. Here are some of your top picks.

Read on to discover some of the most popular picks to visit during the day. Then, flick the switch above and we'll dim the lights to show your favourite things to do once the sun goes down.

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    Deciding to live a vegan lifestyle — whether for the animals, your health or environmental reasons (or all three) — is no longer as difficult as it once was. But when Jessica Bailey opened her business, first as an online store and then a retail shop in Glebe, things were a little different. The aim was to make it easier for people to find vegan products without “all the time-consuming label reading”.

    Recommended by CP reader Louisa Kirby, Vegan Grocery Store (formerly The Cruelty Free Shop) stocks everything from vegan food — including egg substitutes, plant-based meats and chocolate — to vegan leather belts, backpacks and shoes. It also sells cruelty-free and eco-friendly products, like reusable bamboo facial pads, compostable bin liners and mineral makeup.

    Image: Trent van der Jagt

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    It’s hard to know what to expect from a place called Dirty Red. Thankfully, the words ‘coffee’ and ‘brunch’ emblazoned on the venue’s baby blue terrace exterior provide some clues. With ample seating, including a bright and airy interior and a leafy courtyard, Dirty Red is the type of place you’ll want to stay in all day. And, in fact, you almost can as the venue transforms into a cosy wine bar on Friday and Saturday nights, too.

    For now, let’s focus on the main affair: brunch. The extensive, produce-packed menu turns cafe classics up a notch — think eggs and soldiers served with halloumi fries or eggs benedict served on jalapeño and cheddar cornbread. Plus, it has what CP reader @ally_brown88 calls “the best brekkie roll in Sydney”.

    To pair with your meal is coffee by Mecca, including a nitro cold brew, plus fresh juices and shakes made using gelato from nearby Little Red Gelato. And if you’re looking to level-up your brunch session, the cafe also serves booze during the day. This includes a stellar selection of cocktails, like the Brekkie Martini and the Dirty Red Mary. Plus, it does $10 espresso martinis between 2–4pm.

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    This area of Sydney is packed with specialty stores and one of the most fun to visit is Mineralism. The Glebe Point Road shop, recommended by CP reader Nathalie Reiter, is packed with precious stones and minerals of all shapes, sizes and origins. If you’re into collecting crystals — or just enjoy looking at colourful, shiny things — you’ll want to have this on your radar.

    This family-run business, led by Jed Underwood and Jess Lahoud, collects its products from all over the world. You could walk out with labradorite from Madagascar, azurite from Morocco or dragon’s blood sage from the US. The store sells tarot and oracle cards, handmade jewellery and essential oils, too.

    Image: Kitti Gould

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    Pioik means ‘bread’ in the ancient Egyptian language, Coptic. And that’s exactly what you’ll find at this Harris Street bakehouse, which was suggested by CP readers @steveorrphoto and @japantha. The team here churns out everything from rye and gluten-free loaves to a whopping two-kilo wholewheat sourdough loaf, appropriately named The King.

    But that’s not all. Take a peep through the shopfront window and you’ll spy glass displays filled with colourful pastries, tarts, cakes, meringues, biscuits and flatbread pizzas topped with seasonal ingredients. And set against the exposed brick walls are wooden shelves stacked with artisanal pantry staples, including flour, coffee and olive oil, and fridges full of eggs, cultured butter and jersey milk.

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    If you were looking to open a small neighbourhood bar in Sydney, The Little Guy is the type of place you’d turn to for inspiration. It’s been around for almost a decade and is as loved by Glebe locals and visitors, like CP reader @pamtran, as ever.

    So, what’s the key to The Little Guy’s success? It could be the $12 cocktails on Wednesday evenings and the dedication to serving locally made spirits and craft brews from the likes of Archie Rose, The Grifter, Akasha and Yulli’s Brews. Or, maybe it’s the music bingo on Thursdays, the free pool on Sundays and regular live music sets. Or, perhaps it’s the free popcorn.

    We’re guessing it’s all of the above — combined with super friendly service. It’s the sort of place you’ll want to stop by for a pre-dinner tipple, then wind up returning to after your meal, too.

    Image: Kitti Gould

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    When we asked for your top Glebe picks, CP reader @amynmoreno gave The Charleston a shout-out. Adding to the area’s diverse culinary offering, The Charleston is inspired by South Carolina — something that’s evident as soon as you step inside, thanks to the bright pink walls, hanging plants, skylights and cane seating.

    The kitchen, led by Patrick Ngai, prepares share-style dishes that are heavy on the seafood, spice and smoke, like grilled king prawns with seaweed butter and prawn oil, fried chicken with chipotle mayo and a selection of tacos. The cocktail menu is appropriately summery and quite playful — fairy floss, Milo, Sour Patch Kids and Wizz Fizz all make appearances in the drinks. Also, the wine menu was designed in collaboration with P&V Wine and Liquor Merchants and heroes funky, sustainable drops from local winemakers.

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    In 2018, Joseph Bekele set up new digs for his Ethiopian restaurant in Glebe, where it has been delighting locals with its spice-laden stews ever since. It was recommended by CP readers @shannahooper and @tigray.

    In keeping with Ethiopian tradition where everyone eats from a communal plate, Jambo Jambo’s menu is mostly built around platters for two. The combination platter includes your choice of three dishes for $75 or six dishes for $95 — think misir wot (spicy split lentil vegetable stew), key wat (slow-cooked goat stew) and kitfo (lean beef warmed in spiced butter and hot chilli and served rare). Bekele imports the spices the kitchen uses directly from Ethiopia.

    These stews are served atop injera — a spongy and slightly tart bread made with teff (an Ethiopian grain). The suggestion is to tear off pieces of the injera and use it to scoop the food directly into your mouth — no cutlery required. The platters also come with a mixed entree and freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee or ice cream. If there are more people in your group, you can up the servings for just $30 per person.

    Image: Terence-Kent Ow

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    The Quarryman’s Hotel, recommended by CP reader Danielle Capon, has been a staple of the Pyrmont drinking scene for well over a century. In recent years, the heritage-listed venue has established itself as a go-to craft beer bar. The pub has a whopping 34 taps from which it pours an ever-changing selection of drops from the likes of Garage Project, Pirate Life and Moon Dog. You can check what’s pouring at any time on its Untappd profile, then pop by for happy hour (Monday to Thursday between 5–7pm) to try a few for just $5 each.

    Not that into beer? Head upstairs to The Rooftop for cocktails and snacks in the Palm Springs-inspired space. Speaking of food, the pub offers daily specials across its three floors, including $12 schnitzels or pasta on Mondays and half-price buffalo wings on Thursdays. Plus, once a month, Quarryman’s hosts a standup comedy night — entry is a tenner.

    Image: Kitti Gould

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    Every Sydneysider thinks their local Thai restaurant is the best, but Glebe residents may just have the edge. Well, depending on what you’re looking for. If it’s an elegant atmosphere or boundary-pushing dishes you’re craving, we suggest going elsewhere.

    But for familiar Thai-style dishes, huge portions and wallet-friendly prices, this is your spot. And when we say wallet-friendly, we really mean it. We’re talking $9 lunch specials and $10 mains at dinner.

    Tom-Yum Tum-Gang has been open for just over a decade and in that time it’s amassed a loyal customer base, including CP readers @blackberryperson and @issycee. Crowds flock here for all the classics — think massaman beef curry (the restaurant’s signature dish), pad thai and prawn laksa. The chicken wings are a must-order dish, too.

    Image: Terence-Kent Ow

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For more small businesses to visit and support in Glebe, check out our Day and Night Guide

Top image: The Little Guy, Kitti Gould

For more small businesses to visit and support in Potts Point, check out our Day and Night Guide

Top image: The Little Guy, Kitti Gould

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