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FOOD & DRINK

Our Sydney: Here Are Our Readers' Favourite Spots to Visit in Redfern and Waterloo

Check out the dog-friendly bars, BYO restaurants and late-night haunts locals love.
Flip the switch below and discover Sydney by day or night
By Melanie Colwell
April 26, 2021
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By Melanie Colwell
April 26, 2021
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OUR SYDNEY: HERE ARE OUR READERS' FAVOURITE SPOTS TO VISIT IN REDFERN AND WATERLOO

in partnership with

Check out the dog-friendly bars, BYO restaurants and late-night haunts locals love.

If we had to name just one inner city suburb to best represent what makes Sydney special, then a strong case could be made for Redfern. It combines slices of Sydney history and cultural heritage with buzzing hospitality and modern creative arts scenes. Some of the area's greatest offerings are hidden right in plain sight.

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 Redfern and Waterloo. 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.

  • 6

    A converted warehouse with leather bench seating, exposed brickwork and lots of concrete and wood could describe any number of Sydney venues. But Three Williams, recommended by CP reader @thegourmetguy2.0, feels special. The 285 square-metre space was designed by architect Anthony Gill, and nails the balance between feeling fresh and modern while also being somewhere you could stay a few hours (which many do with their laptops). It’s proven such a success the cafe regularly hosts weddings and events.

    Late last year, the menu was given an ambitious overhaul, courtesy of Fabian Mucke. The former Nel staffer has brought his fine dining prowess to elevated brunch favourites. On the sweeter side, there’s a crunchy brioche french toast, frozen guava custard and an Oreo and Weetbix crunch, plus a chia bowl with blue spirulina. You’ll also find savoury treats like an asparagus and wattleseed tart, served with a poached egg, and a soft shell crab roll with slaw and chipotle mayo.

    Image: Kitti Gould

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  • 5

    Ciccone & Sons co-owner Mark Megahey has over 25 years of experience churning gelato. And aren’t Redfern locals lucky he chose to bring his expertise to their suburb in 2016? Recommended by CP reader @thegourmetguy2.0, Ciccone and Sons is all about small-batch artisanal gelato made on-site using quality ingredients — like jersey milk from Sungold Milk (part of Australia’s oldest dairy company).

    Flavours change up occasionally but stracciatella, honeycomb and buttermilk and passionfruit are much-loved mainstays. It also does a couple of chocolate-coated gelatos on sticks, plus fruity sorbettos if dairy isn’t your friend. Dining in will also give you the option to delve into the more decadent desserts, like sundaes. Oh, and the store name is an homage to Madonna, which you have to appreciate.

    Image: Kitti Gould

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  • 4

    We love hearing the stories behind venue names — and this one is particularly good. Bart Jr, a cosy corner bar recommended by CP readers @j03l5k1 and @whiteblankpage, is named after a local legend. Bart is a notoriously loose tomcat that roams the streets of Redfern allegedly leaving many a lovechild (or lovekitten?) in his wake.

    From that anecdote, you should know what to expect from Bart Jr: a venue by and for locals (and their mates). A wraparound bar and communal tables encourage conversation between parties, and the drinks menu mostly consists of local craft brews and natural wines from Aussie producers.

    The food menu is designed to share — ranging from smaller snack plates, like anchovy toast and haloumi with burnt honey, to big bowls of pasta.

    Image: Katje Ford

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  • 3

    Brunching is a common pastime for Sydneysiders, but your go-to eggs on toast can get a little boring. There’s no danger of that at Kepos Street Kitchen, recommended by CP readers @monicamonica.d and @aroche85.

    The long-running cafe has grown a loyal following for its hearty brekkies with an Israeli twist. We’re talking steaming shakshuka, zucchini fritters with sumac and goats cheese and sabich pita. For lunch, the venue shifts gears and serves up share-friendly dishes like cauliflower salad, whole baby snapper and grilled prawns. Friendly tip: don’t go too hard on the savoury stuff. The display case of cakes and sweet treats is something to behold.

     

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  • 2

    There are many reasons to visit Utopia Art Sydney. You could be looking for a relaxing rainy day activity. Perhaps you’re on the hunt for the perfect piece to brighten up a blank wall in your apartment. Or maybe you just want to stare at something beautiful for a bit.

    Whatever your motivation for stepping inside this Waterloo gallery happens to be, we’re sure it’ll deliver. Since 1988, Utopia Art Sydney has been supporting contemporary Australian artists, particularly leading Papunya Tula Artists group and First Nations artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Highlights for 2021 include Pattern Maker by Kylie Stillman — a collection of stitched, beaded and painted paper works — and a retrospective of sculptor Marea Gazzard’s major works.

    Image: Terence-Kent Ow

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  • 1

    On the corner of Redfern and Renwick Streets sits The Tin Humpy. The cosy cafe is owned and operated by Yvette Lever, a Bundjalung woman from the Tweed Heads area. Lever moved to Sydney almost two decades ago, and cut her teeth as a pastry chef at The Grounds of Alexandria before opening The Tin Humpy in mid-2018. Full circle moment: Lever now serves The Grounds coffee to her customers.

    Lever and her team make many of the goods in-house, including fruit tarts, mini cakes and granola. The crew also incorporates native ingredients where possible. We’re talking finger lime and blackberry jam, lemon myrtle meringue tarts and blueberry and strawberry gum muffins. Larger meals are also available, from smashed avo and brekkie bowls to burgers. It’s also just started trialling dinner services on Friday and Saturday nights.

    Image: Terence-Kent Ow

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  • 0

    What Redfern may lack in fine dining establishments, it more than makes up for in top-notch casual diners. And a favourite among locals for a low-key, affordable feast is La Coppola. The BYO-friendly eatery was recommended by CP reader @cass_ata.

    We love owner Stefano Scopelliti’s Sicilian-style pizzas that are made with imported Italian ingredients and local produce, then cooked in a woodfired oven. They’re crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and definitely not soggy. Top flavours include Contesse (fior di latte, mushroom, roasted capsicum and artichoke) and Zafferia (burrata, spicy pancetta, mushroom, garlic and olive oil).

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  • 0

    We’ve been asking Concrete Playground readers for their favourite inner city spots for a few months now. And The Noble Hops received the most shout-outs for a single venue by a long shot. If ever we needed proof that you all love craft beer, this sealed the deal.

    Reader @just_fran told us it has “the best staff and superb beers”, while @pippo.superstar described their ideal night involving “grabbing a pizza from La Coppola and heading over to The Noble Hops for beers, pizza and puppies”. Yep, that’s right — The Noble Hops is BYO food-friendly and pet-friendly.

    It also has one of the broadest and most unique collections of craft brews in Sydney. The tap list changes almost daily depending on what limited-edition drop the crew manages to get their hands on from independent brewers around the globe.

    Image: Cassandra Hannagan

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  • 0

    This cosy little spot is a newcomer to the Redfern bar scene having opened last July with the very 2020-appropriate name Arms Length. And it seems to have made its mark with CP reader @jlofawcett giving it a shout-out.

    This venue serves up Australian drops and Italian-inspired share plates from its marble-topped bar. Such is the way with many Sydney venues, the menu is designed to share — starting with snacks like burrata with rocket pesto and confit cherry tomato and calamari fritti, then building to larger dishes like lamb ragu gnocchi and steak frites.

    On the drinks side, the wine list focuses on local Australian drops starting at a reasonable $35. There are also frozen G&Ts and a daily happy hour from 4–6pm when you can nab $10 Aperol Spritzes and margaritas, and $6 wine and tap beer.

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  • 0

    Since opening on Regent Street in 2016, the little hole-in-the-wall venue has been a go-to for gin lovers and it’s not hard to see why. Moya’s Juniper Lounge, recommended by CP reader @guycharlesmoore, references the gin palaces of old with a cosy atmosphere, mismatched velvet lounges and old-fashioned decoration.

    The gin-centric cocktail menu features quotes from historical and pop culture legends, like George Costanza and the Queen Mother. Want to recreate your tipple at home? The bar has generously added some of the recipes to its website.

    And if you’re wondering what day to visit, might we suggest a Sunday? You can wrap up your weekend with a cocktail to the soothing sounds of live jazz.

    Image: Steven Woodburn

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  • 0

    It’s hard to sum up Redfern’s The Bearded Tit in just a few words, but we’ll give it a go: colour, creativity, cocktails and crocheted penises.

    Need more? The bar and creative space, suggested by CP reader @whiteblankpage, has become a haven for Sydney’s most unique people and things. The fit-out honours this with barber chairs, fruit chandeliers and lots of taxidermies (including a boar playing the trumpet).

    The bar prides itself on hosting disruptive and experimental art exhibitions, live performances and gigs thanks to its ArTITS Residency. It embraces the weird and wonderful — and expects you to do the same. Simply refer to the sign discouraging “racist dickheads, homophobes [and] sexist wankers”.

    Image: Katje Ford

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  • 0

    Despite the fairly basic exterior and dim interior lighting, the glow from the Kinhboy’s neon sign — which read “Pho King Amazing”, by the way — will catch your eye from the street. Recommended by CP reader @rebeccawallisch, Kinhboy is putting a modern spin on Vietnamese dining.

    When it comes to the menu, influences from all over the globe are apparent. There are bánh xèo tacos, filled with pork or prawn, slaw and mayo. The Japanese spice mix togarashi appears several times — including dusted over corn ribs with macadamia snow. See also: mud crab dumplings served in laksa broth and crackling pork pancakes with kimchi.

    Fans of pho have the choice between the equally decadent beef short rib or truffled mushroom broths. Groups are also well catered for with the eight-course Feed Me menu for $59 per person. To pair with your feast is a selection of colourful cocktails, like the Fuzzy Spice, tequila blanco, peach liqueur, lime and sriracha, plus natural wines and local craft brews.

    Image: Terence-Kent Ow

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

Top image: Bart Jr, Katje Ford

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

Top image: Bart Jr, Katje Ford

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