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FOOD & DRINK

Our Sydney: Here Are Our Readers' Favourite Spots to Visit in the CBD

From hole-in-the-wall coffee spots to experimental cocktail bars and epic date night spots.
Flip the switch below and discover Sydney by day or night
By Melanie Colwell
December 18, 2020
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Our Sydney: Here Are Our Readers' Favourite Spots to Visit in the CBD

From hole-in-the-wall coffee spots to experimental cocktail bars and epic date night spots.
By Melanie Colwell
December 18, 2020
  shares

OUR SYDNEY: HERE ARE OUR READERS' FAVOURITE SPOTS TO VISIT IN THE CBD

in partnership with

From hole-in-the-wall coffee spots to experimental cocktail bars and epic date night spots.

For many Sydneysiders, the CBD was synonymous with two things: tourists and office workers. This year, things changed. With those two elements stripped right back, we can see more clearly than ever what makes the CBD such a special part of Sydney: its small businesses. We're talking about the hole-in-the-wall joint that serves your life-giving morning latte, the reliable boutique shop that's become your go-to for last-minute gifts, and the bar you head to for a post-work cocktail and boogie. Every encounter you have with a local vendor contributes to why you love living in Sydney. And they need your patronage more than ever.

So, we teamed up with City of Sydney to ask you — Concrete Playground readers — what businesses you love to visit in the CBD, from the beating heart of the city to the harbourside, Barangaroo and The Rocks. And you came up with some absolute gems.

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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    CP reader Ze GM tells us Marlowe’s Way is their “favourite place to get some bean juice”. This cosy joint may be out of sight, tucked away on Tankstream Way, but what it lacks in exposure, it makes up for in personality.

    The family-run cafe is pretty small, seating about 15 people. And it has a quirkiness to it, with hand-painted murals and artworks covering the walls, soul music playing on a vinyl player and, if you sit in, a vintage spoon that accompanies every coffee. Speaking of coffee, the crew here serves a signature blend by Little Marionette alongside a daily menu of home-style Italian meals. The cafe also regularly hosted live DJ sets at night but they’re on hold for the time being.

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  • 5

    We already knew it, but 2020 has driven it home more than ever before: art is really, really important. What would we have done in lockdown without books, music and films? And, for CP reader @schnooze, Title is a go-to for all three. Together with its original store in Surry Hills, Title Barangaroo offers the biggest collection of art books in the country, plus a huge range of vinyl, indie and independent films and games.

    The team here is more interested in stocking quality products over what’s new or trending (though it has those things covered, too). So even if you’re after some obscure title, we suggest trying your luck. Don’t know what you want? Even better. This is a great spot to uncover a hidden artistic gem.

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  • 4

    Another hole-in-the-wall coffee joint that makes more of an impact than its tiny dwellings may suggest is Single O CBD. As recommended by CP reader Valanto Rossides, this coffee bar is a great spot to get your morning jolt. Like its OG location in Surry Hills, here you can expect a rotating range of single origins and blends. Though, with only a single standing table on-site, you’re encouraged to BYO reusable cup and enjoy your brew to-go.

    To pair with it is a selection of pastries and two TBTs (twelve-buck-toasties, that is): lemon and pepperberry chicken with shaved haloumi, olive and burnt garlic aioli; and field mushroom with truffle mayo, kimchi and gouda.

    Image: Alana Dimou

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  • 3

    The next time you’re wistfully daydreaming about walking around ol’ Paris with a crepe in hand, let your mind (and feet) wander over to Four Frogs Creperie in Circular Quay’s Gateway Sydney. The restaurant chain, which also has outposts in Lane Cove, Randwick and Mosman, is owned by four French friends.

    Take your pick from dozens of sweet crepes — ranging from traditional butter, sugar and lemon to the next-level chocolate, banana, whipped cream, grilled almonds and vanilla ice cream. If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, opt for a savoury crepe instead, known as a galette. You can tuck into the likes of prosciutto, goats cheese, walnuts and honey; smoked salmon, spinach and chive cream cheese; or smoked duck, spring onion and hoisin sauce. All crepes are made with Australian buckwheat flour so they’re gluten free (though it’s advised to still inform staff if you have an allergy).

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  • 2

    We love watching (and covering) all of the new, innovative businesses that pop up across our fair city, but the classic haunts deserve just as much attention. And this establishment is about as old-school Sydney as it gets — it’s been trading as a licensed hotel since 1841. It’s also the site of Australia’s oldest pub brewery, which was added in 1986. As CP reader Susi Reed tells us, “The Lord Nelson was the first pub I ever worked at many moons ago, and it’s still great.”

    It maintains a rustic charm with the original sandstone facade, timber floorboards and a cosy fireplace. The aforementioned brewery churns out 100 percent natural beers, free from additives, including a summer ale and the super popular pale ale, Three Sheets. The dining room upstairs boasts a pretty impressive menu for a pub — think chargrilled quail, kingfish curry and chilli crab and lobster spaghettini.

    Image: Destination NSW

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    Sorry Thanks I Love You

    There are two types of present buyers. The first one is the person who gets super into the whole process and buys each person in their life something expertly tailored to their interests months in advance. The second? The one that forgets and panic buys something the day of the event (or the day after). And this CBD specialty store caters to both types.

    Across two levels in Westfield Sydney, Sorry Thanks I Love You sells the perfect gift for whatever message you’re trying to convey. It only peddles wares that are unique and thoughtfully designed, so you can say “happy housewarming” with black marble stone salad servers, “happy birthday” with 32-centimetre brass candle holders or “I’m sorry for that thing I did” with a gourmet hamper of Bruny Island cheese.

    Images: Joey Clark

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  • 0

    “If I could afford to, I would eat pasta here every single day.” This quote from @teaguese was one of several glowing endorsements we received from CP readers about Angel Place’s cosy little wine and pasta bar. From the team by Love, Tilly Devine and Dear Saint Eloise, Ragazzi’s ‘thing’ is Italian-style natural wines and a succinct menu that showcases regional Italian dishes.

    Every sitting should begin with the Cantabrian anchovy served on sourdough with a generous schmearing of butter. It should also include a serving of the cacio e pepe. After that? You’re on your own, as the menu changes weekly. Whether it’s Jerusalem artichoke ravioli with bitter honey and pecorino, cavatelli with pork sausage, broccoli and smoked chilli or something else entirely, you can’t really go wrong. Love what you’ve eaten? Hit up Fabricca, Ragazzi’s new retail space to buy handmade pasta, sauce and cured meats and recreate the experience at home.

    Image: Nikki To

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  • 0

    Is it an overstatement to say that you haven’t had a proper night out in Sydney’s CBD until you’ve found yourself at Frankie’s at 3am eating a piping-hot slice of $6 pizza, sipping a whisky with freshly squeezed apple juice and bopping along to the live band you’ve probably never heard of but will inevitably end up loving? We don’t think so. By the same folks that run The Baxter Inn and Shady Pines Saloon, Frankie’s is the textbook definition of a dive bar. It’s a little gritty, has a penchant for craft beer and hard rock music, and isn’t trying too hard — mainly because it doesn’t need to. It has all the ingredients for your next good night out, provided you bring an open mind.

    Image: Katje Ford 

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  • 0

    When Love Fish popped up on the scene in Rozelle ten years ago, it made quite the splash. Led by Michelle Grand-Milkovic and Michael Milkovic, the seafood restaurant set about proving that sustainability didn’t need to be adopted at the expense of innovation — and, in fact, it could have the opposite effect.

    In 2018, the couple brought these values to Barangaroo’s waterfront with a second iteration of Love Fish. Here, you can expect the same focus on fresh, locally and sustainably sourced goods prepared with simple techniques that hero the produce. That means dishes like salt and pepper calamari with chorizo powder and wasabi mayo; chargrilled octopus with roasted chickpeas and tahini; and grilled Coral Coast barramundi fillet. The wine list is equally considered with the majority of labels sourced from Australia and New Zealand. And you’ll enjoy all of this in a sleek, airy space overlooking the harbour.

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  • 0

    Tucked away on Skittle Lane, you’ll find this quirky little bar serving “inventive drinks using a lot of native ingredients,” says CP reader Chris Jamieson of their CBD pick. Owned by Michael Chiem, PS40 has been impressing Sydneysiders since 2016 with its ‘no challenge is too great’ approach to drinks. It all starts with the core range of sodas, which includes smoked lemonade, wattleseed cola and bush tonic. With these sodas as the base, the cocktail menu spins into experimental territory — and, perhaps unsurprisingly, changes regularly — using all manner of ingredients, including greek yoghurt, red bean and even banana bread.

    Image: Alana Dimou

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  • 0
    Books Kinokuniya

    It came as no surprise that several of our culture-loving readers gave Kinokuniya a shout-out. The Japanese megastore, which first landed in Sydney’s Neutral Bay in 1996 before moving to its prestigious location atop The Galeries, is a veritable homing ground for all types of bookworms. The store boasts the largest range in Sydney — a whopping 30,000 titles that span many languages and genres, from manga and design to cookbooks, travel books and children’s literature. In fact, there’s so much to sift through, you might need to take a break to refuel — luckily the mega-popular ramen joint Ichi-ban Boshi is just next door. Kinokuniya also regularly hosts author talks and book signings, so keep an eye on its social pages for upcoming events.

    Image: Wiki Commons

     

     

     

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  • 0
    Born by Tapavino

    Since 2012, the Tapavino restaurant group has been delivering a slice of Spain’s traditional tapas experience to Sydneysiders. The menu at Born, the Barangaroo outpost, is very approachable. All the familiar tapas dishes are present, like marinated olives, croquettes, cured meats and patatas bravas (crispy potatoes with smoked tomato mayo). On the larger end of the menu, you’ll find dishes like braised beef cheeks with polenta and saffron rice with calamari. Set menus are available, too, starting at $55 a head. Where the uninitiated may run into trouble is navigating the mammoth wine list (some 42 pages), so we suggest calling on the expertise of the staff who will help you select a Spanish drop to suit your order.

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

Top image: Single O CBD, Alana Dimou; Ragazzi, Nikki To

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

Top image: Single O CBD, Alana Dimou; Ragazzi, Nikki To

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