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Ten Essential Spots to Visit in Darlinghurst

Spend a day in Darlinghurst tasting coffee that's good for you, nibbling on pastries, sipping negronis, and enjoying the eclectic culture of the area.
By Chloe Sargeant
September 18, 2019
By Chloe Sargeant
September 18, 2019


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Spend a day in Darlinghurst tasting coffee that's good for you, nibbling on pastries, sipping negronis, and enjoying the eclectic culture of the area.

You can't spell Darlinghurst without 'darling', which is a good indication of why this eclectic suburb is so beloved by Sydneysiders. Darlo's strength lies in its diverse history. From the important LGBTQI+ history steeped in every sidewalk, street corner and park, to the plethora of impressive cafes, bars and eateries that show off the diversity of the area, Darlinghurst has a lot to offer.

There's a wealth of shops to browse, small bars to explore, and restaurants to enjoy; so many, that it's easy to become overwhelmed with choice. Narrowing down how to spend a day walking around this gorgeous beloved 'burb is tough, but don't worry, we've got you covered with this list of ten must-visit spots. And, to add a few more to your list, check out our video above for Marc Kuzma's — owner of Claire's Kitchen at Le Salon — favourite spots in Darlinghurst.

  • 10

    Aside from the obvious Sydney Opera House and nearby bridge, is there anything more inherently ‘Sydney’ than bills? The original location of the beloved institution is in Darlinghurst, so if you’re going to make an obligatory bills visit, this is the one to go to. It introduced the idea of communal brunching to Sydney, with patrons all sitting around one large table rather than separate small ones, and it’s never left. If you haven’t already, try all the signature dishes: the sweet corn fritters (especially with avocado salsa and cumin tomato sides), bills granola and the ricotta hotcakes are all as famous as the restaurant itself.

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  • 9
    Brewristas — CLOSED

    Brewristas on Liverpool Street was founded by an engineer-turned-barista — so you best believe that the coffee served here is perfect down to the most minute detail. The staff all know their coffee better than the backs of their hands, and will explain the tasting notes of each menu item like a sommelier at the best fine dining establishment. As well as serving up lattes and long blacks that are flawless, Brewristas also sells its own pre-bottled iced coffee called ‘BBB’, which combines cold drip and specially-formulated water with the most beneficial fatty acids from coconut oil to create a coffee that’s actually chemically good for your brain. Crazy, right?

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  • 8
    South Dowling Sandwiches

    If you’ve ever wished that Subway — as cost-effective as it is — was actually good, then South Dowling Sandwiches is a must-do. This joint is always busy, and rightly so — it’s a cheap, delicious sandwich bar that doesn’t just place a few flimsy fillings in between slices, its staff load it the hell up.

    Pick your bread and your filling (chicken schnitzel, tuna, veggie, leg ham, chilli chicken, poached chicken or smoked salmon), then for just $5 extra add The Special, which is a generous dose of potato salad, avocado and caramelised carrots. Huge delicious lunches done dirt cheap.

    Image: Ryan Brabazon.

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  • 7

    Is there anything better than a hearty bowl of homecooked pasta? Yes, a hearty bowl of pasta in a gorgeous Scandinavian-designed eatery in Darlinghurst — specifically, Casoni, found just off of Oxford Street looking on to Taylor Square. This isn’t your average trattoria. The plates here are modern and fresh twists on traditional Italian recipes. There’s also a menu fisso for just $55 a head, so if you’re keen for a big boozy dinner then there’s no better option. Plus, the restaurant has Aperol spritz and negroni on tap.

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  • 6
    Shady Pines Saloon

    Shady Pines is the small bar that spawned a generation of Sydney small bars — and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. The staff at this American-themed bar is incredibly knowledgable about the huge amount of whiskys and other liquors it slings, and the bartenders are more than happy to talk you through all the options while offering up free bowls of unshelled peanuts for you to snack on. Shady Pines also offers one of the greatest happy hours in the city — $4 house spirits, beer and wine, plus $10 negronis, slings and margaritas from 4–6pm.

    Image: Leticia Almeida.

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  • 5
    Love, Tilly Devine

    If you’re looking for somewhere to stop in for a snack and a glass of vino, look no further than Love, Tilly Devine. This beloved Darlinghurst bar is known for its expansive wine list that features Australian bottles from off the beaten track, with a particular focus on biodynamic and natural wines. In addition to the stellar beverage options, LTD also offers bar snacks that are second-to-none — one in particular has a cult-like following. The phenomenal cheese toast with Japanese Vegemite — a homemade umami-heavy tamari and konbu concoction — topped with a generous helping of parmesan. Everything about Love, Tilly Devine is as rebellious as the 1920s crime boss its named after, so we’d highly recommend stopping in to pay your respects.

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  • 4

    There are few things more comforting than the smell of fresh bread, made with traditional recipes and a whole lot of pure, wholesome love. Luckily, there’s Infinity Bakery, a sourdough and pastry heaven that has garnered a wholly deserved cult following in its twenty-two years of existence. While you do have the option to eat in at the Victoria Street location, Infinity’s baked goods are made for taking away and eating in a relaxing environment. We highly recommend grabbing as much god-tier Infinity sourdough, flaky savoury pies, and buttery French pastries as you can carry, and setting up a picnic in the sun in one of the many beautiful parks in Darlo.

    Image: Kitti Gould.

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  • 3
    Ariel Booksellers

    Bibliophiles rejoice — we guarantee that Ariel Booksellers will be your happy place. While this delightful bookstore is renowned for its dedication to big, beautiful hardcover coffee table books about art, design and architecture, there’s also shelves and shelves of poetry and literature that will delight readers of all kinds. Even those who aren’t the biggest bookworms will have a great time browsing Ariel — there are tables and tables of novelty gifts, adorable kitschy items, cards and more. If you pop in at the right time, there are often book readings and launch parties being held, too.

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  • 2
    Stonewall Hotel

    It would be remiss of us to do a ‘Darlinghurst essentials’ list without including some of the incredible queer events that happen nightly at the LGBTQI+ bars on Oxford Street. And there are few as incredible as the live shows at the iconic Stonewall Hotel. From shirtless men dancing on the bar and gender bender bingo to karaoke and drag shows (featuring beloved Sydney queens like Polly Petrie, Hannah Conda and Decoda Secret), Stonewall is a place to see the best of Sydney’s queer nightlife. And if you feel like it, there are cages upstairs for you to dance in until the wee hours.

    Image: Katje Ford.

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  • 1

    A cherished Darlo institution, Govindas is a casual Indian buffet restaurant and cinema. This might sound like an odd pairing, but this place is a true success story, and it has been for generations. The cinema offers comfortable reclined ‘bohemian’ bedding for you to lounge on while watching the latest releases, and if you want to do dinner and a movie, it’s less than $40 for a tasty all-you-can-eat feast followed by the movie of your choice. Govindas, which has been operating for 40 years, was also one of the first popular eateries in the city that exclusively served plant-based food — meaning it holds a special place in the hearts of all of Sydney’s vegetarians and vegans. Chances are it’ll take up a special spot in yours, too.

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See Claire’s Salon owner Marc Kuzma’s favourite spots around Darlinghurst above and discover more around the city here.


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