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By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018
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By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018
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WIN We’re giving away dinner for you and a friend at Sydney’s hottest new restaurant. But first, we need you to help us decide what it is. Vote in our Best of 2018 Awards below (and fill out the comp form) and you’ll be in the running to score a free dinner at the winning restaurant.

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Sydney hasn’t yet lost its legislative shackles, but it’s adapting and evolving around them, discovering new ways to eat, drink and have fun. You’ll find fun in underground restaurants dedicated to Tuscan steaks, in dozens of rooftop bars scattered across the city, at immersive theatre experiences in abandoned warehouses and, even, in six-storey futuristic libraries decked out with amphitheatres and grand pianos.

And the fun we’re having as a city is becoming ever more inclusive. Our restaurants are catering to more dietaries and allergies, our pubs and bars continue to celebrate the LGBTQI+ community and our artworks and spaces are beginning to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

As the city continues to grow, new openings abound. Chefs — established and new — continue to experiment and specialise, opening Sri Lankan hopper eateries in the inner city and luxe French fine diners up north. Bars no longer just serve good drinks, but distill onsite, and serve their own spirits alongside restaurant-quality snacks (sometimes in renovated opium dens). Cafes continue to roast coffee, too, as well as bake, milk and batch in-house, serving up sandwiches that achieve almost immediate cult status. Pubs may not necessarily be new, but historic ones are getting second lives — revived by both hospitality giants and small players.

The city’s cultural calendar, not restricted to just bottomless brunches and high teas, brims with immersive experiences, living installations and new festivals. And, the city’s most stunning spaces are more dramatic, futuristic and sustainable.

At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented vanguards pushing Sydney to be a better, braver city. And so, we are very pleased to announce Concrete Playground’s Best of 2018 Awards.

This year, we will be awarding both a reader voted People’s Choice and Overall award in each of the following six categories:

These 36 outstanding Sydney ventures have been handpicked by Concrete Playground for their combination of originality, innovation, creativity, approachability and sustainability. We straight-up love them.

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Cast your People’s Choice votes below by 5pm on Wednesday, December 12 (you can only vote once per category, so make those votes count). People’s Choice and Overall winners in each category will be announced at 3pm on Thursday, December 13. Please note that your vote is recorded as soon as you make your selection in each category, but that you can edit your votes right up until when voting closes. If you have any questions or feedback, hit us up at hello@concreteplayground.com.au

  • LANKAN FILLING STATION

    O Tama Carey's Sri Lankan hopper eatery.

  • BERT'S

    A decadent new dining room attached to Merivale's northern beaches pub.

  • BISTECCA

    An underground CBD restaurant specialising in one cut of steak.

  • PAPERBARK

    Innovative plant-based dining is front and centre at this stunning Waterloo restaurant.

  • RON'S UPSTAIRS

    The Arcadia Liquors team's third Redfern joint is an upstairs Euro bistro full of kitsch and neighbourhood charm.

  • POLY

    The Ester team's highly anticipated Surry Hills restaurant and wine bar.

  • OLD MATE'S PLACE

    Creative cocktails, Philly cheesesteaks and old-school library vibes tucked away in a Clarence Street office building.

  • IMPERIAL UP

    An art deco-inspired rooftop space that combines Italian food and cocktail culture with the vibrancy of LBGTQI+ culture.

  • THE DOSS HOUSE

    An old-world whisky bar in The Rocks.

  • BAR TOPA

    A pint-sized tapas bar serving up innovative snacks and $8 half-size cocktails.

  • BRIX DISTILLERS

    A craft rum distillery, bottle shop and bar in Surry Hills.

  • NICK & NORA'S

    Enjoy incredible views, a luxe 30s-inspired fit-out and a covetable Champagne collection.

  • EDITION HAYMARKET

    Pair quality cuppas with innovative, Japanese-inspired brekkies at this inner-city cafe.

  • A1 CANTEEN

    Clayton Wells' new diner doles out an all-day offering, from breakfast doughnuts to lamb shoulders and batched cocktails.

  • MATINEE COFFEE

    Marrickville's bold NYC-inspired cafe heroes local producers and big flavours.

  • GOOD ONE CAFE

    A health-conscious Bondi cafe making almond milk and baking bread in-house.

  • ROLLERS BAKEHOUSE

    A beachside bakehouse and specialty coffee shop from the guys behind Showbox Coffee and Butter Boy Bake.

  • ONA MARRICKVILLE

    The award-winning Canberra coffee roaster has opened its first Sydney cafe in the inner west.

  • TERMINUS HOTEL

    After lying dormant for 30 years, this Pyrmont pub is back.

  • THE EXCHANGE HOTEL

    A heritage-listed pub that welcomes humans (and dogs) and serves up crafty cocktails alongside Italian eats.

  • WOOLWICH PIER HOTEL

    This long-standing lower north shore pub has been given new interiors, but kept its wraparound balcony and chicken pot pie.

  • THE COLLAROY

    The northern beaches boozer was acquired by Merivale and reopened all shiny and new.

  • THE GOVERNOR

    This multi-level Macquarie Park pub boasts a garden terrace and a rooftop bar with 360-degree views.

  • THE IMPERIAL ERSKINEVILLE

    It's all about drag and drinks, darling.

  • PLANTS WITH BITE

    The Royal Botanic Garden's killer new exhibition features 25,000 carnivorous plants.

  • A MIDNIGHT VISIT

    An Edgar Allen Poe-inspired immersive theatre experience in an abandoned Newtown warehouse.

  • POP-UP GLOBE

    Partyeth like it's 1614 with performances of 'Macbeth' at this full-scale replica of the historic theatre.

  • SYDNEY CITY LIMITS

    A new Sydney sister festival to Austin's much loved event.

  • YOUNG HEARTS RUN FREE

    One of the greatest movie soundtracks of all time becomes a masquerade rock show.

  • BLAK BOX

    A new immersive installation that surrounds you with First Peoples' stories.

  • QUAY RESTAURANT

    Peter Gilmore's fine diner on Sydney Harbour reopens after a dramatic transformation.

  • GREEN SQUARE LIBRARY

    This six-storey, futuristic library has everything from an open-air amphitheatre to a baby grand piano.

  • PARAMOUNT HOUSE HOTEL

    A hyper-local hotel in Surry Hills with 29 luxe suites, a rooftop cafe and a new restaurant by Ester.

  • BANNISTERS PORT STEPHENS

    Featuring 80 stunning rooms with views of the river or bushland, and a restaurant from an acclaimed chef.

  • STEAM MILL LANE

    A bustling Haymarket laneway, featuring Belles Hot Chicken, 8bit and The Sandwich Shop.

  • FISH BUTCHERY

    Saint Peter's Josh and Julie Niland have opened Australia's first fish butchery.

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