December 02, 2016
In a year that saw Sydney’s cultural ecosystem and the legislative shackling of certain elements of it become a more polarising subject than ever before, the city’s most innovative, forward-thinking residents have made outstanding lemonade. Our bars are more groundbreaking and imaginative, our events more unique and immersive, and our restaurants more inventive and experimental. With new openings abounding, Sydney is more vibrant, playful and fun than it ever has been.
Sydney’s newest restaurants have defied traditional fine dining, adding in-house cinemas, recreating provincial French manors, and redefining nose-to-tail. Cafes continue to cultivate compelling coffee breaks, building neighbourhood haunts from pop-up to permanency, championing local producers and turning old bowling clubs into urban farms. Our bars that have been reclaiming the night in the face of prevailing lockout laws, one glass of frosé at a time; from WWII-inspired salons to Sydney’s first dedicated vermouth bar. Our new (or renewed) pubs that have the biggest hurdle to face — history. Pub renovations in 2016 remained strong, moving into more contemporary, fine dining-focused territory with some of the city’s best design teams at hand. Sydney’s event producers that have found new ways to celebrate Sydney life, reinvigorating dwindling or hidden spaces, and taking us on wild adventures in our own home. And those aiming to truly transform the city permanently have made headlines with long-awaited new cultural and food precincts, transforming Sydney neighbourhoods with gargantuan, smart and beneficial developments.
At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Sydney to be a better, braver city. And so, we are very pleased to announce Concrete Playground’s Best of 2016 Awards.
This year, we will be awarding both a reader voted People’s Choice and Overall award in each of the following six categories:
- Best New Bar
- Best New Restaurant
- Best New Cafe
- Best New Pub
- Best New Event
- Best New Precinct
These 36 outstanding Sydney (or Sydney-based) ventures have been handpicked by Concrete Playground for their combination of originality, innovation, creativity, approachability and sustainability. We straight-up love them.
Cast your People’s Choice votes below by 5pm on Wednesday, December 14 (you can only vote once per category, so make those votes count). People’s Choice and Overall winners in each category will be announced on Thursday, December 15 at 3pm. 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 [email protected]
BANKSII - CLOSED
Sydney's first dedicated vermouth bar and bistro.
A late-night cheese, wine and hip hop bar.
The cosy basement bar at Fred's with exposed sandstone, seasonal cocktails and killer bar snacks.
Find blues, soul and cocktails inspired by the notorious historic locals of Potts Point at this neighbourhood speakeasy.
Combining a French military aesthetic with an end of war party vibe, and stocked with over 900 spirits — expect banging cocktails.
Skittle Lane's haven for incredibly inventive cocktails.
BAR BROSE - CLOSED
ACME's French-inspired offshoot delivers in spades.
ELEVEN BRIDGE - CLOSED
Neil Perry's Rockpool Est. 1989 has been reincarnated in more 'casual' form. Well, sort of.
Hatted farm-to-table dishes made in a stunning Tuscany-inspired kitchen.
Nathan Sasi's restaurant focuses on Spanish food and house-made smallgoods.
High-class French food in a subterranean space on Bligh Street, where the steak is the stuff of legend.
Josh Niland's nose-to-tail seafood restaurant is a must-visit.
ACRE EATERY - CLOSED
The old Camperdown Bowling Club is now Sydney's new urban farm and eatery.
ERSKINE VILLA (CLOSED)
A community corner cafe with good coffee, cocktails and breakfast poutine.
This cafe has a strong emphasis on community, sourcing produce and drinks from local businesses.
RISING SUN WORKSHOP
A ramen cafe and bike shop run by ramen-loving bikers.
A sweet Malay-style Surry Hills cafe and retail space.
SMOKING GUN BAGELS - CLOSED
A key way to start the day? Sydney's first Montreal-style bagelry with wood-fired, crispy yet chewy and soft bagels.
THE DOLPHIN HOTEL
Maurice Terzini's revamped version of the pub.
EAST VILLAGE HOTEL
The three-tiered Darlinghurst pub gets a new life with an upstairs sports bar and rooftop terrace.
THE GREEN LION
Sydney's first entirely vegan pub.
THE LADY HAMPSHIRE
Camperdown's resurrected pub.
Merivale's northern jewel in the crown.
THE PADDO INN
Expect casual drinks and burgers in the front bar, and Matt Moran-created grill in the dining room.
The Icelandic legend's huge virtual reality project descends upon Carriageworks.
LIVE WALLS PROJECT
Street artists are turning Parramatta's public space into an outdoor studio.
MAD SYD: TOMORROW'S MEALS
Rene Redzepi's huge food symposium (after Noma Australia's last meal is served).
MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN: BLADE RUNNER
See Ridley Scott's sci-fi masterpiece amongst a futuristic night market in an inner city carpark.
OFF THE EATEN TRUCK FOOD FESTIVAL
Western Sydney's biggest ever food truck festival.
This outdoor cinema lets you watch movies in bed.
The inner west's own urban farm.
Rosebery's concentrated foodie precinct, with neighbours Archie Rose, Three Blue Ducks and Saporium.
Circular Quay's huge new dining precinct.
KENSINGTON STREET PRECINCT
Chippendale's culinary laneway.
THE STREETS OF BARANGAROO
Sydney's fast-developing waterfront food precinct.
The heritage-listed Rozelle Tram Depot has been transformed into a colossal European-inspired market precinct.
Concrete Playground Trips
Book unique getaways and adventures dreamed up by our editors