The Playmaker
Let's play
PLAYMAKER
  • It's Tuesday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Sydney
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?
  • LET'S PLAY
A DAY AND NIGHT GUIDE
REDFERN AND WATERLOO
Flip the switch below
and discover Sydney by day or night.
By Tash Gillezeau
November 21, 2018
  shares
By Tash Gillezeau
November 21, 2018
  shares

With a strong history, cafe game and contemporary art scene, the Redfern and Waterloo area is a key spot to explore, eat and get your culture fix in Sydney’s inner city suburbs.

Redfern and Waterloo combine slices of Sydney history with the heartbeat of its modern creative arts scene. Some of the area’s greatest offerings are hidden right in plain sight. Do as the locals do and explore the back streets behind Abercrombie and Cleveland streets for rustic brunch spots, galleries and tucked-away community gardens.

Flick the switch above, and we’ll dim the lights to show you the best things to do once the sun goes down. You can also explore more inner-city suburbs here.

With a strong history, cafe game and contemporary art scene, the Redfern and Waterloo area is a key spot to explore, eat and get your culture fix in Sydney’s inner city suburbs.

If you’re looking for quality dining, small bar hopping and some of inner Sydney’s best cultural pursuits all in one place, then look no further. Take an evening wander along Redfern Street as you experience some top bars, pubs, restaurants, and live music and performance venues Sydney has to offer.

Flick the switch above, and we’ll turn on the lights to show you the best things to do pre-6pm. You can also explore more inner-city suburbs here.

DID YOU KNOW

In 2014, Redfern Park went ‘global’, winning the prestigious international Green Flag Award and becoming one of the top parks in the world. At 4.8 hectares, the park was designed in the 1880s as a Victorian ‘pleasure ground’ and is now home to the Rabbitohs’ training grounds, public art, picnic areas and a cafe. The park was also the setting for Paul Keating’s iconic Redfern Speech.

GETTING AROUND

Redfern and Waterloo are surrounded by Redfern Station on its western edge, the Eastern Distributor to its east and Cleveland Street to the north where you can catch several buses from the east or west. Start on Redfern Street and make your way through the area on foot to discover the many cafes, shops, galleries and bars.

DON’T MISS

Get your bearings by taking a Culture Scouts walking tour to uncover the area’s historic architecture and gallery hotspots. Stock up on dumplings from Happy D’s, or grab a Little Marionette coffee and takeaway lunch from Henry Lee’s, and wander to Redfern Park for a lazy Saturday afternoon picnic.

LOCALS LOVE

The area retains a strong sense of inner-city grit among the burgeoning era of ‘contemporary cool’. Explore the streets lined with many heritage listed buildings, go to Three Williams for a coffee and head down to the James Street Reserve Community Garden for a glimpse of the lovingly cultivated greenery hiding amongst the terraces.

DID YOU KNOW

In 2014, Craig Reucassel and Julian Morrow (of The Chaser fame) had a vision to grow local comedic talent and create a hub for interesting performances. At the time, it raised eyebrows, but now, a few years on, it’s difficult to imagine Redfern without The Giant Dwarf Theatre — its shows regularly sell out.

GETTING AROUND

Redfern and Waterloo are surrounded by Redfern Station on its western edge, the Eastern Distributor to its east and Cleveland Street to the north where you can catch several buses from the east or west. Start on Redfern Street and make your way through the area. Take note, many trains going from Redfern Station stop at midnight or 1am.

DON’T MISS

Cake Wines Cellar Door is a relaxed dimly-lit bar and venue where the vino and ambience are exactly what you’re looking for when you want to catch up with friends. The space frequently holds scintillating talks, events and welcomes local electronic music talents to hit the decks.

LOCALS LOVE

Redfern and Waterloo are covered with small bars for a boozy, intimate D and M with mates. Grab a drink right near Redfern Station at Arcadia, toddle next door to The Noble Hops for a niche craft beer and cross the road to GDR (a ‘secret’ bar at the back of the Redfern Continental) for a smoky daiquiri.

How to do Redfern and Waterloo

Do as the locals do.

Cafes

Great cafes are tucked away all throughout the area. Whether you're a cold drip drinker or a chai connoisseur, the cafe scene has your beverage of choice sorted. Here's where to start.

1. Baby Coffee Co.

Neon, pastels, good coffee and great cocktails.

2. Henry Lee's

This cafe has a strong emphasis on community, sourcing produce and drinks from local businesses.

3. Three Williams

This spacious warehouse cafe serves knockout sangas in an (air-conditioned) industrial-chic setting.

4. Fern St Eatery

Opened in 2017, this spot is already a quintessential dusty-Sunday-morning brunch destination for locals and visitors alike.

5. Donut Papi

This market favourite has opened its first permanent store in Redfern.

Restaurants and Pubs

Century-old pubs, 1950s Americana and a 100-seat barbecue joint – lunchtime options in the area are diverse and brimming with quality.

1. Scout's Honour

Where each week you'll be treated to a brand new selection of sarnies.

2. Happy D's

Redfern's tiny hole-in-the-wall dumplings and beer bar.

3. Norfolk Hotel

Nailing the brief for a true-blue neighbourhood pub.

4. Eathouse Diner

Red vinyl stools, a curved bar and the chalkboard menu conjure 1950s Americana at this throwback eatery.

5. Kepos Street Kitchen

All-day Israeli dining, where you can have falafel for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Shops

A smattering of specialty stores with well-curated collections define the shopping scene here. Explore the area’s florists, barbers and artisanal tea shops.

1. Bev's Remnant House

Calling all DIY interior designers: unique fabrics to be found.

2. Dinosaur Designs

Resin has never looked so delicious.

3. Seasonal Concepts

Curiosity shopping at its finest.

4. The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar

A prime selection of loose leaf teas, ceramics and, of course, their famous chai. Tea drinkers look no further.

5. The DEA Store

Aesthetically pleasing homewares to fill your home with.

Arts and Culture

From local talent set up in a terrace house to bold, industrial gallery spaces, Redfern and Waterloo are full of must-see contemporary art.

1. Home@735 Art Gallery

Scope the latest art from local and interstate talent in a setting that feels just like home.

2. aMBUSH Gallery

Urban art in the urban jungle — a daring exhibition space in the heart of Waterloo.

3. May Space Gallery

A curation of contemporary art from some of the country’s best talent.

4. Aboriginal & Pacific Art

Browse traditional and contemporary art from some of Australia’s finest Indigenous talent.

5. Culture Scouts Redfern Tour

Take a walking tour through the suburb's best architecture, galleries, heritage buildings and culinary sweet spots.

Leisure

Become a gymnast for the day, or stroll through the South Sydney Rabbitohs training ground. The urban landscape here is no barrier to keeping active.

1. Redfern Park

The training ground of the South Sydney Rabbitohs; the stomping ground of many a local jogger.

2. The Yoga Centre East Redfern

Find your spiritual home at Redern's Iyengar Yoga Institute.

3. Commune Waterloo

Positive living and creative thinking power this community space.

4. James Street Reserve Community Garden

Brighten up your day and pay Redfern's blossoming community garden a visit.

5. Lift Performance Centre

Unleash your inner gymnast and learn to flip, handstand and master the rings. Once you’ve got that, next stop: the circus.

Locals Love

We asked, you answered. These are the spots you love to frequent during the daylight hours — from creative sessions to brekkie falafel.

1. 107 Projects

A creative’s paradise, with a co-working space, gallery, event venue and rooftop garden rolled into one dizzyingly cool destination.

2. Little Evie

Redfern's own roastery and cafe.

3. Barista & Cook

A Waterloo brunch spot delivering knockout brews and bites.

4. Utopia Art Sydney

A contemporary gallery representing Australian artists including members of Papunya Tula Artists.

5. Breadfern Bakery

Tapeo bakery needed a little more baking room.

How to do Redfern and Waterloo

Do as the locals do.

Restaurants and Pubs

When dinner rolls around, get your hands messy at a house of crabs, or tuck into a traditional Italian meal.

1. Isaac Restaurant

Middle Eastern and Italian fusion fare for the ‘fern.

2. Allegra Dining

Waterloo's newest Italian eatery is dishing out expertly executed traditional cuisine.

3. Redfern Continental

Arcadia Liquors' European kitchen and a GDR-themed back bar with a relaxed vibe and highly impressive menu.

4. House of Crabs

An American-style eat house with bibs, shell crackers, surgical gloves and literal heaps of shellfish.

5. Breadfern Bakery

Tapeo bakery needed a little more baking room.

Bars

Redfern's small bar scene oozes charm and warmth. The biggest hurdle is finding where to go. Here’s where to start.

1. Arcadia Liquors

A fairy-lit small bar with a sweet little courtyard out the back.

2. The Noble Hops

Redfern's dedicated craft beer bar.

3. Mjolner

A Thor-inspired carvery doing modern Nordic food and exceptional cocktails.

4. Bart Jr

This neighbourhood Redfern bar is perfect for catch-ups with mates.

5. Misfits

A fun bar and casual dining experience in the heart of the Redfern resurgence.

Live Music

Check out some jazz, cut loose to a DJ set or have a live acoustic band create the soundtrack to your next night out.

1. George Hotel Waterloo

Just like the name, this neighbourhood pub is making a comeback.

2. Moya's Juniper Lounge

This classy Redfern gin bar is gunning to become your local haunt (if it's not already).

3. The Cauliflower Hotel

A sprawling old pub (established in 1838, in fact) which plays host to a rotating roster of bands.

4. The Dock

Redfern's dive bar with great tasting bottled lager for $5, free popcorn and beer-based cocktails.

5. The Bearded Tit

Turn left at the crocheted penises and enter Redfern's brazen art bar.

Shops

Cheese, wine, ice cream, more wine. Head to the area to stock up on imported European fare and local delights.

1. Vine Providore

Fine wine and beer without the price tag.

2. Cake Wines Cellar Door

A cellar door, wine bar and hub of cultural happenings rolled into one, elegant space just off Cleveland Street.

3. Bauhaus

Once a mechanic's garage, this minimalist salon offers maximum luxury in its services and treatments.

4. Ciccone & Sons

Authentic artisan gelato in the heart of Redfern.

5. The Happy Sailors Barbershop

A buzz cut or shave with old-school flair, Happy Sailor evokes nostalgia for the days of VHS and Polaroid.

Arts and Culture

After sunset in Redfern and Waterloo, you’ll find live music, DJ sets, comedy, theatre, drag nights and gallery openings galore.

1. Giant Dwarf

Oddball comedy is just the tip of the iceberg for this event space.

2. Work-Shop Redfern

Weekends are for weaving, water-colouring or perhaps some welding.

3. 107 Projects

A creative’s paradise, with a co-working space, gallery, event venue and rooftop garden rolled into one dizzyingly cool destination.

4. The Commercial

This contemporary gallery may be small in size, but not in ambition.

5. Redfern Community Centre Classes

Hatha yoga, ballroom dancing and DJ classes all free of charge.

Locals Love

We asked, you answered. Here are your favourite evening haunts in the Redfern area.

1. Gunther's Dining Room

We can’t keep Redfern’s retro Euro bar a secret, comrades.

2. Giant Dwarf

Oddball comedy is just the tip of the iceberg for this event space.

3. The Tudor Hotel

A (faux) piece of Tudor England in the heart of Sydney serving brews and pub grub.

4. Eathouse Diner

Red vinyl stools, a curved bar and the chalkboard menu conjure 1950s Americana at this throwback eatery.

5. So 9

Tasty Vietnamese fare with a side of style.

Find Your Way Through the Redfern Area

Track down the must-visit local haunts.

ARE OUT OF VIEW SHOW ALL

CP's Picks

Some of our favourites from around the suburb.

Explore more of Sydney and your favourite suburbs through the eyes of other locals by following #sydneylocal on Instagram.

Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x