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A Day and Night Guide
REDFERN AND WATERLOO
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By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018
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By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018
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With an important cultural heritage, strong cafe game and contemporary art scene, the Redfern and Waterloo area is a key spot to explore, find places to 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 cosy brunch spots, galleries and tucked-away community gardens.

In partnership with City of Sydney, we’re celebrating what makes Redfern such a vibrant community to live in and visit: its local businesses. It’s been a tough year, and these bars, restaurants, shops and cultural spaces need your patronage more than ever. It’s time to hit the streets, spend consciously, and throw your support behind these local gems.

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 an important cultural heritage, strong cafe game and contemporary art scene, the Redfern and Waterloo area is a key spot to explore, find places to 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.

In partnership with City of Sydney, we’re celebrating what makes Redfern such a vibrant community to live in and visit: its local businesses. It’s been a tough year, and these bars, restaurants, shops and cultural spaces need your patronage more than ever. It’s time to hit the streets, spend consciously, and throw your support behind these local gems.

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

Build your own feast for a Saturday afternoon picnic at Redfern Park. Start with coffee from Scout’s Honour, then grab some rice paper rolls or banh mi from Yellow Fever. Need something sweet for dessert? Hit up Breadfern Bakery or Donut Papi, which are both mere steps from the park.

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

Not all convenience stores are made equal, and that becomes particularly evident when you step into the self-proclaimed ‘greatest convenience store on earth’. Owner Hazem Sedda is somewhat of a local celebrity — boasting almost 25,000 Instagram followers — who takes pride in stocking hard-to-find international snacks and drinks.

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 around the corner to The Noble Hops for a niche craft beer and then head to Moya’s Juniper Lounge to end your night with gin and jazz music.

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. Three Williams

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

2. Baby Coffee Co.

Neon, pastels, good coffee and great cocktails abound at this Waterloo spot.

3. Breadfern Bakery

There's more to this legendary corner bakery than its punny name.

4. Oratnek

Classic Bills with a Japanese edge.

5. Fernside Coffee Shoppe

Fernside, cheekily distancing itself from neighbouring suburb Surry Hills, isn’t revolutionising the cafe concept but what it does, it does damn well.

Restaurants

Modern Israeli fare, a 70s Miami-inspired cafe and zesty Vietnamese rice paper rolls — lunchtime options in the area are diverse and brimming with quality.

1. Kepos Street Kitchen

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

2. Southside Charmers

A Redfern diner serving up cocktails and top-notch Mexican fare — all day.

3. Henry Lee's

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

4. Scout's Honour

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

5. Yellow Fever

A cosy little Redfern cafe dishing up vibrant Vietnamese dishes.

Shops

A smattering of specialty stores with well-curated collections define the shopping scene here. Explore the area’s vintage homewares and artisanal jewellery.

1. Assembly Label Surplus Store

Pick up the minimalist brand's linen basics and seasonal styles at a discounted price all year round.

2. Bev's Remnant House

Calling all DIY interior designers: you'll find unique fabrics right here.

3. Chee Soon & Fitzgerald

This Sydney institution supplies bold ceramics, cushions, textiles and vintage design pieces.

4. Extinct: Dinosaur Designs Outlet Store

Resin has never looked so inviting.

5. Wild Cockatoo Bakery

Stop by this hole-in-the-wall artisanal bakery for saltbush sourdough loaves, buttery croissants and flaky meat pies.

Arts and Culture

Overflowing with bold, industrial gallery spaces, Redfern and Waterloo are full of must-see contemporary art. Get started with this lot.

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. Utopia Art Sydney

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

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

It's training ground of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and 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. James Street Reserve Community Garden

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

4. The Happy Sailors Barbershop

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

5. Cycle Re-Cycle Bike Workshop

This volunteer-run repair workshop recycles preloved bicycles to donate back to the community.

Shop Online

Can't visit the area soon enough? Do some online browsing and get gems from these Redfern-based businesses sent straight to you instead.

1. Donut Papi

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

2. The DEA Store

Find aesthetically pleasing homewares to fill your home with.

3. Merchant & Green

Welcome to Redfern's one-stop shop for all things green.

4. Rococo Flowers

This stunning flower studio creates classic seasonal arrangements suitable for all occasions.

5. Tait Sydney

The Sydney showroom for the Melbourne-born sustainable outdoor furniture label.

How to do Redfern and Waterloo

Do as the locals do.

Restaurants

When dinner rolls around, get your hands messy at a no-frills burger joint, or down many servings of dumplings.

1. Happy D's

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

2. Bush

Redfern's new Australiana-inspired restaurant with top-notch burgers and fairy bread pudding.

3. Ron's Upstairs

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

4. Kepos & Co.

A delightful piece of old Jerusalem with a mix of Aussie favourites and Middle Eastern flavours.

5. Huxtaburger

The Melbourne hamburger haven's first Sydney store has 20 different burgs and triple-scoop shakes.

Bars

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

1. The Noble Hops

Redfern's dedicated craft beer bar.

2. Mjolner

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

3. Bart Jr

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

4. Redfern Surf Club

An Australiana-themed bar with cocktails in cans and a taxidermy ibis.

5. Misfits

Retro furnishings, a hidden bar and a diverse new menu — this Redfern spot is eager to please.

Pubs

For Redfern's watering holes, old meets new in more ways than one.

1. Norfolk Hotel

Nailing the brief for a true-blue neighbourhood pub.

2. The Tudor Hotel

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

3. The Cauliflower Hotel

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

4. Woolpack Hotel

This pub is a Redfern institution — and for good reason.

5. Atomic Beer Project

A brand-new microbrewery and taproom in Redfern by WA's Gage Roads.

Shops

Next-level snacks, wine, ice cream, more wine. Head to the area to stock up on imported fare and local delights.

1. Ciccone & Sons

Find authentic artisanal gelato in the heart of Redfern.

2. Redfern Convenience Store

People travel from all over to visit this local corner store with a cult-like fan base.

3. Vine Providore

You'll find wine and beer without the price tag at this bottle-o based inside an old brewery.

4. Redfern Fruit Market

A classic local fruit and veg market and Asian grocer in Redfern.

5. Hair by Tommy J

This 50s-style barbershop has just one style on the menu: short back and sides.

Arts, Culture & Live Music

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 here.

2. Moya's Juniper Lounge

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

3. The Dock

Redfern's dive bar has great tasting bottled lager for $7, free popcorn and beer-based cocktails.

4. 107 Projects

A co-working space, gallery and rooftop garden rolled into one dizzyingly cool destination.

5. Hustle & Flow

Hustle in and flow out of Redfern's hip hop-inspired drinks and beats spot.

CP Staff Faves

Here are our favourite haunts for when the sun goes down and the streets of Redfern come alive.

1. RaRa

Redfern's 28-seater neighbourhood ramen joint.

2. Arcadia Liquors

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

3. La Coppola

Authentic, Sicilian-style pizzeria in the heart of Redfern.

4. The Bearded Tit

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

5. Milk Bar by Cafe Ish

There's more to Milk Bar than just the milk. Though the milk is pretty spectacular.

Find Your Way Through the Redfern Area

Track down the must-visit local haunts.

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Editor's Itinerary

Here is how our editor loves to spend a few hours in Redfern.

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

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