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A DAY AND NIGHT GUIDE
SURRY HILLS
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and discover Sydney by day or night.
By Quinn Connors and Erina Starkey
December 15, 2017
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By Quinn Connors and Erina Starkey
December 15, 2017
  shares

Whether you’re after a soy latte or an espresso martini, Surry Hills is one of the best places to eat, drink and be merry in Sydney’s inner city suburbs.

You don’t need to be a Surry Hillbilly to make the most of this trendy inner-city suburb. Do as the locals do and take a stroll down Crown Street where you’re guaranteed to pass a top-notch coffee spot, an arty bookstore or newly renovated pub at every ten steps.

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.

Whether you’re after a soy latte or an espresso martini, Surry Hills is one of the best places to eat, drink and be merry in Sydney’s inner city suburbs.

If you’re up for a colourful night on the town then you should probably head for the hills. Trade up the cold drip for a microbrew and embrace an impromptu pub crawl as you experience some of the best Sydney restaurants, bars, pubs and kebabs. In that order.

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

Australia’s alleged earliest surviving film was shot in Surry Hills. Patineur Grotesque (The Humorous Rollerskater) was filmed in Prince Alfred Park by French director Marius Sestier in 1896. Though it was screened in France in 1897, it was only screened in Australia for the first time in 2010.

GETTING AROUND

Surry Hills is surrounded by Central Station on its western edge and the Eastern Distributor on its east. Though there are also buses that run through the area, the suburb and its many cafes, shops, restaurants and bars are best explored on foot.

DON’T MISS

Do as the locals do, and plan to spend your day lazing in the sun at Shannon Reserve. Hit Maloneys Grocer (and/or Messina) beforehand to grab some treats for an afternoon picnic at the iconic park. Head to the park on the first Saturday of the month, and you’ll be met with the beloved Surry Hills Markets where you can hunt down some fine, bohemian treasures.

LOCALS LOVE

With cafes every couple of paces, Surry Hills epitomises Sydney cafe culture. And thanks to the many cafes with outdoor seating, the suburb certainly dabbles in the city’s love for the outdoors, too. Go to Artificer to drink your coffee on the bench out front, or make your way to Suzie Q to sip your morning brew while browsing their collection of rare records.

DID YOU KNOW

Along with building its offices in 1940, Paramount Pictures also constructed a secluded art deco theatrette for screenings, which remains today, restored as the beloved Golden Age Cinema. It’s in this cinema where servicewomen would watch newsreels and films during WWII, and now, almost 80 years later, it’s still screening films for Sydneysiders.

GETTING AROUND

Surry Hills is surrounded by Central Station on its western edge and the Eastern Distributor on its east. Though there are also buses that run through the area, the suburb and its many cafes, shops, restaurants and bars are best explored on foot. Take note, most trains stop running from Central around midnight or 1am.

DON’T MISS

Golden Age Cinema, dedicated to the, well, golden age of cinema, screens arty, independent and classic films. They also host free live music on Thursdays and Saturdays every week. Plus, with its vintage bar serving cocktails and ‘supper’ (as well as Messina), Golden Age sets the scene for a trip into a glamorous time when cinema was king.

LOCALS LOVE

Surry Hills is covered with grade A pubs of all varieties. Some cater to you and your pooch like The Carrington and The Beresford, others cater to your epicurean desires like The Dolphin and The Horse with its resident Chicken & Sons. Then of course there are those dedicated to the beers you crave like The Local Taphouse and Keg and Brew with their vast ranges of independent and craft brews.

How to do Surry Hills

Do as the locals do.

Cafes

Surry Hills is overflowing with great cafes. Whether you're a cold drip drinker or a skim cap sipper, the cafe scene has your caffeine fix sorted. Here's where to start.

1. Paramount Coffee Project

Paramount to those that surround it, this Surry Hills cafe does ripper coffee and fabulous food.

2. Reuben Hills

A cafe that encapsulates the slick inner-city vibe of Surry Hills (particularly with it's seriously good coffee roasts).

3. Suzie Q Coffee & Records

A stellar lineup of coffee, retro tracks and a crowd to match.

4. Cuckoo Callay on Crown

A new Crown Street chapter for the team behind one of Newtown's busiest brunch spots.

5. Cafe Kentaro

Bourke Street's Japanese-influenced brunch spot from the team behind Oratnek.

Restaurants and Pubs

Build-your-own salads, pub grub, top-notch sandwiches and Korean lunch specials — lunchtime options abound in Surry Hills.

1. Sang by Mabasa

Artfully plated, delicate Korean fare in a quiet corner of Surry Hills.

2. The Dolphin Hotel

Maurice Terzini's revamped version of the Crown Street pub.

3. Lucky Pickle

A Surry Hills sandwich shop taking all the bells and whistles out of lunch with incredibly tasty results.

4. Malibu

This back-alley, micro-sandwichery normally has lines out the door at lunch.

5. Bills Surry Hills

The Crown Street breakfast institution has relocated — and while it's just moved next door, it's scored an updated menu and look.

Shops

A mecca for luxe, bargain and window shoppers alike, Surry Hills is dotted with shops for all tastes. Fashion, books, records, vintage, design objects — you want it, you’ll find it.

1. The Standard Store

The standard this store sets is one of smart coolness over bombastic label gauche.

2. Paris Texas

An edgy-chic boutique store supporting Australian labels.

3. Ici et la

A charming French antiques and design store for when you want to add that certain je ne sais quoi to the home.

4. Formaggi Ocello

Welcome to Sydney's cheese epicentre.

5. Title Store

Protect your wallets, because there is damn good taste to be found among these books, records and films.

Arts and Culture

From an iconic artist’s home and studio to where operatic magic is made, Surry Hills is a veritable design hub, offering some excellent arty experiences.

1. Brett Whiteley Studio

The space in which one of Australia's most acclaimed artists produced some of his best works.

2. Foley Street Creative Spaces

A laneway creative precinct featuring a rotating roster of local artists showing off their wares.

3. Surry Hills Library

Get back to the books, attend a lecture or learn to cook at this impressive community hub.

4. The Opera Centre

This is where props, costumes and training are coordinated for a spectacular live show.

5. Surry Hills Market

Head to one of Sydney’s best-loved markets for their bohemian collection of fashion, antiques, books and handicrafts.

Leisure

With great parks, a standout pool and a bowling alley in a bar, Surry Hills has a slew of outdoor activities for when the sun's out — plus, plenty more for when the rain moves in.

1. The Indigo Project

With workshops, therapy, yoga and lunchtime nap classes (yes, nap classes).

2. Barry's Bootcamp Surry Hills

The Los Angeles-founded workout studio brings its high-intensity workouts to Surry Hills.

3. Prince Alfred Park Pool

One of Sydney’s finest swimming holes, this inner-city pool boasts a heated 50-metre lap pool, an aquatic playground and cafe.

4. Paramount House Hotel

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

5. Cork & Chroma Sydney

A BYO art studio — because it’s easier to be creative when you’ve had a bit to drink.

Locals Love

We asked, you answered. These are the spots you love to frequent from your morning coffee to your favourite dog spotting park.

1. Artificer Specialty Coffee Bar & Roastery

Nothing but serious coffee business here.

2. Zushi

Sushi as it should be, and so much more.

3. Single O Surry Hills

This Surry Hills coffee stalwart now has self-serve filter on tap.

4. Harmony Park

Where you and the pooches can hang in perfect harmony.

5. Shift Eatery

Sydney's first vegan deli serves up classic sambos without the meat.

How to do Surry Hills

Do as the locals do.

Restaurants and Pubs

The only issue when it comes to dining in Surry Hills is deciding where to go. You may never make your way through every eatery, but you should definitely start with these.

1. Don't Tell Aunty

$10 lunch specials, retro Bollywood films flickering on the walls and a self-serve beer fridge in the old 4Fourteen site.

2. Poly

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

3. Maybe Frank

Your new Surry Hills go-to for everything from caprioskas to capricciosas.

4. Arthur

The 35-seater offers a changing 11-dish menu over two sittings each night.

5. Cricketers Arms Hotel

The Cricketers Arms, known more intimately as the Crix, is the kind of local that will make you want to move into the area.

Bars

Tucked down alleyways, above (or below) Oxford Street and behind clandestine doors, some of Surry Hills' bars make you work to find them — but once you do, you'll be well rewarded.

1. Big Poppa's

Hello Sailor has been transformed into a cheese, wine and hip hop bar.

2. Goros

A kitsch Japanese dive bar with a late night DJ, arcade games and three karaoke rooms.

3. Bitter Phew

Oxford Street's craft beer and board games bar.

4. Scout Sydney

The world-famous London cocktail bar has opened above Surry Hills' The Dolphin.

5. Tokyo Bird

Tokyo Bird is ruling the roost with a focus on hot-right-now Japanese whisky and yakitori sticks.

Live Music

From an institution inspired by Warhol's Factory to an intimate local favourite, catch some tunes and throw some shapes at these live music haunts around Surry Hills.

1. Venue 505

An iconic music venue showcasing emerging Sydney talents, pizza, pasta and an excellent board games night.

2. Button Bar

Avast ye small bar enthusiasts. This is Button Bar. Welcome aboard.

3. The Soda Factory

Follow Bobby's for boozy spiders and '50s tunes.

4. Ding Dong Dang

Down the Central Station end of Surry Hills, it's much like the karaoke equivalent of the suburb itself.

5. The Gaelic Club Sydney

A dose of Irish fun.

Shops

Browse the Thai grocer frequented by Sydney’s top chefs, find your next read or finally commit to that ink you’ve been considering — all post 5pm in Surry Hills.

1. Cream On Crown - CLOSED

This iconic vintage clothing store on Crown Street is where to go for ace retro and reconstructed threads.

2. Pontip Exotic Fruit & Vegetables

Where Sydney's top Thai chefs go to buy their produce.

3. Hibernia Tattoo Studio

An appointment-only tattoo studio in an iconic Surry Hills building.

4. Oscar and Friends Booksellers

An independent bookshop that's small in size but vast in range.

5. Cleveland's

Barista meets barber at this teeny Surry Hills cafe.

Arts and Culture

After sunset in Surry Hills, you’ll find music, comedy, theatre, cinema and gallery openings to boot. Plus, you can never go amiss with a class to upskill your artistic prowess.

1. Golden Age Cinema and Bar

Old-school charm to lure you off your couch.

2. Belvoir St Theatre

A mainstay on the Sydney theatre scene with a roster of innovative works.

3. Cafe Lounge

Potentially cheesy jokes with definitely cheesy pizza.

4. China Heights Gallery

A unique contemporary space that ties art and design together.

5. The Pottery Shed

Clear your mind and let your hands do the hard work.

Locals Love

We asked, you answered. Here are your favourite haunts for when the sun goes down and the streets of Surry Hills come alive.

1. Il Baretto

A Surry Hills institution serving up pasta as good as Nonna's — and you can BYO.

2. Yulli's

The quintessential Surry Hills vegetarian experience.

3. Vasco

For the rock 'n' roller, walking into Vasco is a little like walking into that dream where you got everything you ever wanted.

4. Tio's Cerveceria

Surry Hills' home of tequila, cocktails and free popcorn.

5. Chin Chin

Sydney's first outpost of Melbourne's famed loud, punchy and queue-inviting Thai eatery.

Find Your Way Through Surry Hills

Track down the must-visit local haunts.

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CP's Picks

Some of our favourites from around the suburb.

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