A curious thing has been happening in Sydney over the past few years since the government relaxed liquor licensing laws. A new breed of bars and restaurants have been spawning all over town, hidden down laneways, behind non-descript doors, in basements and on rooftops. These hidden hotspots are usually unsigned with each one harder to find than the last. And the problem with these establishments is that they are well hidden. In fact, you may easily walk past one of these spots blissfully unaware of the fun that is happening inside.
1. Palmer & Co
Palmer & Co. is tucked down Abercrombie Lane (running between George and Pitt Streets). If you look closely, you will recognise the entrance where the bouncer is standing. Head down the stairs and enter this underground 1920’s prohibition den. It’s all class here with a roaring 20’s theme and leather chesterfields to relax in. The place is always packed and if you’re lucky you will score a seat. It’s also a good late night option.
Their food menu includes charcuterie and cheeses as well as small share plates such as ‘of the moment fare’ meatballs and mac’n’cheese.
Cocktails are a specialty with a range of signatures as well as the classics.
INDU is a new Modern Indian restaurant which is located in a basement at Angel Place (off George Street). What I love most about this restaurant is their generosity of spirit – they give back to the villages that inspire them. You can read all about their Village to Village program on the menu.
A modern Indian menu is offered, featuring Dosas (famous South Indian crepe made with lentils), seafood and plenty of curries. South Indian and Sri-Lankan village dishes are offered with a modern twist. Their signature dish is the Lamb Raan.
The drinks menu has been designed to complement the spicy fare. Along with beer and wine, of course, they have created a refreshing cocktail menu and also offer a wide range of spirits.
3. Bulletin Place Bar
This shoe boxed sized bar is one of my favourites and also probably one of the most difficult to find! Head down Bulletin Place (running off Pitt Street) walk past Bar Tapavino (incidentally also a great tapas spot) and enter the door with the sign to the tattoo parlour. Head up the stairs until you find this tiny bar called Bulletin Place Bar. The service is friendly, but you should note there is a limit to the number of people allowed at any one time.
A very small tapas food menu is offered (from Bar Tapavino downstairs). I recommend visiting Bulletin Place Bar for a pre or post dinner drink.
Cocktails are their specialty. Each day they create new cocktails which they feature on their butcher paper menu.
Hubert is so new most Sydney-siders probably don’t even know about it yet! Look for the large double wooden doors on Bligh Street and head down the stairs to find a dimly lit bar and restaurant which transports you back to the grand establishments of yesteryear.
The food menu is French/European offering modern bistro classics.
There is an extensive wine list on offer, plus cocktails should that be more to your liking.
5. Darlo Country Club
Darlo Country Club is located on Victoria Street in Darlinghurst. You will notice a canopy on the street flanked by large doors. Ascend the stairs and prepare to be transported to a Californian Country Club.
A brasserie style menu is offered, share plate style.
They are well known for their cocktails, offering a number of signatures. They also offer bottle service.
6. Baxter Inn
Baxter Inn is one of Sydney’s original hidden bars. Baxter Inn is a dark and moody whisky bar and you will find it hidden in a basement down a deserted looking laneway (off Clarence Street pretty much opposite the Redoak Beer Cafe).
You don’t come to Baxter’s for the food – you come here for the drinks!
Whisky, of course, plays a big part – in fact, they offer over 300. But never fear if you’re not a whisky lover, they also offer cocktails, spirits, beer and wine.
7. Lobo Plantation
The Lobo Plantation is a Caribbean themed rum bar. You will find it almost opposite Baxters and you will need to descend a rather steep winding staircase to reach their Cuban jungle den. There’s plenty of seating and friendly service to boot.
Their food menu is Latin inspired featuring South American and Caribbean dishes which are perfect for sharing.
Rum is their specialty with over 250 bottles on offer. They are also known for their rum cocktails. Rum lovers will want to check out their ‘Rum Diary’.
8. Shady Pines Saloon
Shady Pines is located in Darlinghurst hidden down Crown Street (between Oxford Street and Burton Street). It’s another basement gem. Taxidermy rules in this establishment and it’s a honky tonk kinda place. Welcome to the Wild Wild West.
Peanuts are pretty much all you can expect!
Cocktails again are their specialty and the barmen are serious about their drinks y’all.
9. Eau de Vie
This hidden speakeasy is located inside the Kirketon Hotel in Darlinghurst. To find it, you need to enter the hotel entrance, walk past the reception and continue walking straight and through the dark glass doors. You can tell when you are getting close by the noise level! Eau de Vie is a 1930’s themed with plenty of leather couches to soak into.
They offer a bar food menu comprising snacks as well as cheese and charcuterie boards.
Cocktails are their specialty and they win plenty of awards for them. The cocktail menu reads like a novel!
Keep this list handy next time you’re visiting Sydney. You’ll be eating and drinking like a local in no time.Search cheap flights to Sydney