Looking for that Frida Kahlo portrait for that perfect spot over the fireplace? Love small bars that were small bars before that was even a thing? Like your French food with a side of cabaret? In Sydney, Darlinghurst is the answer to these questions – and many more.
Darlinghurst by day
“*It's a true treasure-trove that's always worth a visit,*” says @samanthatidbeck on Instagram
Walking into this corner-store institution is like walking into a giant treasure chest. It’s spilling over with vintage knick-knacks, eclectic wall hangings, antique jewellery, homewares, furnishings and other curios from the early 1900s to the 70s. Dust has a little bit of everything you didn’t know you needed.
“*The only store for the modern day gentleman,*” says @eyes.black.white on Instagram
Fine Fellow is a men’s lifestyle store carrying Australian-designed fashions, accessories and grooming supplies. The concept shop supports ethical manufacturing practices and sources long-lived products that minimise waste. It also doubles as a creative gathering place for up-and-coming makers and designers to showcase their work and for the locals to come by for informative and fun workshops, dinners and talks.
“Fresh kicks for everyday top dudes, what more could you want?” says Matt on Facebook
This smart sneaker boutique stocks premium labels – from the athletic to the fashionable – from around the world. With hats, sunnies, streetwear, backpacks and the coolest kicks around, ATC is a lifestyle store that can dress you from top to toe.
“Great jewellery and clothes,” says Madeleine on Facebook
Lotus Pod is a not-for-profit women’s boutique from the same team behind Darlinghurst’s Govinda’s Restaurant & Movie Room. It features affordable, feminine fashions; colourful and expressive jewellery; and gifts. They get new stuff in every day, so it’s never the same shop twice.
"Vintage paradise," says Madeleine via our online form
Feelin’ thrifty? Fabrique Vintage is chock-full of second-hand clothing and character. Pop in for a browse through antique items dating from 1890 to 1950, or grab a vintage find from the’50s forward. Fabrique takes used and recycled clothes to the next level. The shop is open every day, and new stock arrives every week.
“*Fable Coffee Sydney owner Phil knows coffee well … Muffins are freshly made with generous choices of ingredients. The meal plates are carefully designed to reflect the passion they have for fresh produce and for serving the customers. I have personally visited more than 300 cafes in Sydney over the years, and this is on my list of top 10,*” says Tury on Facebook
With its bright space, single-origin coffee, and colourful, local-produce-focused menu, you’re in for a truly fabled breakfast or brunch at this newish addition to the neighbourhood.
“*(Recommended) because of every reason! The food, the juice, the sweets, the coffee, the falafel wraps*,” says Nicole on Facebook
Chapter E’s sandwich bar and hot-food menu – with its hint of Middle Eastern flavours – are generous. They also offer smoothie and fresh-juice combinations.
“The staff are always welcoming, the coffee consistent and there are warm heaters for outside tables!” says Andrew on Facebook
Stop Valve is hidden away in an abandoned car-park storage unit on Riley Street and has an industrial vibe. The cafe has Reformatory Caffeine Lab coffee, T Totaler teas and fresh-squeezed juice. And from midday, the venue is licensed with a selection of Aussie and New Zealand wines and local tap and bottled beers on offer.
“*A cafe with soul. Great food and lovely service,*” says Katie on Facebook
Just a stone’s throw from Hyde Park and the Anzac Memorial and off the beaten track of Oxford Street, this welcoming Italian cafe and wine bar is a great weekday pre-work coffee and breakfast stop. It’s also known for its handmade pasta.
“*Healthy breakfasts and good coffee. The greenery and decor make it feel like you’re in Europe,*” says Madeleine on Facebook
169 Darlinghurst is a popular cafe by day and buzzy bar on Friday and Saturday nights. The contemporary bistro fare emphasises locally sourced and homemade ingredients. And you get to enjoy it all within view of Sydney’s famed Coca-Cola sign.
Darlinghurst by night
“*If you can find it … a great way to transport yourself to an American dive bar,*” says Felicity on Facebook
One of Sydney’s first small bars, this dark, subterranean American-style saloon is cowboy themed and taxidermy drenched. It’s known for specialty whiskeys, boutique beer, coolly curated cocktails and vintage rock.
“*Black Bottle is a local cosy wine bar serving charcoal plates, craft cocktails, and world and natural wines. A good place for a relaxed-yet-sophisticated catch-up with friends, a quick snack with happy hour oysters every day with (discounted) carafes of wine or the date you want to conclude … knowledgeable team behind the bar and the open kitchen counter … There’s also a heated courtyard oasis at the back,*” says Marc in our online form.
Reminiscent of an Italian snack bar but with a definitive Darlinghurst stamp on it, this European-style wine bar offers small-plates, craft cocktails and aperitivo in the early evening.
“*These lads mix a mean drink and are also excellent conversationalists @_thismustbetheplace,*” says @suyincavanagh on Instagram
With well-lit nordic style interiors, this award-winning cocktail bar diverts from the dark and moody vibe of other establishments. There is a concise food and drinks list featuring creative cocktails, bar food and wine.
“*They make some of the most delicious cocktails I’ve ever had! And fun little twist – they don’t have a menu! They make drinks based on how you’re feeling that night,*” says @inner.maverick on Instagram
The Long Goodbye is an atmospheric intimate space up a flight of stairs in a Stanley Street terrace. It takes its name from the 1953 noir novel by Raymond Chandler and has no cocktail menu. Expect the expert bartenders to creatively cater to your tastes.
“*The best French food in town!*” says Rose Royale on Facebook
A destination for French cuisine at the Hyde Park end of Oxford Street, Claire’s Kitchen at Le Salon is also known for its Wednesday cabaret nights. Diners can expect traditional French brasserie fare with a few modern twists. The wine list will take you on a tour of France’s premier winemaking regions.
“*Tiny but mighty Italian restaurant renowned for its authentic cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) served from a vast wheel of parmesan,*” says Felicity on Facebook
Cheese takes centre stage – or centre plate – at this cosy and friendly Surrey Street nook. The handcrafted-buffalo-mozzarella bar imports its fresh, gooey cheeses three times a week from southwestern Italy and pairs them with the likes of charcuterie, zucchini fritters, Brussels sprouts, wild mushrooms and Argentinian, Spanish and Italian wines.
“*Warm welcome, delicious food and magnificent cabaret performers to entertain. Always a fun night,*” says Adrian on Facebook
This Darlinghurst restaurant serves up a plentiful menu of Greek and Italian favourites. The staff are attentive and easygoing. Dinner and a show (think cabaret, as only Darlinghurst can do) adds a truly memorable and entertaining dimension.
“*Great Japanese,*” says Brett on Facebook
Yachiyo’s owners describe their food as “traditional Japanese with a twist”. The menu at this casual neighbourhood restaurant is designed for sharing and presented by cooking method: raw, seared, grilled, fried or sizzling.
“An all-time local fave spot,” says @forksticks on Instagram
If your food’s provenance is important to you, this community-minded locavore eatery is well worth a visit. The Commons is passionate about sourcing its seasonal produce from ethical and local suppliers. Located in a picturesque and historic sandstone cottage, it features a cosy dining room and bright courtyard for warm-weather alfresco dining. Make sure to venture downstairs to checkout Downtown, an intimate cocktail bar nestled in the former basement larder.