Where else but Newtown can you fix your motorbike and slurp some ramen (in the same place!), immerse yourself in the competitive coffee scene, flex your green thumb and buy and sell designer clothes? Locals love the variety and vibrancy of this inner west favourite.
And your enthusiasm for Newtown shows. When we asked you to tell us your favourite Newtown spots across our social media channels, you weren’t shy about sharing, and your responses were as diverse as the suburb itself. Here’s a selection of locals’ picks.
Meet for brunch, lunch or coffee
“Best brunch in Newtown,” says @faradilakeiko on Instagram.
Just seeing Cuckoo Callay is an unforgettable – and fun – experience. Every detail of this quirky cafe is carefully considered. Plus, the creatively named dishes will have you smiling even before you taste them. Order the I’m Fluent in French Toast or the All That Fritters is Gold. And when you do taste them, they won’t disappoint. Even your pups get their own menu items here, such as house-made maple bacon dog treats and the Puppachino. Plus, Cuckoo Callay’s Newtown train station location makes for perfect people watching for you and your dog.
“*Great coffee and the best cronuts in Sydney,*” says @nicoapples on Instagram.
Recently reopened with a fresh refurb, Brewtown is another specialty coffee roaster that got its start here before branching out across Sydney. It features all-day breakfast and lunch, espresso and filtered coffees, creative pastries (do try the cronut, one of the first to hit Sydney) and consistent comfort food in a comfortable setting.
“*Because they've got the best watermelon cake with the coffee,*” says @mitsuhiko826 on Instagram.
Go dessert first, no matter what time of day, at this busy bakery. Cake for breakfast? You wouldn’t be the first. Black Star Pastry’s cakes are as pretty to look at as they are pleasing to eat. Though it’s hard to go past the signature strawberry watermelon cake, leave room for the likes of this cosy shopfront’s other creations, such as the dragon cake or lemon myrtle chiffon cake. There are a number of vegan options, too, such as vegan flower cupcakes and vegan chocolate popcorn cake.
“Campos: their filter brews are amazing” says @elisaeves on Instagram.
Die-hard coffee drinkers gravitate to Campos because it takes its coffee seriously. The brand is so popular that it’s spawned its own cult following – devotees who will drink only Campos. And Newtown is home to the flagship store. Campos keeps the food menu super basic because the focus is on serving consistent, high-quality coffee. With such a sociable staff and equally friendly patrons, it’s no wonder if you want to stay for a second cup or make a trip here part of your every-morning routine. Grab some beans to take home, too.
“*Great food,*” says Michael on Facebook.
For fresh, local, and homemade, you can’t go past the cosy Flour Drum. And though the produce may be local, the cuisine spans the globe. The menu fuses dishes with influences and flavours as far-flung as China, Greece, Italy, New Zealand and South America. For dessert, locals love the lamingtons, or you can satisfy your inner Cookie Monster with one of Flour Drum’s giant cookies.
“*Rising Sun Workshop cafe is awesome! Great vibe, great food,*” says @parrierose on Instagram.
Rising Sun Workshop curiously but compatibly combines a motorbike workshop, cafe and shop. With its philosophy of collaboration and community, the workshop provides everything motorbike enthusiasts need to work on their bike. And this community spirit extends to the cafe, where buying like-minded and local is at the heart of the Aussie- and Asian-influenced menu.
“*212 Blu has the best coffee,*” says @awildjuglion on Instagram.
Another winner in Newtown’s competitive coffee scene, 212 Blu serves up a rotating selection of single-origin blends, cold brews and filter coffee from Loggerhead Coffee Co. More than a cafe, 212 Blu is also a relaxed wine bar pouring natural wines alongside charcuterie, cheese and other antipasti. Raise a glass to the best of both worlds with 212 Blu’s espresso martini!
“*Most beautiful food presentation, unusual but super tasty combos, multifarious,*” says @roeschen_anna on Instagram
Either/Or serves brunch, dinner and drinks – and beautifully. The dishes are colourful and textural and stunningly presented. Conversely, the fit-out, comprising primarily steel, wood and concrete, is minimalist and monochromatic. Combine the 2 and you get quality food in a relaxed atmosphere at reasonable prices. Feeling a bit Scandinavian? Try one of Either/Or’s smørrebrøds – open-faced, Danish style sandwiches on rye.
Where to go for retail therapy
“*I love it because of the social and ethical purpose it has towards the community …,*” says @yuuyuu_chan on Instagram.
At The Social Outfit, you’ll come away with stylish, well-made clothes and a feel-good vibe. This fashion label is a registered charity and ethical-trading social enterprise. It aims to employ and train refugees and new migrants to Australia. The Social Outfit teaches its employees clothing production, retail sales, design and marketing. It’s a great spot to pick up a gift for your friend or family member with a social conscience.
“*Pentimento has the most adorable stationery, books and gifts,*” says @karen__png on Instagram.
This King Street veteran sells a diverse mix of gifts, books and homewares that it sources from across the globe. For last-minute gift-giving, it’s your easy, all-in-one solution, from the present itself to the card and wrapping that goes with it. And if you’re still a sucker for stationery – clinging nostalgically to the dying artform of note-writing – you can treat yourself to some pretty paper here.
“*Ethical fashion and fantastic prices,*” says @iisabelnaomi on Instagram
This colourful clothing exchange lets you buy, sell or swap your clothes, shoes and accessories. Open 7 days a week, the shop aims to promote ethical fashion choices with waste reduction, affordability and sustainability. SWOP is always on the lookout for vintage and on-trend clothing and accessories. The shop buys seasonally and says yes only to high-quality clothes that are clean and in excellent condition.
“Great range of indoor and outdoor plants and pots. Fantastic staff,” says @awildjuglion on Instagram
The friendly and helpful staff at Newtown Garden Market specialise in greenery for Sydney living – small gardens, balconies and indoor plants. Here, you’ll find not only a well-chosen selection of plants, herbs and vegetable seedlings from local growers, but also great advice for gardeners of all levels. And along with standard finds, you can also pick up edible flowers, medicinal plants, plants for pest control and tea.
“*Their designs are so interesting, unique and beautiful,*” says @the_crested_pigeon on Instagram.
A store with a happy vibe and gifts to match, Monsterthreads promotes young illustrators on its products. Find their creative and diverse work splashed across all types of gifts, including clothing, jewellery, umbrellas, toys, homewares, stationery and more.
“*For locally made fashion and amazing gifts. Run by an amazing woman: Christina,*” says @gsehp on Instagram
Both a shop and a house fashion brand, Made590 is a corner cornucopia of Australian-made fashion, accessories, homewares and other gifts. Pick up a bold print, practical everyday pieces or men’s T-shirts screen-printed by hand and featuring Made590’s own designs. The brand designs in-house and collaborates with local artists. Add a finishing touch to your new outfit with seasonal accessories that Made590 creates from leftover fabric, encouraging both extra stylishness and waste reduction.
Where to go in Newtown from lunch through to night
“Outside area to hang out; inside they play live music, downstairs they play house music,” says @mylittlewrinkleintime on Instagram
The Marlborough Hotel, or The Marly, is the perfect pub for Newtown. It’s got a laid-back vibe, great local live music, and a 100% plant-based menu alongside a classic pub grub menu. Grab a bite in the garden bar, or cheer on your team in the sports bar. Upstairs at the Marly, you’ll find innovative cocktails, more great food, and dancing! Tokyo Sing Song is the Marly’s basement nightclub, live music venue and performance space. A great place to wash away the workweek on a Friday or Saturday night.
“*Love sitting in the balcony and people-watching,*” says @shikhaswaroop24 on Instagram
Watch Newtown life go by with good food and a beer in hand from the Newtown Hotel’s verandah overlooking King Street. If you’re hosting a party, the Newtown Hotel has some unique function spaces, including a 50s-style cinema space and a disco corner. And Friday night’s drag show from 7pm to 10pm is anything but a drag.
“*My favourite cocktail bar,*” says @parrierose on Instagram
Looking at it, with its Betta Meats facade (thanks to the previous owners), you’d never know this was home to a NOLA-style cocktail bar. (That’s New Orleans, Louisiana) Step inside: the saloon-like atmosphere stems from both its fit-out (dark wood bar, stools, and flooring, exposed brick, Art Deco lamps) and its attitude (a bit of swagger). The joint takes its name from the late New Orleans rock’n’roll drummer Earl Palmer. If the vibe hasn’t won you over, the cocktails will.
“*Just a great vibe, great drinks and fun times,*” says @lessis_more3 on Instagram
With all its nooks and crannies, it’s easy to see where Corridor gets its name. Settle in for a cosy afternoon on the sunny deck or inside on an old sofa. The bartenders know their stuff here, and house-infused spirits and syrups add that extra je ne sais quoi to their inventive drinks. If you’d rather stick to beer, the Corridor serves up a sampling of some of the best local brews.
“*It has a lovely environment, food is 100% and goes towards a good cause,*” says @delaramaia on Instagram
The cafeteria-style seating (and picnic tables out front) and displays of local artwork add to the inclusive community vibe of this vegan restaurant with a twist. With no set prices, the restaurant serves up great vegan food and you ‘pay’ by contributing what you can, whether it’s volunteering in the kitchen, helping out front or leaving some cash in one of the donation boxes.
“*Atmosphere is fun, from the grunge interior to fab beer garden,*” says @tipzstamatic on Instagram
Famed for its big leafy courtyard, this 19th-century watering hole provides a respite from the hubbub and hustle of King Street. A quintessentially classic and casual Aussie pub, the Courthouse Hotel serves up beers, burgers and other bistro fare.
“*The Italian Bowl for sure! It has quick seating, great service and authentic Italian meals – pizza and pasta as well as poultry meals cooked home-style!*” says George on Facebook.
What you see is what you get at the ever-popular Italian Bowl, from the friendly, down-to-earth welcome and service to the fresh food cooked in the open kitchen. Craft your own perfect pasta dish by selecting your pasta, sauce and accompaniments of choice. Or choose from a classic selection of veal, chicken, risotto and salad dishes. You won’t go home hungry!
“*Young Henrys is definitely my favourite local brewery … the big graffiti wall is very Newtown,*” says @yan_keiclare on Instagram
Young Henrys has done its part to help put Sydney’s craft brew scene on the map, and you should drop a pin for its innovative tasting bar. Open daily for great beer and good cheer, Young Henrys pours the usual suspects from its range, as well as limited-edition beers.
Looking for more things to do in Newtown?
“*Dancing in the dark … great way to let yourself go for $10 (cash only),*” says Michael on Facebook.
Thursday nights in Newtown are No Lights No Lycra (NLNL) dance sessions. This is not your typical dance studio. As its name suggests, NLNL has no teachers, no classes, no steps, no specified clothing (though clothing is not optional). There, in the dark, you’re free to dance – as only you can – with whatever moves you’ve got. Just let go, be yourself and let the music move you. NLNL sessions are drug-, alcohol- and electronic-device-free (no taking pictures or videos).
“*It’s a brilliant adventure every time … a definite must!*” says Bas on our online form
The escape room phenomenon has taken Sydney by storm, and The Cipher Room has taken advantage of the tempest. The Cipher Room provides themed locked rooms – full of puzzles, props, and clues – from which you and your team of 2 to 8 must free yourselves within an hour. Owned and operated by Newtown locals, The Cipher Room stands out for its personal touches and its local loyalty. It sources props from neighbourhood vintage and second-hand shops.