We recently reached out online to locals for their go-to Redfern rendezvous points, from their morning cafe fixes and retail hidden gems to their favourite bars and bites to eat. Their response was overwhelmingly loud and proud. Here’s what they had to say.
Redfern by day
“St Jude for a religious experience – the setting, the food and definitely the unusual interior decoration,” says Kate on Facebook
Named for the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes, St Jude Cafe has answered Sydneysiders’ prayers for a simple-but-satisfying all-day breakfast. Or simply pop in to this cosy corner cafe on the quiet end of Bourke Street for that daily coffee hit.
“I love DEA Store on Regent Street for beautiful Japanese-inspired homewares,” says Gerard on Facebook
This truly unique boutique is a pleasure to enter. It’s full of a delightful collection of collectible art, homewares, furniture, lighting and gifts. The D E A Store – D E A stands for delicate eye area – is just the place for those beautiful one-of-a-kind finds.
“One of my favourite shops … An absolute treasure trove of beautiful and interesting fabrics. Bev is so creative and happily shares her boundless experience. Definitely one of the best shops in the area,” says Virginia on our online form
Bev’s sells an affordable and amazing range of upholstery fabrics from both overseas and local fabric designers. Customer care is full-service here. Bev does made to measure and will even recommend an upholsterer.
“The best coffee in Redfern!!” says Andrea on Facebook
A hole in the wall with an array of eclectic seating. Think stools with bicycle seats, milk crates and a handful of outdoor tables. Coffee Tea & Me may be more of a quick pit stop than a place to linger long over your coffee. Still, the Campos coffee is hot and invigorating, and the savoury bagels make for the perfect on-the-go breakfast or lunch.
“Tin Humpy makes great coffee,” says Rhyan on Facebook
Rise, shine and dine at this recent addition to the Redfern cafe scene. The Tin Humpy is open for breakfast, lunch and those times when you just have a pang for sweet pastry. The cafe brews coffee from nearby The Grounds of Alexandria. Adorning the walls is eye-catching Aboriginal artwork from the vast collection of the building’s owner, retired local doctor Michael Asher. He was one of the founders of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern.
“@cicconeandsons gelato are #sydneyfoodbros favourites. You gotta eat this,” says #sydneyfoodbros on Instagram This artisan gelato shop scoops up traditional as well as outside-the-box seasonal flavours of gelato and sorbet that are just sweet enough without being cloying. The shop uses a creamy Jersey milk base and locally sourced produce. Portions are liberal and reasonably priced. A delightful dessert stop for both kids and kids at heart.
“A treasure trove of beauty and knowledge,” says @memorycatchers on Instagram The Chee Soon & Fitzgerald showroom has been a Redfern fixture since it made the move here from its original Surry Hills location in April 2013. Here, vintage pieces mix with contemporary, and Aussie brands mix with international, as well as with the Chee Soon & Fitzgerald’s own brand, CSF. With everything from homewares, decorative artworks and gifts to furniture, fabrics and lighting, the showroom’s full of waiting-to-be-found pieces.
“Organic bakery, fresh and delicious, great friendly service, biodegradable takeaway coffee cups, superior milk in good espresso coffee,” says Peggy on Facebook
Start your morning off right at the cleverly named Breadfern. Enjoy piping hot coffee, gluten-free cakes and more served up by the lovely staff.
“Great coffee, delicious food with Mediterranean and Indian influences and really good service. A real local!” says Nickolaos on Facebook
For fresh treats baked on the premises and single-origin coffee, make the comfy First Drop your first stop in the morning. This place makes a mean Mediterranean-inspired brunch, too – substantial, satisfying and beautifully presented.
“What do I love about Baffi & Mo Espresso? That’s easy: the great customer service from owners Reg and Roy, the lovingly prepared food, cakes, coffee and drinks. It’s independently owned and operated so you know exactly where your money goes. Baffi & Mo has a real sense of home and warmth,” says Josh on Facebook
In addition to Josh, many Sydneysiders recommended Baffi & Mo. They tout the cafe’s warm welcome, attentive (but never pushy) service, excellent coffee, smoothies, baked cakes and slices, and delicious Aussie breakfast staples.
“Superb food, fabulous staff … and it’s dog-friendly. Simply perfect,” says Aggie on Facebook
Housed in the 16 Eveleigh Creative Precinct former-warehouse space (also home to the cool Cake Wines Cellar Door), Henry Lee’s is one to add to the breakfast bucket list. With a generous menu of creatively named (and concocted) dishes, a range of specialty lattes, hot chocolates with a twist, and a great brunch, you won’t need to eat for the rest of the day.
“Gentle Breeze at Moore Park Gardens … Very friendly place. Lovely food,” says Jon on Facebook
For true home-style cooking, where you don’t have to cook or clean up, there’s Gentle Breeze. Come for the fresh-baked croissants, danish and muffins, not to mention the punchy coffee and fresh juice. Need an evening coffee fix? It’s open until 9pm Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Redfern by night
“The housemade ramen is spot on! Love that it is in my local!” says @jeroxie using the #SydneyLocal hashtag
Brought to you by owners and Redfern residents Katie Shortland and Scott Gault, RaRa Ramen serves up thin, authentic Hakata-style noodles. Be prepared to queue at popular times – seats are at a premium. Alongside your ramen, choose from a short but sustainable wine list, Japanese beers or local brews on tap from Yulli’s Brews.
“Ron’s is a blast from the past … a lovely, homely, retro feel with interesting plates of tasty, healthy, well-made food and a relaxed yet attentive congenial feel from intelligent staff. You feel at home here right away,” says Rowena on Facebook
This recently opened restaurant is already gaining momentum as a local favourite. Ron’s Upstairs brings the flavours of the Mediterranean – with a side of kitsch – to Redfern. Dine amid the faux grapevines and fairy lights overlooking Redfern Street on rotisserie meats, savoury seafood dishes, shareable sides and yes, some vego options. Ron’s is the latest realisation from Redfern hospitality evolutionaries Dave Jank, Brett Pritchard, Susie Pritchard and Kim Fasher, owners of Redfern Continental (and its Gunther’s Dining Room down the back) and Arcadia Liquors.
“Craft beer lovers need look no further than The Noble Hops. 10 taps on offer, various hoppy craft beers from Australia and the world. There’s no food served but if you’re hungry, pop over the road and order a pizza (from neighbouring La Coppola) – they’ll bring it over,” says Simon on our online form
The Noble Hops pours a regularly rotating array of on-tap craft beers from around the world. The bottled beer selection rotates as well, shifting with the seasons. It’s a great spot to enjoy some specialty suds in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. There’s spicy popcorn, too, if you’re peckish.
“The Bearded Tit is one of the coolest bars in Sydney – an absolute gem,” says Andrew on Facebook
This combination drinking establishment and art space features a flashy decor, including eccentric wall hangings and bold fabrics. Classic cocktails headline the drinks menu, which also includes draught and bottled beers, a handful each of whites, reds, and bubbles and a generous spirits list. Complement your quaffing with bar snacks, build-your-own ‘Jacuzzerie’ boards of meats and cheese, pizzas and pastas. The Bearded Tit is also home to 5 exhibition spaces for artists as well as a performance stage.
“Amazing food, a really nice small drinks menu and awesome fun staff,” says Kate on Facebook
Unassuming inside and out, Happy D’s dumpling and beer bar saves its showiness for its delicious petite food parcels. The modest decor includes a massive faux fish tank backdrop and a neon sign promising ‘Dumplings & Dreams’ just like Tom Cruise’s Cocktail. Choose from a short but oh-so-sweet dumpling menu (or just try everything!). The drinks list features Japanese and local beers, sake, cocktails, Japanese whiskies and Aussie wines.
“Unique personalities, quality product, tailored service,” says Mitchell on Facebook
This bright and comfortable spot – where retro Redfern meets modern decor – takes bar food up a notch. Bart Jr. has an ever-changing menu of food, craft beers, cocktails and wines with a sustainability bent. The bar sources its fresh produce from local suppliers and crafts it into tasty shareable plates.
“The Dock is the best bar to meet people in Redfern. It’s a nice, cosy boozer with great disco music and unbeatable happy hour drinks and dumplings! My favourite place in Sydney,” says Colm on our online form
For a bit of a dance in a great atmosphere to great tunes, The Dock is your small bar. And have you checked out the Monday-night singalong? If singing and dancing aren’t your strong suits, you can still settle in with your drink to enjoy the music – and maybe a board game or a game of darts.
“The bar that kickstarted it all for Redfern,” says Cherry on Facebook
Arcadia was, in fact, one of Redfern’s first small bars, and it’s still going strong. Not the ideal spot for an intimate tete-a-tete, the conversation is loud and lively here. Be sure to check out the lush courtyard out back. And inside, with cold beer, a warm atmosphere and hot toasties, what’s not to love?
“Redfern Continental … best of both worlds: eating and drinking,” says Louise on Facebook
“GDR is a fantastic friendly bar, with a nostalgic 1970s feel and an oscillating disco ball, for nibbles and a cocktail or two,” says Con on Facebook
Though it’s only a few years old, Redfern Continental has quickly become a neighbourhood institution. Lovers of this bistro come for the traditional European dishes. For the small bar down the back – GDR – they come for a slightly different dose of nostalgia, as well as the good drinks. You’ll be forgiven for believing you’ve stepped through a time warp to nearly 50 years ago. Think disco ball and lots of green velour.
“Love the absolute dedication to one spirit (gin), and all the many wonderful ways it can be combined to make different cocktails. Great place to go to start a night out, or to wind down at the end of the night. Somewhere you can sit and drink and talk, in a relaxed atmosphere, and not have to shout to be heard,” says Hugh on Facebook
This cosy, whimsical space off raucous Regent Street concocts sophisticated and just-right gin-based cocktails. Regular live jazz nights hit just the right note.
“Let’s just stick to the old original. The Tudor Hotel! Food, drinks, local company, indoor, outdoor dining and for a little peaceful dining upstairs is great. A mixture of the original locals and the newer hip and happening ones!” says Michelle on Facebook
For good beer nuts, great morning-after bloody Marys and classic pub grub at reasonable prices, you can’t go wrong at this comfortable corner pub. Alfresco beer drinking on the upstairs terrace or in the courtyard somehow makes your tipple taste even better.
“My fave unagi and wagyu cafe in Sydney! Their matcha and tea are the best,” says @jeanniejunegz on Instagram
Tea never tasted so good! At Japanese diner Juan Bowl & Tea, chef and owner Anna Ishiguro pairs premium teas with a menu that is petite but perfectly to the point. If it’s past tea o’clock, you can pair your dishes with wine, beer or sake too. The quaint and vibrant space is petite, too, seating only 28 lucky diners. Bookings recommended.