Sitting snugly between Victoria Park and Prince Alfred Park, Chippendale may be small on space, but it’s big on character, charisma and culinary delights. Wander the crooked backstreets of this hip inner-city suburb to discover its signature terrace houses, cool cafes and unique art galleries. Once a rough industrial hub centring on the former Kent brewery, Chippendale has more recently emerged as an exciting pocket of Sydney nightlife.
To find out the best places to go in Chippendale, we asked the locals on Facebook and checked out the #SydneyLocal hashtag on Instagram in search of fan favourites. Here’s what they chipped in for Chippendale:
Chippendale by day
“Good morning to the weekend with a perfectly risen and flaky golden buttery croissant! These are some of the best in Sydney I’ve found so far” – recommended by @sydney.food.lover
It’s so friendly at this cosy corner cafe and bakery. They make you feel like you’ve walked into their home and that they’ve known you for ages! The croissants are indeed flakier than a snowstorm, and the breads, brownies, tarts and scones are pretty special too. Eat in for some lovely toasts, sandwiches, quiches or other ever-changing menu items. Or pick up a cake – white chocolate and raspberry! – to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
“Something for Jess Cafe on Abercrombie Street is the best! Such a community vibe with delicious food and drinks” – recommended by Talia via our our call out on ‘What’s On’.
Something for Jess (SFJ) has something for you, too. From fresh cafe fare in comfy surrounds to an onsite art gallery highlighting local artists, this community-centric spot offers new stuff to eat – and look at – every week. What’s more, SFJ donates 10 per cent of the proceeds from art sales to charity.
“Glider coffee platter came with a daily single-estate cold brew, single-shot espresso, full-bodied piccolo and palate-cleansing sparkling coffee blossom tea. Dream coffee platter for coffee lover!” – recommended by @yukibagel
Brunch with an Asian-fusion twist. A cosy cafe, Glider KS brings great coffee, delicious cold-pressed juices and up-a-notch traditional recipes to this restaurant strip. With menu categories that get to the point – quick, simple, good – there’s something to suit every palate, schedule and budget. Sink your teeth into the cheese melt with gruyere and truffle oil on sourdough. Or say “yes, please” to the brekkie noodles, fluffy Glider Thai omelette or croissant eggs benedict.
– recommended by Pusanisa via our online form.
White Rabbit Gallery is home to one of the world’s largest and most celebrated collections of contemporary Chinese art. The gallery showcases artworks from 2000 onwards over 4 floors. The converted brick warehouse was a Rolls Royce service depot in the 1940s and is now a striking architectural space. The collection includes drawings, paintings, sculpture, photography, video art and installations from nearly 500 Chinese artists. Only a portion is on show at any one time, with new exhibitions installed twice a year. The gallery has tours available at 11am and 2pm from Wednesday to Sunday. There’s also a mini cinema, library and gift shop onsite, as well as a tea house serving snacks and teas from China and Taiwan.
Chippendale by night
Recent development has seen this suburb blossom as a lively and delicious after-dark destination. From the laneways to the main drags, there are plenty of spots to wine, dine and discover at night.
– recommended via the #SydneyLocal hashtag
Sneak in to the Sneaky Possum for a night of hanging out with good food, good drinks and good vibes. Big timber booths, throwback arcade games and pinball machines, and murals as bold as the Possum’s cocktail list set the scene. Then the staff sets you up with upmarket pub grub (think share plates, burgers and ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ poke bowls), craft beer and even wine on tap.
“Epic cubano or chicken sanga” – recommended by Lina via our online form
From humble but delicious beginnings as a single food truck, the Nighthawk now has a bricks-and-mortar address (and a fleet of 3 food trucks). Sydney’s answer to the quintessential American roadside diner, the Nighthawk welcomes you with exposed bricks and beams, dark wood and a dark palette brightened by floor-to-ceiling windows and an open kitchen. The menu features American diner classics, including the Philly cheesesteak, the Miami Cuban, the double cheeseburger and, of course, milkshakes. It’s not all about the US of A, however. The Nighthawk also serves Australian-brewed beer and wine alongside cocktails with a Mexican and Cuban flavour.
“Handpicked is such a cool space, and a great spot for catch-ups with friends over a glass of wine – with a side plate of cheese, of course!” – recommended by Kathleen via our online form
Handpicked Cellar Door is a perfect spot to kick off a Kensington Street adventure. A modern warehouse-y space, this urban wine cellar pours a wide variety of varietals from some of the best wine regions around the world. You can simply enjoy a glass or two of wine, try a wine flight or move to the tasting bar for a guided sampling with friendly, knowledgeable staff. You won’t find a full food menu here, but you can match these delightful drops with some pre-dinner charcuterie or a range of decadent cheeses (which Handpicked brings in from Surry Hills cheese shop Formaggi Ocello). Plus, you can purchase the wine to take home or to a local BYO restaurant.
“Grab your pad thai, tom-yum-goong or dim sum and fight for a stool. Love this place sooooo much” – recommended by @emhtc8 via the #SydneyLocal hashtag
Among a string of authentic Asian eateries down a long strip, Spice Alley presents hungry diners with a diversity of cultures and cuisines. Choose – it’s not easy! – from Vietnamese (Viet), Singaporean (Alex Lee Kitchen), Japanese (Kyo-to), Korean, Thai (Bang Luck), Cantonese (Hong Kong Diner) and Malaysian (Old Jim Kee). With colourful lanterns throughout, lively crowds and aromatic fare, you’ll think you’ve made a trip to Asia.
– recommended by Lara via our online form
If you love a degustation menu and fresh, inventive cuisine, Automata will tick your boxes. “We’re one of the only restaurants in Chippendale with a set-menu-only offering,” says Automata head chef Clayton Wells. “We offer a 5 or 7-course menu.” The set menus at this industrial-chic fine-dining restaurant in the Old Clare Hotel change frequently, so there’s always a reason to come back! Beverage pairings are equally creative on’t expect a run-of-the-mill wine-matching experience here.
“Koi has a new menu and dare I say they’ve stepped it up another level” – recommended by @itd_be_rude_not_to via the #SydneyLocal hashtag
It may be a challenge on Kensington Street, but be sure to leave room for dessert. Koi Dessert Bar, a 2-storey neighbour to Spice Alley, plates up some of the prettiest desserts you’ve ever seen. Enjoy the patisserie on the ground level, or make your way upstairs to the lounge and bar area (Koi is also an Indonesian-inspired restaurant and bar). Koi’s Red Velvet – red velvet sponge, raspberry éclair, strawberry jelly, lychee and berry consommé – is a fan favourite. Chocoholic? You can’t go past the Nomtella: dark-chocolate brownie, coffee mousse, salted-caramel ganache and hazelnuts. And if you really want to indulge your sweet tooth (or all of them), go all-in for the Just Desserts degustation – a set-price menu featuring four decadent delights.
“Get yourself to Gin Lane for some amazing-tasting gin!” – recommended by @socialsydneyguy via the #SydneyLocal hashtag
If cocktails are on the cards, GL is the place. his small gin joint shakes and stirs up innovative and beautifully presented cocktails in a warm, intimate space. There are roughly 80 gins on the menu – from Australia, England, the US and beyond. To keep things ever-interesting, the cocktails change regularly, but you’ll always find something,from the classics to creative concoctions to quench your thirst. Try a specialty G&T, or grab a friend or two for a gin potion. And if gin’s not your thing, there are other spirits on hand, too, as well as alcohol-free options and a short-but-sweet beer, cider and wine list.
– recommended by Lara via our online form
Whether you’re just visiting or looking for a unique Sydney staycation, check in to the historic Old Clare Hotel. Much more than a corner pub, this stylish boutique hotel features a rooftop pool, 2 restaurants, and yes, a classic pub. As if that’s not enough, you also have the culinary playground of Kensington Street just outside your door. There are 62 rooms with interiors in 7 different styles. The room designs blend contemporary chic with high-ceilings, wood panelling and other heritage flourishes that reflect the building’s historic roots. It’s the perfect base from which to immerse yourself in Chippendale and explore greater Sydney.
“My favourite place in Sydney” – recommended by @julicvitanich via the #SydneyLocal hashtag
Stop by Anita’s for a decadent cup, cone or Take-Anita-Home box of artisan gelato goodness. Here, staffers churn more than 250 litres of Italian-style ice-cream and yoghurt every day. The menu features a rich selection of cool, creamy flavours. Among the favourites? Watermelon and mint, kiwi and banana, limoncello, chocolate, caramel and almonds and the Cookieman, a decadent combo of chocolate, hazelnuts, biscuit pieces and meringue. Vegans will find a handful of tasty options, too.
– recommended via the #SydneyLocal hashtag
If you like a bar with a beat, you can’t beat Freda’s. This watering hole slash creative playground plays host to up-and-coming artists, DJs and musicians. There’s always something different happening here. In a given week, you might listen to jazz, pop, R&B, disco or party tunes one night and enjoy a theme night (think Janet Jackson or Madonna tributes) the next. There’s a well-rounded drinks menu, and food on hand from The Cheesy Grin. Grab a signature toastie, a charcuterie plate or a pasta dish. Plus, the warehouse setting is comfortable yet harks back to Chippendale’s industrial roots.
– recommended by Kasey via our online form
“Some of our customers say that we have lovely intimate theatre spaces, with comfortable seats, good access and cheap parking. Others say we create a welcoming atmosphere and provide fantastic entertainment. – Carolyn White, marketing and education coordinator for the Seymour Centre.
In between wining and dining, catch a compelling performance at the Sydney’s renowned Seymour Centre. This multi-venue performing-arts hub on the University of Sydney campus presents an eclectic range of festivals, comedies and dramas, children’s theatre, musical and dance performances, spoken-word events and an educational program. These creative shows and events not only showcase impressive work from both local and international artists, but also get you thinking.