Pubs, clubs, restaurants and bars are embedded in Sydney’s cultural fabric. And there are some incredible venues out there. Yes, it’s undeniable, Sydney’s nightlife has taken a flogging after the consequences of the lockout laws. But if you take a closer look, into the hidden gems, the places tucked away quietly into the alleys and the underground, it’s still gosh darn awesome.
We’re talking about the smaller bars here. What’s incredible is how such little spaces can pack such an ambient punch. Who doesn’t love a snack and a tipple in a venue alive with atmospheric awesomeness, tasty snacks and good booze?
If you’re excited to visit some of the best small bars in Sydney, here are my personal recommendations.
1. The Stuffed Beaver, Bondi
Instagram: @thestuffedbeaverbondi / Image via instagram.com
Love a Bloody Mary? You’ll love the Stuffed Beaver. If you’re not one to move from the bed or couch when you’re drank a little too much the night before, you’ll need to make an exception for the Beaver. Even if you’re at your worst.
Their Canadian version of the classic Bloody Mary is bloody delicious. The Beaver guys call it a Bloody Caesar. It’s made with Chilli Vodka, briny Clamato Juice, peppery pickles and celery.
If you’re lucky, get a perch on the outdoor seats and get served snacks and tipples from the window. Otherwise, the booths inside are comfy and moody.
Sometimes, the staff here like to tempt you with shots of fireball whisky. If you’re going to go down that road, make sure you line your stomach with some snacks… Don’t even try and resist ordering the chicken wings. Or the deep-fried pickles (frickles), or the John Candy Burger for that matter.
Resistance is futile and also dumb. Because there’s no point denying your taste buds that deliciousness.
2. Goros, Surry Hills
Instagram: @gorosmaryst / Image via instagram.com
I don’t know about you, but sake, sushi and Asian cocktails are always welcome in my belly. Not to mention, if you love Sapporo and Asahi (why wouldn’t you, let’s be honest), you’ll love Goros.
It’s true, the historic Tailors on Central has gone and transformed itself into a jiving Tokyo-themed dive bar, complete with bamboo booths, old school arcade games, a lantern-filled courtyard, and yes, three karaoke rooms complete with dress-up boxes. Wild. If you’re still loitering around in the wee hours, it almost seems rude to not have a belly full of Umeshu and belt out Hotline Bling.
During the week, Goro’s meal specials hit the spot – who doesn’t want to liven up their Monday with $1 gyozas? A fool, probably. At some point, you may start to think you’ve had too much to drink if you see a humongous plush Garfield mooching around. Don’t worry, it’s apparently a real thing.
3. The Baxter Inn, Sydney CBD
Image courtesy of The Baxter Inn
Ranked Number 6 in the World’s Best 50 Bar Awards, The Baxter Inn is a completely obvious and wonderful choice.
If you can’t wrap your head around sipping a whisky, I recommend at the very least getting them to make you a fresh apple juice (with some whisky in it, der). Otherwise, Japanese whisky is sublime.
If you’re new to small bars in Sydney, this gem is hidden down a dank, dark alley on Clarence Street. If you think you’re about to get mugged as you tentatively step down a dodgy lane, you’re probably in the right place. You’ll be thrilled when you go down the stairs and enter a bustling world of glorious 1920’s-inspired vibes, dapper tunes and lively, bearded bartenders with steezy charm.
4. Butter, Surry Hills
Instagram: @buttersydney / Image via instagram.com
You will be forgiven if you bypass this small bar nestled in Hunt Street, believing it to be an upmarket sneaker shop. Because, you won’t be completely wrong.
See the thing is, Butter also sells the best fried chicken in Sydney, complemented by a large Champagne selection. It’s a freaking champagne-chicken-sneaker bar. Bizarre, but oh so damn good. Look up to the ceiling and you’ll see photographs of some saucy young ladies in their underwear, eating chicken in a sensual manner. Okay, sure.
If you get yourself here, order the 3PAC – three succulent pieces of boneless chicken breast with OG on the side, a side of shiitake-seasoned laces (fries) and slaw. If you can’t fit it all in your tum-tum, no problem. Take the rest home in your takeaway shoe box.
Just on a side note, if you want to cry a little bit, get the hot AF sauce with your chicken. Because you’ve got to release those emotions sometimes, so why not now?
5. The Corner House, Bondi
Instagram: @cornerhousebondisydney / Image via instagram.com
And a corner house it is! Once a stop for the historic Bondi tram, the layout of this restaurant feels like your mate’s house on the corner. Befitting. Despite being situated in the Bondi bubble, this underrated gem doesn’t seem to be overrun with hipsters yet.
Enjoy this place for a classy cocktail catch-up with a pal or munching on some wood-fired pizza with a group of pals. It’s a chameleon. The ambiance can be homely, intimate, lively or spirited – choose the vibe which suits your mood.
The upstairs area hits the nail on the head with a funky cocktail bar, knowledgeable bar staff and an imaginative cocktail menu – that’s all you ever really need when you need to quench your thirst, isn’t it? A couple of fun outdoor nooks are the bee’s knees, especially in summer. Try sipping on the Cuban Cigar, Coco Loco, or the strange, but scrumptious cocktail that tastes like a cheeseburger.