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If I was to tell you about a few local favourite haunts in Sydney that will immeasurably improve your next visit to the city, could you keep a secret?
They may be the kinds of places you are unlikely to find in your newest travel guide, but would like to slip in between its pages in a discreet way, a sneaky grin on your face. And that they’re all within close proximity to the CBD is all the more reason to explore some of the more unique gems the city has to offer.
From food trucks to sustainable burgers: eat like a local
Sydney is a truly multicultural city, and this is reflected in the diverse range of foodie options. There has been a recent explosion in American diner food, Mexican, and world street food that has seen the introduction of food trucks stationed all around the city. But it was exciting to see the brand new Bang Street Food slip into Surry Hills under the radar, introducing modern Bangladeshi cuisine to the mix.
While on one of my favourite topics of food, many know Neil Perry’s iconic Rockpool restaurants, but fewer have cottoned on to his new venture in World Square called Burger Project. With sustainable, grain fed beef and house made sodas and ice cream, word is sure to spread soon. Take the opportunity while you’re there to indulge in some shopping, as World Square is a hub of eclectic retail activity as well.
Warm winter days make for outdoor adventures
If an outdoor adventure is what you seek, you’re in luck, as Sydney’s weather is notoriously sublime, even in winter. Blue sky days and cooler nights are the norm here, so why not head out amongst the many parks and beaches to enjoy the mild weather. Perhaps pack a picnic and head to the secluded Parsley Bay in Vaucluse, which links up with a stunning coastal walk through the east that has postcard views back over the city. Or jump on a kayaking tour and paddle around the Manly coastline or even under Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The ferry network also links Circular Quay in the heart of town to a whole range of interesting outdoor locations, including historical Cockatoo Island, where you can delve into Sydney’s convict and maritime past and even enjoy a drink at the island bar or stay in the world’s first urban waterfront campground. The ferry can also connect you to Kirribilli just to the other side of the bridge, which holds markets, including fashion, design and art markets at the Burton Street Tunnel and Bradfield Park on alternating weekend days throughout the month.
Speaking of markets, one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets is the Eveleigh Farmer’s Markets at Carriageworks. Every Saturday between 8am-1pm, an undercover space in the heritage Eveleigh rail yards transforms into a bustling growers market. Bursting with fresh produce, flowers and gourmet treats like chutneys and jams, the Eveleigh markets is also an ideal place for a bite to eat – with even local foodie legend Kylie Kwong often steaming up some delicious Chinese fare at the Billy Kwong stand.
A neighbourhood night to remember
An inner city neighbourhood that locals are all over – but has managed to stay under the radar to visitors – is Enmore. This formerly grungy neighbourhood has lifted its game tenfold in the past few years, with hip restaurants like Hartsyard and Emma’s Snack Bar emerging as local favourites alongside excellent entertainment options like those on offer at the legendary Enmore Theatre.
And with the opening of a dedicated cheese bar called The Stinking Bishops and a speakeasy bar hidden in the old Betta Meats Butchery on King Street (named Earl’s Juke Joint, but with no such sign out front), there is plenty to discover on a night out.
And I couldn’t send you to Enmore without reminding you that Sydney’s Cow & The Moon recently won the world’s best gelato – so no secret there. But remember to indulge in a couple of flavours before you leave.
Even as a local, there’s an endless array of activities waiting to be discovered around town. So whether you’re after a foodie or shopping break, or to experience a getaway taking in the harbour and coastline, it’s no secret that Sydney makes for a spectacularly diverse winter escape.