Hidden Gems in the Heart of Sydney
Sometimes what we’re looking for is right above our heads, or maybe below our feet, or even right in front of us. Sometimes we don’t even know we were looking for something until we find it.
But rest assured, these 12 hidden bars will turn Sydney into a whole new world for you! Whether Sydney’s been a long time home to you or you’ve just landed in this beautiful city, these 12 locations will welcome you with open (but well hidden) doors!
Buried Treasure – Basement Bars
Source: Urban Walkabout
Grandma, what a large drink collection you have! All the better to spice up your night with. Just like in Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma’s place is tucked away deep in the concrete woods of Sydney’s city and once you find the secluded doorway that leads to the stairway to Grandma’s, you’re in for a surprise! Not the kind where you get eaten by a Big Bad Wolf though, the kind where you realise you’ve walked into the Disneyland of drinking.
Check out some of Grandma’s best work like the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, Earl Gray MarTEAni, and Cold Tripin’. If cocktails aren’t your thing, don’t worry because Nana’s got a whole range of beers, ciders, and wines for you too. It’s tiny and crowded but it’s home so whether it’s for a pre-dinner drink, casual bar night or a solo visit to your favourite relative, you’re always welcome at Grandma’s Bar. Nana knows you’re all grown up now so go on, groove it up at Grandma’s!
Address: Basement 275 Clarence Street , Sydney NSW 2000
2. Baxter Inn
Source: Publocation Australia
If your heart’s a lock and you’re looking for the key, you just may find it under the city. Yes, I’m talking about the key that’ll loosen the heart and unlock love, whiskey. And Baxter has a lot if it. Taking mixology to a whole new level, give their Whisky Sour, Old Cuban Cocktail, or Scotch with fresh green apple juice a try. Who knew love could taste like this?
This hidden gem may not be as much of a secret anymore, but the minute you walk in you’ll suddenly feel like you’re in the know. As though everyone outside is missing out on the mesmerising moody lights, welcoming wooden furniture, and tempted by the tempting talented bartenders. It’s true though; if you’re not Inn then you’re out. But if you’re out, you’re always welcomed in.
With complimentary pretzels, late night chatter and energetic buzz all through the air to your veins, this basement is one of Sydney’s first and favourite underground bars. It’s cool, it’s in, it’s the Baxter Inn.
Address: Basement 152 – 156 Clarence Street, Sydney NSW 2000
3. Rabbit Hole Bar and Dining
Source: Rabbit Hole Bar
You’re late, you’re late for a very important date! The descent into this Wonderland might not be as exciting as Alice’s but with the Rabbit Hole’s eccentric cocktails, quirky décor, and enough space for more than one, you definitely got the better deal! Once settled, why not help yourself to a drink and a bite? Alice sure did.
For drinks, you might want to try some of the local wanderers’ favourites like The White Cloud Above Mt Gay, You’ve Gone Nuts, and Doug Laming’s Margarita. For food, some venturers have vouched by the Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder, Chicken Burger, and the Pork Belly. Even though the drinks aren’t labelled DRINK ME, nor the dishes tagged EAT ME, their colourful and artistic presentation will get you diving right in with much happier consequences than Alice’s! You’d be mad to miss this Elizabeth Street gem, and not the kind the best people usually are, so whether you run or hop just follow the rabbit, you won’t regret it, to and down the Rabbit Hole!
Address: Basement 82 Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW 2000
4. Assembly Bar
Source: Handpicked Wines Australia
Justice League, assemble! That’s not just a phrase to round up the DC heroes, it’s also a little hint to one of Sydney’s top basement bars: Assembly Bar. We’re not kidding; this out of sight bar is so great for a well-deserved bite and drink after a long day of fighting crime (or paper work). Why do you think it’s so well disguised? For heroes to come and go without much notice.
Whether you like to wind down with a classic combo of wine and cheese platter or a dynamic pub duo of beer and burger, Assembly Bar’s got it all ready for you. Some frequent flyers’ favourites include the Mushroom Magic burger, Smoked Trout Salad, Assembly Fries and the Lamb Meatball Slider. For drinks, give their extensive beer and wines menu a look over, or if you’re more into cocktails, some well-ordered ones include the Breaking Bad, Picasso Baby, and Zombie Dead Man’s Punch 1 & 2.
With the safe and hearty hero-headquarters feeling set by the wooden furniture and the excitable chatter of company from all walks of the city, Assembly Bar will do all of your bar expectations to justice!
Address: 488 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000
5. Uncle Ming’s
Source: Uncle Ming’s – Facebook
We all have a favourite relative and if yours isn’t Grandma, you might want to head over to Uncle Ming’s. This hidden nook is the secret go-to place for an eccentric night with friends. It’s got the chill vibe with an electric buzz, the intimate touch with a friendly tone; you know, the float like a butterfly, sting like a bee feel. You’ll get what we mean when you give their cocktail menu a look, where each of Uncle Ming’s mixes is accompanied by words of wisdom.
For a more in-depth idea of what this orient-themed bar is about, you might want to try some of Sydney Siders’ favourites like the Bruce Lee, An English Affair, and the Koh Phangan Colada. Because Uncle Ming is that one hip relative everybody wants to hang out with, it does get really crowded, especially on Friday nights. So whether it’s been a long day of Kung Fu training (or office work) or a meditation drill with the sensei (or a day off), you may want to head there early. Go on, don’t miss out because everybody was Kung Fu fighting and now they’re drinking at Uncle Ming’s!
Address: 55 York Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Hidden In Plain Sight – Street Level
6. Absinthe Salon
Source: Absinthe Salon – Facebook
For an adventure different to small bars and the local pub feel, give The Absinthe Salon visit and they’ll treat you to a unique and lucid experience. On tables you’ll see a fountain with four taps filled with ice-cold water. Your waiter or waitress will then pour your absinthe into a glass; place a stick across the rim and a sugar cube on top. Now just watch the magic happen as the water drips out of the fountain onto the ice cube and into the absinthe. As the mystery unfolds and your anticipation thickens, take in the enticingly gothic yet attractively Burlesque décor.
Regardless of whether you’re new to absinthe or you’re a long time enthusiast, the moody lighting and the limited space create a deep-seated atmosphere great for friends and meeting Absintheurs alike! With their “minimum one drink, maximum three” policy, you’ll be in safe and knowledgeable hands at this hidden haven. Just relax; let the mystic swirl in your glass and the red-haired diva in green seduce you into this intimate and special experience, the Absinthe Salon will take care of the rest.
Address: 87 Albion Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
7. Love, Tilly Devine
Source: Love, Tilly Devine
Whether you love, heard or have no clue who Tilly Devine is, this café-looking bar restaurant is a magical find in the midst of Darlinghurst. Adopting the philosophy to drink well rather than get drunk, this hidden bar can create a personal bond with whomever you come with – a friend, a lover, or even with yourself.
Don’t worry about things getting too heavy, their wine list compromised of around 300 different wines is well equipped to keep things just as hearty, keeping the juices, the stories and the love flowing. You can also enjoy a few nibbles to add onto the relaxing tenderness you’ll feel at Love, Tilly Devine. The same way this hidden bar recognises Tilly Devine’s past but also salutes who she was beneath it all, the stories that we may never know about her, and the Sydney that was home to her and still is to us; this safe-place acknowledges that we all have a story within us and it’s okay to share it.
With a little bit of wine, a little bit of cheer and the emphasis on the love, Love, Tilly Devine is that cosy oasis we can always rely on in the busy city that is Sydney.
Address: 91 Crown Lane, Darlinghurst NSW 2011
Burgers and beers, chicken and cocktails: Mary’s got it all. Where else in Sydney, no, where else in the world can you get a cocktail with a slice of grilled cheese and bacon? Where else do they have sauces and condiments in mini Jack Daniel’s bottles? This two-story tavern is warm, radiant and filled with friends, couples, and tight knit families.
It’s also said that Mary’s burgers are the best in Sydney; try their frequently ordered ones like the Mushroom Burger, Cheese Burger, and Mary’s Burger, and you can be the judge. Their fried chicken crisped to perfection is also well word a try – especially with their Mashed potato and gravy sauce! It’s like Christmas in a basket!
With all the food, let’s not forget the drinks! Mary’s stocked up on a range of beers as well as a bit of wine. They’ve also got cocktails like Malibu Daiquiri and Bloody Mary with Bacon and Cheese for you to try. Casual chatter in the air and a mouth-watering meal on the table, it’s time for a play date at Mary’s!
Address: 6 Mary Street, Newtown NSW 2042
9. Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern
Tattoos, booze and mantastic moustaches: if any of those things speak to you, Ramblin Rascal Tavern is the place for you. Following their motto, “Drink like champions”, you’re bound to have a wild night as the bartenders covered in artwork of ink and well groomed facial hair prove their own artistic mixology skills.
Check out their colourful cocktail list and their Australian wine and beer selections. Try a few of their cocktails like the Vieux Carre, The Harvard, and Ramblin’ Billionaire, and you won’t stop rambling about how great they are. For food you can get Mary’s burgers (again, said to be Sydney’s best!) from their CBD chain brought to you right here to this rustic coven. It’s spacious and rowdy, ready for the big beers, bigger banter and the biggest night ahead.
Everyone’s here for some good fun, whether it’s to wind down from work, a night out with the mates, or cheeky ladies night. You’ll feel that homey familiarity the moment you walk in, making you question whether you’ve been here before even if you never have. There’s a reason why those in the know ramble on about it, don’t miss the hype, Ramblin’ Rascals Tavern awaits!
Address: Basement, 60 Park Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Worth The Climb – Rooftop Bars
From the outside it’s just a door but those who have ventured in know it’s the doorway to haven. We say haven because this easy-to-miss Oxford Street gem can get little wilder than heaven. You’ll feel the thrilling anticipation for a great night ahead in the air, lit up by their luminescent bulbs, fairy lights and skeleton décor. You know you’re in for a good one when the bartenders can spin a track just as well as pour a drink. That’s right; at Ching-a-lings the bartenders are also the DJ’s.
From wine tumblers, beer taps and mixers, to latest hits, song requests and personal tracks, they’ve got it covered. With two indoor seating areas, many who spot the door forget to check out the best feature of this bar, the outdoor rooftop. It’s the ideal place to start off a night full of adventures worth remembering but with no guarantees that you will.
Address: 1/133 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Source: Concrete Playground
There is light at the end of the tunnel and drinks at the end of the Corridor. Well, technically at the front because the first you see when you walk into this small Newtown. But grab a cocktail or two and keep walking towards an evening mixed with drinks, live music and rooftop vibes. At this down to Earth bar, you can surround yourself with their quirky indoor art décors that adds a bit of eccentricity to your friendly chats, or have the Newtown sky and sounds for a little bit of air to your cherished companies.
When checking out this trendy establishment, why not give some of Newtown’s favourites like the Dark and Stormy, East 8 Hold Up, Tommy’s Margarita, and The Casino a try? To go along with their chic concoction of live bands, cocktails, and atmosphere, give their nibbles a try too! The runaway isn’t the only thing to walk down on, give the Corridor a try and watch a dreamy evening unfold!
Address: 153A King Street, Newtown NSW 2042
12. The Rook
Source: The Rook Sydney – Facebook
The Rook, The Rook, The Rook is on fire! Rightfully claiming lobsters, burgers and liquor as their specialities, you’re bound to have a warm, enjoyable time at this rooftop bar. In the candle and sun-lit venue filled with wooden furniture and the cabin like atmosphere that soothingly contrasts the vintage chandeliers, you can have an intimate conversation with a loved one, a catch up session with a friend or a light hearted meal with the family.
Regardless of who you’re with, you might want to try out a few customer favourites like the Pesto Chicken Burger, Lobster Fettucine, or the Lobster & Bacon Roll. If you’re a large group, you may want to check out the Lobster Banquet. For drinks, The Rook offers a remarkable list of wines, champagne, beer, cider and cocktails. Some cocktails unique to this up and coming bar is the Pineapple Express, Down the Rabbit Hole, Pride of Skye, and Amores de mi Vida. It’s a rookie mistake to miss this place so whether you’re a long time Sydney Sider or new to the city, head on out to The Rook!
Address: Level 7, 56 – 58 York Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Go On! Uncover These Treasures!
Hopefully these 12 bars prove to be an adventurous and well-rewarded treasure hunt! And if there are other hidden bars and eateries that were too well hidden for us to find, let us know in the comments!