Go on a Mission to Find These Hidden Bars in Sydney
Located on quiet side streets, down secret staircases and behind nondescript doorways, lies Sydney’s hidden bar scene. Unbeknownst to many, the city is home to a wealth of secret spots from underground speakeasies to laneway wine bars and dimly lit lounges waiting to be discovered. This is our guide to the best hidden bars in Sydney.
Okay, so this one is more of a restaurant, but all the same, it's not to be missed. Nestled between a 120-year-old church and convent-turned-boutique hotel Crystalbrook Albion, is Tel Aviv-inspired bar and restaurant Shaffa. Step down a neon-lit staircase off Albion street and into a moody restaurant and bar, formerly the home of a 19th-century inn. You’ll discover the feel of a hidden Middle Eastern marketplace with an intimate terrace that sits under a 10-metre high glass roof, a vibrant open kitchen and a cosy dining room with backlit bar.
This hidden gem brings elevated Israeli street food to the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills with a menu of focaccia and Jerusalem zaatar, burnt eggplant labneh, octopus with lima bean hummus and gourmet classics including lamb kofta and baba ganoush and chicken shawarma with tahini. Our cocktail recommondation? The Levantine Sour. You won't want to miss it.
The Rover, located on the corner of Foster and Campbell Street, combines the charms of old and the elegance of a New York cocktail bar. This neighbourhood bar has been recently revamped, transforming from the Wild Rover to the more sophisticated Rover, with exposed brick wall, warm golden lighting and a bar lined with the finest whiskeys in town.
The Surry Hills bar is known for its menu of freshly shucked oysters and signature seasonal cocktails, with an impressive selection of wines, beers and stiff libations. Rover's seafood-driven menu features hot smoked sardines, octopus and salsa verde, Southern-style fried oysters and curried fish finger roll with spicy papadum.
Located on the outskirts of Surry Hills, Soultrap Bar is the ultimate subterranean speakeasy. Established by Christophe Lehoux —co-founder of the Pocket Group, Soultrap combines Lehoux's passions for small bars and millinery. The result is a moody bar filled with warm pendant lamps, bare brick walls and recycled wood hat cabinets, with an air of the golden age.
The underground bar is known for comedy, live music and show-stopping specialty cocktails, featuring an array of Instagrammable drinks, including Meet your Matcha, a creamy matcha green tea cocktail made with gin and edible flowers. The menu also features a selection of wine, beer, gourmet pizzas and delicious grazing boards.
Love, Tilly Devine
Love, Tilly Devine first opened in 2010 and has become as famous as its namesake, Tilly Devine—the legendary 1920s crime boss. The former Best Cellars storehouse was converted into a charming wine bar, hidden down an obscure laneway in the inner-city suburb of Darlinghurst.
This hidden bar boasts a menu of over 300 wines from all corners of the globe with an ever-changing European-inspired menu featuring fresh-from-the-market produce with dishes including chicken liver pâté, Sydney rock oysters, Maremma duck & porcini ragu and a selection of cheese and charcuterie. The small upstairs-downstairs bar is the perfect date night spot with a cosy interior with intimate tables for two and barstools overlooking the laneway.
Moyas Juniper Lounge
Located in hipster haven Redfern, Moya's Juniper Lounge is a celebration of all things gin. The low-lit lounge, with wooden bar, sunken armchairs and hanging pendant lights, creates a cosy spot to sample Moya's range of over 200 gins from around the world. As for cocktails, Moya's leans toward the classics with Gibsons and Gimlets, Summer Spritzes, Espresso Martinis and gin and tonics with finely sliced cucumber, a twist of orange or a fragrant sprig of rosemary.
Moya's also carries an extensive range of whiskies, rums, tequilas, mezcals, brandies and a selection of craft beer and international wines, perfect for an after-work drink or late-night tipple. The food menu is simple yet tasty, with charcuterie and cheese, pickles and locally-baked bread. The bar also doubles as a live music venue, so is the perfect place to sit back and soak up some jazz with a cocktail in hand.
The Bearded Tit
One of Redfern’s best kept secrets, The Bearded Tit is a self-proclaimed part neighbourhood queer bar, part gallery and creative space. The fun loving bar draws in an eclectic crowd with a treasure trove of unique and often risque artworks, old carnival posters and taxidermy on display, complete with spinning disco ball.
The drinks menu features a variety of wines, beers, ciders, seltzers and spirits, an array of classic and not-so-classic cocktails, and winter warmers including mulled wine and hot toddies. As for food, the bar offers a small selection of nostalgic snacks and steamed dim sum with local restaurants also delivering straight to the bar.
Low 302 sits on buzzing Crown Street and serves up breakfast, brunch and all-day lunch, featuring breakfast classics, made-to-order sandwiches, and house-made pies. But as the sun sets, Low 302 transforms into a candlelit restaurant and bar with a variety of cocktails, high-quality spirits, wine and beer.
Low 302 serves up all-night bar snacks, charcuterie and a full dinner menu featuring a selection of international dishes from the Middle East to South-East Asia. This low-key Surry Hills haunt also plays host to live music, karaoke nights, burlesque and cabaret shows, providing the perfect Surry Hills night out.
Top image credit: Shaffa, Photographer: Kitti Gould