10 Weird and Quirky Cafes in Sydney, Australia

The Grounds of Alexandria interior
The Grounds of Alexandria interior | © The Grounds
Photo of Tom Smith
28 May 2018

Fancy your morning cuppa with a dash of personality? Then pop into one of these quirky cafes. From comic books and contemporary art to decommissioned incinerators and vegan delis, grab a coffee at these weird and wonderful brunch spots around Sydney.

The Grounds of Alexandria

Cafe, Contemporary, $$$
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The Grounds of Alexandria interior © The Grounds
The Grounds of Alexandria interior | © The Grounds
This mega-cafe is a Sydney institution, and its quirkiness is key to its popularity. Occupying a heritage-listed industrial precinct in the inner-city suburb of Alexandria, the Grounds is made up of a huge cafe, restaurant, bar, garden, bakery, patisserie, coffee roastery, markets, florist and even an animal farm, which is home to resident pig Kevin Bacon, pony Turbo, and goats Goldy Horn and Margoat Robbie.

Celsius Coffee Co

Cafe, Contemporary, $$$
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View from Celsius Coffee Co © Courtesy of Celsius
View from Celsius Coffee Co | © Celsius
Plenty of Sydney establishments boast about harbour views, but this cafe truly delivers. Attached to the Kirribilli ferry wharf on the leafy Lower North Shore, Celsius literally floats above Sydney Harbour, making this postage-stamp-sized eatery one of the city’s most unique brunch spots. Squeeze into one of the window seats for uninterrupted vistas of the water to go with your cappuccino and scrambled eggs.

Reformatory Caffeine Lab

Cafe, Contemporary, $$$
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Pour-over coffee at the Reformatory Caffeine Lab © Bex Walton / Flickr
Pour-over coffee at the Reformatory Caffeine Lab | Pour-over coffee at the Reformatory Caffeine Lab
Where do you even begin to describe this weird and wonderful Surry Hills favourite? There’s the ‘mad scientist’ aesthetic, in keeping with the name and the Joker-esque logo. There’s the whole comic book schtick, from the cartoons on the walls right down to the superhero coffee tampers. And most importantly, there’s the mind-boggling array of speciality coffee on offer – the Reformatory brews a huge menu of carefully selected beans, including the signature 16-hour cold drip.

Little Lord

Cafe, Contemporary, $$$
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Little Lord interior © Little Lord
Little Lord interior | © Little Lord
Having brunch at this Camperdown cafe feels a bit like popping over for tea at your grandma’s house, if her interior designer was Wes Anderson. With pastel pink walls and retro 1950s furniture as the backdrop, Little Lord has embraced a meat-free food menu in 2018, displaying its ever-changing selection of dishes on chalkboards at the counter. Oh, and the service is always as friendly as your grandma’s, too.

Suzie Q Coffee & Records

Cafe, Contemporary, $$$
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Suzie Q Coffee & Records | Courtesy of Suzie Q Coffee & Records
This Surry Hills gem takes its rock ‘n’ roll as seriously as its food and coffee, dishing up vintage tunes alongside brunch on Hutchinson St. Suzie Q’s menu is big on sustainability – even the honey is harvested by a friend on Sydney’s Northern Beaches – and the space itself is big on old-school tunes, housing a large-scale photograph of the Woodstock festival as well as a selection of rare and original vinyl records.

The Incinerator

Cafe, Contemporary, $$$
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The Incinerator in Willoughby © Sardaka / Wikimedia Commons
The Incinerator in Willoughby | The Incinerator in Willoughby
This architectural landmark was designed by famed Australian architect Walter Burley Griffin in the 1930s before being decommissioned in 1967, then revived as a cafe only four years ago. These days, tables in the shadow of the venue’s distinctive peaked roof are hot property among North Shore locals – the Incinerator plates up a lengthy menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner options.

Shift Eatery

Restaurant, Vegan, $$$
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Shift Eatery | Courtesy of Shift Eatery
Think a deli needs meat products? Think again. Shift Eatery is Sydney’s first vegan deli, aiming to change minds about plant-powered food one plate at a time. Shift serves a huge range of meat-free products – sandwiches, health bowls, vegan meats, cheeses, ice cream, chocolates, the list goes on – complemented by an impressive speciality drinks menu, including coffee from Marvell Street and tea from Tea Craft.

Daisy's Milkbar

Cafe, Contemporary, $$$
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Sundae at Daisy’s Milkbar © Daisy’s Milkbar
Sundae at Daisy’s Milkbar | © Daisy’s Milkbar
You can’t miss this bright blue facade on Stanmore Road in Petersham, which sticks out like a time capsule that’s frozen some slice of a bygone era. Pop into one of the colourful wooden booths for a liberal dose of nostalgia – there’s ice cream spiders on the menu and retro merchandise on sale – but the food menu is distinctly modern (smashed avo, anyone?). Since March 2018, Daisy’s is also open nights for after-dark feeds, too.


Cat and Dog Cafe, Contemporary, $$$
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Cat in the window of a cat cafe © Sai Mr / Flickr
Cat in the window of a cat cafe | Cat in the window of a cat cafe
Sydney’s original cat cafe doesn’t just give visitors the opportunity to make some new feline friends – Catmosphere partners with two rescue groups to not only care for displaced cats, but also find them a new home. This Surry Hills establishment offers a series of different experiences – kittens, movies, and even yoga – as well as coffee, of course, in 30-minute or one-hour stays.

White Rabbit Teahouse

Tea Room, Chinese, Tea , $$$
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White Rabbit Tea House © White Rabbit
White Rabbit Tea House | © White Rabbit Tea House
Trendy Chippendale isn’t short on quirky venues, but none have the mojo of White Rabbit. The contemporary Chinese art gallery sets the scene for this stylish eatery on the ground floor, which serves an avant-garde food menu – don’t skip the handmade dumplings – as well as a seasonal rotation of teas imported from China and Taiwan. The teahouse is open every day the gallery is (Wednesday to Sunday).

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