Surry Hills is the foodie capital of Sydney, but there’s plenty more to the 2010 postcode than its never-ending supply of cafés and restaurants. Check out the top 10 things to see and do in this stylish inner-city suburb.
Paramount Coffee Project was named the Good Food Guide’s Cafe of the Year in 2017, and it’s obvious why – this super popular Commonwealth St café serves Sydney’s best speciality coffee, as well as a quirky brunch menu with a distinctly Asian flavour. PCP’s sister cafe Reuben Hills, speciality coffee veteran Single O, and the Harbour City’s first vegan deli Shift Eatery are all worth a visit, too.
PCP shares the gorgeous Art Deco Paramount House Building with a newly opened boutique hotel, rooftop recreation club, as well as the Golden Age Cinema and Bar, one of Sydney’s premier arthouse theatres. The cinema itself – a beautiful venue that used to be Paramount Pictures’ screening room – presents a cracking film program of classics, cult favourites and new releases, best enjoyed after a cocktail at Golden Age’s moody cocktail bar.
The Sydney food scene was abuzz with anticipation when uber-successful Melbourne restaurant Chin Chin announced it was opening a Sydney eatery in the revamped Griffiths Tea building in October 2017, and the queues snaking out the door up Commonwealth St suggest the Harbour City’s version is every bit as good as the original. As well as Chin Chin’s mouth-watering South East Asian fare, restaurants such as Nomad, 4Fourteen and Longrain are institutions of the Surry Hills dining scene.
Perhaps Surry Hills’ most famous food institution is an unassuming hole-in-the-wall on Crown St that scoops up Sydney’s best ice cream. Gelato Messina – which has since expanded to a dozen stores around Sydney, plus five in Melbourne and Queensland – earned its reputation in Surry Hills, with long lines of customers waiting to taste the 40 flavours of ice cream on offer. Join the queue to see what all the fuss is about for yourself.
As you’d expect from one of the Harbour City’s hottest hipster hubs, Surry Hills is well populated with tattoo parlours. Authentink – a converted warehouse that specialises in traditional Japanese tattoos – is one of the best, lead by dapper artist Horisumi-Kian Forreal, an ‘irezumi’ master known for working in his suave tailored suits. Little Tokyo is another Surry Hills studio that boasts Ruby Rose and Justin Bieber as former clients.
There’s a clutch of second-hand stores situated at the Oxford St end of Crown St in Surry Hills, and Cream on Crown is perhaps the pick of the bunch, carefully curating a quality collection of pre-loved garments. U-Turn Recycled Fashion, C’s Flashback and Storeroom Vintage are other vintage clothes stores in the area that bargain hunters will love.
The streets of Surry Hills are crammed with great watering holes but Button Bar is one of the most fun – the Foveaux St favourite feels like the inside of a pirate ship with its wooden decor and spiced rum cocktails. The elegant Winery, upmarket Dead Ringer, trendy Irish bar the Wild Rover, Japanese karaoke bar Goros and the old-school pubs of Crown St are all great places for a tipple, too.
The Belvoir St Theatre is one of Sydney’s most important cultural institutions, providing a stage to the city’s cutting-edge actors, playwrights, directors and designers for more than three decades. Owned by a syndicate of 600 people to protect the site from redevelopment, Belvoir prides itself on its innovative productions that regularly tour around Australia and overseas.
Surry Hills is home to many of Sydney’s most exciting contemporary art galleries, such as the sophisticated Michael Reid Sydney, the community-focused TAP Gallery, the lively m2 Gallery and the heritage-listed Badger and Fox. The former home of iconic Aussie artist Brett Whiteley is the most well-known, with the Art Gallery of New South Wales transforming his old workspace into an immersive museum to the man himself.
One of Sydney’s favourite inner-city pools sits right next door to Central Station in Prince Alfred Park, with a modern 50-metre lap pool, a swimming spot designed for families, and plenty of shade to escape the sun. For a modest entrance fee, Prince Alfred Park gives visitors the chance to cool off smack bang in the centre of the city, which always proves popular on those steamy Sydney summer days.