In partnership with City of Sydney, we’re celebrating what makes Darlinghurst such a vibrant community to live in and visit: its local businesses. It’s been a tough year, and these bars, restaurants, shops and cultural spaces need your patronage more than ever. It’s time to hit the streets, spend consciously, and throw your support behind these local gems.
Did you know
The tall stone wall on Darlinghurst Road near Green Park, which hides the Darlinghurst Courthouse and National Art School, is the original eastern wall of the old Darlinghurst Gaol. If you get up close enough, you can still see the markings that the prisoners scratched into the sandstone.
Image: National Art School
There are plenty of buses from Town Hall or Central Station — or you could hop on the T4 train to Kings Cross and enjoy a leisurely stroll down to the cafes, restaurants and pubs. Darlinghurst is a walker’s dream — with stunning architecture, parks and people-watching opportunities to encounter.
Image: Kings Cross
Start your day with a coffee and a Blessed Morning Bowl at Fable Coffee, then slowly meander up and down Darlo’s captivating streets, exploring all the glorious shopping from local sites like Blue Spinach and The Bookshop. Once you’ve worked up a hunger, grab some delicious pastries from Infinity Bakery and have a picnic in historic Green Park.
Image: Infinity Bakery
Start with a leisurely (and boozy, if you like) brunch at Son of Frank, then head towards Oxford Street to experience the local products on offer at the markets in Taylor Square. Pop your head into Pearsons School of Floristry to gaze in wonder at the breathtaking artistry, then wander to East Village Hotel and enjoy a well-earned craft beer or wine on the leafy rooftop.
Image: Sydney Sustainable Markets
HOW TO DO DARLINGHURST
Do as the locals do.
Darlo is peppered with hole-in-the-wall cafes — you'll find tasty French pastries at one, experimental Japanese sandos at another and top-notch coffee at all.
- SANDOITCHI CAFE: Single O coffee and untraditional, tasty katsu sandos in Darlinghurst.
- INFINITY BAKERY DARLINGHURST: A pioneer of Sydney's organic sourdough scene, Infinity's still hard to beat.
- FABLE COFFEE: A charming local favourite with a determined focus on locally sourced produce.
- SON OF FRANK: This experimental Italian cafe's bottomless brunch can't be beat.
- SOUTH DOWLING SANDWICHES: Where locals can lunch every day and never get bored (or go broke).
Image: South Dowling Sandwiches
Next-level-spicy chicken wings, hummus bowls and epic Indian banquets — lunch around here is both crazy affordable and incredibly diverse.
- BRICK LANE: Contemporary Indian fare and some of the best meal deals you'll find in Sydney.
- SIMPLY HUMMUS BAR: A hole-in-the-wall serving up Israeli hummus in Darlinghurst.
- BAR REGGIO: This long-running Italian restaurant has all the right ingredients for your next group get-togethers.
- THE MAYFLOWER: This millennial pink Darlinghurst cafe takes your regular brunch up a notch with caviar and truffle.
- WINGS AND TINS: Buffalo wings and cans reign supreme at this Darlinghurst bar.
Image: Bar Reggio
Darlo is abuzz with specialty stores. Here, you'll find everything from secondhand designer fashion to passionately crafted homewares.
- BLUE SPINACH: Ever wondered what that big ol' blue building is on Liverpool Street?
- THE RECORD STORE: Find a truly awe-inspiring collection of vinyl at this Crown Street spot.
- GELATO MESSINA: The OG store that spawned a nationwide gelateria empire.
- ZINK & SONS TAILORS & SHIRTMAKERS SYDNEY: Visit this Oxford Street stalwart for bespoke tailoring.
- SPUNKY BRUISER SHOP: Bespoke, up-cycled fashions created with materials that have all been sustainably sourced.
Image: Blue Spinach
Arts and culture
See some of the area's creative side and discover works from both established and emerging artists. Here's where to start.
- THE ARTERY ABORIGINAL ART: Browse contemporary Indigenous art.
- AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY: One of Australia's longest-running organisations devoted to photography.
- SYDNEY JEWISH MUSEUM: Explore exhibitions related to Jewish history and customs, the Holocaust and human rights issues.
- AUSTRALIAN DESIGN CENTRE: A contemporary art and design space supporting local artists via exhibitions, workshops and a store.
- NATIONAL ART SCHOOL GALLERY: Set within the old Darlinghurst gaol, this free gallery displays works from established artists and students.
Image: Sydney Jewish Museum
Finding ways to spend your downtime in Darlo isn't hard — you can pick up a new skill, new look or new furry friend.
- GREEN PARK: A spot of inner city nature rich with history.
- PEARSONS SCHOOL OF FLORISTRY: A bloomin' lovely spot selling stunning floral arrangements — and teaching you to make your own.
- SYDNEY SUSTAINABLE MARKETS: A simple community market to combat the urban jungle of Sydney's inner city.
- OLD SPORT BARBER: This charming barbershop is all about the finest fades and the friendliest service.
- CORK AND CANVAS DARLINGHURST: Bring your own liquid inspiration to this sip and paint studio.
Image: Pearsons Schools of Floristry
Can't visit the area soon enough? Get gems from these Darlo-based businesses sent straight to you instead.
- THE BOOKSHOP DARLINGHURST: Head here for all things queer literature.
- DESORDRE: High fashion in a low-maintenance, luxury boutique store
- MELTDOWN ARTISAN: Darlinghurst's new artisanal chocolate shop specialises in unexpected flavour combinations.
- FOOTAGE: An immaculate boutique that's been delighting the visual senses of locals for more than a decade.
- PAM STORE SYDNEY: The second outpost of the Melbourne favourite, set in an ex-art gallery.
Image: Meltdown Artisan
Here is how our editor loves to spend a few hours in Darlinghurst.
- Sandoitchi: This hole-in-the-wall on Oxford Street doesn't look like much from the outside. But venture inside and you'll find Single O batch filter and this very tasty katsu sando.
- Lankan Filling Station: O Tama Carey's haven of Sri Lankan cuisine was highly anticipated — and for good reason. Visit for the hoppers, sambol dips and spice bomb curries, and stay for the creamy watalappan custard.
- Pearsons Floristry School: Whether you're forging a new career or just doing it for fun, this family-run floristry business is the place to learn the art of creating bloomin' lovely floral arrangements.
- Meltdown Artisan: When we say this sweet little Kings Lane spot specialises in experimental chocolate flavours, we really mean it. Take your pick from chilli pineapple, saffron barberry or wakame sake sea salt. You can also get custom bonbons with your (or your pups) face on them, which is a winning gift idea.
Did you know
In the 70s and 80s, the very same tall sandstone wall of the old Darlinghurst Gaol, along with Green Park on the other side of the road, became one the hottest gay beats in Sydney. To this day, they are both heralded as iconic LGBTQIA+ Sydney landmarks.
There are plenty of buses from Town Hall or Central Station — or you could hop on the T4 train to Kings Cross and enjoy a leisurely stroll down to the cafes, restaurants and pubs. Darlinghurst is a walker’s dream — with stunning architecture, parks and people-watching opportunities to encounter. Take note, most trains stop running from Central around midnight or 1am.
Image: William Street, Hamish Weir - Unsplash
Local gem Chaco Bar serves up some of Sydney’s best ramen, while cheese wheel gurus Buffalo Dining Club will see your stomach beyond contented. Afterwards, enjoy expertly made whisky cocktails at Shady Pines or some extraordinarily unique vino at Love, Tilly Devine. Or if you’re looking for a slightly louder night, exuberant live music venues like Brighton Up Bar or Oxford Art Factory will be your havens.
Image: Buffalo Dinning Club
HOW TO DO DARLINGHURST
Do as the locals do.
Restaurants and pubs
You'll find many an institution in this area from no-frills, family-run joints to revived local favourites.
- CASONI: Fresh pasta plus Aperol spritzes and negronis on tap equal Casoni's formula for a good night.
- BUFFALO DINING CLUB: There is one very compelling reason to visit this cosy joint: spaghetti in a giant cheese wheel.
- GOVINDAS CINEMA AND RESTAURANT: This spot turns the 'dinner and a movie' trope into a very affordable package deal.
- LANKAN FILLING STATION: O Tama Carey's Sri Lankan hopper eatery.
- GAKU ROBATA GRILL: A ramen joint by day, an innovative izakaya by night.
Killer happy hour specials, experimental cocktails and extravagant fit-outs — a night here is quite the experience.
- BLACK BOTTLE: A neighbourhood bar with a food cabinet of bar snacks and a very reasonably-priced wine list.
- GORGEOUS GEORGE BAR: This extravagant bar is named after a famously OTT 1950s wrestler.
- EAU DE VIE: This cocktail bar is about as close as you can get to the guilty pleasures of 'Boardwalk Empire'.
- BIG POPPA'S: A late-night cheese, wine and hip hop bar.
- BITTER PHEW: Craft beer bar upstairs, natural wine bar downstairs.
Image: Eau de Vie
From legendary gay bars to a venue inspired by Warhol's Factory, these are the spots to catch a show (or three).
- STONEWALL HOTEL: Party till the wee hours in this legendary three-storey bar.
- UNIVERSAL SYDNEY: Darlinghurst's legendary gay bar Midnight Shift has been resurrected.
- OXFORD ART FACTORY: Inspired by Warhol’s Factory in New York, this music venue caters to top international and local talent.
- BRIGHTON UP BAR: One of Sydney's most adored live music venues.
- THE LONG GOODBYE: Darlinghurst's film noir-inspired cocktail bar.
Image: Stonewall Hotel
These spots stay open late so you can continue the search for that rare film, album or book.
- ARIEL BOOKSELLERS: Visit one of Sydney's oldest booksellers right in the thick of it on Oxford Street.
- FILM CLUB: Yep, a DVD rental store in the era of streaming — and local film buffs love it.
- STONE HEART: A professional body art studio just a stone's throw from Hyde Park.
- KAKAWA CHOCOLATES: The pinnacle of chocolate in Sydney, Kakawa always has something new and glossy in store.
- FABRIQUE VINTAGE: Head here for second-life denim and Americana.
Image: Film Club
Darlo's watering holes offer stellar rooftops, experimental menus and late night shenanigans.
- EAST VILLAGE HOTEL: The three-tiered Darlinghurst pub gets a new life with an upstairs sports bar and rooftop terrace.
- THE OXFORD HOTEL: From mellow solo acts and laid-back duos to live bands and DJs.
- SLIMS ROOFTOP: A cactus-filled rooftop bar offering stunning city skyline views and tasty Japanese fare.
- THE TAPHOUSE: A three-level Darlo pub known for its many beers and A-plus Sunday roast.
- THE FLINDERS: Picklebacks all round, the Flindies is back.
Image: East Village Hotel
Concrete Playground Staff Faves
Here are our favourite haunts for when the sun goes down and the streets of Darlinghurst come alive.
- LOVE, TILLY DEVINE: One of Sydney's first small bars, this Darlinghurst wine bar never gets old.
- RIVARENO: The Bologna-based gelato chain has landed in Sydney.
- CHACO RAMEN: All ramen, all the time.
- DIMITRI'S PIZZERIA: The beloved inner-city pizza joint has huge new digs on Oxford Street — and the pizza is the best it has ever been.
- SHADY PINES SALOON: The Darlinghurst original that spawned an empire.
Image: Love, Tilly Devine
Here is how our editor loves to spend a few hours in Darlinghurst.
- Love, Tilly Devine: Tucked away in a Darlo alleyway, and named after an obscure 1930s madam, this small bar oozes charm. Go here for rare wine and untraditional (and very tasty) bar snacks.
- Bar Reggio: This long-running Italian restaurant is a local favourite for a few reasons: generous servings, low prices, cheap corkage and a rowdy atmosphere that's perfect for your next group get-together.
- Oxford Art Factory: You haven't done a night out on Oxford Street if you haven't caught a show at OAF. And don't forget to hit Mr Crackles afterwards for a classic post-gig feed.
- Film Club: It's gotta take something really special for a DVD rental store to be successful today. The key to success? Specialising in rare, hard-to-find titles (and, yes, probably a hint of nostalgia).
Image: Oxford Art Factory
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All details are accurate as of 01 May 2021. Information may change. Check businesses websites for the most up-to-date information.