From sticky carpets to free-flowing beers, to the smell of malt and bottom-shelf liquor, there’s something very special that makes a pub legit. It’s for this reason that we wanted to dedicate an article (and our parched throats) to the finest watering holes in and around the City That Sleeps (#lockoutlaws ftw).
No dives, no bars, no clubs, none of that bullshit. Just somewhere to drop in on a whim, should you feel the need to thoroughly wet your whistle.
The Noble Hops, Redfern
Playing host to more obscure breweries than you could throw an artisanal beer at, The Noble Hops is all about exposing its clientele to the finest Australian craft beer, no matter how small the shed it’s been made in.
The Lord Raglan, Alexandria
The Lord Raglan, located just across from Alexandria Park, is all about being as pure a pub as it can be. No pokies, no gawdy smoking areas, just a warm, comfortable setting and a ton of great brews on tap that rotate weekly. Combine this with a suite of pinball machines, an American-inspired menu and weekly trivia, and baby you’ve got a party going.
The Iron Duke, Alexandria
The second great pub that makes the short voyage from Redfern station worth undertaking, the Iron Duke has a weekly roster of featured beers on tap that you can sample, and even preview through their website before you head in. Just another Alexandria staple that confirms this area as Sydney’s craft beer haven.
The Bearded Tit, Redfern
Before you even walk inside The Bearded Tit, it’s easy to see that you’re about to enter one of Sydney’s more unique pubs, in terms of both décor and the local crowds. Food comes ordered from the Chinese takeaway down the street, while the Wednesday open entertainment night is absolutely something to behold. Go in with an open mind, and you won’t be disappointed.
Dove & Olive, Surry Hills
Tucked away in the quieter side of Surry Hills, Dove & Olive became one of the area’s most classy (and popular) watering holes almost overnight when it opened back in 2012. Despite this, they’ve never lost their true pub feel, offering $4 craft beer from 5-7PM, Monday to Saturday.
The Bat & Ball, Surry Hills
A popular haunt for both Sydney Swans & Sydney FC fans, the BnB’s Parkside bar has long been a favoured choice for anyone heading to games at the nearby SFS or SCG. Recently revamped with a new menu and a great function area, they offer an awesome British vibe, darts AND quality grub.
The Paddo Inn, Paddington
The Paddo Inn is no ordinary pub. Taking inspiration from the more upmarket pubs lining London and the Rest of the UK, the pub’s dining room offers delicacies like Sydney Rock Oysters, Chicken Liver Parfait and beef tartare. A far cry from a $10 burger & chips, but worth venturing up Oxford St to experience at least once.
The Local Taphouse, Darlinghurst
The highlight of any trip to the Local Taphouse has to come in the form of their beer tasting paddles, best sampled by going from a lighter pale ale through to a smoky porter or stout. Their slightly upmarket take on pub grub and rooftop views makes everything feel a little more special too, but it never loses that homely pub feel.
The Inner West
The Queen’s Hotel, Enmore
Newtown’s pub scene has all but died, replaced with a sizeable helping of pubs-come-cocktail-bars-come-nightclubs. Just a few minutes’ walk down in enmore though, things have stayed a little more down to earth. A new breed of gastropubs is starting to take hold in the area, first and foremost of which is the Merivale-owned Queens Hotel.
Vic on the Park, Marrickville
Home of what may be one of Sydney’s most beloved beer gardens, the Vic has experienced a huge resurgence of popularity in the last few years. With a great selection of beers and burgers, the main highlight of the Vic comes in the form of its huge backyard area, which features a basketball court so you can lay up some bricks as you smash some tins.
The Oxford Tavern, Petersham
Formerly one of the Inner West’s most notorious strip bars, walking into the Oxford was once like experiencing the end of the world itself. Now, it’s an entirely different monster. Good music plays, good beer flows, and on Sundays they break out the smoker to host Black Betty’s BBQ. Good meat by the gram. What more could you want?
The Different Drummer, Glebe
A staple of the inner west bar scene, The Different Drummer serves modern share plates, burgers and cocktails in a New York-esque fashion, set to a soundtrack of bouncy tunes. A solid list of classic drinks (and twists), complemented by ever-changing weekly creations will keep even the most discerning palate busy. Daily cocktail happy hours are from 6pm till 7.30pm, Tuesday through Saturday.
The Lord Nelson Brewery, The Rocks
Crowded AF on weekends, but absolutely one of Sydney’s most legendary drinking spots, the Lord Nelson is the site of Sydney’s first really trendy craft brewery, making good beer accessible to hop fiends before it was even remotely cool to do so. Even now, their most popular brews flow freely on tap, as do a suite of their other, more seasonal beers.
The Hero of Waterloo, The Rocks
The Rocks are the Sydney CBD’s pub haven, and walking a bit from the hustle and bustle of The Rocks’ more traditionally crowded areas will have you in the proximity of some of Sydney’s oldest pubs. The Hero of Waterloo, which we think may have the best pub name in Sydney, is no exception, housing many a keen drinker within its century-old sandstone walls.
The Barber Shop, Sydney
Forget Harry Potter’s Whomping Willow obscured Hogsmeade—Sydney’s got a gin palace hidden behind a barber shop. Not your stereotypical pub, this mood-lit hideaway has a chilled vibe and a vintage collection of more than 80 bottles of spirits waiting to rid your bank account of every last shekel. Anywhere you can get a quality chop followed by top shelf gin and snacks gets our seal of approval.
Frankie’s, CBD (Near Wynyard)
If you’ve come here for fine dining and top shelf drinks your phone has led you astray. However, if you are a fan of moreish by the slice pizza, heavy metal, rock n’ roll and underground (anti) establishment vibes, this is the place for you. If the pepperoni doesn’t win you over, a frozen Margarita or a tin of pistonhead lager might. Open 7 days a week until 3am, their weekly rotation includes ‘famous’ house bands, karaoke, and a bucket-load of live gigs.