A guide to Surry Hills, Sydney: great food, Aussie pubs, and vintage shops
Just five minutes away from the CBD, Surry Hills is one of the best neighbourhoods in Sydney to experience inner-city living. Follow the coolest locals to Crown Street, a 2.5km thoroughfare lined with charming terrace houses, funky vintage stores, and most importantly—the city’s trendiest bars and restaurants. Our first tip? Come hungry. Surry Hills is one of the icons of Sydney’s dining scene, offering plenty of brunch-perfect cafes, boozy hangouts, artisanal bakeries, and award-winning restaurants to eat your way around.
Where to eat and drink in Surry Hills
Before you decide, consider: brunch or dinner? Coffee or booze? High-end or casual? Wander along the district’s artisanal bakeries, classic Aussie pubs, casual Thai joints, hip coffee spots, and more. For every craving, Surry Hills has got an answer.
Brunch and coffee
A.P. House - This outdoor rooftop cafe and bakery is the latest project by the All Purpose Bakery team. Choose from their trolley of freshly baked pies and buttermilk croissants atop Paramount House, the former headquarters of Paramount Studios. While you’re there, check out The Paramount Coffee Project, a classic brunch spot on the ground floor.
Bourke Street Bakery - If you plan to check out this Sydney institution, go to where it all began at its original location on Bourke Street. Head there early to beat the lines and grab their sausage rolls and pies—they sell out quick.
bills - This cafe is yet another Sydney institution, serving breakfast staples to Sydneysiders for the last 30 years. Their Surry Hills location carries a slightly different menu from their original spot in Darlinghurst but you’ll still get to try their legendary ricotta hotcakes, creamy scrambled eggs, and corn fritters.
Single O - Formerly known as Single Origin Roasters, this spot is for serious coffee drinkers. Savour a cup of meticulously-made coffee in the stylish cafe or get takeout from their specialty brew bar next door. You can also grab a bag of freshly roasted beans for the road.
Butter - With walls of shiny sneakers on display and speakers blaring hip hop tracks, the street culture influence at this fried chicken spot is undeniable. Cop a juicy chicken burger with a side of fries, and how about a new pair of kicks while you’re at it?
Pizza Fritta 180 - This laid-back Italian spot sells authentic Neapolitan pizzas, just like how head chef Luigi Esposito used to sell them on the streets of Naples with his nonna. Their flash-fried pizza frittas are known for their signature crust and gooey centre.
Spice I Am - While there are tons of Thai spots in Sydney, this is where locals go for the real, authentic stuff. Get their signature pad prik king (red curry stir-fried beans) and kang ka ree (yellow curry), all made with fresh homegrown ingredients.
The Dolphin Hotel - This bustling restaurant along Crown Street is hard to miss. On the ground floor, its pizza kitchen cranks out mod Italian-Australian pizzas from wood-fired ovens. Head upstairs for swanky cocktails on its outdoor terrace or in the bar, where you’ll find bold Keith Haring-inspired graffiti splashed across its walls.
Jazushi - Name us a better pairing than Japanese and live jazz music. Spoiler alert: there isn’t. Enjoy a selection of creative Japanese small plates like camembert tempura and miso hummus, paired with smooth jazz tunes and Japanese whiskies.
Sáng by Mabasa - This family-run Korean eatery invites you to try authentic Korean dishes beyond the typical barbecued meats and fried chicken. Expand your palate with gujeolpan (a platter of nine Korean delicacies), yookhwe (seasoned raw beef), and bokkeum jokbal (stir-fried and braised pig’s trotters.)
NOUR - Enjoy a fresh take on Middle Eastern and Lebanese cuisine at this award-winning restaurant. Dine at the bar for a front-row seat to the open kitchen, where you can watch chefs prepare fresh bread, meats, and vegetables in a wood-fired oven. The light and airy interiors are especially pleasant in the afternoon, made better (and boozier) on a bottomless brunch during the weekend.
Porteno - This South American-style steakhouse prepares hand-cut specialty meats on a traditional Parilla (barbecue grill) and asado (barbecue over a pit of fire), served with equally delicious sides and sauces. You’ll definitely taste the sear.
Firedoor - Can’t get enough of the heat? The barbecue at Firedoor is a little more than kissed by the flame. Chef and owner Lennox Hastie is a certified pyrotechnician in the kitchen, experimenting with different techniques and wood to bring out unique flavours. If the name sounds familiar, Chef Hastie was featured on an episode of Netflix’s Chef’s Table BBQ.
The Clock Hotel - This historic pub and its iconic rooftop clock stands tall on the corner of Crown and Collins Street. It’s great for any kind of night out—you can people-watch from the second-floor balcony, boogie on the dancefloor, or sample malts in The Whisky Room.
Four Pillars Gin Laboratory - Get scientific about cocktails at an iconic gin laboratory and bar from the creators of the cult favourite Bloody Shiraz Gin. Join a gin masterclass at The Lab, or try a creative cocktail at the hidden Eileen’s Bar. Don’t forget to grab a bottle from the ground-floor boutique on your way out.
Tokyo Bird - This cosy spot is reminiscent of the hidden izakayas in Japan, specialising in cocktails, whisky, and yakitori (Japanese grilled skewers). They’re also the team behind Nikkei Bar & Restaurant, a great place to satisfy any sake and Peruvian-Japanese fusion tapas cravings.
Forrester’s - Affectionately known as The Forry, this recently refurbished 100-year-old pub is another stalwart in Surry Hills. Their new facelift comes with a nice cocktail bar but it’s still great for an afternoon schooner in the no-frills Public Bar. And what’s a pub without a weekly trivia night every Wednesday?
What to do in Surry Hills
Creativity thrives in every corner of this trendy suburb. Among our favourite things to do: crate-digging at an indie record store, gallery-hopping with friends, and catching a cult film at a retro cinema.
TITLE Store - While this indie record, film, and bookstore has a larger and more central outlet in Barangaroo, its original location in Surry Hills is small but full of character. Hunt for obscure titles amongst the jam-packed shelves, or get help choosing your first turntable. There’s a good chance of bumping into rock stars when they’re in town too.
Surry Hills Markets - Held every first Saturday of the month at Shannon Reserve, this little market features stalls selling handmade, recycled, and second-hand goods. From antique trinkets to upcycled clothing, you never know what gems you might find.
Storeroom Vintage - While the younger crowds are hitting up Newtown for their vintage fix, Crown Street was and still is a go-to spot for second-hand fashion in Sydney. Storeroom Vintage is one of the slicker spots along the stretch—it’s been graced by the likes of Billie Eilish and Blackpink’s Rosé.
Watch a play or movie
Golden Age Cinema and Bar - This retro and intimate underground cinema in Paramount House is one for the film buffs. It screens trending releases and cult movies, while putting a spotlight on local, independent filmmakers. Don’t miss out on the connecting bar which hosts trivia nights, live music gigs and DJ sets by up-and-coming artists.
Belvoir St Theatre - This beloved theatre set in an old factory was once slated for demolition before it was saved and bought over by 600 people from the theatre community. Thanks to them, you can continue to enjoy a stellar program of reinvented classics, local and international stories, workshops, and events. Check their website to see what’s on.
Check out some art
Brett Whiteley Studio - The former home of avant-garde artist Brett Whiteley has now been converted into an art museum, documenting his life in his final days. Take an intimate look into his work through his unfinished sculptures, sketchbooks, and other personal items. The best part? Entry is free.
M2 Gallery - This gallery and multi-purpose event space regularly showcases local and emerging artists, from photographers to performance artists. Check their exhibition schedule to see what’s on—it might be a pop-up store, an art show, or even a music launch.
Where to stay in Surry Hills
Soak up the inner city vibes and take your pick from one of the many boutique hotels in Surry Hills. For a central one-stop lifestyle destination, try Paramount House Hotel. Budget-conscious? 57 Hotel is a great pick that’s close to Central Station too.