Don’t get us wrong, we love that we can finally get our hands on some Zara, H&M, Topshop and co, and we also wouldn’t want to give up any of our beloved Merivale haunts. But as much as we appreciate the big guys, let's not forget about the smaller, local businesses that form the true character of a city. Here we’ve compiled a list of local not-to-miss designers, independent cafes, galleries, restaurants and even cinemas that are just as wonderful (if not better) than their more well-known counterparts.
Sydney is obsessed with its coffee, and it’s not too hard to find a good one around town – if you know where to look. Dachshund Coffee in Hunters Hill convinces with its puppy theme, delicious breakfast and locally roasted Fat Poppy coffee. In Pagewood, sandwich lovers find a piece of heaven at Panivore – pair it with a Mecca coffee of your choice. Laneway café Bay Ten Espresso is as cool as its coffee is delicious – the back is a bike shop, whereas the front is a trendy café. And if you want to take a piece of Sydney’s coffee culture home, we’ve got a solution for you too. The team at Tripod Coffee sell Nespresso-compatible coffee pods packed with flavour and yes, you can get the little gems delivered right to your front door (even if you live in …say France).
Art might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Sydney, but believe it or not, there is a thriving scene around town. Housed in a former Masonic lodge and Methodist Church, since 1990 Annandale Galleries showcases the works of Australian contemporary and indigenous artists. Marrickville’s Factory49 is less of a commercial gallery and more of a meeting spot and space for emerging artists and their works. In Paddington, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery has been launching the careers of some of Oz’s biggest names since 1982. The gallery exhibits a diverse choice of international artists.
Yes, we love a day at Westfield but Sydney has a lot more to offer than what’s on display in the commercial hub. Paddington Markets, for one, is a great place to get unique pieces from up-and-coming designers. The market covers arenas such as fashion, home wear, beauty and even food. Crazy for antiques? Alexandria’s Lunatiques has got you covered. An old warehouse jam-packed with items from a time long gone – try your luck and haggle for the best price. If you love your fashion, Sydney’s got a range of designers worth a mention. There’s Christopher Esber, Dion Lee and Matin to name a few.
When it comes to Cinemas, there’s more choice than you think. The beauty of indie cinemas is the decor – less conform, more edgy and often much more personal. In Cremorne, the 80-year old Hayden Orpheum’s retro outfit takes you right back to the glitz and glam of the 30s. Sleek and chic Palace Verona in Paddington is known for its careful selection of international movies, some art-house, some documentary, some commercial. Dendy Cinemas are a popular indie cinema chain with outlets across NSW, QLD and ACT. Head to their state-of-the-art Newton picture house and watch a movie whilst relaxing in the extra wide leather seats and adjustable footrests.
New York chef and hostess fall in love, date, get married, land in Sydney and decide to open an American-style eatery in Newtown – and Hartsyard was born. Pick something from their ‘seed’ share menu and definitely don’t miss out on the fried chicken and the sweet potatoes. No matter if you’re looking for meaty, vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free options Yulli’s has it all. Recently, they also took a little venture into the beer brewing business; so keep that in mind on your next visit. If you love Japanese food and are keen for an authentic experience, we suggest you try Tanpopo in Neutral Bay. The place is pretty small, and they don’t have a website but the food is delicious and the BYO place packs out regularly.