Secret Spots: Sydney's Coolest Hidden Gems
Every Friday on Instagram Stories, we answer all your pressing questions about the best things to eat, drink and do around Sydney. And so, to help answer your queries Sitchu-style, we've launched a new Ask Us series, so you can swot up on all our favourite go-to spots to eat, drink, shop and explore.
This week’s question comes from Melinda, who's travelling in Sydney and wanted to know the best-kept secret spots around town. This was a tough one because 1) everyone Instagrams everything (we're not mad about it though, it's how we find places to go too!), and 2) writing about them almost instantly ruins their secrecy. Conundrum.
Having said that, we're more than happy to share favourite undercover hideouts. And so, without further ado, here are some of Sydney's best-kept secrets (sshhh, don't tell anyone!)
Round up the squad and check out this speakeasy, which is nestled behind some bookshelves on Newtown’s King Street. Its prime real estate aside, the two-storey bar is beautiful, with raw brick walls, leather couches, low-hanging lights and neon signs.
You’d be forgiven if you walked straight past this place – it’s a 1920's-style bar that’s disguised as a butcher. Pretty cool, right? Inside, Earl's Juke Joint pays homage to New Orleans with low lighting, eclectic music and strong cocktails. If you're in Newtown, you need to seek this out!
Newly opened in December, Old Mate’s Place in the CBD has the best of both worlds; it's both a well-hidden, stately drinking den, and outside – a bright, sun-drenched open-air bar. Hidden inside a run-down office building, this two-floor juxtaposed venue serves up a broad range of signature and classics cocktails alongside American-styled bites.
Make your way through a functioning barber shop to this hidden watering hole, where impressive cocktails, and an extensive wine list and craft beers await. South Australian and French drops dominate the wine menu while Young Henry’s and Little Creatures keep craft beer lovers content
Located next to a kebab shop in Redfern, and behind an unassuming glass door, is Ron's Upstairs. You might get the feeling you've stumbled into somewhere you're not supposed to, but rest assured if the bright red and green neon sign says OPEN, then you're good to go. The Mediterranean eatery is decked out in nostalgic kitsch reminiscent of a '70s diner (think fairy-lit plastic grape vines strung from wall to wall, lacquered tables and red carpet.) Order the rotisseries chook with toum-style garlic sauce and go all out with the chilli dip, if you dare.
This distinct, underground Italian steakhouse, bar and wine shop is well worth the mysterious adventure. Once you do find the deliberately unmarked doorway in a CBD backstreet, you'll be lead downstairs to a dimly lit room. We won't lie, finding your way isn't easy, but trust us, a steak tastes way better once you've earned it! When it comes to the restaurant menu, less is more. Bistecca is solely dedicated to the art of the classic Tuscan steak dish, bistecca alla Fiorentina. Diners are invited to inspect their cut of meat, which is weighed tableside, while they peruse the long list of sides that can be paired with their steak.
So cool it hurts, this motorbike shop-cum-dining destination is a buzzing hive of activity most days of the week, albeit a little hidden. Famed for its warming bowls of ramen (not just for dinner, breakfast and lunch, too), but their coffee and modern Australian-Japanese café fare is equally as good.
Casa do Benfica
In this day and age, you know that something is truly local when it has no website or online presence, and no Instagram account either. Casa do Benfica is undeniably one of the Inner West's best-kept secrets. Hidden in the back of a Marrickville tennis club, it looks like an RSL but serves up ridiculously flavoursome old-school Portuguese nosh (and super large portions of them, might we add.) Think beef skewers, hearty steaks and a local favourite – the seafood rice.
Collins Flat Beach, Manly
Tucked away on the harbour-side of Manly, Collins Flat Beach is an idyllic spot that offers sprawling skyline views and a ton of privacy. It’s accessible only via water or walking trails, and is the kind of place that prompts Instagram posts captioned with, “How’s the serenity?” And serene it is.
Lady Bay Beach, Watsons Bay
Perched between South Head and Camp Cove, this tiny beach is one of the best secret beaches on Sydney’s coastline – and that’s a pretty big call! It boasts stunning views of the harbour and skyline, and the water is gentle and inviting. Oh, and cossies are completely optional, if you know what we mean!
Parsley Bay, Vaucluse
Next time you’re heading Vaucluse way, skip the popular Nielsen Park and stop at Parsley Bay instead. This local gem is as pretty as a postcard, with crystal clear water, a waterfall and a wooden bridge harking back to the 1920s.
Little Congwong Beach, La Perouse
Surrounded by lush greenery in the Botany Bay National Park, Little Congwong Beach makes swimmers and sunbathers feel like they’re far away from it all. It’s a 30-minute stroll from Congwong Beach, and well worth it. Along with calm waters, the beach offers views of bushland and boats, and it’s great for snorkelling.
Paddington Reservoir Gardens
Hidden, but also right under our noses, this sunken garden is for anyone with an appetite for architecture, or those who just like a little peace and quiet away from bustling Oxford Street. This idyllic park was inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, with its enormous chambers, hanging gardens and water features.
Wendy's Secret Garden
Ok, so maybe this isn't a secret anymore (thanks to Instagram), but this magical little oasis still instantly transports its visitors to another world, despite it's North Sydney address. The enchanting gardens are brimming with native plants and flowers that spill over every inch of the garden, making this the perfect spot for an afternoon stroll. With plenty of picturesque corners to explore, why not settle in for a picnic as well?
Charming Maccallum Pool on Sydney Harbour comes complete with a wooden board walk and picket fence – we guarantee you'll be in your vintage bathers in no time. Situated on the western side of Cremorne Point, this lower north shore secret has uninterrupted views of the city. At only 33 meters it has a tendency to fill up on hot days.