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A Local’s Guide to Sydney CBD

Sydney CBD | Taste of Australia with Hayden Quinn: Sydney Edition CREDIT: Destination NSW

Mikey Enright at The Barber Shop Sydney.

#ilovesydney

A Local’s Guide
to Sydney CBD

Sydney CBD | Taste of Australia with Hayden Quinn: Sydney Edition CREDIT: Destination NSW

Mikey Enright at The Barber Shop Sydney.

#ilovesydney

Hashtags #ilovesydney

Far from just a business district, Sydney’s CBD is rich with history, culture, modern hospitality and iconic natural beauty, with one of the most recognisable Harbours in the world. We chat to bar owner (Duke of Clarence, The Barbershop) and co-owner/director of Barrelhouse Group Mikey Enright about Sydney’s growing small bar scene, his favourite spots to eat and drink and more.

A city of icons, waterfront views, fascinating history and incredible hospitality – there's a lot to love about Sydney. What’s your favourite thing about Sydney’s CBD?

I love the individual areas of the CBD: Chinatown, Barangaroo, the YCK Laneways small bar district, The Rocks historic quarter and the harbour. They all offer a unique experience.    

It’s no secret that Sydneysiders are serious about good coffee – where is your go-to café in the area?

Sammy Junior has a great vibe on Market Street, it’s run by the same team behind the Maybe Sammy bar. If I’m in The Rocks, Black & White Espresso serve great coffee.

From its award-winning fine-diners to hole-in-the-wall local gems, Sydney’s dining scene is world class – what is the restaurant you love the most in the Sydney CBD?

The Gidley, a modern American-style steak house on King Street, is a favourite. It very much reminds me of New York City, with its opulent interior, chargrilled rib-eye steaks, and classic martinis.     

Sydney has a booming nightlife, with live music, special events and an endless variety of restaurants, bars and clubs to spend the evening. Where would you go on the ultimate night out in Sydney’s CBD?

I would see a show or catch a live music gig, followed by dinner then drinks with friends. My favourite spot to watch a gig is outside on the Sydney Opera House forecourt. Dinner would be at Rockpool Bar & Grill, and I'd finish up with drinks at Henry Deane, a rooftop cocktail bar on the top of Hotel Palisade, or Dean and Nancy on 22.

You run two small bars in the city’s newly formed YCK Laneways – Duke of Clarence and The Barbershop – tell us about Sydney’s small bar scene in this vibrant precinct.

YCK Laneways is a new small bar precinct spanning York, Clarence and Kent Street’s, between Town Hall and Wynyard stations. The area's fascinating industrial heritage features laneways, carriageways and store houses and is now home to some of the world’s best bars - from Asian-inspired cocktails at Uncle Ming’s to Latino food, drink and music at Esteban and my classic British tavern Duke of Clarence. The bars here are often referred to as ‘bartenders’ bars’; when the small bar bill was passed, it made licenses more accessible and affordable, so bartenders could afford to open their own bars. A lot of the hospitality industry hangs out in YCK Laneways district. 

Sydney has plans to become a 24-hour city, with more late-night art and entertainment, and bars open later into the evening. When you want to keep the night going, where do you head to enjoy an after-dinner drink in Sydney, and what's your top order?

Stitch Bar is an intimate small bar, and the team are great. I love an Irish Manhattan there. I also like to frequent my old stomping ground, Palmer & Co., for a late-night drink – my go-to is the gin-based Last Word cocktail.

What are your top three must-dos in the Sydney CBD that you would recommend to a friend who was visiting?

  1. Sunset cocktails at O Bar & Dining – the view is sublime.
  2. The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Walk from Barangaroo to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, stopping off at The Rocks to check out the museums, pubs and shops.
  3. A small bar tour around the YCK Laneways district to check out the diversity of Sydney’s small bar culture.

Do you have a favourite secret Sydney experience you can tell us about?

Sea shanty folk singing at The Duke of Clarence on Tuesday nights. It’s a unique experience.

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