Over the past five or so years, Sydney has become arguably a bit more popular for small, niche, fun bars. Think Barber Shop, Baxter’s Inn, Cliff Dive, Lobo Plantation – the list is almost never ending. But the pub scene is still very alive and kicking – from good food to great beers, in iconic locations. So we’ve scouted out five must visit pubs steeped in old school vibes and tradition, yet still living very much in the present.
#1 The Lord Roberts Hotel
Based in the heart of Darlinghurst, The Lord Roberts is your proper old school venue but with serious size. Scaling multiple rooms and areas, the venue is perfect for a pub lunch or cruisey beer. They do some killer live music towards the end of the week in their main bar, and if you’re swinging past on the weekend their $18 Sunday Roast is a must. Their connecting bar, The Green Door, is also a great little addition and worth a visit for a more intimate, dance-y vibe. But let’s get to the important part – the drinks. Possibly the home of the best happy hour heard to man from 4-6pm on weeknights, the historic venue serves local beers and house wine for $4.50 (!!) and house spirits for just $5.50. Unbelievably good.
#2 Rag & Famish Hotel
Where? North Sydney
If you’ve ever visited North Sydney – god help you if on a weekend – you know the city can be a bit of a ghost town. But not many pubs can hold such a crowd almost every night during the week. With a huge outdoor seating section, and a more traditional Irish pub interior, The Rag is a watering hole never empty. With a multitude of businesses in the area, it’s no wonder the place is constantly full. They’ve become fairly well known for their range of bloody good pies (chicken and leak + mash + pease and gravy is to die for), so make sure you give them a go. Oh, and if you’re heading in on a Friday afternoon, good luck finding anything that resembles a seat.
#3 The Hero Of Waterloo
Where? The Rocks
The photo is enough to give you an idea of the type of ambience you’ll encounter at The Hero Of Waterloo. The sandstone walls will probably give you an idea of it’s age, but the venue has been open itself for over 170 years – quite the milestone indeed. The venue itself has all your standard drinks covered, with an impressive range of James Squire beers on tap. But it’s the atmosphere and feel you’ll get lost in. Offering ghost tours as well, you get the idea that THOW is so much more than just a pub, and it’s hard to not love that.
#4 Lord Wolsely Hotel
Nestled just outside the CBD in Ultimo, the Lord Wolsely Hotel is a small gem of amazing proportions. The inside of the pub only seats about 20 people or so, but it’s the outside area which really adds some charm to this venue. With a licensed drinking area on the pavement just outside it’s doors, locals flock to the grass, seats and benches for a dabble in the sun. Doggo-friendly, the outside area is packed early on Fridays and made for weekend afternoon bevs. Pub Life has relocated right next door as well, so if you want a very reasonably priced feed after you’ve downed a drink or five, they’ve got you sorted.
#5 Local Taphouse
One of Sydney’s finest craft beer pubs, with a rooftop to die for. Although said rooftop doesn’t have any harbour views to go with it, that’s the last thing you need. The open air top floor combines inner-city charm with rustic wooden feels, making it a natural home for locals and those not from town. It’s very worthy grabbing their beer tasting board, where you can try a range of their different types of beer – and boy, there are a lot of them. Not for the claustrophobic though, this bad boy fills up very fast but if you nab a table – don’t let her go.
Image sources: On The Grid, Local Taphouse, Look Who’s Charging, Clipp