Eat & Drink

The 9 Best Hidden Cafes In Sydney

Shhh.

Q: How many hipsters does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It’s like, this number you probably haven’t heard of yet.

Yes, Sydneysiders love their coffee – but not as much as they love discovering a secret spot and Instagramming the hell out of it without revealing the precise location. Well, we’re here to raise the curtain of secrecy and let you in on where to find a decent cup of joe in an unusual, picturesque or just totally unexpected spot.


#1 Underneath the Opera House

Whats-on

(Photo: Opera Kitchen)

It’s one of Sydney’s most iconic sites – but you maybe didn’t know that it’s also a great spot to have a coffee and take in the incredible harbour views. Underneath the Opera House forecourt is Opera Kitchen, with a wide variety of food and drink including excellent seafood and decent burgers as well as a variety of pastries, slices and coffee. After something a little stronger? Opera Bar next door has incredible cocktails and live entertainment as well as one of the best sunsets in Sydney.


#2 In the sky

Boasting 360-degree views around Sydney from more than 300 metres in the air, Sydney Tower (aka Centrepoint Tower) also offers a pretty decent flat white. If you’re visiting Sydney or showing off the harbour city to friends and family, a trip up to the observation deck is a great way to help them take in the natural beauty of Sydney – especially on a clear day. While the buffet restaurant is a tad overpriced, a coffee with this incredible view isn’t crazy expensive – but just remember that it’s about $27 just to get up to the Observation Deck (or $18.50 if you book online).


#3 On an island

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(Photo: Fort Denison)

Fort Denison is a former defence facility built on an island in the middle of Sydney Harbour. It’s accessible every day via ferries or water taxies and has a gorgeous restaurant that’s open daily from 11:30am-2:15pm. The service is relaxed, the food is excellent and the coffee is superb. Make sure you’re prepared for the 1pm cannon – it can be quite a shock, especially if you’re all jazzed up on caffeine. Reservations are recommended in busy summer months.


#4 In an art gallery

The White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale is renowned for incredible Chinese contemporary art exhibitions. You’ll often see some really unusual, confronting and beautiful displays here, but what you may not have known is that it’s also a great spot for tea and handmade dumplings. There is a great range of interesting Chinese and Taiwanese teas, as well as cool drinks and scones. Best bit? Exhibitions in the gallery change really often, so you’ve got another excuse to keep coming back. Note: The gallery is currently closed and will reopen on Thursday September 10, 2015.


#5 With your pooch

A degustation meal that’s for dogs only. Yes animal lovers, you read that right. Wollstonecraft’s best kept secret Cafe Chew Chew will serve your beloved pet freshly cooked, organic pet food that looks so delicious you might want to sneak a bit off the plate yourself. Dogs get their own tables and chairs (though it’s also acceptable for them to eat from bowls on the ground) while their owners can make do with a (bloody good) coffee from the human cafe built into the side. Bone Appétit.


#6 In a hole in the wall

A photo posted by d a v i d S E O_ (@onegraphy_) on


This contender for Sydney’s smallest cafe is also a contender for some of the city’s best coffee. The whole area in Double Mac is under 6 square metres – but they sneak a little bit more space with a couple of chairs and a couch out the front. The coffee is by Double Roasters and is full-bodied and strong and comes with a side of banter from hilarious owner/barista Chris Eid. Cakes and snacks are on sale in the cabinet out the front – the lemon-drizzle friands are worth keeping an eye out for.


#7 At the zoo

Taronga Zoo is world-famous as one of the most picturesque zoos in the world and it’s not hard to see why – with the Harbour Bridge nestled in behind views of the giraffe enclosure, and a truly spectacular bird show, the zoo is perfect for all ages. Unfortunately it also used to be famous for terrible and overpriced food and drink – however that has changed with the fairly recent makeover of Taronga Piazza. The Lavazza coffee here is surprisingly good, and the food menu overseen by celebrity chef Giovanni Pilu. Add in tables overlooking a few animal enclosures and you’ve got it made.


#8 During a bushwalk

The ten kilometre walk from Manly Beach to the Spit Bridge traverses beaches, bushland and some of Sydney’s most beautiful coastal views. It’s a fairly easy walk, even for beginners, and smack bang in the middle of it is the most perfect rest stop – Clonny’s at Clontarf. It’s just a pop-up beach hut at the moment, but it has a pretty extensive menu and plenty of coffee and snacks. In Summer 2015, though, their renovations should be finished and it’s looking to be a pretty gorgeous set-up with outdoor seating and more of those perfect sea views. You can even call ahead to book a picnic basket to take with you on your walk.


#9 In a nursery

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(Photo: Eden Gardens)

Set on over two acres of what feels like a farm in the middle of Sydney, the Dragonfly Cafe at Eden Gardens nursery is has superb di Manfredi coffee and even better meals –from a hearty ploughman’s lunch to light and fluffy scones with jam and cream. As well as selling everything your garden could need, the nursery also offers informative courses in things like cultivating bonsai plants and growing vegetables – make a day of it.

(Lead image: White Rabbit Gallery/Flickr)

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