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The Bearded Tit's Joy Ng shares her fave local haunts after dark

The owner of Redfern's buzzy small bar shares her favourite drinking, dining and creative spaces to visit after nightfall

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Joy Ng owner of the Bearded Tit for City of Sydney
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Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
107 Projects at night on the rooftop
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Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
Arcadia Liquors at night
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Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
Exterior at Yen's Redfern
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Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
Redfern at night
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Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
Diners eating outside at Redfern Continental
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Photograph: Anna Kucera
The Bearded Tit
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Photograph: Anna Kucera
RaRa Ramen in Redfern indoors at night
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Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
RaRa Ramen in Redfern indoors at night from the counter
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Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
RaRa Ramen in Redfern exterior
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Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

Joy, a lot of people think of the Bearded Tit as a cool small bar, but its also an art space...
We have an arts program that changes every two months; we focus a lot on video art, but also performance art and installation. Gigs-wise, [we host] Queerbourhood every Wednesday night, run by DJ Johnny Seymour from Stereogamous. Its a night of music and performances by people in the Sydney queer community; it might be something performative and contemporary, or it might be a drag show. Recently we had a Grace Jones tribute night and it was incredible. Everyone did their interpretation of a Grace Jones song, which was gorgeous. We also run a monthly cheeky undie party called Leak Your Own Nudes (LYON). It’s hosted by Kelly Lovemonster and you can drink in your underwear.

All of your live events are free. Is it important to you that they remain accessible?Since were a neighbourhood bar, and not a pub or a venue like the Factory Theatre, we want to make performances and entertainment accessible to locals. If you dont have the funds – if youre a student, or if youre just down and out – you can still at least come in and be entertained. We dont want the content we create to only be available to people who can afford to see them.

Why were you drawn to Redfern in the first place?
Back when my former business partners and I chose the spot Redfern was quite a different place it hadnt been gentrified yet. It felt really homely and safe. Theres still a great community vibe around here and I have a few friends who have lived in the area for many years. Redfern and the LGBTQIA community definitely inspires the venue. We want it to be the lounge room for the neighbourhood and for our community around here.

The Bearded Tit definitely feels like a local lounge room. Where do you like to hang out on your days off?
Arcadia Liquors, up the road from us, has a gorgeous courtyard. And the guys who run it Bret and Dave who also own Redfern Continental, are lovely. I also go to the Abbotts, I like it because its where a lot of locals hang out. I met a lot of our Redfern friends there, actually. Theyve always been there for us. For a good cocktail, I would go to GDR, behind Redfern Continental. They make an excellent whiskey sour.

Are there any underrated neighbourhood gems we should know about?
Ron’s Upstairs on Redfern Street. Theyve got a beautiful bar that you can just sit down and have a drink at, or a full restaurant section which has great food as well. If Im getting a quick meal, I like to go to Yen’s Vietnamese down the road. Theyve been here for a long time and the food is fantastic and really affordable – theyre my go-to. I always get the sugarcane prawns that you wrap with rice paper. Theyve got great Vietnamese pancakes, too.

What about up-and-coming food spots?
RaRa, which is a ramen place thats opened up on Regent Street, always has a line out the door, and their ramen is delicious. Its a real breath of fresh air in the area. Having ramen so close makes life so much easier.

Where can people head to for something a little different?
Theres 107 on Redfern Street, which is a multi-use creative space for the community a café that turns into a bar as well. They have exhibitions and shows, and permaculture on the roof. They also do markets. I definitely recommend people to go and check it out, they always have different programs on.  

Where do you see Redfern’s nightlife headed next?
I think its just going to get more diverse, and theres going to be more of it in the next few years. I would like to see more small bars down our end of Regent Street, more restaurants, more cafés but I know all of that will come. And I cant wait for that to happen.

Joy’s favourite places in Redfern after dark

People sitting on the rooftop at 107 Projects
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
Art, Installation

107 Projects

Redfern

107 Projects hosts exhibitions, live music, theatre, workshops and live drawing classes – sometimes on their rooftop. Their aim is to be a creative hub for local artists and the community. 

Flame grilled pork at RaRa's
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
Restaurants, Japanese

RaRa Redfern

Redfern

Sydney is a town of many noodle soups, so what makes this one worth waiting for? To start with, the char siu roast pork gets an extra flavour kick by being seared quickly on a hot plate before serving. The little bits of caramelised fat and meat intensifies the flavour, and all that hot fat means the mouthfeel is extra luxurious. 

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Restaurants, European

Ron's Upstairs

Redfern

It’s like a ‘70s-toned holiday snap from your parents’ photo album: there are plastic grapevines looped across the walls, fairy lights, big round tables and comfy straight-backed dining chairs. Brown, orange and green is the colour scheme – the only things missing are the big moustaches and polyester dresses.

Diners eating outside at Redfern Continental
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Restaurants

Redfern Continental

Redfern

Redfern Continental is firing on all pistons, pumping out simple pastas like al dente spaghetti with tender clams, fresh diced tomato, chilli and garlic; or a slow-cooked, comforting lamb ragu; and boasting an easy-drinking wine list for a midweek meal.

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Restaurants, Vietnamese

Yen’s Vietnamese

Waterloo

Locals consider this a hidden gem. Yen’s Vietnamese, found a few minutes’ walk from Redfern Station, is where you’ll find really affordable sugarcane prawns, spring rolls, Vietnamese pancakes or bun ga nuong. People rave about the authentic dishes and daggy decor – plus most dishes fall around the $10, so it’s also a bargain.

People standing inside venue at Gunther's Dining
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Bars, Cocktail bars

Gunther's Dining Room

Redfern

The bar out the back of Redfern Continental is a vintage hideaway. German rod chandeliers are mounted on the walls and hang from chains on the ceiling, while a nearby mirrorball spins at a swift clip. There are no windows, which adds to the whole school formal/Boogie Nights vibe that we are digging.

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Abbott's Hotel Redfern
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
Bars, Pubs

Abbotts Hotel

Alexandria

The Abbotts, on the corner of Raglan Street and Botany Road, is a classic, no frills Aussie pub. And that’s the way punters like it. Locals come here to hang out, grab a $10 lunch (they’ve got schnittys on Mondays and lamb shank Thursdays), and to try their luck at trivia. It’s inclusive, salt-of-the-earth, and harks back to a simpler time in Australia’s boozing history.

Bartender at Arcadia Liquors at night
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan
Bars

Arcadia Liquors

Redfern

One of Redfern’s original small bars is still as loud, fairy-lit and friendly as ever. And cheap. Where else can you get a eminently drinkable semillon sauvignon for six bucks and a grilled ham cheese and tomato sandwich for a fiver? 

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Queerbourhood at the Bearded Tit
Photograph: Supplied
Bars

The Bearded Tit

Redfern

If you want to see Sydney at her absolute best, go for a drink at Redfern’s neighbourhood art bar, the Bearded Tit. Inside this cosy establishment you get a glimpse of what it could be like if we all just got along. The weird and wonderful are welcomed here; there is a mix of punters that properly reflects the Sydney rainbow, and nobody gives it a second thought.

Find more local tips for Redfern

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