The first place locals stop at after exiting the buses in North Bondi is Nio and Tony’s, as do thankful tourists seeking a bottle of water or a box of bandaids for that pesky blister. This local grocer is where those lucky enough to live at the top of Campbell Parade, with endless views over Bondi Beach, have gone to shop for more than 40 years. Trays of organic produce are stacked out front and everything from cat food to quinoa lines the packed shelves inside. Go for a punnet of berries and leave after a nice natter with one of the family members working the till or rearranging the fruit out front. It’s relaxed and family focused, just like North Bondi.
The kind Nepalese owner of New Shalimar is happy to help you navigate the wares of this subcontinent-focused shop, as this isn’t your run-of-the-mill corner store. The back room is fragrant with spices and shelves bristle under the weight of sacks of lentils and basmati rice. Authentic, ready-made saag paneer and dal tadka sit next to jars of pickle, sesame bars and bombay mix. DVDs, SIM cards, candles, incense and other non-comestibles bulk out the offering. The chest freezer full of parantha, roti and naan is hard to pass up and it sits next to shelves of personal care products familiar to any Indian expat. If you’re lucky, he’ll have pan on hand too, the perfect post-meal digestive aid. It’s the inner city’s best-stocked Indian corner store.
Maloney’s changed the Eastern Suburbs for the better when it opened 11 years ago – no longer did Coogee locals have to slog to Bondi Junction to do their shopping. This is a fully stocked, compact shop, with a quality selection of fruit and veg – everything from swiss brown mushrooms to papaya, organic meats and fish, dairy, prepared foods and high-end, hard-to-find pantry and housewares (from preserved lemons to baking parchment). Locals swarm in after work to pick up bits for dinner prep, and beachgoers load up on picnic supplies at the weekend. Lunch lines at the deli counter are long, as people queue for picture-perfect sambos, quiche and lasagna, or in the morning for coffee made by a friendly face. Plus the snack game is strong with this one. Buckets of crisps and rows of chocolate sit alongside paleo bars and tubs of pre-packaged nuts and dried fruit.
This is a corner store on artisanal steroids. It’s not just staples and convenience items here for Potts Point locals, but a deep comestible well of everything from passionfruit curd cake to Yalla yoghurt, delicate oils, cured meats, frozen meals, coffee, tea, beer, cider and, of course, the vino, which is from a hand-picked selection of Aussie producers. The bottomless bounty they have on offer is artfully arranged in an inviting space that lures in locals bored with the Woolies next door. Small is beautiful at this shop, and boutique producers are favoured across all categories. You can click and collect from the website too – this bodega is firmly in the 21st century.
Nio and Tony’s has a new neighbour in the breezy, Bondi-hip clean-eater’s heaven that is Connetts Corner Store from Maloney’s alum Tony Connett. It’s all seamless indoor-outdoor shopping, polished stone and concrete, reclaimed wood and industrial lighting, with loads of space to wander between shelves stocked with healthy products from Australian brands exclusively. The surfing set is in here post-dawn patrol, buying Bod kombucha, the Goods free-range bone broth, Brekkie Goodness cereal and any other healthy thing you can dream up. Hurraw raw lip balms and energy bars line checkout counters (where plastic bags are banned), while water bowls out front beckon parched pups.
Under a rusted awning that reads “Marrickville continental deli, primo small goods” you’ll find Lamia Super Deli. It’s a slip of a shop that’ll make you nostalgic for your gap year bombing around the Greek islands because it’s stocked to the rafters with authentic Greek goods. Get frozen phyllo, bricks of saganaki, barley rusks, Greek olives and jams, ready-to-bake kihi and metsovo pies, Easter candles and chocolates and even briki coffee pots. Order a platter of charcuterie for your next party, get lunch sorted off the sandwich menu, or grab a loaf of fresh bread, seasonal goods (like Panettone at Christmas) and even laundry detergent in one go. It all happens with a smile from friendly, long-time locals and under the watchful gaze of light-haloed patron saints and old snapshots of the owner hanging high on the crowded wall behind the counter. Ask if it’s all Greek to you – a lot of it literally is.
It’s easy to get sucked into the Bronte bubble and never leave because you have everything you need at hand in this pocket of paradise. The beach, Surf Life Saving Club, cafés like Cali Press and Huxton’s, bakeries and shops like Iggy’s Bread, Camperdown Cellars... And then there’s the linchpin – Bronte General Store – the long-standing shop stocking everything from fresh eggs (until they run out) to Ruby and Roy’s organic yogurts, tins of Campbell's soup and Lavera lotion. The lovely lady behind the counter is a friendly neighbourhood fixture and consummate conversationalist. It's as close to a bodega as Sydney gets.
Not many convenience stores have serious Instagram followings, but Redfern Convenience Store does and it’s well deserved. Consummate shop owner Hazem Sedda has been running “the greatest convenience store on earth” since he was 17. Since then he’s become a one-man Redfern institution, seemingly always open and never without a smile for his loyal customers whatever they need, even if it’s just a chat. Get crisps or Wow Butter, bacon soda or bottled water, even a sweet Redfern Convenience Store hoody at any time of day and into the early morning. Yes, you’re welcome.