Redfern has a deep-rooted history of Indigenous culture, as well as an industrial past, that’s now home to exciting new bars, creative community hubs and historically significant street art. There's alot to take in and if you find yourself wanting to tackle it all in a swift two days, we've got you covered with this ideal skip around bars, eateries, and cultural hot spots. We think you’ll like it.
48 hours in Redfern
For your first night in Redfern, get warm and cosy at this relatively new and ridiculously popular ramen bar. It’s all about the broth here – they have perfected the tonkotsu with black garlic and chilli oil, and paired it with quickly-seared char siu pork. Add to that their extensive list of natural wines and Japanese beer, and this noodle shop is more than your stock-standard variety. If you’re not feeling ramen, Sydney’s only version of Collingwood institution Huxtaburger is right next door.
A five-minute skip down the road will land you at the door of an unmissable Redfern experience. The Bearded Tit is an example of how wonderful and diverse Sydney’s patrons are, with everyone welcome to be themselves. Nothing about this place is limited – from the decor, to the music, to the sexy art and performances. Friendly bar staff serve delicious snacks with top-tier cocktails. Love and liquor reign supreme, and there’s a lot of love to go around.
For all its fancy bars, coffee shops and other signs of gentrification, Redfern retains its Indigenous identity and significance. You can find murals painted by Indigenous artists, such as Tracey Moffatt, Colin Nugent and Reko Rennie. Start at Redfern Station, where you will find a mural spanning the wall of railway bridge called 40,000 Years. In 2018 it was restored to its former glory, with multiple panels showing figures from the area. Reko Rennie’s Welcome to Redfern mural is close by. The terrace house on which the mural is painted stands on the site of the Redfern Community Centre, opposite the Block, an area of historical importance and the location of many protests, beginning in the 1960s when Indigenous people were evicted from their houses, to the present day.
Scout’s Honour is built inside an old fruit shop, and there’s limited seating inside – partly because it’s so popular for its meals between two slices of bread. Get your hands around a grilled corn toastie, with sautéed leek, cheese, capsicum, onion and basil. It’s a good idea to split a sandwich with a friend, so you can order the Scout Salad too; rocket, roasted broccoli, corn, pangrattato, parmesan, pea tendrils, zucchini noodles and lemon vinaigrette.
Make your way to DEA Store, on Regent Street, to browse a more modern palette of contemporary homewares, candles and pot plants. Owner Karin Huchatz named her store ‘DEA’ meaning ‘pleasing the delicate eye area’. Afterwards, hop across the road to Ciccone and Sons Gelateria for a scoop of the best gelato in Sydney. And retro furniture fiends will love browsing specialist design store Graham and Graham, also on the same street.
Head up the stairs at 133A Redfern Street and you’ll find a delightfully retro dining room with a menu that lists gently in the direction of the European continent. 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. It’s not fancy dining, by any means, but it is fun, relaxing and very familiar.
Hustle and Flow is Sydney’s first all hip hop venue, but it’s as dark and dingy as you might expect. Housed in the old London Tavern, the original 1920s tiles have been restored, there are vibrant murals on the walls and an extensive drinks menu, so it’s definitely not just for those with a penchant for beats and rhyme. They hold live music events every Saturday night, so it’s a fun place to hear from the local live music scene. If you’re still hungry, they serve American-style burgers with a hip hop theme, ‘WTF’, ‘Mac Daddy’ and ‘Gunsmoke’ are all on the list.
Something of a curse of the Sydney brunch culture is the line for a brekky fry-up or avo on toast. This is not a problem at Little Evie. Take a little walk down to the Surry Hills side of Redfern and you’ll find this spacious café on the corner of Bourke and Chelsea Streets. It’s still a bustling place, but because of the large interior, chances are you’ll be seated quicker than most other places in the area. In terms of food, you’ll find all the classics like silky scrambled eggs on sourdough, but here they are topping it with silky strips of lemon myrtle-cured salmon. If you cannot resist the siren song of a sweet breakfast, order the fat, fluffy pancakes given the full Elvis treatment with fresh strawberries and banana, berry compôte, salt caramel and ricotta.
Staying true to the industrial history of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops built in 1880-89, Carriageworks is now one of the leading arts and cultural centres in Sydney. Worth visiting for the space alone, its cavernous interiors are faithfully preserved and inside each space is a diverse program of large-scale theatre, dance and installation works, and as a host of the experimental and cross-disciplinary theatre company Performance Space, Sydney Chamber Opera and Moogahlin Performing Arts.
Before you farewell Redfern, head to this neighbourhood bar that has award-winning snacks. At this newish Regent Street venue they’ve uploaded the spirit of a café into a bar. It might have been the promise of a glass of the Somos barbera rosé that got you here – but it’s the food menu that will keep you in your seat. There is no greater argument for eating in season than ripe, grilled peaches with perfect tomatoes and an orb of burrata. It could almost be a dessert save for the savoury anchor of pistachios and fresh basil’s sharp, aromatic contribution. We gave them the award for Best Bar Food in 2018.