Paddington, or “Paddo” as it is lovingly known, is nowadays one of Sydney’s most desirable suburbs. A heritage village dotted with boutique stores and hemmed by rows of Victorian-era houses, the streets combine old-world influences with modern flair. You’ll find some of the city’s most well-dressed (and well-heeled) folk here, walking the pavements with their equally fashionable designer dogs.
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What’s Paddington known for?
At the heart of Paddington is ‘the Intersection’, a high street retail precinct with a village feel where Oxford Street and Glenmore Road meet. The area first began to emerge as a destination for local and international fashion in the 1960s – before this, it was largely regarded as a working-class suburb.
By the ’90s, the Paddington end of Oxford Street was established as Sydney's fashion epicentre. The area’s terrace-converted shops have long been a breeding ground for up-and-coming design talent, able to retail on street level and use the upstairs as spaces for manufacturing, offices, or living.
The land now known as Paddington traditionally belongs to the Dharug (or Eora) language group, and is associated with the stories of the Cadigal people. The ridge on which Oxford Street was built was also an efficient walking track used by the area’s original inhabitants.
Why do the locals love it?
Husband and wife Joe and Rose Cipri have lived in Paddington for 20 odd years, and Joe and his brothers, Carmelo and Anthony, opened their first restaurant in Paddington ten years ago after three decades in the restaurant business. So what drew them to Sydney’s east? “For me, it's the community,” says Joe. “I feel like it's a friendly, lively, well-travelled community.” Rose adds: “They appreciate good quality food and good quality wine, and they love having a chat about food, travel and culture. That’s what we love doing as well.”
Tucked away around a corner and up a set of stairs, Cipri (10 Elizabeth St) is a restaurant with a genuine family feel. Any night you can walk in and one or all three of the brothers will be there, the walls are covered with a selection of family photos from over the years, and on the menu are Italian dishes inspired by their Calabrian parents. After having run three other restaurants around Sydney, Joe says this is the first place where they felt confident giving it the family name: “It's the one restaurant where I really feel like we’ve immersed ourselves in the community. Everyone who walks past waves and says 'G’day'.”
The family opened their second restaurant, Barbetta (2 Elizabeth St), right next door as a daytime café counterpart after customers expressed their desire to see the Cipri’s for their morning coffee. Here you can find an Italian take on the Aussie café brekkie, fresh pasta for lunch, and a wall of house-made and imported European groceries and ready-made meals. Barbetta is also where the family runs pasta making classes, cooking workshops, and Italian language classes. Joe and Rose say people from all over Sydney, who’ve had their 2020 European travel plans cancelled for the foreseeable future, have been coming to them to get a taste of bella Italia in the meantime.
How do I get to Paddington?
Busses running from Central serve Paddington well; the 440 from Eddy Avenue will get you to Paddington Town Hall in 10 minutes, and the 389 line between Bondi Junction and Pyrmont has six stops in Paddington. From Central Station, you can take the T4 line towards Bondi Junction and get off the train at Edgecliff Station (5 minutes), from there the Paddington end of Oxford Street is about a 20 minute walk.
Sandwiched in the middle of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, Paddington is just three kilometres east of the Sydney CBD. Follow Oxford Street to the west and you’ll hit Darlinghurst, with the city’s epicenter of gay bars and nightlife; follow Oxford Street in the opposite direction past Centennial Park and Woollhara and you’ll reach Bondi with its refined take on relaxed beachside living. To the south is Moore Park.
Map of Paddington
If you only do one thing
You can easily while away a day in Paddington, admiring the architecture of the terraced streets and popping into shops and cafés. But if you can only pick one day for it, go there on a Saturday and check out the Paddington Markets (395 Oxford St), which takes over the grounds of Paddington Uniting Church and the neighbouring public school with more than 100 stalls selling Australian-made fashion, handmade crockery and metal costume jewellery. The markets re-launch on September 26 after lockdowns with a new growers market for all your fresh produce desires.