Themed drink and dine venues are popular internationally, and Sydney is taking suite with themed venues popping up throughout the city. As Sydney’s hospitality scene continues to grow, we have curated a guide of some of the most unique themed bars and restaurants our city has to offer to keep your plate and glass in the loop.
Daisy’s Milk Bar
Who’s Daisy? Well, she could be your sister, mother, best-friend or grandma as far as we’re concerned – and that’s exactly how it feels at Daisy’s Milk Bar. This playful milk bar and diner in Petersham is inspired by 1950’s Australian milk bars, and has nostalgic touches scattered throughout the venue. A lemonade stand and cordial station encourage you to indulge your sweet tooth, as well as brown paper bags filled with lollies for sale at the counter.
The atmosphere at Daisy’s Milk Bar is humble and the service is friendly, and with ice-cream sundaes and pancake stacks (hand-painted by Lauren Winzer) decorating the walls it’s hard to hide a smile while you’re visiting this cosy eatery. The Daisy’s menu serves classic Australian milk bar items such as burgers, toasties, jaffles, choc-fudge sundaes and cherry pies as well as more traditional big breakfast specials with bacon, eggs, mushrooms on toast.
Daisy’s Milk Bar
340 Stanmore Road, Petersham, 8065 3466
Open 7.30am on weekdays and 8am on weekend – kitchen closes at 3pm daily.
There has never been a more entertaining way to satisfy your dumpling cravings than at Harajuku Gyoza. This kawaii (cute) Izakaya-style eatery located in Potts Point specializes in gyoza, offering several savoury and sweet options for diners to feast on.
Additionally they serve ramen and an array of traditional Japanese side dishes such as edamame, miso soup, chicken karaage and sesame salad. You can end your evening of dumplings and fun with a cold glass of Sapporo or a cup of sake, as Harajuku Gyoza is fully licensed. Harajuku Gyoza and its synonymous smiling dumpling face will transport you straight to Tokyo, as the walls are lined with Harajuku inspired decorative touches. The emphasis here is on fun and friendly service, making it a dining experience not to miss.
9/15 Bayswater Rd, Potts Point, 9356 3834
Open Mon – Sun 12pm until 11.30pm.
Jazz City BBQ
When Jazz City Diner closed it’s doors in Darlinghurst, owner Dan McGuirt decided to keep his American dream alive and opened up a barbecue restaurant in Surry Hills instead. Jazz City BBQ is an American smokehouse eatery through and through, serving Texan style meats and diner dishes in the form of pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken and waffles, chilli cheese burgers and a host of sides that will have your stomach saying yee-ha. Jazz City BBQ is a dining experience for ambitious meat-eaters, where you pay for your meat according to weight. You can take a seat underneath the neon Tabasco sign and wait for your order to be served up by the friendly wait-staff.
They also offer a curated selection of drinks keeping in line with their American dining experience including root beer, Dr. Pepper, Budweiser, Boston Lager and more.
Jazz City BBQ
200 Goulburn Street, Surry Hills, 9264-2572
Lunch: Wed – Fri 12pm to 2pm and dinner: Wed-Sat 6pm to 10pm
Jonkanoo is a Caribbean restaurant in Surry Hills, which celebrates the vibrant and captivating atmosphere of a street carnival. Jonkanoo’s menu is constantly rotating, which keeps the island inspired flavours of the restaurant and bar interesting all year round. They recently opened for brunch delivering a simple yet innovative menu, with dishes such as island spiced French toast and a Caribbean breakfast plate. The dinner menu will have your taste buds transported straight to the coastline, serving oysters with Jamaican gravy, salted cod fish fritters, slow-cooked goats curry jerk chicken and more, along with set menus for groups larger than 7 people.
The brightly coloured courtyard is the perfect spot for group dining and some Saturday night drinks. Jonkanoo’s bar menu offers a curated selection of imported beer, wine, cider and Champagne, as well as a fine selection of island rums. The cocktail menu draws inspiration from classic and modern cocktails and nod to the history of the Caribbean, with each cocktail coming with an interesting one-liner explaining the name.
583 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010, 9699 0019
Open Tues through Thurs 6-10pm, Fri 12pm-3pm/6-11pm, Sat 11am-3pm/6-11pm and Sun 11am-3pm/6-9.30pm.
In the heart of Bondi Junction sits a modern Mexican restaurant that is anything but a standard cantina. El Topo offers diners a large selection of tacos, as well as innovative Mexican dishes such as zucchini flower and quinoa quesadillas, grilled octopus, kingfish ceviche and fried crickets (yes, fried crickets). The atmosphere is lively and the aesthetic screams authentic Mexico at El Topo. You can choose to settle into one of their wooden booths or sit outside in their courtyard, which is painted yellow and pink with a skeleton Mariachi band. They also have a diverse bar menu, with every cocktail being mixed exclusively with Cuervo Tequila or Ilegal Mezcal.
El Topo at The Eastern
Bondi Junction Westfield, Level 3/500 Oxford St, Bondi Junction, 8383 5959
Monday – Wednesday 4:00pm – 10:00pm, Thursday – Sat 12:00pm – Late, Sunday 12:00pm – 12:00am
Earls Juke Joint
Earls Juke Joint has established itself as a gem of the inner-west, serving artfully mixed cocktails inside a saloon-style bar. Hidden inside the old Betta Meats Butchery on King Street, Earls is an ode to New Orleans Rock and Roll culture having been named after Earl Palmer (the legendary American rhythm and blues drummer who created the backbeat of rock and roll music). The walls are lined with all the greats of rock and roll, and the corrugated iron ceiling and art-deco lamps add to the vintage aesthetic.
Owner Pasan Wijesena ‘s playlist for Earls keeps the good times rolling all night long with a bit of hip-hop, rock and roll, blues and a Destiny’s Child track thrown in for good measure.
On the bar menu expect to see a fine selection of local brews including Young Henrys and Batch Brewing Co, a selection of wine and Champagne, along with an innovative cocktail menu which the bar staff are constantly shaking up. The team at Earls Juke Joint are friendly and the atmosphere is welcoming and relaxed, making it an ideal venue to enjoy a mid-week drink with friends.
Earls Juke Joint
407 King Street, Newtown
Open Mon – Sat 4pm until midnight and Sun 4 – 10pm
Hinky Dinks is a cute pocket bar in Darlinghurst that is recently under new management, where everything from the menu to the decor is retro kitsch and tiki. Hinky Dinks celebrates vintage 1950’s cocktail culture, with the emphasis planted firmly on providing patrons with an authentic and well-rounded experience. The entire venue looks like a 1950’s display kitchen, complete with black and white checkered floors and cherry-red bar stools. The bar menu offers retro inspired cocktails laden with bourbon and spiced rum (sip on the ‘Betty Draper’ or ‘Frozen Bourbon Milk Sundae’), as well as a selection of beer, wine, cider and one sake. The atmosphere at Hinky Dinks is fun and they offer banquet areas for groups of twenty of less people as well as exclusive venue hire. They host an American style menu with sliders, tacos, Jalapēno poppers and more on offer as well as chocolate donuts and banana splits for dessert.
185 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, 8084 6379
Open Mon through Sat 4pm-midnight and Sun 2pm-11pm.
The Lobo Plantation is an intimately lit South American meets Caribbean rum bar and eatery tucked away in the CBD. This themed venue serves a range of Latin-style dishes such as slow cooked beef empanadas, black bean and zucchini fritters, smoked ham and cheese croquettes and more. Lobo Plantation is an ideal destination for a mid-week escape, popular with office workers and cocktail enthusiasts alike, settle down in one of their leather booths or art deco style armchairs. They are best known for their extensive range of island inspired cocktails with quippy names such as the ‘Wilson!’, ‘Cuban Payphone’ and the ‘Liberty Bell’. Lobo Plantation also offers rum flights, which offer parties (of a minimum four people) a liquor experience and entail tastings and complimentary snacks for all passengers.
Basement Lot 1, 209 Clarence St, Sydney
Open Mon to Thurs 4pm – midnight, Fri 2pm – midnight and Sat 4pm – midnight.
Shady Pines Saloon
Swing open the saloon doors and enter Shady Pines Saloon, a hopping venue from the wild west that is well-loved on the Sydney bar scene. This boot-scootin’ bar sees taxidermy covering almost every inch of the walls, and patrons wouldn’t have it any other way. Shady Pines has been a training ground for many of Sydney’s hospitality crew and it continues to see Sydney-siders swing dancing their way around the floor on a Friday night. There’s no food on the menu at Shady Pines, just a trough filled with free-for-all peanuts and a bowl.
These bartenders know how to mix a drink and will shake up your cloudy apple vodka or ‘old pal’ whiskey faster than a quick draw. Weekends tend to get rowdy at this beloved Darlinghurst stomping ground, so arrive early and leave when there’s more people than taxidermy.
Shady Pines Saloon
4/256 Crown St, Darlinghurst
Open 7 days a week 4pm-midnight.
If the crew of Gilligan’s Island ever made it off the island and opened a bar, it would be Hello Sailor. This spacious bar in the Foley Lane drinking corridor is thoroughly nautical in theme, with stripes, anchors and rope lining the walls. The downstairs bar (‘The Sailors Den’) is covered in mismatched wooden panels and serves up a short but sweet cocktail menu that will have you singing sea shanty’s all night long (Pina Coladas, St. Germains, Aperol Spritz and more) as well as champagne, beer, wine and cider. The kitchen offers pizzas, lobster and calamari burgers, oysters, panini’s and other seafood dishes. The seafood shack upstairs has a maritime-kitsch aesthetic, with brightly coloured booths, neon signs and vintage Sailor-Jerry inspired posters lining the walls.
96 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, 9332 2442
Open Tues through Sun 5pm – 3am.