Inner Sydney cool: Sydney’s hidden late-night bars

February 20, 2017
Julia D'Orazio

Can you keep a secret? Clearly I can’t as I must let you in on the late-night hangouts that Sydneysiders can’t get enough of. Sydney’s late-night scene may be under scrutiny due to the State Government’s harsh stance on local nightlife (lockout laws have strict closing times on bars in the CBD), but you need not fear, for some late-night venues do still exist. From hot dog delights to whisky, cocktails to arcade games, these Sydney inner city gems are worth that extra bit of navigational skill as they will expose you to Sydney’s rare late-night treasures.

Baxter Inn

Cleverly tucked away in the backstreets and down the staircase into an inner city basement lies Sydney’s speakeasy whisky haven, the Baxter Inn.

Behind the old fashioned wooden bar are well-dressed bartenders with enough swag and craftsmanship to make you a cocktail like no other, with concoctions far reaching from all corners of the globe (trust me, they certainly know how to whip up the perfect pisco sour). Its extensive whisky collection resembles a towering library wall, with a ladder to help the bartenders navigate the encyclopaedia of whiskey on display. To not order a cocktail or whisky would be a crime as this is one of Sydney’s famed hot spots for a late-night drink.

This is the perfect place to hibernate from the inner city bustle with its small tables and cosy booths, creating an intimate setting for those who appreciate the finer things in life — and over complimentary bowls of pretzels too!

Baxter Inn, Basement 152-156 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000.

The Soda Factory

Pastel colours, retro signage, checked floors, and the promise of some boss hot dogs illuminate the entrance of this funky Sydney shop front, but all is not what it seems. When reaching for a soda from its old-fashioned vending machine, you will get more than you bargained for.

Contrasting to its funky entrance is the cosy and industrial, wooden finished world of The Soda Factory. Ever so popular with young Sydneysiders, this bar certainly knows how to draw a crowd with its lip-smacking, grease-loving American diner-style menu. Spare the loose change with its gourmet Dollar Dawg nights pulling in the crowds every Tuesday.

Hit up its island bar for a glass of one of its quirky-named cocktails and alcohol-fuelled ice cream floats (not one for the kids, sorry). With all sorts of entertainment (movie nights, live music, and DJ spins) being pumped out seven nights a week, you know that this inner city factory is producing the goods for a good time.

The Soda Factory, 16 Wentworth Avenue, Surrey Hills, NSW 2010. Phone +61 02 8096 9120.

Frankie’s Pizza by the Slice

guy playing guitar on stage at a bar in Sydney

Photo by Frankie’s Pizza

Strolling through the concrete jungle of Sydney, it is hard to visualise something out of the ordinary looming beneath the skyscrapers. Those hungry ninja turtles were right to go below ground as you, too, can have your slice at this late-night underground pizza bar.

Follow the neon lights and walk down the stairs to find yourself in an NYC-inspired pizza parlour that looks and feels quintessentially Italian with all the stereotypical trimmings: candles in glass bottles, cosy tables with red and white cloths, checked black and white floors, and your grandfather’s old wooden bar welcoming from the side lines.

If a Lady and the Tramp-style pizza feast setting doesn’t suit your mood, head through its saloon doors to a parallel world. With its darkly lit back bar featuring diner booths, pinball machines, a stage for local rock gods and old show bills plastered on its walls, the place easily brings back all kinds of youthful nostalgia.

The bar can be forgiven for serving up drinks in plastic glasses, too – especially as things can get wild in here until closing time at 3am. Oh, and did I mention it serves deliciously affordable pizza?

Frankie’s Pizza by the Slice, 50 Hunter St, Sydney NSW 2000.