Your complete guide to going out in Sydney

Photo credit: Imogen Grist

Despite the best efforts of the NSW government’s lockout laws, Sydney’s nightlife scene continues to thrive. The city’s bar and food culture is world renowned, but rest assured it doesn’t all go quiet after midnight.

Recent years have seen a resourceful crop of promoters and venue owners making parties work both in and out of the lockout zone. While a regular weekend in Sydney is sure to have a few international tours passing through (and even more in summer), many of the best nights boast all-local line-ups. Sydney has certainly changed, but insiders still know where to find a great time.

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Fredas / Photo by Imogen Grist

The warm-up

While cheap, no-frills pubs are sadly becoming something of an endangered species, Sydney is spoiled for choice when it comes to quality drinking. These five favourites – all a short walk or cab ride from the city’s best dancefloors – only scratch the surface of your pre-gaming options.

Housed in an old Chippendale warehouse, Freda’s is one of those Sydney all-rounders that’s a bar, “canteen” and an occasional dancefloor. They frequently book excellent local DJs who’ll set the tone for your after-midnight adventures.

109 Regent Street, Chippendale 2008

Earl’s Juke Joint
If you pass through the deceiving butcher’s shopfront into Earl’s Juke Joint before a night out dancing, there’s a risk you’ll end up staying put. Sure, the soundtrack won’t be quite the same, but you’ll have a serious cocktail list to work through.

407 King Street, Newtown 2042

Cake Wines Cellar Door
It’s not exactly common for winery tasting rooms to host the likes of Moodymann, András and Harvey Sutherland’s live show, but that’s been Cake Wines Cellar Door’s point of difference since opening last year. (Oh, and they also have a solid menu of wine, beer and food.)

16 Eveleigh St, Redfern 2016

The Bearded Tit
Redfern has its share of anonymous pubs, but The Bearded Tit is a unique creature. After spending a few hours soaking up the vibe at this excellent bar and “creative clubhouse”, you’ll wish it were your neighbourhood hang.

183 Regent St, Redfern 2016

The Wild Rover
Naturally you need whiskey, oysters and a Guinness before you head out. After all, you’re only human. This Surry Hills gem is part Irish tavern, part hidden New York bar, and it’s all good.

75 Campbell St, Surry Hills 2010

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Goodbar / Photo via Facebook

The main event

A visitor to Sydney doesn’t have to Google far to find the likes of Chinese Laundry, Pacha at Ivy, Home Nightclub and Civic Underground. Here’s some other dancefloors you shouldn’t pass up.

This intimate gem at the Paddington end of Oxford Street (outside the city’s lockouts zone) reopened last year after a decade-long closure. The refurbed space boasts a sleek bar upstairs and an underground dancefloor, where the bookings are always on-point. Friday night is Peoples Club with guests including Axel Boman, Seekae and Dreems, while Saturdays keep the house and techno rolling with Nights Like This.

11a Oxford Street, Paddington 2021

Ricardo’s at the Sydney Portugal Community Club
One of the newer entries on this list, Ricardo’s happens every Friday night at the Sydney Portugal Community Club in Marrickville. It’s lockout free, cheap to get in, and the programming is shared between some of Sydney’s savviest collectives, including Motorik, Pelvis and Vibe Positive.

100 Marrickville Road, Marrickville 2204

Red Rattler Theatre
A short walk from Marrickville Bowling Club (home of legendary Sydney party Mad Racket) you’ll find Red Rattler Theatre. All sorts of theatre shows and exhibitions go down in this DIY space, and it also hosts great queer parties from crews like The House of Mince and Voguey Bear.

6 Faversham St, Marrickville 2204

If you want a heads-down club session without any hassle, make a beeline for The BUNK3R. The dark and intimate underground room features a rotation of house and techno – guests run from Berlin’s Answer Code Request to Sydney’s finest equivalents – on a Funktion-One sound system.

Oxford Hotel basement level, 134 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst 2010

Jam Gallery
Another venue unburdened by the lockout laws, Jam Gallery is used by several of Sydney’s best promoters. The downstairs space in Bondi Junction hosts regular nights from Sydney house and disco authorities Picnic, while other esteemed visitors include Theo Parrish, Floating Points and Talaboman (aka, John Talabot and Axel Boman).

195 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction 2022

77 William Street has long been an important address for Sydney clubbing. A former grimy home to the likes of Bang Gang, Club 77 was reinvented as the somewhat more grown-up 77 last year. Despite its new classy menu and drinks, though, this place still gets down like the old days, particularly for the awesome queer party Poida’s Pavlova Bar on Sunday nights.

77 William Street, Darlinghurst 2010

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Big Poppa’s / Photo via Facebook

Late-night eats

What if we told you there’s more to after-midnight eating than frightening doner kebabs? When in Sydney, eat well at 1am.

Chat Thai
There’s good reason why Haymarket institution Chat Thai is one of Sydney’s busiest restaurants: it’s damn delicious. It’s also open until 2am every night of the week.

20 Campbell Street, Haymarket 2000

Dae Jang Kum
This Korean BBQ spot has the special distinction of staying open till 6am on Friday and Saturday nights. Getting stuck into delicious BBQ beef as the sun comes up is some kind of power move.

35 Goulburn Street, Haymarket 2000

Big Poppa’s
Located conveniently close to several bars and clubs on this list, Big Poppa’s serves its cheesy, carb-loaded fare (with a hip-hop soundtrack) until 3am every night. Consider it your baller alternative to those greasy Oxford Street pizza slices.

96 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst 2010

Golden Century Seafood Restaurant
A late-night option so iconic we hardly need to list it. However, on the off chance you’ve missed the word on Golden Century, get yourself acquainted with a plate of the famous pippies in XO sauce.

393-399 Sussex Street, Chinatown 2000

Thirsty Bird
Kings Cross (or is it all just Potts Point now?) has changed dramatically in recent years, with the lockout laws pushing late-night partying into other areas. Thanks to Thirsty Bird on Bayswater Road, though, you can still end your nights out with fried chicken. It’s open until 1:30am on Fridays and 3am on Saturdays.

Shop 3, 2-14 Bayswater Road, Potts Point 2011

Need more inspo? Find out what keeps the country’s cultural curators going and up at night:

Summer in Sydney was eventful wasn’t it? But at least there were plenty of positives and people fighting for a positive nightlife scene; There were Keep Sydney Open protests, House of Bacardi Parties in Kings Cross and a slew of other events that kept us going. Learn more about what’s going on in Sydney’s nightlife by clicking here.