1. EAT SPAGHETTI FROM A WHEEL OF CHEESE.
It’s called Cacio Pepe, and it’s one of the greatest things you will ever put in or around your mouth. Get it at Buffalo Dining Club (Darlinghurst). Take home a jar of their house-made chilli sauce, too. It used to be available just as a side but was so good they started selling it.
2. VISIT AN ABANDONED ASYLUM AT MIDNIGHT.
Back in the day Rozelle Hospital was a psychiatric clinic for the mentally ill. Leather restraints, guerney beds, decades-old newspapers and some pretty grim asbestos warnings reward those brave enough to explore. Take a spare pair of underwear. Actually, take two.
3. HAVE A CRACK AT THE DOUBLE SEXTUPLE WHIPLASH BURGER.
That’s it there on the right. The dudes at Lashings (Brighton-Le-Sans) load it up with 12 beef patties, 13 slices of American cheese, turkey bacon, grilled pineapple, tomato, lettuce, jalepenos, pickled mayo and chilli mayo. It costs $55, but will fill you up for about 3 weeks. Oh and if you finish it in under 30 minutes, you win maximum respect.
4. TAKE THE FAM TO THE CURL CURL ROCK POOLS.
Dress the kids in their Thomas The Tank Engine togs and take them for a splash at the ocean-fed water park at the south end of Curl Curl Beach. There’s a lap pool for the adults and a sandy-bottomed splash pool with ramp entry for the kids, plus some choice sunbathing on nearby rocks.
5. SIP A VANILLA BOURBON PICCOLO TOPPED WITH BOURBON-GLAZED BACON.
Get Southern-fried fancy-pants with your coffee fix and order a Vanilla Bourbon Piccolo Topped With Bourbon-glazed Bacon at Dr Faustus (Redfern). On the wagon? Go for a Coco Pops Cereal Milk, where everyone’s favourite chocolate puffs are soaked in milk, strained, then poured into an ice-cold glass.
6. ROAD TRIP TO THE EDGE OF THE WORLD.
At Wattamolla Beach (Royal National Park, south of Sydney) you’ll find the actual, literal, bona fide best kept natural secret to end all secrets. This place is the Gigi Hadid of beaches, with a soft sandbar separating the ocean and an emerald lagoon complete with cliff jump. Want bigger bragging rights? Park in the top car park and follow the bush trail to the Edge Of The World, home to immense solitude and raging technicolour sunsets.IMAGE: yelp.com.au.
7. DEVOUR A CONNECTICUT LOBSTER ROLL DRENCHED IN WARM BUTTER.
At Waterman’s Lobster Co (Potts Point) they load a fresh-baked soft’n’crusty bread roll with succulent hunks of Atlantic lobster drenched with enough melted butter to drown a Frenchman. It’s 100% sexual and definitely counts as cheating on your partner.
8. PLAY WITH A GRUMBLE OF PUPPACINO-SWILLING PUGS.
Spend a sunny Saturday morning at Cafe Bones on Hawthorne Canal (Leichhardt) and get your coffee on at “the world’s first dog-friendly cafe”. You can watch the weekly meetup of the Inner West Pug Grumble, where dozens of the weird little buggers slurp up bowls of (patented) Puppacinos and dash about with frothy chins. You don’t even need a dog. Just go.
9. PLAY RUSSIAN ROULETTE WITH PADRON PEPPERS.
Okay so technically this one is in Queensland but they ship to Sydney so what the hell, right? Sign up to Midyim Eco’s mailing list and when their padron peppers come into stock over summer order a big box and fry those bad boys up at home with olive oil and a handful of salt. One in ten will kick your two front teeth out.
10. CRUISE THE OLD PACIFIC HIGHWAY FOR MEAT PIES AND BIKE PORN.
Got leathers? Wear ‘em. Then pretend it’s 1992 and cruise up the Old Pacific Highway to Pie In The Sky Roadhouse (Cowan). The first thing you’ll notice is the carpark full of bicycles and gleaming chrome crotch rockets. You can get a fruit pie if you like, but that’d be missing the point. Meat or bust, and don’t skimp on the tommy sauce.
11. KILL YOUR HANGOVER WITH ANOTHER HANGOVER.
Hungover? Then dance on the corpse with a Bloody Hell at Bloody Mary’s (Darlinghurst). House-made tomato juice and chilli-infused vodka is served with a shrimp, a slider, and a buffalo wing, because sometimes a drink is also a meal. Or just order a shot and go freestyle at their walk-up Bloody Mary bar.IMAGE: Kelly B on yelp.com.au.
12. HEAR FROM A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR.
Hear Holocaust survivor Lotte Weiss recount the harrowing tale of her time in the Auschwitz concentration camp at the Sydney Jewish Museum (Darlinghurst). With a gentle demeanour, wry humour, and prison camp numbers still tattooed on her forearm, a chat with Lotte is guaranteed to leave you wiser, softer, and more reflective than when you arrived. Sundays only.
13. EAT ETHIOPIAN CURRY WITH FERMENTED BREAD.
Use spongy, lemon-scented bread (known as injera) as both table and cutlery at Jambo Jambo African Restaurant (Crows Nest). Scoop up red, yellow, and orange-hued curries then finish the evening off with a celebratory roast coffee ceremony with Joseph, the uber-friendly owner and chef.
14. GET YOUR FLOAT ON.
Do your best Sandra Bullock impression in the zero-gravity tanks at Sydney Float Centre (Manly). There’s no light, no sound, and nothing to feel: total sensory deprivation. It’s strange at first, but quickly becomes transcendental. Take green tea in a hammock afterwards and wonder why the world feels like a better place than it did an hour ago.
15. CHUCK A SICKIE.
Take a mid-week sick day and treat yourself to some A-grade alone time with a dip at Redleaf Pool, followed by a visit to the tiny, charming Double Bay Library. Sunbake on the pontoon then grab a seat by the big bay windows and settle in with a good book. Or a bad one. You’ll be so relaxed it won’t matter either way.
16. GO TO HILLSONG.
No, seriously, there’s a Hillsong campus in Waterloo and it’s worth checking out for the production values alone. Their Sunday night services are the closest thing you can get to a Coldplay concert without going to a Coldplay concert. There’s lasers and crowds and singalongs and free coffee for first timers in the lobby afterwards. Free coffee you guys!
17. TAKE THE GHOST PEPPER CHILLI CHICKEN WING CHALLENGE.
Do the Ghost Pepper Chilli Chicken Wing Challenge at Palace Hotel (Haymarket). Six wings, ten minutes, no water. After your face goes numb you’ll start crying then have the pleasure of watching your own face melt off while the bartenders pour milk and make you chew sugar packets, which are meant to help but don’t really. Feeling extra hardcore? Do the Carolina Reaper challenge. Just write up your Last Will & Testament first.
18. HANG OUT IN A VICTORIAN-ERA CEMETERY.
Throw on your active wear (don’t pretend you don’t own any) and cruise a few laps of the walking track around the gorgeous St Thomas Rest Park (Cammeray). Stop to read the tombstones of the 19th-century unfortunates who made the journey out from England only to die of syphilis and lightning strikes, then watch the dogs run around the pyramid mausoleum in the centre of the park.
19. TAKE YOUR CHANCES IN THE DIP.
Join the daredevils – and the odd intrepid dog – in The Dip, a sandy-bottomed channel that cuts across the rocks at Tamarama. On quiet days it’s a clear pool, at high tide when the surf is pumping it turns into a washing machine. If you get sucked down the channel you’ll enjoy a brief water slide before being spat out into Mackenzies Bay.
20. KICK BACK OVER A RUSTIC FEAST IN A KINGS CROSS FARMHOUSE.
Wrangle up a group of friends and feast like vikings at the winter solstice at Farmhouse Kings Cross. It’s a tiny rustic room fitted with one long table and a 2-person bar on the street. Meals are served family-style. Owner Mike Mu Sung is ex-Sixpenny and Est., which is pretty damn sweet as far as a culinary pedigree goes.
21. FIND HENRY LAWSON’S SECRET CAVE.
Bushwalk through Flat Rock Gully (Willoughby) and discover verdant Fern Gully-esque glens, Jurassic Park-sized spiders, and the sandstone cave where Henry Lawson used to sleep off his nightly hangovers. What up, history!
22. GO INDOOR SKYDIVING, IT’S TOTALLY A THING!
Zip on an orange jumpsuit and soar out over a giant fan at IFLY Downunder (Penrith). Indoor skydiving is new and it’s almost as fun as the real thing, just without all that bothersome jump-out-of-a-plane malarkey. One you’ve got your bearings you can pull all kinds of bad-ass maneuvers then make up cool names for them, like The Flying Squirrel. Only use something else because we already invented that one. Ahem.
23. ENJOY HOME-MADE ITALIAN ON A CHILLY BLUE MOUNTAINS EVENING.
Sure, it’s not technically in Sydney, but if (when) you head out to the Blue Mountains, plan a meal at Papadino’s (Katoomba). It’s unassuming, it’s cheap, and it’s traditional family-run Italian at its very finest. Paul, the father/chef, has a recipe for chilli sauce that will blow your tiny mind. He won’t share the secret with his son, but has promised to leave the recipe to him in his will. Which is just about the coolest thing we’ve ever heard.
24. CHANNEL YOUR INNER CAT LADY
And get into Catmosphere Cat Cafe (Surry Hills), where you can play with an entire room full of crafty felines while drinking coffee AND eating cookies. You’ve only got an hour though, so pet as many as you can, and try not to be too needy. They can smell desperation.
25. TAKE BREAKFAST AT THE BOATSHED.
Take visiting out-of-towners to The Boathouse at Balmoral Beach. Yeah, you’ll have to stalk a table to get seated, and yeah, your order will take a while to come, but suck it up because on a sunny morning surrounded by sparkling ocean and salt-bleached wood, this is a peach of a spot. Beach lyf, yo.
26. SLURP LONG, SLURP STRONG AT A HIDDEN RAMEN DEN.
Join the people queueing for no apparent reason along a non-descript section of Falcon St and hunker down over a bowl of the best ramen you’ll ever taste at Ryo’s Noodles (Crows Nest). The chashu is cut thick, the Ajitsuke is molten, and the broth is thick and collagen-rich. Order the Special, it’s not on the menu and combines the spicy and regular ramens. Wink at other diners when it comes.
27. STRAP ON A PAIR OF CHUCKS AND GO URBAN EXPLORING.
Check out the decrepit Dunlop / Slazenger Factory (Alexandria). It’s abandoned industrial interiors are rusting, graffitied, and all kinds of raw, making them a photographer’s paradise. We’re not suggesting you go inside as strictly speaking it’s private property, but a walk around the outside will reveal nooks, crannies, and chain-link fences to peek through.
28. DRINK A G&T FROM A SNOWGLOBE.
Craft your own made-to-order G&T at The Powder Keg (Potts Point). There’s 110 gins on the menu so good luck and godspeed. Or just go for broke and order a pressurised G&T infused with rose petals and served in a snow globe that you sip with a glass straw. Y’know, whatevs.
29. TAKE A NUDE LIFE DRAWING CLASS.
A not-for-profit creative hub, 107 Projects Community Art Centre (Redfern) is fully legit. It hosts exhibitions, gigs, parties, and has a cozy cafe / bar that opens out to the street so you can get your people watching on. And they’re opening up a secret rooftop level perfect for events, *cough* summer *cough*.
30. SHOOT A LAZY EIGHTEEN AT LONGREEF.
Situated on a breathtaking headland, Long Reef Golf Club (Collaroy) is a links course which sports astonishing views almost guaranteed to put you off your game (that was our excuse), and cold beers on tap at the beachside clubhouse afterwards. Utterly glorious from start to finish, even if you’re a hack.
31. REDISCOVER FISH AND CHIPS.
Tucked away behind the bustling Corso, Fishmongers Manly will change the way you look at fish and chips. Choose your fresh seafood, choose how you want it cooked, then gasp in delight as a plate of art arrives garnished with splinters of crispy sweet potato chips and licks of juicy sweetcorn. BONUS: if you check in on the Yelp app when you’re there you’ll get a free beer or wine. Boom!
32. CRUISE A CLIFFTOP CEMETERY.
Do your best Edgar Allan Poe impression at Waverley Cemetery (Bronte), where cracked paths wind through a vast, anachronistic kingdom of sarcophagi and cherubs adorned with spurts of rust and ivy and the odd raven as they meander down to the ocean. Bleak and spectacular.
33. ENJOY THE EMPEROR’S HOT CUSTARD
Stuff your face with piping hot Emperor Puffs at Emperor’s Garden Cake & Bakery (Chinatown). Small doughy balls filled with the insanely hot custard, they’re cooked to order and served so fresh you’d be advised to wait at least 5 minutes before eating them. These things take out three to four tourists a day.
34. SPOT DOLPHINS FROM HIDDEN GUN BUNKERS
Put your Captain Cook hat on and explore the old sandstone artillery tunnels, clifftop bunkers and secret gun placements at Middle Head (Mosman). This decommissioned naval land has been opened up to the public and there’s a wealth of hidden cliffs, lookouts and history to be uncovered. There’s also top-class boat and dolphin-watching, if that’s your thing.
35. INSTAGRAM YOUR BRUNCH, GIVE ZERO F’S.
Roll into Rustic Pearl (Surry Hills) for the most Instagram-worthy brunch you will ever have the pleasure of photo-eating. Don’t get all judgey when you see everyone with their phones out snapping away like paparazzi at a Miley sighting – you’ll be doing the same once your order arrives.
36. DRINK BEER IN A WAX-WALLED WINE CELLAR.
The newest players in the brewing Renaissance sweeping Sydney, Wayward Brewing Company (Annandale) have set up the closest thing you’ll find to a beer-flavoured theme park, with rotating taps, repurposed wine cellars, rock music, floor-to-ceiling vats, and a secret back-alley entrance.
37. ENJOY FINE DINING AT PAUPER’S PRICES.
Treat your bad self to a 3-course fine dining experience for just $38 at William Blue Dining (The Rocks). What? Just 38 bones? That can’t be right. But it is, because it’s made by super talented trainee chefs AKA the people you’ll see on MasterChef in ten years time.
38. GET A RUB-DOWN ON THE CHIZZLE.
Cop a full-body, hour-long massage for the princely sum of $30 at the NSW School of Massage (CBD). It’s safe, it’s clean, and you get to be the living canvas for trainee therapists practicing their rub-a-dub-dub. Great value never felt so good.
39. CATCH A MATINEE AT AN ART DECO CINEMA.
The grand ol’ dame of movie cinemas, Hayden Orpheum (Cremorne), is what movies used to be like before the soulless megaplex came along and ruined things for everyone. Take a date and play tonsil hockey in the love seats that run down either side of the main cinema, and watch in amazement as a giant Wurlitzer organ rises up out of the floor with long-time ivory-tickler Neil Jensen riding shotgun.
40. EAT THE DRAGON’S BREW.
Forget Chinese Noodle Restaurant, Haymarket’s new cheap-and-cheerful contender is Spring River Chinese Restaurant (Haymarket). What it lacks in decor, it makes up for in flavour. The Mapo Tofu is sensational, but even that pales into comparison with the Chilli Beef Soup. Packed with dried red chilli, garlic, chilli oil, and face-numbing Sichuan pepper, it comes with a warning from the waiter. Don’t listen to him.
41. RAISE THE DEAD.
Order The Zombie at Papa Gedes (CBD). Appleton Estate rum, Brandy, Cointreau, grapefruit and Falernum are poured into a Papa Gedes tiki mug, which is set on fire in front of you.The menu says “WARNING! STRONG ENOUGH TO RAISE THE DEAD” and son, they ain’t kidding. We wobbled out of the bar on rubber legs and got on the wrong bus after just one of these amazing nightmares.
42. BE FAAAAANCY FOR A DAY.
Find a member to sign you into private club The Stables Sydney atop Royal Randwick Racecourse, or just ask for a tour and pretend you’re in the market. Eat lunch overlooking the track. Play chess in the leather-and-brass-filled bar. Feel cool and beautiful and rich as you sip a champagne in the Moet & Chandon room. At least until it’s time to leave and resume life as a have-not.
43. WATCH A PLAY AT THE ENSEMBLE.
Catch a show overlooking the water at the Ensemble Theatre (Kirribilli), Australia’s longest continuously-running pro theatre company that counts such luminaries as Russell Crowe, Jack Thompson, and Marina Prior as past performers. What you might not expect is how intimate the theatre is – you’re practically in the performance. Try not to ruin it.
44. GIVE IN TO THE MEAT SWEATS.
Skip lunch. Hell, skip breakfast. At BAHBQ Brazilian Grill (Crows Nest), the hidden king of the Sydney Churrasco scene, men carrying swords prowl the restaurant stuffing diners with char-grilled meats until they need help loosening their own belts. Should come with a complimentary gym membership. Just make sure you leave room for the cinnamon hot pineapple at the end, it’s unexpectedly amazing.
45. PARTY PICKLED POSSUM STYLE.
Party like it’s the summer’s last kegger at The Pickled Possum (Cremorne). There is nothing like this place in all of Sydney, possibly the world. It’s a tiny karaoke bar where drinks are served by 50-year old bartenders and ice for drinks is scooped out of an Esky on the bar. It’s small, it’s ugly, and it pumps like a damn oil rig every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Fun haters need not apply.
46. ORDER OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD HOT CHIPS.
Chuck on a bikini or some boardies and join the queue at Out Of The Blue in Clovelly for a kraken-sized serving of world class milk-bar hot chips wrapped up in butcher’s paper with a side of super punchy chilli mayo.
47. SUGER RUSH AN INSANE MONSTER MILKSHAKE.
You’ve seen the pictures on social media, now strap in and feel the G’s at XS Espresso (Wetherill Park). These mad dairy scientists dish up colossal milkshakes topped with souffles, cronuts, molten chocolate, and Kinder Surprise eggs jammed inside ice cream cones. Woooorth it. You can work on that muffin-top tomorrow.
48. BUY SOME RAD, AFFORDABLE ART.
Get cultured, foo’! And buy some art at Outré Gallery in Surry Hills. This counter-culture art salon is jammed floor-to-ceiling with a rotating explosion of pop, tiki, modern folk and underground art that taps into design and counter culture. You simply cannot go wrong with a big, beautiful, surreal print by James Jean. One art, please!
49. PICNIC ON ROCKY POINT ISLAND.
Splitting the twin crescents of north and south Balmoral Beach, Rocky Point Island is a day-tripper’s wet dream. Explore the caves and rock pools at its base, or sprawl out on the grass under a shady tree and suck in the jillion-dollar views up top. Bring a charcuterie board, sip champagne, and keep an eye out for the giant rabbits that live on the island.
50. ORDER THE CRISPY SKIN CHICKEN WITH TOMATO RICE.
This dish is a Vietnamese staple, but the legends at Tan Viet Noodle House (Cabramatta) do it better than most. Cellophane-thin and saltine-crisp, the crackly skin encases tender white meat that pairs like a champ with the starchy tomato rice. Look around. You know it’s good when every table orders it.