Our 2014 version of this story is here. I’m directing you to it because it has well and truly withstood the test of time.
Still, the buzz surrounding the suburb and the recent redevelopment of Kensington Street warrants a second look at the thriving precinct.
We have chosen not to double up, but please consider this a complement to our original post, rather than a replacement – such is the appeal of Chippendale. From restaurants, to bars, galleries and even the most legit hawkers corner this side of Asia, this little foodie hub, all conveniently located right near Central Station, is the perfect location to get your eat on.
In a precinct packed with cheap, cheerful eats, Automata combines creativity and style for a more upmarket dining experience. Head chef Clayton Wells, formerly of Momofuku, delivers a regularly changing five-course menu with a three-course lunch option on Fridays and Saturdays. A small a la carte menu is available at the bar.
Share tables fill much of the two-level restaurant and the mezzanine offers a rare bird’s eye view of the busy but well-oiled kitchen. Well, if the bird was flying low and slightly to one side. You know what I mean.
Kensington Street Social
Kensington Street Social, the first Australian venture from British chef Jason Atherton, and is another high energy, high quality Chippendale option.
As well as a handful of favourites, the brunch menu features plenty of creative dishes – the breakfast rice with a slow cooked hen’s egg, shitake mushroom, pork belly and bacon dashi among them. Dinner is made to share and includes such delights as sea urchin rice with Moreton Bay bug tail or wagyu tri-tip with miso butterscotch.
LP’s Quality Meats
Vegetarians, look away. LP’s Quality Meats is a carnivore’s dream, serving up cured and smoked meaty goodness to eat in or takeaway. Short ribs, smoked lamb belly, porchetta, bierwurst, smoked beef tongue – I’m getting meat sweats just writing about it.
Yes, there are starters and sides to suit the meat-adverse, but you know you’ll impress far more people by tucking into a 1kg t-bone, right?
Now for something completely different. Running parallel to Kensington Street, Spice Alley is an open-air hawker market offering much-loved Malaysian, Cantonese, Singaporean and Thai flavours.
Spice Alley is at its best after dark when the overhead lanterns offer added romance to the bustling laneway. There’s too many amazing eats to mention here, but lucky for you guys we did the hard, tasty work for you here.
At the heart of Chippendale’s awakening is the revival of Kensington Street, and the sweet terrace houses that line this new hub add plenty of charm.
Residing at No. 16, Bar Chinois celebrates French-Asian fusion on both the food and beverage menus, and it’s a tasty combination either way. Bar Chinois offers daily promotions – baguette and beer Wednesdays, for example – but the everyday offerings are extensive and delicious so there’s really no need to get out the calendar.
Knox Street Bar
Don’t be fooled. Knox Street Bar holds a Shepherd Street address, but geography is quickly forgotten when presented with a cocktail spinning wheel. Featuring all 12 Knox cocktails, your drink will set you back just $13 if you’re willing to relinquish your right to choose and spin the wheel instead.
There’s more to KSB than Cocktail o’ Fortune, of course. Tucked behind The House Specialty Coffee, Knox Street Bar is a small industrial space serving up boutique beers ($8 on tap), cider, wine and a simple bar menu on which the hotdogs are the star.
The Old Clare
The Old Clare Hotel is the centerpiece of Chippendale’s revival and the hotel’s lobby bar provides a fitting welcome. Like the rest of the hotel, The Clare bar honours the heritage of the site. The wall tiles endure, old gig posters remain and the carpet, although thankfully new, is intentionally grungy. These features are in stylish contrast to the swish bar and neat retro furniture that help create an inviting space fit for after-work or pre-dinner drinks.
Where to start? Zigi’s is a wine bar, a cheese bar, a cooking school, a restaurant, and an art gallery. Because I’m most likely to pop in for a 2014 Mi Terruno Uvas tempranillo and a side of Pont-l'Évêque, I’ve decided to slot the Abercrombie Street establishment under the ‘drinks’ sub-heading, although it would fit nicely anywhere.
Zigi’s is a celebration of all-things delicious and they often host tasting events so being on their mailing list isn’t the worst thing.
Central Park Shopping Centre
It’s not the kind of shopping you’d travel for, but if you’re in the area, Central Park Shopping Centre can fulfill plenty of needs.
A handful of fashion and homewares stores are scattered among a number of food options including Din Tai Fung and Doughnut Time, plus Indian, Turkish, Brazilian, Mexican, Chinese, Malaysian, Thai and Japanese cuisines.
However, thanks to sustainable architecture and a super-sized digital interactive wall, it is perhaps the building itself with the greatest appeal.
Gallery Walking Tour
It’s not just the extensive dining options giving Chippendale’s reputation a boost. The inner-city suburb punches well above its weight in the arts space, too.
White Rabbit, aMBUSH, Galerie Pompom, Kensington Contemporary and Harrington Street are perhaps among the best-known, but Chippendale is home to numerous galleries worth exploring.
Free walking tours are held on the first Saturday of each month. Each tour visits up to five galleries and includes talks by gallery owners and feature artists. Bookings are essential.
The Old Clare Hotel
The Old Clare Hotel has already featured here, in part. Automata and Kensington Street Social are both housed in the boutique hotel while lobby bar The Clare gets a thumbs up in the drinks section. But since the hotel’s main trade is five-star accommodation, and since it duly delivers in this department, it has earned an outright mention.
Modern luxuries and industrial highlights combine to thrust The Old Clare Hotel into Sydney accommodation spotlight. The rich history of the heritage-listed address has been appropriately honoured in the extensive refurbishment, giving the interior added charm. A striking photographic series illustrating the renovation itself is one of the many noteworthy touches.
Don't forget to check out our other Chippendale favourites, right here.
Image credit: Federica Portentoso