I bought a fridge off Gumtree once and it led me to Summer Hill. I didn’t know much about the suburb at the time. Okay, I knew nothing of the suburb at the time. I was a Sydney newbie and there were some significant gaps in my local Gregory’s Google Maps knowledge. But soon after swinging around Carlton Crescent and onto Lackey, I decided Summer Hill was my kind of suburb. Train station adjacent, a buzzing high street and a name that pretty much promises only sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. (Summer Bay proves that theory, right?)
Heritage Coffee Brewers
Smart and understated, Heritage Coffee Brewers is serious about coffee, and it shows. Beans are from Mecca and my flat white has only ever been smooth and robust – perfect. The menu leans towards breakfast/brunch and offers a number of favourites with a twist, like the sweetcorn waffles and the mushroom and leek baked eggs. My highlight: the hazelnut dukkah eggs with avo, chilli, mint and feta. Add bacon? Of course.
One Penny Red
Stepping it up a notch, One Penny Red – the restaurant and bar set in the old heritage-listed Post Office – has fast become a Summer Hill icon. High ceilings, contemporary décor and a statement bar make for a striking space and the menu does it justice. There’s salt cod fritters, wood-roasted Fremantle octopus, plum and molasses beef short rib, slow-cooked lamb shoulder, banana and salted caramel beignet – who’s hungry? The drinks menu is extensive and just pondering the wine list provokes delight (although, there is more to be had in the drinking!). Weekend brunch is available from 10am and the egg, bacon and pork and fennel sausage bagel is a big win.
If caffeine is your drug, the Drugstore’s got your back. Dark and grungy, the small space is a favourite haunt of Summer Hill’s early risers with the 5am opening time keeping shift workers happy and caffeinated. There’s no kitchen, but there is a delicious selection of Black Star pastries to compliment your Campos.
Envy Deli Café
Envy boasts a sizable menu featuring plenty of enticing breakfast and lunch options, but it’s the sizable courtyard that sets the Smith Street café apart. Zucchini fritters, chorizo and goats curd omelette, pulled pork wrap, prawn linguini – they all taste better when eaten by the Envy courtyard’s beautiful jacaranda tree. Toby’s Estate is behind the coffee and I can confirm the brew goes down well with a cheeky slice of cake from the well-stocked dessert table.
Up stairs at One Penny Red, Vernon’s Bar (complete with beautiful sandstone balcony) is the prime position from which to soak up the Summer Hill vibe. Boutique beers and ciders, a host of Aussie gins and a top cocktail list offer strong support for the creative wine selection. Food comes from the One Penny Red kitchen and is a more simple, but just as delish, take on the downstairs offering. On Sundays, sundown sessions come complete with acoustic music for the ultimate in chiiiiiiiiiiill.
Summer Hill Hotel
It’s the friendly local pub every suburb needs. Standing proudly on the corner of Carlton and Lackey, the Summer Hill Hotel is a good ol’ watering hole where a schooner will set you back around a fiver and the chicken schnitty takes pride of place among the $10 lunch specials – just the way it should be. There are 16 beers on tap, a beer garden, indoor and outdoor pool tables and plenty of big screens for your sports fix. It’s a Sunday session waiting to happen.
The Temperance Society
A wine bar with plenty of character, The Temperance Society is a cosy spot for an evening tipple. The small bar, which opened last year, celebrates all-things local. The wine list is predominantly Australian, beers are mostly brewed in the inner west, and the pickles and chutneys come from Marrickville’s Cornersmith, just a suburb away. A small menu of cheese, charcuterie and other nibbles is the great match for the drink selection. Bonus points for their awesome live music and trivia nights.
The Summer Hill hub covers barely more than a few blocks and the focus is certainly on food, but there are a couple of hidden gems if shopping is your weakness. At Bungalow Smith you’ll find gorgeous homewares and gifts in a brightly styled space while, tucked around the corner on Carlton Crescent, Camroux & Son boasts beautifully curated ethical fashion and homewares. Meanwhile, when you have no idea what to get for your friend’s baby shower, the answer is “anything from My Messy Room”.
Directing you to stay in may not seem like a very pro-Summer Hill advice, but here’s the thing: swing by a few Summer Hill locales and you’ll have your dinner party essentials sorted. First stop, Villaggio Fresco where you might just get lost among aisle upon aisle of deli goodness. Next up, Two Fat Butchers for premium meats that will impress (unless you’re a vego, in which case, you’ll likely be quite unimpressed…soz). While you’re stocking up on side ingredients at Summer Hill Village Fruit Shop, grab a bunch of blooms. The selection is excellent and affordable, and pretending you’re the kind of person who always has fresh flowers in the house is a super easy hosting hack.
Want to explore more of Sydney? Check out Glebe.
Image credit: Federica Portentoso