While it has been a favorite student haunt for as long as it has been home to a university, Chippendale owes its current place in Sydney’s inner-suburban spotlight to a number of more recent developments, including the redux of The Old Clare Hotel and the opening of Central Park mall. Here’s how to make the most of a day in this ever-evolving area.
9 a.m. The breads and pastries at Brickfields bakery draw faithful crowds. Equally popular is the adjoining café, where days start with strong Mecca coffee, fig-and-walnut toast with homemade ricotta, and perhaps a slice of Persian love cake—a house specialty.
10:30 a.m. If you’re visiting on a Sunday, stop by the Brewery Yard Markets, held in an open-air courtyard beside the historic site of the Carlton United Brewery. Stallholders sell everything from fashion to food—think cold-pressed juices and Brooklyn Boy Bagels—with plenty of entertainment and street art in the mix.
12:30 p.m. Dating to 1842, the heritage terraces, houses, and warehouses along Kensington Street are looking smart thanks to a recent makeover of the entire strip. Now a colorful procession of restaurants, bars, and boutiques, the street’s star is Kopi-Tiam on Spice Alley lane. Order lunch from one of four hawker-style establishments dishing up Thai, Malaysian, Cantonese, and Singaporean cuisine, or opt for something more formal in the Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants that bookend the courtyard.
2 p.m. There are more than 20 galleries in the neighborhood, all worth visiting if you have the time (once a month there’s a free walking tour between them all; see Chippendale Creative Precinct). The time-poor should begin at White Rabbit. Spread over four floors of a former factory, it’s home to one of the world’s largest private collections of contemporary Chinese art. In contrast, nearby Kensington Contemporary is dedicated to up-and-coming Australian talent, showcasing painting, photography, sculpture, digital works, and printmaking in its terrace-house space.
4 p.m. Continue your cultural immersion at the Powerhouse Museum, located in the former Ultimo Power Station building. The flagship venue of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, the space’s diverse collection has a focus on creativity and curiosity, with permanent and interactive exhibits complemented by regularly changing displays.
6 p.m. The Old Clare was once a sticky-carpeted beer hall for uni students; today, it’s a striking boutique hotel thanks to the vision of Singaporean hospitality legend Loh Lik Peng. The two on-site restaurants are well worth visiting, but as the sun sets there’s no better vantage than the rooftop pool bar. Dip your toes in the water, order a cocktail, and watch Sydney fade into dusk.
8:30 p.m. It’s not new, but Ester is still one of Sydney’s favorite restaurants. Chef Mat Lindsay cooks everything he can in the kitchen’s massive wood-fired oven: fish, chicken, lamb, duck, steak, and even rock oysters, lightly roasted until their shells open. Don’t miss the cauliflower topped with creamy almond emulsion and crushed almonds.
10:30 p.m. End the evening at Koi Dessert Bar, which features an upstairs restaurant for desserts-only degustations as well as a ground-floor counter where you can take away whimsical sweets such as the Mango Yuzu: a sphere of mango mousse with yuzu curd and salted almond sable.