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 Sydneyâ€™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. Hereâ€™s how to make the most of a day in this ever-evolving area.
9 a.m. The breads and pastries at BrickfieldsÂ bakery draw faithful crowds. Equally popular is the adjoining cafĂ©, where days start with strong Mecca coffee, fig-and-walnut toast with homemade ricotta, and perhaps a slice of Persian love cakeâ€”a house specialty.
10:30 a.m. If youâ€™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 foodâ€”think cold-pressed juices and Brooklyn Boy Bagelsâ€”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 streetâ€™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 thereâ€™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, itâ€™s home to one of the worldâ€™s largest private collections of contemporary Chinese art. In contrast, nearby Kensington ContemporaryÂ 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 spaceâ€™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 ClareÂ was once a sticky-carpeted beer hall for uni students; today, itâ€™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 thereâ€™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. Itâ€™s not new, but Ester is still one of Sydneyâ€™s favorite restaurants. Chef Mat Lindsay cooks everything he can in the kitchenâ€™s massive wood-fired oven: fish, chicken, lamb, duck, steak, and even rock oysters, lightly roasted until their shells open. Donâ€™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.