It's our fourth edition of Gothamist's travel content, Gothamist Getaways. A few times a year, we'll have a week of posts featuring looks at travel, food, products and tips—near and far—for making your trips more enjoyable. So sit back, dream of your next journey and let us know if you have any hints for us—email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You've taken surfing lessons at Bondi, climbed the Harbour Bridge, toured the Opera House, and ridden the ferry to Taronga Zoo. If you're ready for a day that's slightly less sun-kissed and tourist-infused, make your way to King Street in Newtown—one of Sydney's arty, progressive, and perpetually gentrifying Inner West suburbs.
START WITH BREKKIE
Whether you're in the mood for muesli with fresh berry compote, eggs on Turkish toast with roasted tomatoes and baked beans, or just a thick slice of banana bread (always warm, with melted butter), Newtown has it. Barmuda offers pants-popping dishes like the Potato Stack and ricotta hotcakes.
The Potato Stack at Barmuda (catty/Foursquare)
Luxe Bakery sits right off King Street in a charming brick cottage with wrought-iron details. They specialize in breads, tarts, and hearty breakfasts. Urban Bites has great omelettes, while Suzie Spoon's Vegetarian Butcher serves nourishing "meatless meat" dishes and sandwiches.
TAKE AWAY A FLAT WHITE
Café culture is an inextricable part of Australia's identity. And the coffee is so good that, in Newtown at least, no one minds paying $4.50 a cup or waiting 10 minutes while it's being made. Workmen, university students—everyone finds an hour to catch up with friends over a cuppa. You won't find drip coffee here; each order is an espresso-based creation expertly crafted and topped with delicate latte art (if you're into foamed milk).
At Cafe Shenkin (Facebook)
It's all a product of the Italian and Greek migration of the mid-20th century, but Aussies took the European import a step further and created the flat white, which consists of "microfoam" poured over a shot or two of espresso. Like its bookshops, Newtown's cafés are independent and local, and everyone has a favorite. Just a few include Luxe (again!), Café Shenkin, and Campos Coffee.
GET LOST IN BOOKS
In a city where a new paperback will cost you $25, Sydney's used book trade is chugging along nicely—particularly in Newtown. For pure volume, try Gould's Book Arcade, a two-story emporium with aisles carved from precarious stacks and overstuffed shelves. It was opened in 1988 by anti-censorship activist Bob Gould, who worked there until his death in 2011, the tragic result of a fall while sorting books.
Gould's Book Arcade (Jeremy B./Foursquare)
Further down the street, you'll find Elizabeth's Bookshop. (Just look for its sidewalk chalkboard of wisdom that offers up daily quotes including, "Never make eye contact while eating a banana.") Though not necessarily a second-hand space, Better Read Than Dead is worth a visit for new and unusual titles.
DO LUNCH WITH A JUICE AND A BANH MI
You'll find a number of no-frills juice bar-delis, which do their business at the front of the store to cater to pedestrians. Banh mi (Vietnamese-style sandwiches) are French bread rolls stuffed with meat, pickled carrots, cilantro, pate, and fish sauce. They are messy, cheap, and obscenely delicious.
A pulled pork banh mi from Vui Va Say (Facebook)
For fresh juice, a winning combo is carrot, apple and spinach, with beetroot and ginger for a spicy kick. Try Queen Roll and Juice Bar for super cheap eats, or Vui Va Say if you're feeling a little fancier.
LOOK FOR EVERYDAY ART
Grab that banh mi and wander Newtown's laneways in search of its always colorful and often politically symbolic murals, wheatpastings, and stenciled tableaus. Embodying the suburb's spirit of cultural diversity and progressive rebellion is King Street's iconic "I Have a Dream" memorial, a three-story mural that combines a portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr. with the Aboriginal flag.
Also keep an eye out for the surreal and poignant works of Fintan Magee.
HAVE A DRINK AT A HOTEL
We're not talking about a Tom Collins at the Marriott. Australian hotels are distinctive establishments. These traditionally cavernous and utilitarian spaces were built to serve as men-only beer halls, and also provided basic accommodation. Today, urban revitalization has breathed new life into many of them, with the Newtown Hotel as a prime example. With trendily decorated rooms, a Greek-inspired tapas menu, cinema space, quiet corners, and a street-front veranda perfect for people-watching, it's a local favorite.
The Newtown Hotel (Annabelle M./Foursquare)
Other faves include the Marlborough Hotel and local hangout The Courthouse.
ARE YOU SERIOUSLY STILL HUNGRY?
If you're up for dinner, you'll have your choice of cuisines. Try Stinking Bishops for its delicious cheese and cured meat boards; Bloodwood for its venison, brisket, and smoked duck breast offerings; Mary's for burgers and local craft beer; Gigi's Pizzeria for less meat and more (wood-fired) dough; or Pasha's for festive Turkish fare.
Bloodwood Restaurant (Facebook)
Finally, find a cozy cocktail spot. Small bars such as Blacksheep and Earl's Juke Joint serve up classic cocktails in an intimate, low-light setting. Just be prepared to spend $18 a drink. But hey, no tipping!
Sneak a peek at King Street. Put your personal feelings about Coldplay aside and watch their video for "Sky Full of Stars" which the band filmed in your new favorite neighborhood this past June.
Alison Burke Griffiths is a Sydney- and US-based writer and editor. You can email her at email@example.com