The Best Pubs in Sydney Right Now

The Unicorn Hotel facade
Photo Courtesy Of The Unicorn Hotel

When it comes to pubs, Colin Fassnidge knows how to sniff out the best pub grub whether it’s a good beef cheek or chicken schnitzel. Here are a few of his favourites.

The Old Fitzroy Hotel

This pub is 150-years old and despite its multiple owners and identities, you will find a historic venue, offering alfresco dining on the street and a dining room inside. The food menu, pays homage to its fine-dining past, featuring kingfish terrine, steak Frites, and BBQ chicken with plum. As for the drinks, you’ll see a selection of beers, and wines. There are even talks of some performances happening soon, with Red Line Productions. 


Fassnidge returns to his pub pedigree at Banksia, bringing hearty, seasonally driven pub food to the bistro. He says Banksia is more family than a fancy diner. “My favourite pub grub is lamb chop or porchetta, depending on the time of year. Although you can’t go past a good chicken schnitzel. We make it ourselves here. It’s soaked in buttermilk overnight, crumbed with oats, seeds, and breadcrumbs, so it’s not just breadcrumbs. Gives it a great crunch,” says Fassnidge.

The Paddington Inn

The Paddo as the locals call it is a great place to hang out, meet friends, enjoy a fuss-free dinner and some drinks. There’s not one weekend, where the Paddo is full of locals enjoying good conversation. The menu has all the classics, with an Italian lean including spaghetti Pomodoro and a salami plate to start. If you’re a sports fan, then the Paddo is where you need to be to watch live sports.

Terminus Pyrmont Hotel

Fassnidge designed the menu at Terminus, so it’s only fair it would be one of his favourite pubs in Sydney. Expect a luxurious space spilling out onto a large, outdoor terrace with a retractable rooftop. Sip on cocktails, or work your way through their selection of craft beers. As for the food, you will find beef cheek and stout pie, battered local fish, crumbed pork cutlet, a range of burgers, and pasta.

The Lansdowne Hotel

This Chippendale Pub saw ratbags, miscreants, and bent cops when it first opened in 1932. After a scandalous history, the pub was revived in 2017, by Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham, from Mary’s and The Unicorn. Together, they recemented the pub as an iconic live music venue, serving Mary’s famous burgers and pizzas. For a fun night out, good food, or good vibes, The Lansdowne Hotel is the place to be. 

The Unicorn Hotel

Come to The Unicorn Hotel for the piano man, and stay for the parmigiana. It’s a pub that’s most famous for it’s golden, crunchy schnitzels. The decor is simple, and they don’t offer anything fancy, just good old pub grub, including pies, weekly roast, and Jatz with dip. Expect the taps to be filled with old-school beers, including VB, and Cooper’s. It’s a popular pub, so bookings are recommended but you can try your luck and walk in one day. 

The Imperial Hotel

This pub is perhaps one of the more important venues in history, particularly Sydney’s LGBTQ+ community. Bought in the 80s by the mother of gay, Dawn O’Donnell, The Imperial Hotel was ordained safe for the LGBTQ+ community and has since been a place for queer identities to thrive. During Mardi Gras, this pub comes alive, hosting a myriad of events every year. It has had many owners, was closed down a few times, but the pub still stands, offering an escape from everyday life, pizza, and cocktails. You will even find a back door cabaret room behind the bar. 

Hotel Palisade

Millers Point
This odd-looking building is straight from 1880 and commands one of the best views in Sydney. Hotel Palisade was a haven for wharf workers of the nearby docks, and at the time was the tallest building in the city. It housed a cellar, ground floor bar, and three additional levels above, which are now a hotel and rooftop bar, Henry Diane. After a substantial renovation, you will find a modern pub, that pays homage to its industrial roots. Satiate your hunger with pub grub, burgers, or snack on some oysters and enjoy a cocktail. They also serve an extensive list of wine and beer, so there’s no reason not to go.

The Dolphin Hotel

Surry Hills
It’s hard not to miss The Dolphin Hotel when you’re wandering around Crown Street. Either you’ve seen people lining up outside, or have experienced the hotel yourself, it’s a classic and one of Surry Hill’s best. Here, you can grab a slice of some of the best pizza in Sydney, enjoy a glass or two of wine, or craft beer. In the dining room, you will find modern Italian, and Australian cuisine, which is that good, it’s a one hatted venue. The open space is flooded with light, making it a pleasant, and casual afternoon aperitivo hotspot. 

The Australian Heritage Hotel

The Rocks
It’s one of Sydney’s oldest pubs in The Rocks and it just so happens to hold the longest-running hotel license in Sydney. How’s that for heritage? If you fancy a taste of Australia, nothing beats this pub. They have over 130 Australian craft beers, and their pizza comes with kangaroo or crocodile. You will also find live sports streaming your favourite footy teams, and a selection of spaces, from a wine emporium to an alcove, perfect for gathering friends for a private party. 

Friend In Hand Hotel

From the outside Friend in Hand Hotel looks like any other Art Deco-era Pubs, but inside you will find a plethora of memorabilia. From model train tracks to road signs, this eclectic pub is sure to turn a few heads. The food is simple as are the drinks. Think spag bowl, nachos, chicken schnitzels and more. For a relaxing afternoon beer with mates or good pub feed, the Friend In Hand Hotel is your best bet. 

The Duke Of Enmore

Although The Duke’s former residence left during last year’s lockdown, you will be pleased to know it reopened with a new look. You’ll find a concrete bar top, retro carpet, updated pokie machines, and the best part—a new menu. Expect, parmigiana, steaks, beef patty burgers, a Sunday roast as good as your nan’s, and a vegan menu of pub classics. 

The Taphouse

The Taphouse is Sydney’s most awarded craft beer venue, so beer connoisseurs line up. To go with beer, there is a menu of English influenced pub eats, featuring hearty meals we all love. Munch on a scotch egg, wrap your hands around a steak sambo, or dig into a mushroom and leek pie. As for the beer, you can find a list of beers on tap inside, and if you fancy one, take it home or get it delivered to your door. 

Cricketers Arms Hotel

Surry Hills
This old boozer is a classic Aussie pub, with wooden floorboards, tiles on the wall, and plenty of beer. Upstairs you will find the Cricketers Bistro, for more upmarket pub classics, including chicken burgers, parmigiana, and schnitzels. It’s packed on nights when there is a game on and packed pretty much every other night too. It’s a local pub, but those who visit from other suburbs also feel like locals. It’s just that kind of place to get a drink, a feed, and hang out with mates. 

Darlo Bar

Darlo Bar is considered a specialty bar, in the sense that it’s a little cooky, but original and creative. Expect big things from this small bar, including a natural buzz that pairs well with a good night out with friends. On any given day, there are pool tables, fairy lights, and a DJ adding to the ambience. At the bar, expect playful cocktails, and beers on tap. They also serve natural wines and a deli menu of cheese, salami, olives, and other elevated bar snacks. 

The Erko

This Erskineville local has a smoker out the back and is dog friendly. What more could you want? Dig into a shredded brisket burger, and savour an old school, or new school beer on tap—they have both. Their homey backyard style Beer Garden is an ideal spot for Sunday sessions or after-work drinks. Don’t forget to bring your four-legged friend, because they want to see them.

The Lord Nelson Brewery

The Rocks
The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel is Australia’s oldest pub brewery, famous throughout the World for award-winning natural ales. Located in The Rocks, this pub is one to add to the bucket list, even if you’re not a fan of beer. Upstairs, you will find a modern Australian restaurant, serving grass-fed aged New Zealand porterhouse, chilli crab lobster, and other elevated eats, along with a selection of wines. Downstairs is where the brewery and bar are. Here, you can stay for lunch, grab a beer, and watch sports on the big screen. 

The Glenmore Hotel

The Rocks
This Aussie icon has been around since 1921, boasting one of the best rooftop bars in the city with stellar views of Sydney Harbour. They do pub fare, like no other. Expect, shareable plates such as grilled baby octopus, and ocean trout tartare. They have a selection of mains, from chicken schnitzels to green pea and asparagus gnocchi. Enjoy an expansive wine list with local bottles, and corks from France to Spain. If you’re feeling fancy, try the signature cocktails, or get a beer, they have it all. 

The Royal Albert Hotel

Surry Hills
The Royal Albert is somewhat of a craft beer institution in Sydney, attracting all kinds of beer drinkers, but specialising in the craft beer movement. Although it’s trendy, it still manages to retain a down to earth atmosphere, serving good pub grub. The menu encompasses the classics, wings, burgers, hot dogs, and schnitzels, but you will also find, Pub Cha, Asian-inspired pub food. Think spring rolls, pork buns, dumplings of all kinds, and curries. 

The Kirribilli Hotel

Whether you’re here to watch sports, wind down after work, or enjoy a lunch with the family, Kirribilli Hotel is a Sydney icon to the local community and has been since 1937. The facade is art-deco, and inside you will find a wrap-around polished wooden bartop, main dining room, and the main bar. Despite its posh postcode, this pub is down to earth, welcoming punters from anywhere to try their beers or gin list—which is quite extensive too. 

Vic On The Park

How many pubs do you know that have a basketball court? Well, Vic On The Park might just be a first for you. This pub has live music and puts classic pub grub on your plate. They welcome dogs, and if you’re feeling competitive, challenge your mates to a game of basketball on their half-court. Expect, fried onion rings, charcoal chicken, lamb gyros, burgers, nachos, and more, including a late-night menu, for when a nightcap turns into a very late night drink. If it’s a nice afternoon or day, grab a table on the deck. 

The Shakespeare Hotel

Surry Hills
You won’t find Shakespeare writing a play, but you will find old-world charm, and in winter— Guinness on tap. The food here is pretty cheap too, around $20 for counter-meals and a rotating daily specials menu available all day. Just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean they skimp on the quality or quantity. You’ll be surprised by the huge plates piled high with classic pub food. The beers are standard, from Coopers to craft beer options, including Grifters. 

The Newport

It’s hard to believe people have been enjoying the Sydney sun since 1880 here, but nonetheless, this vibrant pub is a city favourite. Helmed by the Merivale empire, The Newport offers outdoor seating overlooking the shores of Pittwater, and seating in an idyllic garden ideal for lunch with friends, or afternoon drinks and bites. Sip on a jalapeno margarita, get a slice of Vinnie’s pizza and savour prawns by the bucket at their kiosk and seafood market. You can also get fish and chips, burgers, salads, and calamari from The Shack. There’s a lot to see and eat here, so go explore. 

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