Sydney’s Inner West is a treasure trove of diverse culture, art, and a thriving coffee culture. It’s no surprise that this region is home to some of the city’s most beloved cafes. From specialty coffee to innovative culinary creations, Inner West cafes offer an experience that’s nothing short of exceptional. In this article, we’ll take you on a tour of the top cafes in Sydney’s Inner West.
Coffee Alchemy, Marrickville
Coffee Alchemy, located in Marrickville, has a humble origin rooted in childhood memories of coffee cherries and an insatiable desire to create better coffee. It began with homemade experiments and a small commercial roaster, eventually expanding into a tiny cafe in a quiet suburb.
Over the years, Coffee Alchemy’s dedication to perfecting coffee grew, leading to the establishment of additional outlets like Gumption by Coffee Alchemy in The Strand Arcade and Micro Coffee in Barangaroo. Despite their unpretentious appearance, Coffee Alchemy has garnered numerous awards and titles in the Australian coffee scene, including Barista Champion, Cupping Champion, and “Best Coffee” in the SMH Good Cafe Guide.
The Marrickville cafe, now located on Sydenham Road, retains its commitment to exceptional coffee. Co-owner Hazel de los Reyes, a respected figure in the coffee industry, ensures a wide range of brew methods and meticulously sourced coffee beans are available. Coffee Alchemy offers specialty beans, including organic, hand-picked, and fair-trade varieties. Whether enjoyed in-store or taken home, their coffee is handled with expertise, appealing to coffee lovers seeking the perfect brew.
Ona Coffee, Marrickville
Ona Coffee’s Sydney outpost in Marrickville distinguishes itself from its Canberra counterparts by focusing exclusively on coffee. The cafe offers a variety of coffee blends, each with its own unique style and origin. Additionally, Ona Marrickville boasts a working list of premium-reserve coffees, which can be tasted by the glass. These reserve coffees are roasted and aged to perfection before being vacuum-sealed into individual doses and frozen.
The cafe’s minimalist yet welcoming space, featuring matcha-green paint and ample natural sunlight, allows the coffee to take center stage. The seating arrangement includes a long plywood island table that doubles as a bar, and the baristas work on a dedicated bench where their tools, including a striking black San Remo coffee machine, coffee bean dispensers, and Hario V60 coffee makers, are neatly arranged.
While coffee is the primary focus, the food menu, though concise, is carefully curated. Dishes include citrus house-cured kingfish smorrebrod, avocado with activated-charcoal labneh and togarashi on rye, rye waffles with rhubarb and orange mascarpone, as well as Short Stop doughnuts and Butterbing cookies.
In addition to the espresso bar at the front of the cafe, there’s a dedicated barista training room at the back. This space is primarily used for wholesale training but is also open to anyone interested in learning barista skills, from basic to advanced, including latte art.
Overall, Ona Coffee in Marrickville offers a coffee-centric experience, showcasing a wide range of specialty coffee blends and providing a space for both coffee aficionados and those eager to learn about the art of coffee making.
Two Chaps, Marrickville
Ruby’s Diner in Waverley is a renowned Eastern Suburbs establishment known for its organic, health-conscious, and globally influenced cuisine. The diner features a tattoo-style mural, adding to its charm and character. It’s a popular spot for locals, especially on Sundays for brunch.
Ruby’s has been a Waverley institution for over a decade, offering gourmet coffee and a seasonal menu focused on healthy dining. The cafe’s interior is adorned with murals, and it provides both indoor and streetside seating.
For coffee enthusiasts, Ruby’s offers a variety of options, including Single Origin coffee on tap and specialty filter methods like Aeropress, syphon, and cold drip black with lime and vanilla syrup. The all-day breakfast menu includes dishes like French toast with honey ricotta and creamy scrambled eggs with asparagus and smokey tomato relish, a local favourite. Lunch options feature Asian-inspired dishes such as lemongrass chicken salad with chilli jam and pecan pie for dessert.
Ed Devlin manages Ruby’s Diner, and the youthful staff provide attentive service, happily recommending their favourite menu items to patrons.
Rising Sun Workshop, Newtown
Harry’s, located in North Bondi near iconic Bondi Beach, has evolved from a humble hole-in-the-wall cafe into a beloved community icon since 1997. With a spacious interior and ample outdoor seating, it’s a family-friendly venue catering to large groups. Their menu focuses on using nutritious local produce and conventional ingredients to create approachable and fresh versions of classic brunch dishes.
In 2015, Harry’s Espresso transformed into Harry’s Bar & Dining when owners Harry Lambropoulos and Chris Karvelas acquired the adjacent laundromat. They aimed to create a family-friendly space with options for those seeking sugar-, gluten-, and dairy-free choices.
The menu, crafted by Chef Bryan O’Callaghan, features dishes like cider-cured ocean trout with coddled eggs, blueberry and ricotta hotcakes, and quinoa and feta fritters on fattoush salad. Lunch options include burgers and salads. Harry’s also offers a variety of beverages, including kombucha, house-made ginger beer, fresh smoothies, and coffee made using cold-drip or V60 filter methods.
Their striking Synesso espresso machine and stylish interior, designed by Tina Cha at Guru Projects, make Harry’s a popular destination. The cafe’s expansion into an ethical kiosk and bar has been well-received by its loyal following, with both coffee and brunch options garnering praise.
Sample Coffee, St Peters
Bill’s, located in Bondi Beach, is a restaurant owned by celebrity chef Bill Granger, known for opening eateries in various international locations. This Australian outpost offers a bright and communal atmosphere with seating both indoors and on one of the lively streets of Bondi.
Bill Granger’s menu features iconic dishes like creamy scrambled eggs, ricotta hotcakes, and corn fritters. These classics have gained worldwide popularity and are a must-try. The breakfast menu also includes muesli and various toast dishes.
For lunch and dinner, the menu expands to include vibrant salads, burgers, and seafood, often with subtle Asian influences. Some standout dishes include tea-smoked trout salad, fish curry, spicy pork belly, and Japanese-style steak.
At Bill’s, you can enjoy beverages like Bloody Mary, white peach Bellini, custom espresso blends from Single O, and house-made lemonade from early morning. Expect a wait for a table, even with 100 seats, as it’s a popular spot, especially for weekend brunch. Bill’s in Bondi Beach is a great place to experience Bill Granger’s breezy and influential style of Australian cafe culture.
Shuk is a cafe and bakery located in North Bondi, Australia, inspired by the Israeli marketplace known as “The Shuk.” Owned by Yoni Kalfus, the cafe offers a fusion of Israeli, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and local Australian cuisine. The menu reflects the changing trends in Israeli food, with a twist on traditional dishes.
Shuk’s signature dish is the family-sized shakshuka, consisting of baked eggs in a spicy tomato sauce, served with freshly baked bread for dipping. Other notable items include the teff pancake made with Ethiopian teff flour, ricotta, sweet dukkah, maple, apple and pear compote, halva, berries, and crushed pistachios.
In addition to their diverse menu, Shuk also offers a range of pastries and bread baked on-site daily, making it a great spot for takeaway pastries and coffee. The cafe captures the bustling and communal atmosphere of an Israeli marketplace.
The restaurant is known for its gluten-free options and provides a relaxed indoor and outdoor dining experience. Overall, Shuk offers a taste of the Mediterranean and Middle East in the heart of Bondi, just a short walk from the beach.
Sydney’s Inner West is a haven for cafe lovers, with each establishment offering a unique experience that reflects the local culture and culinary innovation. Whether you’re in the mood for an expertly brewed cup of coffee, a creative culinary adventure, or a cozy atmosphere to unwind, the Inner West has it all. So, the next time you find yourself in this vibrant part of Sydney, be sure to explore these top cafes for a taste of the city’s thriving cafe scene.