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Summer in Sydney, Australia, is about being outdoors morning 'til night. To celebrate the city's fabulous summer weather, outdoor film screenings are held in public parks, on the harbor, and at the world famous Bondi Beach. The next best thing to watching a movie on the sand is watching a movie in a park right near the sand—there's still an ocean view from the grassy hill in the back. Every outdoor cinema has its own flavor; Bondi, or "Ben & Jerry's Openair Cinemas," attracts younger moviegoers, who unpack picnic baskets of wine, bread, and cheese for live music performances and the big Blockbuster film. (During my visit, the lineup was heavy on movies that ended up in the Oscars). Bring an umbrella since rain is common. It's so warm you won't even mind.
The famous ocean pool at Bondi Beach has been luring swimmers since 1929. Today, a dip and visit to the sauna costs $5.50. A bistro serves post-swim refreshments. 1 Notts Ave., Bondi Beach, 61/(0) 2-9130-4804. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image: Petrina Tinslay
Overlooking iconic Bondi Beach, Icebergs is arguably Sydney’s most scenic restaurant. The food, from local shrimp to braised beef cheeks, lives up to the setting. 1 Notts Ave., Bondi Beach, 61/(0) 2-9365-9000. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image: Petrina Tinslay
Stacked between an internet café and a grocer stands this little gem of a book shop and café. I came here after a windy day at the beach, had a cup of tea and perused the endless lists, not to mention brilliant layout, of their book collection. More photo shoots should be taken in places like this.
Gallery director Adrian Newstead sources bark paintings, sculptures, and ceremonial artifacts from Aboriginal artists throughout Australia and curates works for local and international shows. 31 Lamrock Ave., Bondi Beach, 61/(0) 2-9300-9233. This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image: Petrina Tinslay
Once a hub for tradies (tradesmen) and DIY-ers, Bondi Hardware is now a casual eating and drinking house outfitted with exposed beams, hardwood furniture, brick walls, loads of decorative plants, and antique saws and chains. The space invites groups to share fingerfoods like sliders—which come with your choice of beef, pork belly, or fish—ceviche mixed with grapefruit, orange, and cucumber, and such wood-fired pizzas as the prawn and roasted pumpkin. The wine list is heavy on Australian bottles, and cocktails include classic martinis as well as signature blends such as to the Loco Coco (whole young coconut complemented by Havana Blanco, lime, and coconut syrup). Sit at the counter to watch the bartenders mix their magic.
Good Mexican food is hard to come by in Sydney, which is why I was so excited to visit this colorful bar owned by a couple from Mexico City. The focus may be on alcohol—the place has one of the largest mezcal collections in Australia—but the food is not to be missed. Start with guacamole served with beetroot chips, and continue with street-style tacos or the mini tostadas topped with tuna, cucumber, and avocado. The most interesting entree is the torta ahogada (pictured); the braised pork sandwich is drowned in chile sauce and served with a plastic glove, delivered to diners on a silver platter with tongs. It's not every day that you're invited to eat with your hands, but this Mexican joint cares about fun above all. Photo courtesy of Mr. Moustache
It's no wonder the Bucket List in Bondi Beach is so popular; this is about as close as it gets to a bar on the beach in Sydney. Unfortunately, the ground is not sand, but there are umbrellas and lights and open-air views of the ocean. Inside, the place feels like a thumping Mexican cantina, especially when a tan waiter walks by with buckets of Corona and Pacifico. Look for the daily happy hour specials, which range from $10 paella and frozen margaritas to $15 pitchers ("jugs") of sangria. Otherwise, order one of the life-list-themed cocktails with such names as "go down a waterfall on a raft" or "learn flamenco dancing." The food menu is fish and prawn centric, but you'll find a grilled haloumi salad, Moroccan lamb, and a flat-iron steak as well. The place is always busy, especially during live music or surf film events, but that's what we get from a place called the Bucket List.
Every January, this traveling short film festival kicks off at the Bondi Beach Pavilion and spends about nine days introducing moviegoers to Academy-accredited Australian and international films that include music videos, animations, documentaries, environmental pieces, and celebrity shorts. The festival also hosts events such as talks with prominent filmmakers and a welcome party overlooking the ocean.
A North Bondi Beach institution since 1993, Sean's Panorama is known for unpretentious yet delicious fare dished up in a homey dining room that overlooks the beach. The chalkboard menu of four entrees, mains, and desserts changes weekly—sometimes daily—based on what's growing locally and at owner Sean Moran's farm in the Blue Mountains (which also hosts stays). And the waitstaff is tried and true, with a deep knowledge of Sean's organic ingredients and wines. On our visit, we enjoyed burrata-stuffed squash blossoms, a comforting arrangement of steaming mussels and perfectly seared tuna, and a biodynamic red wine from New Zealand. Sean's, I'll be back for more.
Living a block away in Bondi Beach, this is my go-to café before a morning walk, surf, or day of work. But the place is convenient for travelers, too, located within whiffing distance of the sea. Bondi Picnic transforms beans from the local Little Marionette roastery into strong (and embellished) flat whites and piccolo lattes. They also do a pour-over upon request and cold brew a mean iced coffee that's counterbalanced by a petite jug of coconut water. Consider the croissant French toast (yep, the French toast is made from croissants—some of them chocolate croissants) or a house-made muffin whose fruit-and-nut combo changes daily. Then continue with that run, walk, or surf.
Nestled among palms and frangipani (plumeria) trees is a secret B&B tucked just far enough away from the bustle of Bondi Beach. This former schoolhouse is tastefully adorned with antiques and Australian works of art and consists of three suites, four doubles, and two single rooms—one being a stand-alone unit situated off the back garden. The Lotus Suite (pictured) features French doors as well as a kitchenette and dining area. Otherwise, there's a shared kitchen, dining room, front and back patios, and free wi-fi, which is surprisingly hard to come by in Sydney.
The Harris Farms retail center that began openings in 2013 has a few additions for 2014, the first being the highly-anticipated Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta owned by Iceberg's Maurice Terzini. Terzini hired a pizza chef from Naples, who cooks fluffy, stretchy, and perfectly charred pies in a wood-fired, brick oven. You can't go wrong with the margherita-like Reginella, but if you're feeling more adventurous, try the Prosciutto, the Diavoletta (topped with hot salami), or the vegetarian Caponatina (with zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper). Since porchetta is also in the restaurant's name, you have to order some pig; your options are a pork platter served with lemon wedges or the Focaccia Con Porchetta sandwich. Desserts are Italian classics plus a cleansing dish of watermelon. Judging by the noise and the crowds, the pizza here will be tough to beat.
Welcome to the Neighbourhood: the old Bondi FM radio station that's been reinvented as a local watering hole with an equal dose of style and heart. The space is a hodgepodge of brick, upcycled wood, old crates, and reclaimed light fixtures, and there's even a DJ booth in the middle that recently relaunched Bondi Radio, streamed 24 hours a day and often broadcast at the bar. Ex Porteno barkeep Simon McGoram created a well-rounded drink menu that includes 12 eclectic-yet-smooth cocktails such as a margarita with grilled pineapple and habanero salt. Order it with the smoky mac and cheese or the cheeseburger jaffle (a sandwich toasted in a jaffle iron), which, to my surprise, didn't include any burger. Even after the bar closes, you can stream Bondi Radio from home and keep the party going.
This intimate restaurant is not quite a speakeasy, but it's warm and inviting like the den of a friend's home. Asian-style lanterns and candles, cushy chairs, decorative pillows, and provocative artwork all add to the ambience. The menu has a long list of wine and spirits to pair with such tapas as veal and pork meatballs and spiced lamb mixed with barley, lentils, and carrot yogurt. A good selection of charcuterie components and dips (the beet root is delicious) balance out the flavors. Rich desserts and after-dinner ports and sherries will help you leave in a flush, happy state. Photo courtesy of Speakeasy
In the same location as the Bondi Beach Farmers Market, a flea market takes over every Sunday hawking vintage clothing, framed photographs and paintings, textiles and pillows, sunglasses, Deus ex Machina and Critical Slide Society surfwear, outdoor gear, you name it. Sydney is not known for bargains, but this market has some deals.
The second location of the popular Darlinghurst Italian restaurant, A Tavola in Bondi Beach offers the same handmade pastas, copper globe lights, and marble communal tables in a larger space that's close to the sea. The daily specials are written on a chalkboard and feature a variety of handmade pastas from triangle shaped noodles with mushroom, green pea, sage, and poppy seeds to Wagyu beef pappardelle in a red wine, horseradish sauce. Enhance your dish with a selection from the all-Italian wine list.
Come for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and you can expect house-boiled bagels, local ingredients, and friendly service. Owned by the pair behind Brown Sugar around the corner, Lox Stock is gaining a following for its New York deli fare: bagel breakfasts (you'd be crazy not to try the lox), brioche french toast, stacked sandwiches such as the pastrami on organic Republic Bakery rye (baked down the street); and seafood specials. The place cares about its coffee, too, serving Gypsy espresso that's extracted by hand in an old-school coffee machine—or dripped slow and cold.
The Melbourne roastery Sensory Lab opened its first Sydney location in central Bondi Beach. In typical Melbourne fashion, the music is hip, there's a planter-filled wall, the coffee is addicting, and the baristas are friendly (and masters of milk-drawn leaves and hearts). Despite retail shelves lined with syphons, grinders, filters, and drippers, the coffee here is unfussy. Try the filtered "coffee shot" produced through the espresso machine. That was Matt Perger's invention, introduced at the World Barista Championship.
Just one block from Bondi Beach, the Saturday farmers market is a colorful scene of fruits, vegetables, bread loaves, popsicles, canned goods, and unique food vendors such as the Veggie Patch, run out of a wood-paneled caravan. Other highlights include the honey stall, with it's live bees, the pillow-and-rug covered chai tea garden, live acoustic music, and other only-in-the-neighborhood finds such as Bondi Yogurt and Bondi Biltong.
The global hotel brand Adina has properties all over Sydney. Opened in 2013, the Adina in Bondi Beach offers spacious studios as well as one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments decorated with custom pillows and photographs from the local gallery Aquabumps, which showcase the many moods of Bondi Beach. Some accommodations feature balconies overlooking bustling Hall Street, home to an ever-expanding range of great shops and restaurants. Photo courtesy of Adina Apartment Hotels.
There are Sydney's new coffee roasters and experimental bean labs. And then there are cafés that have been serving great java for what seems like forever. Harry's is one of the latter, offerings North Bondi locals Proud Mary coffee from Melbourne (served hot and cold) as well as hearty breakfast and lunch dishes in a tiny mural-covered space. But just because the place is old-school doesn't mean it's traditional; on my last visit, a Walt Disney quote that seemed like the café motto was written on the chalkboard near the counter: "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
If you want to learn to surf, there is no better place than Bondi Beach in Sydney Australia. Join a lesson at Let's Go Surfing and let the gentle and super nice instructors help you catch your first way. Remember to bring a camera, as they will take photos for you so you can remember the day long after your ride last!
Owned by Nahji Chu, who with her family was one of the first Vietnamese/Laotian refugees in Australia, MissChu is a Vietnamese fast food chain with hawker-style "tuckshops" in Sydney, Melbourne, and now even London. Eat in, order take-away, or get food delivered to your home or office via electric bicycle. Menus resemble the school food ordering forms that Chu (also known as the "Queen of Rice Paper Rolls") remembers as a kid and include a variety of steamed dumplings, vermicelli salads, and the famous rice paper rolls as well as pecking duck pancakes and deep fried spring rolls (pictured).
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