Floor space comes at a premium in Sydney. With property prices beyond the reach of most mere mortals and rental costs also at fairly eye watering levels, 'less is more' is fast becoming a mantra for square-meterage. These bars, restaurants, and cafes all manage to pack a punch despite their tiny proportions – just be prepared to wait for a seat or a table as there often aren't all that many going.
1. Jangling Jacks – Potts Point
Jangling Jacks in Potts Point. Photo: Christopher Pearce
A short walk from the bright lights of Kings Cross and the Coke sign is this small bar that locals simply adore. From the pressed metal walls to the vinyl display, the bang-on negronis (ask for one with Four Pillars bloody shiraz gin) to the fried chicken – this place is just magic. Your favourite song always seems to be playing and the bartenders are quick to learn your cocktail preferences. It's small, narrow and occasionally noisy but if you grab a seat at the bar you'll settle in for a good night.
175 Victoria St, Potts Point
2. Double Mac – Parramatta
Six square metres. No, seriously – six. That's precisely how big Sydney's smallest (we think?) café is. However it's just enough space for Chris Eid to pump out some of the city's best coffees at high speed. There's always a contented queue of locals waiting for their fix (Double Roasters coffee – strong and nutty) and a small selection of cakes and pastries. The best part of this place though is Eid's banter and chat – come for a coffee but stay for a quip.
194/8 Macquarie St, Parramatta
3. Celsius Coffee Co. – Kirribilli
Perched on the end of Kirribilli wharf is a glass-fronted café and brunch spot with some of Sydney's best waterfront views. There are two 'house blend' coffees – the aptly named 'Hitman' packs a punch – but what will really make you tear your eyes away from the million-dollar views is the food. Waffles with peanut butter cream, eggs benedict with yuzu hollandaise and braised lamb and our favourite - burrata and mushrooms on toast.
Kirribilli Wharf, 1/2 Holbrook Ave, Kirribilli
4. Chaco Bar – Darlinghurst
Chaco Bar's yakitori skewers. Photo: Janie Barrett
This teensy Japanese yakitori bar seats just 25 but incredibly accepts reservations (except on Mondays which is ramen night.) Chaco means charcoal so your best bet is to order your bodyweight in everything from chicken hearts and gizzards to meatballs and spicy lamb shoulder chunks threaded onto skewers and grilled over coals. There's also an extensive plum wine, sake, whisky and beer list to keep you occupied between skewers.
238 Crown St, Darlinghurst
5. Yuli's Screening Room – Surry Hills
Many Sydneysiders – particularly vegetarians – will be familiar with the delights of Yuli's on Crown Street, but did you know about the sneaky bar/art space hidden on the second floor? Check the schedule to see what's happening on the night you're going, but it could be anything from slam poetry and bluegrass music to themed film nights. There's a decent wine list and snack menu available upstairs so consider it an option for dinner AND a show.
417 Crown St, Surry Hills
6. Thirsty Bird – Potts Point
Hungry patrons at Thirsty Bird. Photo: Cole Bennetts
It only seats 5 or 6 people (depending on your willingness to sit on your eating companion's lap) and is often packed in the evenings but the fried chicken here is well worth a late-night scrummage. The team behind Oxford Street cult favourite 'Mr Crackles' turned their attention early last year to Southern-style chicken and are doing it damn well. Choose takeaway and you won't have to deal with the never-ending stream of bike courier food delivery guys.
2 Bayswater Road, Potts Point
7. Stitch Bar – CBD
There's often a tiny wait for entry to this tiny bar but the queue can be useful as a marker to simply find this sneakily hidden bar, and once inside you'll realise it was worth your time. The booths can be hard to come by, but wherever you end up sitting (or standing) make sure you order a hot dog. The cocktails are well made and the jazz/blues music perfect for the moody vibe.
61 York St, Sydney