Sydney: Surry Hills & Waterloo
Up-and-coming neighborhoods crammed with art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques stocking designer homewares and fashions. Night owls flock to Oxford Street for the city's hottest bars.
SEE Belvoir St. Theatre
Surry Hills, 011-61-2/9699-3444, belvoir.com.au
The center of Sydney's theater scene. Founded in 1984 and now owned by high-profile investors, including Mel Gibson, Peter Carey, Sam Neill, and opera diva Dame Joan Sutherland. Performances are relocated to the nearby Seymour Centre (at the corner of City Rd. and Cleveland St., Chippendale) until renovations are completed in Aug. 2006. Tickets from $22.
EAT Billy Kwong
355 Crown St., Shop 3, Surry Hills, 011-61-2/9332-3300
One of the most coveted tables in town. Never mind that it's tiny and dimly lit, and that you'll perch on a plastic stool rather than a proper chair. Celebrity chef Kylie Kwong's funky Cantonese fare-crispy duck in blood-plum sauce-packs folks in nightly. Be prepared to wait: There are no reservations accepted. B.Y.O. wine only, $7 corkage fee per bottle.
EAT Cleveland Street
Between South Dowling St. and Crown St.
Sydney's cheapest and most authentic array of Indian restaurants. For the best curries, kebabs, and thalis (selection of little dishes), head to Holy Cow (No. 456, 011-61-2/9698-9220), Mehrey da Dhaba (No. 466, 011-61-2/9319-6260), and Maya Masala (No. 470, 011-61-2/9699-8663).
527 Crown St., Surry Hills, 011-61-2/9319-5682
Traditional bistro fare-steak frites, Gruyère soufflés-and a terrific wine list. White tablecloths, Gallic prints, and vintage posters on the walls. Daily specials are written on gilded mirrors. Dinner only Sat. and Sun, B.Y.O. wine only, Sun.-Thurs., $7.50 corkage fee.
85 Commonwealth St., Surry Hills, 011-61-2/9280-2888, longrain.com.au
Excellent Thai fusion served at long, communal tables in another stylishly converted warehouse. If you can't get a seat, at least stop by the bar for one of its famous "stick drinks" (lethal concoctions of liquor and fruit mashed with a huge pestle). Lunch served weekdays, dinner Mon.-Sat. Closed Sun.
DRINK White Horse
381-385 Crown St., Surry Hills, 011-61-2/8333-9900
The dingy old White Horse Hotel was overhauled and has recently reopened as a chic, two-level designer bar and brasserie. Bright Young Things like to be seen lounging on the roof terraces or chilling by the fireplace.
SHOP Fratelli Fresh
7 Danks St., Waterloo, 011-61-2/9699-3174
Local chefs shop for gorgeous fruits and veggies at this grocer-wholesaler before 10 a.m. Then, the public descends on the converted warehouse to snap up what's left of the fresh produce, as well as olive oils, roasted peppers, pastas, cheeses, and other Italian delicacies. A café, Sopra, recently opened upstairs.
SHOP Orson and Blake
483 Riley St., Surry Hills, 011-61-2/8399-2525, orsonandblake.com.au
The stylish set heads to O&B for hot housewares, brunch in the café, or cutting-edge fashion in the basement.
SHOP 2 Danks Street
1-2 Danks St., Waterloo, 2danksstreet.com.au
A collection of 10 contemporary art galleries under one roof, showcasing the work of rising Australian and international stars. Photography is particularly strong-Narelle Autio's glorious underwater images are highly collectible and Sarah Smuts Kennedy's ghostly works sell for around $3,000 each.
PLAY Oxford Street
Sydney's premier party strip bustles with action, most of it gay. For a taste of the local nightlife, visitors of any orientation can check out the Colombian (corner of Crown and Oxford sts., 011-61-2/9360-2152) and Gilligan's, a cocktail bar on the first floor of the Oxford Hotel (No. 134, 011-61-2/9331-3467).
ESCAPE Blue Mountains
Out to the west, the Blue Mountains are a spectacular backdrop to the city (1300-653-408 from within Australia only, bluemts.com.au, free). You can visit on a day trip; the Blue Mountains Line train from Central Station takes two hours to reach Katoomba (cityrail.nsw.gov.au, $17 round trip). From there, hop-on, hop-off bus tours will take you to the breathtaking Three Sisters lookout, the picturesque town of Leura (eat at Solitary, above the Leura Falls; solitary.com.au), and more than 27 area attractions (fantastic-aussie-tours. com.au, $22, or trolleytours.com.au, $9). Make sure you "rug up"-that's Australian for dress in layers-as the mountains are famous for their chilly climate.
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