Originally published: https://www.australiantraveller.com/nsw/sydney/pubs-in-the-rocks/


The pubs and breweries of The Rocks blend aspects of Australia’s colonial period with the contemporary, celebrating Sydney’s drinking past and present.

If you fancy the feeling of stepping back in time, head to The Rocks, Sydney’s oldest colonial neighbourhood. This popular revitalised precinct has kept signs of its colonial past everywhere – in the cobblestone streets, secret laneways and striking 19th-century architecture. It’s easy to enjoy a full day – and night – soaking it all in.

Begin your weekend at the markets, considered to be an iconic Sydney attraction, walk past the stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and harbour, spend the afternoon visiting the breweries, find yourself a happy hour bargain, and step into one of the many pubs to enjoy the buzzing evening atmosphere.

There’s always something on: live music, quiz nights, entertainment and of course, classic Australian pub fare to dig into. Australia is home to some incredible historic pubs, and the pub scene in The Rocks in particular is alive with history and character, so read on for our recommendations for where to go.

1. Hotel Palisade

Best for: views of Sydney harbour with a classic heritage Australian feeling on the ground floor, and a touch of glamour on the rooftop.

Built a century ago, the beautiful federation-style Hotel Palisade is as striking as ever. Following an extensive renovation and restoration, the building reopened as a boutique hotel with not just one, but two iconic drinking spots.

the view of the Hotel Palisade's rooftop bar from Observatory Hill, Millers Point

Hotel Palisade sits near Observatory Hill with views of Sydney Harbour. (Image: Destination NSW)

The public bar downstairs has kept a sense of its original history by harking back to its industrial roots and offers classic pub food for lunch and dinner. The sophisticated cocktail bar upstairs, Henry Deane, spreads across two levels and offers impressive harbour views alongside an inviting cocktail list.

a bartender pouring a glass of beer at the Public House in Hotel Palisade, Millers Point

Order specialty brews on tap at Hotel Palisade. (Image: Destination NSW)

The lunch and dinner menu has been designed by head chef Cian Mulholland, and brings a touch of decadence with caviar tins sustainably sourced, and dishes like charred cuttlefish with fava beans and jalapeño, as well as jasmine tea smoked spatchcock.

cured meats and Australian cheese board with marinated olives at the Public House in Hotel Palisade, Millers Point

The menu ranges from classic pub food to charcuterie boards and more refined dining. (Image: Destination NSW)

Food type: classic pub food downstairs and sophisticated menu and cocktail bar upstairs.
Address: 35 Bettington St, Millers Point

2. Glenmore Hotel 

Best for: incredible rooftop harbour views that you won’t want to tear yourself away from.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better rooftop bar view over captivating Sydney Harbour, than at the Rocks’ Glenmore Hotel. As well as having a rooftop bar with a retractable roof to outwit all weather conditions, the historic three-storey building also hosts a pub, dining room and cocktail bar, and has achieved the perfect blend of English pub charm and friendly, modern hospitality.

The kitchen stays open from 12pm to 10pm, serving fresh, modern pub classics. It’s a good idea to book ahead for a table at the rooftop bar, otherwise make yourselves at home at the bustling outdoor tables that spill out into the street.

Food type: known particularly for their burgers, there’s a range of fresh pub classics.
Address: 96 Cumberland St, The Rocks 

3. The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel

Best for: enjoying award-winning 100 per cent natural ales in an English-style pub.

The iconic Lord Nelson has the honour of being Sydney’s oldest continuously licensed pub. What’s more, it is also recognised as Australia’s oldest pub brewery. Established in 1841, the pub is famous for its award-winning ales; all brewed in-house.

the exterior of The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, Australia's oldest brewery hotel located in The Rocks

The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel is known for its award-winning ales. (Image: Destination NSW)

Open from 11am Monday to Saturday, and Sunday from noon, the pub serves classic casual meals for lunch and dinner. The restaurant upstairs has kept the sandstone colonial regency style, complementing the high-end menu.

Find fresh, local dishes like chargrilled grass-fed Flinders Island sirloin, Murray Basin pork cutlet and spaghettini of blue swimmer crab on offer, and an impressive award-winning wine list. It serves lunch on Thursday and Friday and is open for dinner at 5:30pm to 10pm on Wednesday to Saturday.

a couple enjoying food and drink at Lord Nelson Brewery, The Rocks

Classic pub fare is elevated with local produce. (Image: Destination NSW)

Food type: classic pub fare downstairs, and a high-end restaurant upstairs.
Address: 19 Kent Street, The Rocks

4. The Fortune of War

Best for: casual beers on tap in heritage-listed no-nonsense pub.

If pubs could speak, the heritage-listed Fortune of War would have a lot to say. It has, after all, seen it all, having been a fixture of the Rocks since 1828. The building has retained its old-world charm and has an inviting street area for eating and drinking.

The Fortune of War exterior in The Rocks, Sydney

The Fortune of War is Sydney’s oldest pub.

The Fortune of War offers 16 beers on tap, including James Squire 150 lashes pale ale, Stone and Wood pacific ale, and Philter XPA, and a range of wine available too. For meals, there’s the option for bar counter meals and sit-down dining, with their First Fleet Bistro open for ordering daily from 11:30am to 9pm. The menu offers pub classics, salads, light snacks, and burgers.

Burgers, salads and hearty pub fare feature on the menu.

burger with fries and beer on the table at The Fortune of War, The Rocks, Sydney

A full table service is available out the back of the pub, which looks out over the historic Nurses Walk and is a good spot for people-watching over a meal.

The tables spill out onto the pavement for open-air dining in the heart of Sydney.

Food type: casual bar counter and bistro meals.
Address: 137 George St, The Rocks

5. Endeavour Tap Rooms

Best for: enjoying a drink from the microbrewery in a polished, heritage setting.

The Endeavour Tap Rooms is an all-Australian brewery, bar, and restaurant in the Rocks. A relative newcomer to the Rocks’ century-old drinking scene, opening in March 2017, the beautiful heritage building dates back to the 1800s.

the Endeavour Tap Rooms signage, The Rocks, Sydney

Enjoy a night out inside a heritage building that dates back to the 1800s. (Image: Destination NSW)

Be sure to check out their impressive microbrewery up close. The 600-litre brewhouse, with eight tanks rotating regular and limited releases, is packed into a tiny space, and is certainly a sight to behold.

A tasting paddle of beer at The Endeavour Tap Room

Order a tasting paddle of craft brews. (Image: Destination NSW)

The expansive food menu showcases the best of fresh Australian produce, and you’ll find Australian classics with a smoked American spin, thanks to the popular smoker out back. Open for lunch and dinner; find daily specials, including a Sunday roast.

the outdoor dining at Endeavour Tap Rooms, the Rocks

Take advantage of the outdoor seating area. (Image: Destination NSW)

Food type: high-end Australian pub classics with a smoked American twist.
Address: 39/43 Argyle St, The Rocks

6. Australian Heritage Hotel 

Best for: enjoying a drink in the outside seating while basking in the afternoon sun.

The Australian Heritage Hotel has a unique aesthetic, where Edwardian and Federation-style features and quirky historical memorabilia give off the impression you’ve stepped into a charming saloon.

people ordering inside The Australian Heritage Hotel, The Rocks

Find quirky historical memorabilia inside this historic pub. (Image: Zach Riley @ TNM Creative Media)

Open for lunch and dinner, the menu’s focus is on Australian food. Opt for the coat of arms pizza, half kangaroo and half emu, or try the saltwater crocodile pizza.

pizza and beer on the table at The Australian Heritage Hotel, The Rocks

Swap your usual pizza for a more adventurous Coat of Arms pizza. (Image: Zach Riley @ TNM Creative Media)

Outdoor tables expand out on the wide footpath, making it a great place to catch up with friends on a sunny afternoon, and you’ll find more seating upstairs on the rooftop. With over 130 craft beers available from all over Australia, there’s something for all tastes.

the exterior of the Australian Heritage Hotel

Spend laid-back afternoons with a beer in hand at the Australian Heritage Hotel. (Image: Zach Riley @ TNM Creative Media)

Food type: casual classic pub food with a focus on Australian ingredients.
Address: 100 Cumberland Street, The Rocks

7. Mercantile Hotel 

Best for: enjoying a pint of Guinness while listening to live Irish music.

If you’re looking for Sydney’s home of Guinness, head to the Mercantile Hotel, where you’ll be greeted with an Irish welcome and the sounds of traditional live Irish music. This Federation-style hotel has retained much of its original historic charm, and is open daily for lunch and dinner, head there during the work week for lunch specials.

On the menu, you will find house classics, salads, and burgers, as well as dishes that provide a taste of Ireland. Look out for their signature dish the Shamrock pie, a beef and Guinness pie with mash and mushy peas, or their bangers and champ, Irish pork sausages with champ mash, mushy peas, fried onion, and gravy.

Fancy a game of eye-spy? Look closely on the wall to find a picture of Irish rock stars U2, as they chose the Mercantile as the location of their only meet-and-greet during their 1989 Australian tour.

Food type: casual pub fare with Irish signature dishes.
Address: 25 George St, The Rocks

8. Hero of Waterloo 

Best for: listening to live music, going on a ghost tour, and enjoying a drink in a charming English-style pub.

This heritage-listed, three-storey sandstone pub has welcomed patrons for 170 years and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. The Hero of Waterloo, tucked away off the Rocks, pays homage to the Duke of Wellington, who became a hero after defeating Napoleon at Waterloo.

the exterior of Hero of Waterloo bar in The Rocks

The Hero of Waterloo pays homage to the Duke of Wellington. (Image: James Horan; Destination NSW)

People come to ask the big questions. Is there a secret tunnel in the cellar that leads to the harbour? Perhaps. Does the ghost of Anne Kirkman, who died in 1849, roam the rooms after dark causing havoc? Maybe. Is there cracking live music on the weekends? Yes.

The best way to ponder such things is over a meal, and the pub is helpfully open for both lunch and dinner on Wednesday to Sunday, and dinner only on Tuesdays. The fully licensed restaurant offers high-quality contemporary Australian dishes, with a wide range of wines. It gets popular on weekends, so be sure to book a table.

Food type: high-end modern Australian meals.
Address: 81 Lower Fort St, Millers Point

9. The Squires Landing

Best for: James Squire craft bears with incredible harbour views.

It is unlikely that convict James Squire had any idea how big his legacy would be, but his place as Australia’s first brewer is proudly celebrated at The Squires Landing, the flagship James Squire brewhouse located in The Rocks.

Step inside and be impressed by the freestanding, fully glazed microbrewery, and watch the team at work. On tap you’ll find all beers in the James Squire range, as well as a rotating selection of limited-edition releases, plus a range of local and international wines, spirits and cocktails.

friends enjoying drinks at The Squires Landing, Sydney

Enjoy a drink or two with the sweeping views of the Sydney Harbour for a backdrop. (Image: Destination NSW)

You may come for the beer, but you’ll stay for the food when you discover the incredible, uninterrupted harbour views on the restaurant’s second level. The seasonal menu offers dishes ‘from the fire’, ‘from the land’ and ‘from the sea’, and thoughtfully pairs local produce with the James Squire craft beer range. Alternatively, the Brewhouse offers a range of pub favourites.

pouring beer into a glass at The Squires Landing, Sydney

Taste your way through the James Squire craft beer range. (Image: Destination NSW)

Both are open for lunch and dinner, and you’ll also find a supper menu of light bites after 10pm. Want more? Come along to Wednesday Coal Pit, where locally sourced meat is slow-cooked over a woodfired coal pit for dinner, paired with a James Squire beer.

Food type: high-end, seasonal dishes paired with James Squire beer at the restaurant upstairs.
Address: Northern end of the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay W, The Rocks

10. Harts Pub

Best for: Australian brewed beer on tap, enjoyed in the beer garden.

Lucky for us, the Harts Pub building survived the post-plague demolitions in The Rocks a century ago. Originally a private residence, the pub opened for business in 2009. They have been champions of supporting local businesses since then, with 12 rotating taps that only serve Australian-owned and brewed craft beer.

A great range of share plates, light meals, smashed burgers and pub classics characterises the menu, and the kitchen is open for lunch and dinner.

There’s lots happening throughout the week: trivia Tuesdays, a weekend happy hour every weekend from 3:30pm to 5:30pm, and every Monday hosts a monster burger challenge night, where, if you finish the epic burger within an hour, it’s yours for free.

Food type: share plates and hearty meals designed to complement the craft beer offerings.
Address: Essex St &, Gloucester St, The Rocks

11. The Orient Hotel

Best for: live music and alfresco dining.

The Orient Hotel has been offering hospitality in the Rocks since 1844 and is one of the oldest licensed hotel buildings in Sydney. This historic treasure, proudly perched on the corner of Argyle Street and George Street, certainly knows a thing or two about having a good time.

Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, the Orient stays open late with live music every evening. The food menu offers ‘something light’ dishes like panko prawns and halloumi fries, fresh salads including agave, rocket and watermelon salad, and classic pub meals like schnitzel, parmigiana and Moroccan lamb skewers.

Head upstairs and find the cocktail bar, Mrs Jones, serving classic cocktails and cocktail jugs.

friends enjoying drinks at The Orient Hotel, The Rocks

Catch up over beers and cocktails at The Orient Hotel.

Food type: hearty traditional pub food, with the option for something lighter.
Address: 89 George Street, The Rocks



Originally published: https://www.australiantraveller.com/nsw/sydney/pubs-in-the-rocks/