From October 15 to 22, Sydney will host some of the world’s most visionary thinkers for the inaugural Asia-Pacific instalment of South by Southwest (SXSW). It’s the first time the groundbreaking festival and conference has ever been held outside of the USA, let alone its home in Austin, Texas.
The line-up is nothing short of impressive, with headline speakers including music artist Chance the Rapper; Charlie Brooker, the creator of dystopian series Black Mirror; Coachella co-founder and CEO Paul Tollett; Slack’s co-founder Cal Henderson and American futurist Amy Webb. And that’s just for the talks – there are also dedicated music, screen and gaming mini-festivals taking place across the city, a tech and innovation expo, and a free hub in Tumbalong Park.
If you’re flying in for the festival (or a local who wants to explore more of the city while you’re in the thick of it) you’ll want to make sure you’re hitting the best nearby restaurants, bars and galleries in between events – after all, there isn’t much time to waste. We’ve rounded up some essential stops, all within walking distance of SXSW Sydney’s key events.
Save 20% when you buy two or more Broadsheet books. Order now to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.SHOP NOW
Caffeinate: Edition Roasters
Located in Haymarket’s Darling Square – and a stone’s throw away from many major SXSW Sydney events – is Edition Roasters. The specialty coffee roaster is known for its single origin beans and has four locations across Sydney’s CBD. From the coffee and food to its dark timber interior, there are Japanese and Scandinavian influences everywhere.
On the coffee front, choose from batch brew, pour-over, Aeropress, Japanese drip and cold brew, with tea options such as Chung Feng jasmine from China and gyokuro sourced from Japan. And if you’re feeling a bit peckish, grab a freshly baked cinnamon bun to go.
Brunch: Boon Cafe and Restaurant
A favourite among Sydney locals and chefs, Haymarket eatery Boon Cafe and Restaurant serves dishes that celebrate Thai cuisine with a distinctly Australian accent. Start with a cold-pressed juice (made in-house on daily rotation) or a traditional Thai drink such as nohm chompoo (its version of nom yen, a cold pink milk with salak syrup) and creamy kaffe yen (iced coffee with caramelised milk).
Breakfast highlights include crab congee with shiitake mushrooms; kai gatah, or pan-baked eggs with tomato fried rice, bacon and pineapple; and sweet options like pandan croissants or fig and walnut toast with mascarpone jam. For something heartier, try Boon’s sandwiches and rice bowls – all made from scratch – with combos like chicken, squid and basil.
Lunch: Marrickville Pork Roll
One of Sydney’s cult banh mi joints, Marrickville Pork Roll, has a convenient Darling Square location for a SXSW Sydney pit stop. Ingredients come direct from its second Marrickville store, where baguettes are baked fresh daily. Go for the classic banh mi thịt (pork roll) or banh mi nem nuong (barbequed pork roll).
Visit: White Rabbit Gallery
Many of SXSW Sydney’s music events take place in Chippendale, where you’ll also find White Rabbit Gallery. It’s been around for almost 15 years and is now considered one of Australia’s most celebrated venues for contemporary Chinese art.
The gallery is currently exhibiting I Am The People, which shows us the struggles and aspirations of vastly different groups within Chinese society, from the perspectives of factory workers in Guangzhou to wealthy entrepreneurs in Beijing.
Dinner: Palazzo Salato
After a long day of talks and events, there’s no better way to recharge than with a feast at one of Sydney’s best new eateries. Head to Clarence Street and snag a table at Italian spot Palazzo Salato, inspired by NYC dining institution Gramercy Tavern and Rome’s trattorias. There’s a variety of handmade pastas on offer (from deli and wine store Fabbrica, which the team also owns), like the signature spaghetti alla chitarra with bottarga, spanner crab and egg yolk; and casarecce with goat ragu. Plus, flat-iron steaks with house butter; market fish; and an extensive list of Italian wines.
Drink: Cantina Ok, The Lobo, The Barber Shop or The Baxter Inn
Just around the corner from Palazzo Salato, micro mezcal bar Cantina Ok is an essential stop no matter the reason you’re in town. The standing-room-only cocktail bar specialises in directly sourced and imported handmade agave spirits from Mexico, and serves up specialty Margaritas and other mezcal cocktails. There’s always a great vibe inside, with a soundtrack that usually booms with Afrobeat.
You can choose to do it all in one day or spread the eating and drinking out – SXSW Sydney runs for eight days, so you’ve got plenty of time.
Don’t know what to see yet? Check out our guide to the best events at the inaugural festival.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with South by Southwest.