Unless you know where it is, you’ll never stumble upon the tiny York Lane bar and café in the CBD. Neatly tucked away into its namesake, the diminutive shop-front is nestled between looming, faceless grey buildings, garbage bins and one-way traffic. But step through the huge sliding door, be greeted by the friendly barista, take in the pre-loved surrounds and you’ll instantly wonder why the city has taken so long to re-imagine its laneways.

There’s a definite focus on the repurposed here. From the mirror-panelled wardrobe doors lining the back wall to the wooden salad bowl lightshades, circa 1970s tiles and even the oven (which barista Adam Miller happily informs us is from his own kitchen), everything here has been given a new lease on life.
There’s a bicycle mounted to one wall, inventive use of car tyres and crates and a vague split level feel to make the most of the tiny space. Owner Dieter Steinbusch and business partner John Ubaldi have a host of hospitality experience between them (think Annex on Clarence Street and Bar Espresso respectively) and they chose to do the interior themselves.

“We are both collectors of thing,” says Steinbusch. “So we decided to do it like we had no money, because that way you can get really creative and build a real sense of soul.”

It’s a challenge that has paid off in the quirky finishes and a comfortable feel.

It’s worth ferreting out York Lane, because as a cafe-by-day and a bar-by-night, with room for only 30people, a tapas menu for nibbles, plenty of vinyl on rotation and your choice of coffee or something stronger, Sydney’s forgotten laneways are finally looking up.

York Lane
York Lane, Wynyard
(02) 9299 1676

Mon to Wed 6.30am–10pm
Thu & Fri 6.30am–midnight
Sat & Sun Reserved for functions