The Double Down Diner has been designed exclusively for Sydney Festival. It is a collaboration between two of Sydney’s dining heavyweights; the ice-cream artisans at Gelato Messina, and local champions of Argentinian barbeque, Portenõ.

Though their specialty is based in Argentinean food, Porteño’s chef and co-owner Ben Milgate says, “We got chatting to Declan [Lee, director and co-founder of Gelato Messina] who had the idea of a diner concept, which Elvis [Abrahanowicz, Milgate’s business partner] and I were really into. We love cooking that kind of food, and we love eating it, too.”

The Porteño team will reinvent savory American diner classics with a rotating selection of 14 menu items. Think Philly cheese steaks, corn dogs, chili cheese fries and Southern fried chicken and waffles.

“We’ll be serving up classic diner food with a bit of a Porteńo twist,” says Milgate. “So on the Philly cheese steak we’ve got beautiful wagyu beef, grilled and smoked, topped with American cheese and slow-cooked onions. The corn dog is deep fried and served with ranch sauce and a spicy jalapeño salsa. Elvis and I will be there every day, it’s a really great space to eat and relax, take it all in.”

Messina will do a series of modern takes on the traditional diner dessert: pie. Try the cherry pie with cherry gel, vanilla-custard gelato and cherry compote on a chocolate biscuit base, or the Nutty Professor, a pie of layered peanut custard, vanilla gelato and peanut crunch topping on a peanut butter biscuit base.

The showstoppers here will be Messina’s two more creative desserts. Not Chicken and Waffles features a deep-fried maple and pecan gelato chicken drumstick, served on a Belgian waffle with whisky caramel gravy. If you’ve still got room, there’s the Royale With Cheese, a warm brioche bun sandwiching a milk-chocolate gelato patty, white-chocolate cheese, passion fruit mustard and raspberry ketchup.

To drink, try the pretzel and salted malt thickshake, or the house-made creaming soda with Tahitian vanilla bean gelato.

Prepare to line up, people, this pop up is going to be big.

Double Down Diner
Hyde Park's Festival Village, Sydney Festival

Opening Hours
January 8–18 (closed on Monday January 12) 12pm–late
January 20–25 (closed on Monday January 19) 10am–late