As you enter the Sutherland Shire over Tom Uglys Bridge, the smell of salty hot chips and fried onion will transfix you until you’re forced to pull over to find the source. Here, off the Princess Highway, you will find Paul’s Famous Hamburgers. These are classic, homemade burgers and chips – nothing fancy. Paul’s hasn’t changed its recipe since 1957 because, when you've got something so good, why mess with it?
Paul’s is a south-Sydney institution, with a constant line out the door down to the nearby wharves. On the menu you won’t find truffle fries or aged wagyu, but you will find a tasty Aussie burger for a flat $7. Elle Macpherson once recalled visiting Paul’s as one of her favourite childhood memories, and she’s not alone. Customers have been coming from far and wide for this simple serving for years now.
Since taking over the business 16 years ago, owners Nick and Sandra Sinesiou have made only several additions, such as a chicken burger and a few more inoffensive add-ons such as beetroot and onion. “We made the changes because people wanted more options,” Sandra says. “But we only wanted to make the absolute essential additions that would stand the test of time.” This is because, for many customers, the appeal of Paul’s lies in its consistency and the nostalgic tradition of coming here. “We have many customers who have been coming here for 50 years and we know them so well. They came as children and now they bring their own,” says Sandra. “One man asked his wife to marry him 40 years ago under Tom Uglys Bridge, they come to Paul’s for a burger and chips every year to celebrate their anniversary, because nothing has changed here and it's special for them.”
When ordering your paper package of burgers and chips here, buy a jug of Paul’s homemade pineapple juice, which is sweet and sticky with chunks of pineapple. The secret is, “Good, fresh ingredients. Always. We mince the meat ourselves and we make the pineapple juice ourselves,” Nick says. It also uses the same local suppliers for its fresh veg. “It’s also about consistency for people, every time you come here the standard and quality is the same. It’s always been about the tradition of it, people come regularly and take their food down to the wharf or the beach with friends and family. They come for birthdays and they come for Valentine's Day.”
In a rapidly changing city, there is something so sacred about this familiar tradition of eating al fresco together. All year round, beneath the bridge, you'll find scatters of friends and family, doing just that.
Paul’s Famous Hamburgers
12 Princess Highway, Sylvania
(02) 9522 5632
Wed to Fri 11.30am–9pm
Sat & Sun 11.30am–7pm