Guide to Oxford Street

Updated March 5th, 2021

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Oxford Street is one of Sydney’s most important thoroughfares. Though it starts at Bondi Junction and runs all the way to the CBD, it’s best known for its Paddington and Darlinghurst sections.

In the 1980s, Oxford Street – the Darlo strip in particular – was the heart of Sydney’s nightlife. The area was particularly important to Sydney’s LGBTQIA+ community, which helped turn Sydney into one of the world’s party capitals by the turn of the millennium. That influence is celebrated each year at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade – one of the world’s largest parties and one of the most anticipated days in Sydney’s cultural calendar.

During the lockout law era, the street’s nightclubs took a big hit. But its bars and restaurants picked up the slack, particularly on the Paddo end of Oxford Street. In the 2010s, many of Sydney’s best restaurants and bars (including the world-renowned Saint Peter) opened on Oxford – so the street’s never stopped being a destination.

With lockouts now lifted and nightlife well on its way back, you can now enjoy some of Sydney’s best drinking and dining before the party gets started. And by day, Oxford is arguably the best place in Sydney for shopping. You’ll find plenty of independent fashion, beauty and homeware retailers on the strip, alongside more established names

Related Pages
Best Restaurants in Darlinghurst
Best Restaurants in Paddington
Best Bars in Darlinghurst
Best Cafes in Paddington

Restaurants

  • A pioneering “fin-to-scale” eatery by Josh and Julie Niland. Behind the sleek marble counter, chefs deftly butcher sustainably caught fish and utilise every part of the animal across a menu of wildly inventive dishes. A meal here is thrilling, educational, and enhanced by an impressive selection of Australian wine and Japanese sake.

  • A wood-fired oven, an open-flame hearth and some of the country’s best produce and cocktail bar underneath.

  • A regional Italian diner that’s barely changed since 1999. Now in Paddington – the generous bowls of beef-cheek-ragu pappardelle are still here, along with more pasta and gnocchi options than ever.

  • Pizza done just right on Oxford Street.

  • Like a cross between a pub, a bistro and chicken shop. Enjoy the rotisserie-focused menu in this sleek and sunny fit-out. If you've got a solid amount of pals for an event, ask for the private space, a magnificent frieze-covered dining room with a sun roof.

  • The crown jewel of the Berkelouw empire in Sydney. This three-storey literary landmark on Oxford Street has everything a book nerd could wish for, not least of all a good cup of coffee from the upstairs cafe. It’s licensed and open late, which means it’s primed for a pre-movie drink if you’re hitting the Verona Palace Cinema next door.

Bars

  • The successor to Chippendale's Freda's channels the spirit of the original late-night haunt into a buzzing sit-down bar and diner in the heart of Sydney's nightlife district.

  • A lot of pubs get major revamps, only to lose their old-school charm. Not the Unicorn. The team here have given the spot a stylish but sill pubby fit-out. Drinks here are an inclusive mix of commercial brews and natural wines. Food, meanwhile, involves jazzed up pub classics, and probably the best schnitzel in Sydney.

  • Like end-to-end diner Fred’s upstairs, this warm basement bar employs the best of the season’s produce on a menu that truly has something for everyone. Fancy something fresh and lively? Sure thing. Or perhaps a stiff, old-school classic? Right this way.

  • A modern Thai restaurant serving twice-cooked master-stock chicken and Wagyu brisket that takes four days to prepare.

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Cafes

  • This Paddington bookseller does food, drinks and books. And what a combination that is. Every book across its three levels is second-hand, with regular bargains to be had. The website is constantly updating, with titles landing daily – even if they’re used, the rotation keeps things feeling new.

  • A Swedish cafe by Funkis serving cinnamon buns, skagen and lingonberry cordial.

  • A polished wine bar on the top floor of Berkelouw's Paddington store.

  • An unassuming little cafe on the Oxford Street strip.

Shops

  • The crown jewel of the Berkelouw empire in Sydney. This three-storey literary landmark on Oxford Street has everything a book nerd could wish for, not least of all a good cup of coffee from the upstairs cafe. It’s licensed and open late, which means it’s primed for a pre-movie drink if you’re hitting the Verona Palace Cinema next door.

  • One of the best places to see artfully directed cinema in Sydney.

  • When Oxford Street began to droop, Joseph Darling saw an opportunity to play a role in the creative renovation of the once-vibrant street.

  • Dive in for facials, skincare products and aquatic-inspired design.

  • Camilla and Marc’s second line, C&M, has its own home in Paddington.

  • So much more than the average high-street jeweller.

  • Luxury mid-century Scandinavian furniture and interiors that will lift any home.

  • Womenswear styles designed in Sydney and delivered weekly. Plus homewares, jewellery and Italian eyewear.

  • Luxury statement pieces for women with big budgets.

  • Creativity, passion and a good eye for what people like makes this gift store a keeper with more than 50 years’ history under its belt.