Amidst the louder local bars and pubs, The Midnight Special is the small bar that Newtown deserves. The décor is a nod to understated Americana with wood panelled walls, kitsch framed pictures, chequered floors, ceiling fans and booth seating. The space is small but not claustrophobic. The owner plays choice cuts from his personal vinyl collection most nights, while on Fridays and Saturdays patrons are welcome to bring in their own records as friends come down to take over the decks.

The drinks selection includes a mix of local and imported beers and ciders, while seven Australian and New Zealand wines are offered by the glass or bottle. French bubbles and cocktails – a sour mojito, a pleasantly tart Tom Collins and a sweet Sailor’s Lemonade – round out the offering.

The food is by Lulu’s Tamales, which serves Californian-style tamales and a bar menu that caters to vegans.

The 12-hour pork chipotle tamale comes with pico de gallo (a fresh tomato, coriander and onion salsa) and cumin and lime sour cream. And the roasted sweet-potato tamale is topped with charred fresh corn, black-bean salsa and pickled onions. And like traditional Mexican tamales, these are gluten-free. There’s also the option to add extra pickles; a spicy trio of radish, carrot and jalapenos; or bundle two tamales into a meal deal with plantain chips or “trashy chips” (tortilla chips, vegan avocado and cashew crema, pickles, corn and black-bean salsa).

Save for the pork tamale and a Mex-Japanese chicken-katsu burger, the rest of the menu is vegan friendly. There’s a sloppy joe (roll) filled with chipotle-spiced chickpeas, and a plant-based “snack pack” with plantain and tortilla chips, pickles and black-bean salsa.

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Updated: November 20th, 2018

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