No longer known as Sydney’s slower sister, Wollongong is making a name for itself with the cafes and bars of its main drag and surrounding laneways. Next time you want a mini-getaway, here’s where to eat, drink and shop.
His Boy Elroy
From the same owners as the cafe-boutique Lee and Me on Crown Street, His Boy Elroy is the grungier, American brother up the road. The bare concrete space and industrial fit-out is the right amount of cool to complement the dirty dogs, hot wings and chili-cheese fries. Open from breakfast until late at night, you can fill yourself with the peppery egg, bacon and sausage breakfast bun and a milkshake carton, then come back later for a crunchy panko prawn taco and slaw. There are local craft beers on tap, a Purple Drank cocktail or try a Jane His Wife – a mix of chai-infused vodka and St Germain.
The humble sandwich is given new life in this cosy nook. Owners Emma Huber and Yonatan Miller are the husband-and-wife duo behind the casual lunch-to-dinner atmosphere and Middle Eastern influence. All the sandwiches and grazing plates are made with ingredients cooked, cured, baked and preserved on site; such as the caramel pork omelette and the Korea brisket and kimchi sandwich. It also does catering, runs cooking classes and hosts communal dinners.
The Little Prince
Found behind the shopping precinct on Crown Street, The Little Prince is a hole-in-the-wall Asian saloon. The Korean tapas menu changes monthly along with a hefty selection of single-malt whisky. With a menu of son-in-law eggs, fried with chilli, coriander and ketchup manis; bahn mi with pork, pate, egg and kewpie; or chili salt-and-pepper pickles, there’s plenty for a meal or bar snack. Dive into the impressive list of bei-feng dumplings and top it off with the fig and salted caramel Old Fashioned for a sweet nightcap.
Set up in a co-op in a car park, Sifters has crates and bleachers to sit on to complement the shipping container it’s housed in. Single Origin Roasters is responsible for the blend behind the bar and the bottles of sriracha on each table are by food establishment, Son of a Gun. The offshoot of Heritage Kitchen from Bulli is dishing up bacon butties and breakfast hash from Wednesday to Sunday, as well as its smoked-on-site pork, brisket and lamb. While you’re there, look out for Woah Nelly doughnuts being served on the regular.
82 Market Street, Wollongong
0437 886 900
Mon to Fri 7.30am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8am–2pm
Erick Zavallos and Maddie Sullivan offer a refined menu of wine, cheese and salumi in this simple and unassuming bar. The European beech timber, steel accents and polished concrete benchtop – weighing almost a tonne –-leads out on to a small garden. Allow the staff to pair your choice of drink with proscuitto, bresaola, finnochiona and Sonoma sourdough, served with quince paste and local summer honey. The extensive menu of white mould, washed rind, blue or hard varieties of cheese means you should set aside a lazy afternoon with these guys.
With a mix of tacos, fried chicken and steamed buns, Dagwood has taken Asian-South American fusion to another level. Take a seat at the communal benches among the sugar skulls and oriental posters that line the walls. Match the share plate with a choice from the extensive menus of spirits and wines. Taco, fancy buns and fried-chicken nights are a regular part of the schedule.
Lee and Me
This two-storey heritage-listed terrace is the result of two couples bringing what they love most to the ‘Gong. Lee and Shay Sullivan and Benny and Naomi Hudson have installed chandeliers, Campos coffee and Australian Red Cedar stairs to take you up to brands such as Vanishing Elephant, Nudie and Weak End Club. The cafe-cum-boutique serves simple, honest offerings such as buttermilk hotcakes, dukkah eggs and green and grain salads. Grab a shopping fix then take a seat in the courtyard, on the verandah or cosy- up by the fire. It sweetens the deal with Little Creatures on tap.
Part of the Sifters Co-op, this relaxed shopfront stocks only independent Australian labels. Owner David Everitt’s ethical T-shirt range, Thomas Foolery, is made from organic cotton and bamboo. It is stocked alongside other brands from Perth, Bondi and the Sunshine Coast, such as The Wanderers Co., Pool Club and Gutter Gods. Pop next door to Pepe’s Garden and treat yourself to some blooms before you head home.