Retro small bars where good drinks come with classic arcade games, new skool beats and rock star-level pizza… Two Sydney musicians give us the heads up on what to do in the city on a summer’s night.

Montaigne

Montaigne at Oxford Art Factory

Singer-songwriter Jess Cerro, or Montaigne to global fans, is on a national tour, sharing the joy of their new album making it! live on stage. But Sydney is home and the quirky side of the city’s small-bar scene has given some surprising inspo for the artist’s new digital pop sound.

The best place to go out at night is…

“Newtown, in the inner west. 1989 Arcade Bar  is a small bar where you can get a great drink but they have pinball machines and retro video games I love to play like Galaga and Asteroids. I walked in there and thought, one day I am going to hire this place out and record the sounds. I didn’t get to do that for making it! with the pandemic, but gaming is one of my passions and the album’s very much influenced by my relationship to them. 

True Romance dive bar and restaurant where they have modern arcade games. The food is amazing and like the vibes are really… me. There’s a back patio which is really nice in summer and the staff are cool. And there’s an upstairs where you can watch comedy or live music.” 

You have to see live music at…

“A live show is always something special. The communality you feel is really nourishing, for the artist and everyone in the room at a space like Oxford Art Factory. I love how the Sydney scene has so many niches. Indie artists always have something going on.”

Music you can’t miss at Oxford Art Factory this summer: Sydney electronic dance band Art vs Science (December), hyped international hip-hop act IDK (January).

Live beats, cool rooftops and proper pizza served late. Sydney knows how to do long, balmy nights right. Book great deals on flights for your summer city break now at qantas.com

Comedy has a cooler edge at..

Factory Theatre in Marrickville. It’s a great venue, with some outdoor stages and some of the rooms are in shipping containers. I see a lot of comedy there. I was seeing the Aunty Donna [comedy group] regularly and the comedy is very physical theatre, dramatic and silly. I’ll often ‘steal’ things [for my shows]. I love really raw energy. What I really want to see is theatre at a rock concert.” 

Plant-based food is incredible at…

Yellow restaurant at Potts Point

“The vegan restaurant and wine bar Yellow in Potts Point. It’s theatre on a plate – beautiful and such a journey. They do interesting combinations of vegetables prepared in a way that makes the vegetables not look like themselves anymore, so I can almost never remember what it was that I had. But they always do an interesting sorbet, where they liquify some random fruit or vegetable and make it into a frozen treat and it’s like, how did you do that?”

Hevenshe

Hevenshe

You might know Jenna McDougall as lead vocalist for Sydney rock outfit Tonight Alive but in solo project Hevenshe, her smoky, sultry vocals take a more solidly indie, uplifting tilt. Her new single The Blessing drops on Spotify and Apple Music November 1 as a sneak-up festival anthem. Here’s where she finds a good night out.

The hidden bar to find

Old Mate's Place and Gigi's Pizzeria

Old Mate’s Place is a really fun, quirky speak-easy-type bar in the city for specialty cocktails. I love that it’s not super easy to find, so it’s like you’re in on a secret when you do. It feels like a library, with dark wood and books around, but also a conservatory filled with plants. And there’s a great, relaxed rooftop.”

Before a night out, fuel up at…

Gigi Pizzeria in Newtown. It’s sort of a secretly plant-based Italian restaurant. ‘Plant-based’ isn’t really advertised – it’s just really beautiful, authentic food. You get proper Neapolitan-style woodfired pizza and the cannoli with vanilla custard is like nothing you’ve had before.”

I’m excited about

“WorldPride coming to Sydney in 2023. Mardi Gras is always so much fun for everyone. One of my favourite US bands, MUNA, a three-piece pop band with ‘80s synth influences that are really fun to dance to, is going to be playing at the Rainbow Republic closing party alongside G Flip.” 

Go out late, dance until daybreak, then crash at one of the cool new hotels that have opened in time for summer. We’d pick one with a resort-style pool… Book a big weekend in Sydney with friends now at qantas.com

Three cool new stays in Sydney

The Porterhouse Hotel and Oxford House Hotel

When the time to crash comes, here are the hip boutique hotels for deep sleeps and delicious eats.

The Porterhouse Sydney - M Gallery: Close to the Australian Museum, Hyde Park, Darling Harbour, Capitol Theatre and Circular Quay, this mod-meets-heritage offering tricks up rooms with leather and gold touches. Dixson & Sons brasserie and Henry’s Bread & Wine deli do top notch food to start or finish the day. 

Oxford House: This lifestyle resort smack in the centre of Paddington does LA glam and Sydney chill in the right ratios. Light-flooded sanctuary style rooms (curated art, very Instagrammable vibes) look over the upscale ‘hood and courtyard pool and bar are the scene of summer dreams.

The Strand Hotel: Come for long lunches in the chic French brasserie, move on to the bohemian-spirited rooftop bar (try the spritzes or signature margarita), then tuck yourself up in organic bedding in boutique rooms with impeccable style.

SEE ALSO: The Hottest Summer Events in Sydney to Book Right Now

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Image credits: Georgia Griffiths (Grant Perez at Oxford Art Factory); Chris Chen (Montaigne at Oxford Art Factory); Leigh Griffiths (Yellow); Billy Zammit (Hevenshe); Old Mate's Place and Gigi's Pizzeria; The Porterhouse Hotel and Oxford House Hotel; Tom Wilkinson (Gretta Ray at Oxford Art Factory)

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