Melbourne may be celebrated for its idiosyncratic trams but few know Sydney also had its heyday with the affectionately dubbed ‘”toastracks”. Up until 1961, when the last tramcar made its final, trundling journey, Sydney boasted the largest tram network in the southern hemisphere.
This oft-forgotten part of Sydney’s transport history has been well and truly revived at Tramsheds – the buzzing food and wine precinct stationed in the inner-city suburb of Forest Lodge. Located in the former Rozelle Tram Depot, Tramsheds is a clutch of restaurants, cafés and providores neighbouring a repurposed Sydney tram, with some carriages acting as bars and stationary dining carts, resurrected to their former interior glory.
If you love quelling your hunger with a dash of history, follow our insider’s guide to the Tramsheds precinct.
Know before you go
It’s the history of Tramsheds that really sets it apart from other eatery offerings in Sydney. The Rozelle Tram Depot first opened its doors in 1904 and serviced the people-carriers until 1958 following the tram industry grinding to a halt. There’s history in both the venue and its inhabitants so it’s worth taking time to appreciate the overhaul the resident tram (that exceeds 50 years old) has undergone – including a six-month stint of intense cleaning and stripping as part of a Bendigo-based restoration project.
Day on a plate
Let’s get down to business: food is the major drawcard at Tramsheds. As the precinct opens at 7am, breakfast plans can commence early.
Start at Garçon – the newest contribution from the founder of specialty coffee roaster The Little Marionette – where reliably good coffee is, of course, a given. The food is as dependably delicious, owing to its somewhat pioneering pairings: banana loaf with coffee-laced crème fraiche or the brunch bao with a heart of chorizo and mojo verde would be our pick. If you’re starting with a mid-morning treat, head to Heritage Bakery & Pizzeria for its topnotch pastries – all cakes and breads contain stone-milled, old heritage grain for a rustic flavour.
At lunch, find a place at Osaka Trading Co for ramen or opt for nourishing nosh at Butcher and the Farmer. Edging towards dinner, pasta devotees can twist the stunning simplicity of Flour Eggs Water onto an eager fork and those who don’t mind the heat can hop right into Belle’s Hot Chicken for a fiery fix. Need relief following the chilli? Make the pilgrimage to Gelato Messina for a scoop (or seven).
There are a few places you should consider putting your name down for due to popularity. Monday night is ramen night at Osaka Trading Co, for example, and as the only evening where the slurp-worthy soup is served on the dinner menu, booking ahead is advised. Bodega 1904 also draws a crowd from Thursdays to Sundays so it’s best to secure a spot in advance. No luck for Messina however – the ever-present queue is something every ice-cream aficionado has to tackle before getting a lick.
Spending the day
Sampling your way around isn’t the only way to experience the revived space. Tramsheds frequently hosts events that invite visitors to delve deeper into the gastronomic gusto of the precinct. Chambers Cellars showcases its cellar of wide-ranging drops from the Southern Highlands to South Africa with free evening tastings and Flour Eggs Water offers pasta-making workshops for adults and kids to help recreate their own at-home trattoria.
Although there’s parking on-site (perfect for lugging home the one-kilo tub of of Messina you purchased), visitors can also easily grab the light rail to Jubilee Park – less than 20 minutes from Central Station. From there, it’s not even 100 metres to Tramsheds. Bus routes and bikes are also good options – check here for more details.