Like A Local

Like A Local

Not In Print Reading Like A Local 8 minutes Next Who Is Toby Leon?


Wrote over 60 reviews of Sydney's culinary scene, nightlife & shopping highlights.


The chance to introduce my home to the world.


Travellers looking beyond the beaten path.


Sydney's famous for its beaches. Sun, surf and easy living. But there's so much more behind the postcards. Another side of the city where over 200 languages are spoken. Where art galleries and theatres buzz with life. Where knick-knacks and bric-a-brac mix amongst the browsers on a Sunday afternoon in spring. My reviews of Sydney tell their story...

My Role: First Contributor + Editor For Like A Local, Sydney


Glebe Markets

This old dame has been turning up every weekend for decades — rain, hail or shine. With music and merriment, food and fashion, books, bric-a-brac, odds and sods. She's aged beautifully. Gracefully. Like a family heirloom with classic features. She could never go out of style... so long as your style is bohemian bourgeois.

Glebe Markets aren't just about shopping. Lots of people drop in en route somewhere else. Find a place to bask in the sun. Listening to the laid back lilt of chit-chat about this and that. Munching cheap(ish) chow as tunes roll over the grass with acrobatic soul that vibrates differently in this schoolyard with a double life. Call it nostalgia, call it charm, you’ll have to go and see for yourself. Lose yourself a little... just a 10 minute walk from Central station.

Different Drummer

Meet a different little drummer boy. An old charmer of a bar drawing in folks from all walks of life. For decades. The only thing they have in common most of the time is that they’ve fallen for the drummer boy’s rum-pa-pum-pum. And there’s no doubt, the Different Drummer’s got tonnes of laid-back machismo. Like a loveable felon who just got out of jail for grievous bodily charm.

The Different Drummer's speakeasy energy tastes almost as good as the Spanish fare from the restaurant upstairs. Serving tapas, tapas and then, more tapas. Why wouldn’t you? Sidebar / best part(?) there’s a full toy train set snaking around the front room where the bar is. It choo-choos overhead with a cheeky fervour. Round and round and round it goes, where it will stop, nobody knows!

The Wedge

A wedge can be used to separate two objects or portions of an object, lift up an object, or hold an object in place. And this little wonder has done all three. It cleaved the suburb in two; Glebe's history is now recorded as pre Wedge and post Wedge. It raised locals up from a caffeinated hum to a state of bliss, with no force required. And it's held court atop the cafe scale ever since.

Come for the food - try the peach and prosciutto salad or the cheese-burgwich - but stay for the coffee. They've got all your espresso favourites, plus single origin, cold drip, filtered, you name it.

Then there's the cafe itself: a sliver of home that oozes comfort. Pitch perfect B-sides on the stereo mixed in with overlooked classics — ensuring the comfort never gets stale. And if you like people watching, they’ve got a bench facing onto the street that runs the length of the building. A surprising amount of room in this little wedge, as it turns out!


Hare Krishna (loosely interpreted) means, he who removes illusion and is the source of all pleasure. Locals have no illusions about this vege devotee. With its mighty buffet and cinema with lie-down seats — cradling weary limbs so your mind’s free to gobble tales tall and true. Nope, no illusions here. Locals know exactly what they're in for...

It really is a blessed deal — holiest of holies — a movie ticket plus all you can eat buffet is super-dooper cheap... for Sydney. Also, the food doesn't taste like pilgrim swill — quite the opposite — and all the movies on show have just bowed out of regular cinemas. So if you missed them there, catch-up here, where, as you can see, there's nothing short of divine magic at work.

Pig & Pastry

Old MacDonald is nowhere in sight. There's nothing old here except artfully distressed furniture. This little sweetie-pie is fresh out of the oven and eager to please. Which she does, with her creamy interior, natural light that's never too bright, friendly waitstaff and not a hint of piglet pink in sight. The menu is simple and tasty — all your farmyard favourites, plus pork and pastry galore. Last but not least, the coffee — a much better wake-up call than a rooster, that's for sure.

Griffin Theatre Company

The griffin is a legendary creature. A majestic blend of an eagle's cunning-artistry and a lion's prowess. Griffin Theatre Company is just as legendary, having started in the 1970s on the crest of our theatre's new wave. Ever since, with every changing season, it has preyed upon our hunger for new Australian stories. Encouraging us, like a convocation of eagles, to assemble. Opening our minds to thoughts from far off places in the mind’s of others. Shaking us out of ourselves sometimes. Activating neural pathways through catharsis and revelation. 

Ninety minutes at Griffin can make you think differently about who you are. And no other theatre in Sydney tells as many new Australian stories as Griffin. Those stories are diverse — culturally, thematically, artistically. Prices are fair; you can even bring your glass of beer or wine into the theatre with you; and there's a pride of restaurants and bars within walking distance.

The Midnight Special

The Midnight Special has been covered by dozens of artists over the hundred years since it was first written. It’s about a train whose light is seen as a salvation to prisoners who watch it pass by. They saw the passengers journeying to a new life with every ride, or so they imagined. The Midnight Special in Newtown continues that tradition. 

Jet black walls. With deep southern blues humming from the speakers often enough, but it's a motley crew every night — the tunes, and the people you'll meet. It should come as no surprise, then, that this special wonder of a place hosts epic live shows on the teensy-weensiest of stages.

A weight's lifted whenever you enter this den of warm smiles and surprise musical guests. The fairy lights over the bar offer a twinkling reprieve from the 9-5 cellblock where locals do time. And the Midnight Special really (truly) will shine an ever loving light on you... metaphorically. All aboard!

Fish & Co

While it has all the trappings of a beachfront getaway, this eatery is not run by sea trawling journeymen. The landlocked owners have travelled far and wide across the internet — all the oceans, seas and wwws — to serve you fish from the world's most sustainable farms. And the results? Thorough, succulent, good for your heart and ethically sourced. What’s a win-win + a win-win? Could you have a win-win squared?

Stinking Bishops

We have a friend in cheeses. Cheddar, Gouda, Edam, Brie and Swiss: all of them have our best interests at heart. The miraculous cheese at the Stinking Bishops go even further.

Volumes of fresh fromage burst from shelves with mouldy morsels. Each with their own rapturous stink. They reeeeeally do have a breathtaking library of cheese. As in, the cheese is so good you won't want to come up for air so your mouth can keep ‘studying it’. Also, prepare yourself for grand tales with scintillating back stories. Every cheese has a story to tell, which is a large part of why locals keep coming back — for tales old and new, friendships renewed with little known cheeses from far flung places... as well as the staff.

The staff at the Stinking Bishops are complete and total nerds. Walking encyclopaedia nerdy. I'm obsessed. Seeing people who love what they do this much makes everything taste better. Fact. And there’s a special kind of joy in treating someone like Google when they know everything about it and love that you're interested. So go on, indulge in a question every time you take a bite or as they bring out your plates. Watch them spring to life with cheese tales!

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