I’d like to take a moment to thank the genius who invented food tours. If you already know a city like the back of your hand, it’s the perfect way to navigate a neighborhood you may not frequent. Alternatively, if you only have a few days to explore, what could be better than eating your way through a new city?
Seeing as the latter was our situation in Sydney, I can tell you: little is better. We spent a half day with Ultimately Sydney, and by the end of it, I saw the city’s food scene much differently than I had expected. It’s not all shrimp on the barbie & fish and chips, after all!
So, where did we head on our Gourmet Tour of Sydney’s Inner West?
Stop 1: The Coffee Roaster
I didn’t realize this before we got to New Zealand, but both Kiwis and Australians are extremely proud of their cafe culture. Each morning, as we headed out from our guesthouse in Darlinghurst, we laughed at how many people were crowded around tiny little cafe tables, sipping their morning lattes. My favorite? A local spot that was always crammed with bulked up construction workers gossiping over tiny little espresso mugs before they headed off to the job.
This is why we weren’t surprised to learn that our tour would stop at The Coffee Roaster–one of the main brands we noticed advertised throughout the city’s cafes. We were led through the roasting process by Dan Fitzsimmons, who founded the company in 1991 with his wife JoAnne. With a focus on small batch roasting, each bean is browned to perfection.
As a non-coffee drinker when I’m home, I can at least say this: my latte at The Coffee Roaster was the beginning of my coffee-downing streak for the rest of our RTW.
Stop 2: Establishment 218
(which appears to now be called Meat Emporium)
We walked in here and the hubs was pretty much in immediate heaven. Donned in our finest winter coats as provided by the staff (see above), we made our way through what was, essentially, a giant meat locker. With packs of everything from steak to pork to kangaroo, it was clear that this is where locals go when they need to feed an army of about 45 hungry Australians.
At the end, we tried samples of steak tips and sausages dipped in some of their signature sauces, and the hubs sulked because we didn’t have a grill at our guesthouse.
Stop 3: Herbie’s Spices
Our next stop was stupid adorable.
Founded by Ian “Herbie” Hemphill, Herbie’s is a tiny little shop full of every spice imaginable. The spices were broken up by region–with everything from Moroccan to American (where you find their signature guacamole mix, le duh)–and it was my turn to wish we were headed back to a kitchen post-tour.
Stop 4: P.R. Raineri
If I had to live on one type of cuisine for the rest of my life, it would be Italian food. Pasta, mozz, pizza, yes, yes & yes. Unfortunately for me, Hawaii, Fiji, and New Zealand didn’t offer much in this department.
Enter: P.R. Raineri
As soon as we walked in, I felt like we were in an Italian deli in the West Village. We wandered from aisle to aisle, exploring the fresh ingredients and pointing out all our favorite foods that we hadn’t seen (at least not authentically) in almost two months. I was pretty much in heaven, and then the cheese came out:
Stop 5: Rino Saffioti
If you’ve been around for awhile, you may have heard: I don’t really do sweets… and when I do, I want, like, gummy bears. Not the classiest of candy eaters, what can I say? The hubs, on the other hand, is pretty much always on his period and could live on dark chocolate. It’s weird.
So while I wasn’t drooling over the offerings at the family-run Rino Saffioti, the hubs assures me it was delish.
Based on the well-loved kitchen and the general adorableness of each handmade chocolate, I believe him.
Stop 6: Annandale Cellars
What’s a foodie tour of Sydney without some Australian wine? Our final stop took us to a local wine shop where we tried a few different types of Head Red wines from the Barossa Valley.
Because we never made it to the Barossa, I’m glad we had this little tasting. Head Wines has a tie to the shop (the founder worked at Annandale before become a winemaker), and I liked that the store showed so much support for boutique wineries.
In general, I appreciated that Ultimately Sydney focused on small, family-owned and operated stores throughout the city. Each stop felt integral to the neighborhood, and the tour was all the more authentic because of it.
If you’re headed to Sydney, be sure to check out their tour offerings, and if you opt to take a tour, do not eat a big breakfast!
– Thanks to Ultimately Sydney for inviting us along for the day! All opinions are my own, pinky promise.