Erskineville, lovingly referred to as ‘Erko’ by locals, is a quaint and beautiful inner-city neighbourhood in New South Wales. While it resides in a small part of Sydney, it is rich in culture, history, and community. 

“Erko”, originally a working class suburb lined with streets of quaint Victorian era terraces, has been gentrified into slightly more chilled out version of its boisterous neighbour Newtown, with fewer hipsters and associated beards in evidence. It is always close to the famous cafe & bar strip of King Street Newtown and the smaller Erskineville Road strip. However, one can always escape to the tranquil parklands at Sydney Park, which are close at hand.

Sydney Park Rd (Photo by: Adam.J.W.C.)

Whether you’re looking to move or already living in Erskineville but would like to explore more, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to go over some things you’ll grow to be fond of when in Erko.

Cafes in Erskineville

One key feature of a tight-knit suburb is the presence of cafes. In Erko, you’ll find some of the best cafes where you can have your morning coffee, enjoy a good meal, and meet people. Some of these cafes also double as alternative work spaces for when your mind needs a change in scenery.

Fleetwood Macchiato is a favourite among locals. They serve homemade meals and pastries all day, paired with their locally sourced coffee and tea.

If you want someplace unique, you can try Naked Brew’s reimaginations of common food like salad bowls and fresh toast. Their visual menu won’t disappoint. 

On top of their already great food, Naked Brew also captures the hearts of dog lovers. Yes; your pooches can also dine here (outdoors) and enjoy peanut butter doughnuts and doggie chinos.

Shenkin Erskineville, Blackbird & Co., and Foodcraft Espresso are also must-try cafes in Erko. 

Cafe Piccolo Erko
Cafe Piccolo Erko (Photo by: @CafePiccoloErko)

Whilst in Erko, be sure to stop by Cafe Piccolo run by Tony Piccolo who personifies the gently smiling face of Erskineville as he serves up bacon and egg rolls, to the slightly hung and electric mix of dog people, social progressives, ageing hipsters and occasional drag queens on Sunday mornings. At the age of 50, he re-discovered his Italian roots and escaped 25 years of desk-bound work to establish his cafe serving up un-pretentious Italian food to the locals.

Nightlife in Erskineville

Who says a quaint suburb can’t have fun? Erskineville has one of the best pub scenes you can ever imagine. 

Imperial Hotel, Erskineville
Imperial Hotel, Erskineville (Photo by: Sardaka)

The Imperial, an institution beloved by the queer community, throws extraordinary parties for everybody. While dance and drag are the main events in The Imperial, it also hosts events like the Photography Festival and Express Yourself Sundays, to encourage everyone to exercise their creativity and freedom while having a spectacular time with the rest of the town. 

At rare moments, people from Erko take a break from hardcore dancing and prefer a chill night. For these occasions, The Hive Bar is the place to be. The Hive Bar gives you a more mellowed down fun with records, live music, cocktails, and craft beer. 

Looking for something more unique? Your brunch-outs can extend to happy hour in Kuki Tanuki. They serve Japanese and vegan specials that you can pair with Sake or Japanese beer—whisky too, if you’re feeling fancy. 

Winding down in Erskineville

For slower days, you can take a stroll at Harry Noble Reserve Park at Swanson Street. Not only is it rich in history, it’s great for dogspotting too! 

The large Sydney Park to the South of Erskineville is home to various natural vegetation and is a gem for runners, walkers, cyclists bird photographers, or those just looking for a patch of nature close to Sydney. Refurbishment over the last few years has created a haven for birdlife and even has its own resident black swans and eels in the local dams.

On Saturdays, you can spend some time shopping at Carriageworks Farmers’ Market over at Everleigh, a nearby neighbourhood. It’s a great place to source high quality produce for your home cooking from dozens of farmers.

Carriageworks Farmers Market (Photo by: lawtonjm)

Living in Erskineville will always be full of surprises. A quiet suburb can quickly transform into a lively party scene at night, and return to its lovely small town charm when the sun rises again.

This is a place for “ambiverts”. It will suit people with a socially progressive outlook, who enjoy good cheap food and the occasional very wild night, but like retreating to the tranquility of  beautiful dog friendly parks. It is slightly cheaper than neighbouring Newtown with excellent public transport and schools nearby.

Want to drill down deeper and find out what makes Erskineville truly tick? Check out our Area Profile of Erskineville.

Also published on Medium.