Time Out Sydney

This formerly working class area may have come up in the world, but their love for top-notch pubs will never fade

3 Weeds

Originally established in 1881 to service the drinking needs of Rozelle’s rough-and-ready working-class locals, the pub has gone the same way as the suburb itself and been gentrified to the hilt, but it’s a rich and sympathetic refurb we’re talking about here. No shiny chrome in sight: instead, the 3 Weeds is all dark wood, recycled timber, fireplaces, antique couches and a kitchen garden. Rozelle.

Bald Rock Hotel

The Bald Rock was built in 1876 and is still in its original structure. The walls are Sydney sandstone, the ceiling is pressed tin and outside there's a big courtyard that looks straight over White Bay. It's an extremely pleasant place to lose an evening, we can tell you that much. The hotel boasts live music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening as well as free sausage sizzles on Friday afternoons  Balmain.

Balmain Hotel

Once upon a time the Balmain Hotel was a little-pub-that-couldn’t-be-arsed but now it’s the something-for-everyone-tiki-express. Polished floorboards have replaced sticky carpet in the stripped-back public bar. And downstairs the old bistro has become a cocktail bar and dinner hot spot for bright young things and families. Balmain.

The Cat and Fiddle

You might recall the Cat and Fiddle's former days as a bit of a divey old pub doing live music and cold beers. But thanks to some extra care and a classic wood-panel and potted palm makeover this old boozer is looking sharper than it has in years. Balmain.

Dicks Hotel

Born in 1874, Dick's has long been one of best sports bars in the suburb. It has its feet firmly rooted in tradition, where locals are known by name. Trivia is on a Tuesday and happy hour (Mon-Fri 3-6pm) reigns supreme. Plus, Monday to Wednesdays you can get a decent rump for $15. Balmain.

Dry Dock Hotel

You can't throw a brick in this neck of the woods without putting it through the window of a pub. But where the massive boozers on Darling Street get at the attention, the Dry Dock in the backstreets of the Birchgrove end has been quietly pulling beers since 1857, making it the oldest licensded pub in 2041. Balmain.

East Village Balmain

What was once the old Commercial pub down in East Balmain had a five-year stint as a Belgian Beer Cafe before it was lovingly restored back to a neighbourhood watering hole in the form of the East Village Balmain. But in a nod to its previous life you can still get a pot of mussels for half price on Wednesdays. Balmain.

Exchange Hotel Balmain

On a deceptively busy roundabout in the back of Balmain sits on the suburbs biggest pubs. And while there’s a load of room most are filled with functions on the weekend. If you can secure a spot on the balcony upstairs get stuck into the thought out modern bistro menu. Balmain.

London Hotel

This old Balmain favourite is steeped in authentic Aussie beer-culture history, previous owners the Cooper family left their mark in its stunning dark woodwork and scattered Australiana. Secondly, you won't find many out-of-towners in the London – the hotel is nicely tucked away from all the mid-town action of Darling Street Balmain.

Red Lion Hotel

Finding a proper old-timers pub in swiftly gentrifying Rozelle can be a tall order these days but the slighty down at heel red Lion is keeping the time honoured traditions of the batller pub alive and kicking. The beers are cold and familiar, they do simple counter meals and if it's warm the big vernadah has the best seats in the house. Rozelle.

The Riverview

A lovely old neighbourhood public house in the quiet backstreets of Balmain, the Riverview is gussied up in the style of a classic British gastro pub, its bright red doors holding the promise of a good feed and a few tall tales at the matching red-tiled bar. The menu here is a cut above your standard pub bistro and you can put your faith in the kitchen and order the ‘trust the chef’ tasting menu for $75. Balmain.

Ruby L'otel

At first glance, Rozelle’s Ruby L’otel could be suffering from an identity crisis. But somehow the mish-mash of spaces, drinks and food actually works. The original part of the pub is all old-school drinking den, while out the back there is a beach-shack bungalow vibe going on. The confusion extends to the menu, which has traditional pub grub competing for space with dumplings and little tacos. Rozelle.

Royal Oak Hotel

Located in the back streets of Balmain, The Royal Oak is a neighbourhood hotel with scads of room for a pub meal (they have a separate steak menu), familiar brews on tap and trivia on Wednesdays. On Saturdays televised sport draws the crowds and on Mondays it's pie and a pint night. Balmain.

Sackville Hotel

The Sackville has had a good hosing down and tarting up since the early days, but it’s still a dependable boozer, straddling the fine line between Balmain and Rozelle and welcoming locals for a drink, a meal or a good old-fashioned afternoon session. They do ten buck weekday lunches, $12 pizza on Tuesdays and $12 ribs on Wednesday so midweek is this local's time to shine. Balmain.

Sir William Wallace Hotel

This is a lovely little pub, nestled in the middle of Balmain’s bohemian back streets. The bar has a ramshackle charm, from the elaborate mural on the front bar’s back wall hard up against a nest of poker machines, to the artworks that adorn the walls of the dining room. Staff are friendly and the atmosphere congenial and even though the beer might take your life, it'll never take your freedom. Balmain.

Town Hall Hotel

It's big, it's slick and it's busy and that's how Balmain likes its Town Hall Hotel. Downstairs is a very popular spot for watching the big game, especially during the Waratahs season, while upstairs they are courting the youth vote with fruity cocktails and twelve different burger options that can be eaten out on the balcony. Balmain.

Welcome Hotel

Rozelle is a legendary "pub-urb" but if what you are crying out for is an awesome craft beer selection, a wine list that'll keep even the most choosy oenophiles happy and bar food that is a cut above everything else nearby then head straight to the Welcome. It still has the cosy feel of its former life as an Irish establishment but now an incredible Italian chef is changing the vibe with gnocchi, calamari fritti and deep-fried zucchini flowers. Rozelle.

The Workers

The Workers is a pokie free, late night spot in an area crying out for more youthful boozing options. You'll find it above the Unity Hall (a typical old Aussie boozer) but up here the beers are cold, the soundtrack is eclectic – we get a particularly golden streak of Alt-J, Tegan and Sarah, Alicia Keys and Jurassic 5 – and a rooftop is always a high card. Balmain.

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Updated on 21 Oct 2015.

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