March 17, 2023
6 mins Read
It may be Australia’s second-oldest city, but Newcastle surely doesn’t act like it after dark.
Sitting on one of the country’s most beautiful coastlines, with a thriving harbour and a city centre that combines heritage architecture, funky streetscapes and beautified spaces, Newcastle’s nightlife is an idyllic balance between urban buzz and coastal cool.
Many clever tastemakers have injected life into the former steel city over the years, and the multi-million-dollar makeovers of renowned pubs The Criterion and The Great Northern Hotel really raised the bar – no pun intended – for the city’s after-dark offering.
Owners of The Criterion, Chris Joannou and Zach Scholtz, had barely finished the transformation of the much-loved pub when they turned their attention to a new dining venue tucked away in Wickham.
With an aesthetic inspired by California’s Venice Beach, a beachside suburb that Joannou likens to Newcastle, Flotilla serves a set seasonal menu and well-rounded beverage list focusing on minimal intervention wines.
The now-hatted restaurant hit the ground running, quickly becoming a renowned dining hotspot.
Until Flotilla’s arrival, Subo was Newcastle’s only hatted restaurant (in fact, it was most recently awarded two Chef Hats by Australian Good Food Guide).
The contemporary bistro on Hunter Street has maintained an excellent reputation since opening in 2011; serving a seasonal six-course menu, Subo is a refined dining experience in an understated (almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it) setting.
While Subo is understated, small bar Coal and Cedar is practically under the radar, just as a speakeasy should be.
With no signage and no doorbell, it’s like the good ol’ prohibition days (but instead of a secret knock you’ll need a secret code to text). It’s the ideal bolthole for late-night revelry.
Staying subterranean, The Underground is located under The Grand Hotel, another pub that’s been given a loving transformation.
You can enter via the almost-ominous stairs from street level, or from inside the hotel. Once inside the dimly lit bar, you’ll be transported to the 1920s, especially on Tuesdays, when live jazz music completes the scene.
For more live music visit Bar Petite, which hosts local musicians every Friday and Saturday. Located under the Novotel in Newcastle’s East End, this small bar offers a tapas menu and rustic French ambience.
From small bar to small-batch brewing, the city’s newest craft brewery has settled in at Islington, in the West End.
The passion project of three local blokes – who also pour the beers, clear the tables and pack the orders – Method Brewing has a core range as well as limited edition brews, including the recent citrus-flavoured Yuzu NEIPA and an oatmeal stout.
There’s also a rotating presence of food trucks to keep hunger at bay (think loaded burgers, fried chicken and woodfired pizzas).
Over in Merewether, another brewhouse has been making waves; Modus Brewing has 36 beers on tap, as well as cocktails, wine and spirits, alongside a casual menu of pub fare with a Mexican twist.
The sleek brewery offers tours for the grown-ups and a playground to keep the littlest customers happy (and parents happier).
It’s just a few blocks from Merewether Beach, and is around the corner from other popular venues such as The Burwood Inn, The Prince of Merewether, and seaside favourite The Beach Hotel (known as ‘The Beaches’ to locals).
While the Modus Brewing space is ultra-sleek and contemporary, there’s also a growing number of small bars and restaurants popping up in lovingly restored heritage buildings.
Wine and cocktail venue Bar Mellow is housed within a 1920s building known as Bank Corner, notable for its ornate curved façade and charming original doors.
It’s an intimate space where old meets new, featuring comfy leather booths, funky wall murals, an old bank vault, and a menu of tasty morsels such as olives, cheese platters and cured meats.
Inspired by local history, Lock’s Paddock pays tribute to an old stonemason’s yard on which Miss Porter’s House (a well-known National Trust building) once sat.
The restaurant has a country-style interior mixed with antiques and offers a seasonal share menu. Be sure to try the carbonara or cacio e pepe for a memorable visual experience.
Another local landmark is the 1970s Brutalist-style Roundhouse, whose recent incarnation as the luxurious Crystalbrook Kingsley is a warm and lively divergence from its former life as council administration offices.
The Roundhouse restaurant comes with arguably the best views in the city – from coast and harbour to the Hunter Valley – accompanied by a modern Australian menu and a wine list that allows local drops to shine.
The Crystalbrook Kingsley may have been the city’s only five-star hotel when it opened in June 2021, but this title was short-lived when QT Newcastle came onto the scene barely a year later, well and truly shaking up the accommodation offering.
Housed in the iconic 113-year-old heritage-listed former David Jones building, its Rooftop at QT is an uber-chic perch for sunset drinks as the sky changes colour behind the city skyline.
The Japanese-inspired menu is amplified with a large selection of whiskys and sake; gin lovers can browse more than 20 varieties, while beer fiends have ample choice of mostly local ales. It’s a menu almost as extensive as Newcastle’s nightlife itself.
For curious explorers: Townsville North Queensland is a place to experience something new or familiar, but with a twist.View More >
Craving a new adventure? An abundance of exciting activities await in The Whitsundays. It’s time to pack your bags.View More >
3 nights at Tangalooma including desert safari, scenic heli flight, wild dolphin feeding & more! Valid now – 31 August.View More >
The city of Newcastle’s drinks scene has come of age. Here are some top places for a tipple. A few decades ago, knock-off drinks in Newcastle amo...
While road-trippers might have once passed through Newcastle on their way to enjoy lunch in the Hunter Valley, the city is now seen as a vibrant food ...
From steel city, to city of style, sass and substance, Newcastle is a region that has been well and truly revitalised. The city of Newcastle has it a...
Over the past few years accommodation in Newcastle has had a renaissance of sorts. What was once a scarce offering, has now been replaced with a bevy...
Newcastle is a city climbing the ranks of the culinary ladder. There has long been chatter of Newcastle’s burgeoning dining scene. From casual cafe...
Your essential guide to all the best bits of NSW’s second city: from speakeasy cocktail bars to brunch spots and heritage-listed ocean baths. As ...
For the best travel inspiration delivered straight to your door.
LEAVE YOUR COMMENT