From Mona to North Hobart, Tasmania’s capital has definitely found its cool in recent years. Now this central pocket of town has joined the party, too.
MidTown comes into existence
MidTown came about as something of a joke on Facebook. Occupying a no man’s land between Hobart’s sparkling harbour and North Hobart, one of Australia’s most in-vogue neighbourhoods, shopkeepers in the overlooked spot between NoHo and SoHo coined the name MidTown to put themselves on the map.
Now the stretch of Elizabeth Street, from Liverpool Street in the south to Warwick Street in the north, is a thriving hub for creatives. They’ve transformed what was once a pretty tired-looking area into something that will draw the cool kids down from the nationally recognised restaurants and bars of North Hobart, and tourists up from the waterfront.
With new breweries, restaurants and bars making a name for themselves and the arrival of a huge new student accommodation block on Elizabeth Street that opened in 2019, this historic stretch of Hobart has received a long-awaited shot in the arm.
Top things to do in MidTown
So now is the perfect time to wander up Elizabeth Street, past buildings that existed when the road itself was nothing more than a muddy track through the bush. Today it’s a place that has put itself on the map; a laughing matter no more.
1. Bury Me Standing
Entrepreneurial baker Alesha Peckels serves up delicious traditional breads, including varieties from Minnesota and a secret bagel recipe from her husband Cohen. You’ll find her bakery-cum-cafe on the famed Bathurst Street (83-85). We suggest grabbing a seat with a coffee and a lemon cake with lemon syrup, Alesha’s grandmother’s recipe.
2. Island Espresso
While Island Espresso (171 Elizabeth Street) serves great coffee, cakes and breakfast, you’re really here to feel a bit of Hobart history. The old brick wall out the back constitutes what is thought to be one of the oldest structures in the city: the remains of a cottage dating back to 1814, before convict labour had even paved the ROAD.
3. The Stagg
“The area has changed dramatically, with a vibrancy that just did not exist a few years ago,” says Sue Stagg of her family-run coffee shop (138 Elizabeth Street) that intercepts NoHo office folk on their way to work. Order from the hatch or take a seat and try the cold brew.
Owners of Templo, Chris Chapple and Matt Breen, have perfected the homemade pasta and gnocchi (photo: Chris Crerar).
With only 20 seats at Templo (98 Patrick Street), you’ll need to book early for this Hobart favourite, open Thursday to Monday from 6pm until late and Friday to Monday from 12pm to 2pm. Owners Chris Chapple and Matt Breen serve delicious handmade pasta and gnocchi, which you’ll enjoy with some perfectly matched wines. Pull up a stool at the bar and soon you’ll be chatting away with the talented duo as you watch them at work.
5. Lily & Dot
You won’t be able to resist this appealing little store if you’re a new parent or parent-to-be, or you want to pick up a gift for a niece or nephew. Owner of Lily & Dot, Katinka Challen, specialises in ‘Tassie-made, handmade crafts and natural products with a modern twist’, which translates as snug crocheted blankets, cuddly toy native animals such as Tassie devils and platypuses made from recycled materials, classic children’s books and gorgeous prints that are perfect for a nursery.
6. Shambles brewery
Several craft breweries have cropped up in this part of town recently, but the best has to be Shambles. It has pulled off the marriage of a sleek, industrial-chic bar (lots of timber and steel), with tasty, refreshingly crisp ales. Head to 222 Elizabeth Street in the late afternoon to join office workers enjoying a post-work pint. Shambles understands that a fine craft beer can be a great session beer, too. We suggest the Afternoon Delight: “Perfect after a hard day on the job,” its tagline goes. “Also good for when you’ve done f@#k-all and just want a beer.”