Holt Street is the lovely street I live (and work) in.
It’s a tiny one, in the heart of Surry Hills – the Farringdon of Sydney, I like to think – and it is packed with great cafes, amazing restaurants and a wine bar. If you fancy a valid alternative to busy Crown Street, then head up to little Holt.
You will find an array of buzzy places and a great selection of cuisines and drinks that will not disappoint you. And you will want to come back. Again and again.
Welcome to my Holt Street:
Vini – Italian restaurant
Vini restaurant, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tiny, simple and classy, Vini has captured the essence of Sydney’s new found love affair with trattorias, enotecas and osterias. And it makes me feel like I am back in Milan again!
THE CURIOSITY: Tuesday at Vini is regional night. Chef Stephen creates a four course set menu of typical, classic, seasonal and sometimes unusual foods from a different region of Italy. Four courses $55. Wines are sourced from the region to accompany the food.
121BC – Italian wine bar
121BC, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Imagine a room with delicate lighting and just a long wooden table. This is 121BC. This hyper tiny but super elegant wine bar is my local favourite for a superb glass of wine with friend before dinner. It’s perfect for my beloved aperitivo time! Once again, I am brought back to classy Milan! 121BC only seats 25 people on its long communal table and it does not accept bookings. It serves small truly traditional and delicious dishes and it also features an ‘enoteca’, with a rich selection of wines for you to buy and enjoy elsewhere.
THE CURIOSITY – 121BC is from the same owner of two other Italian favourites: Vini and Berta, both in Surry Hills as well. And they also recently opened a new 121BC wine bar in Hong Kong, check their website here.
Muum Maam – Thai restaurant
Muum Maam, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
The ambience of this Thai restaurant is very ‘Surry Hills’ style with long communal wooden tables, brightly painted walls, and exposed light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. All your Thai favourites are on the menu, as well as a selection of house specialities such as five crab and prawn rice net spring roll and san jan pad Thai noodles. Great services and vibrant atmosphere too. By day, the street style Tuk Shop serves quick and delicious meals from the cart. By night, Muum Maam serves classic Thai cuisine in a relaxed, cool environment.
THE CURIOSITY: Named after the Thai slang for ‘little glutton’.
Di Bella cafe
Di Bella cafe, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
This Sicilian owned cafe is more than just a coffee place. It’s a roasting warehouse which serves generous breakfasts and delicious lunches. Only open for breakfast and lunch, all the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced. And – most importantly – they come with a hint of Mediterranean flavour, thanks to the truly Southern Italian chef. For lunch try one of their risottos or pasta dishes (orecchiette is my favourite pasta there), and for breakfast try their banana bread and ricotta cakes.
THE CURIOSITY: this modern vibrant cafe serves aromatic coffees from their own hand selected blended beans; roasting them right on the premises. You cannot miss the big roasting machine, which prominently sits in the centre of the cafe,
Citta, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
A tiny hole in Holt Street, literally four tables inside, three more on the sidewalk. Città doesn’t have a menu, just a glass-fronted refrigerator full of food. Choose something from the fridge, and the guys will cook it for you – toasted sandwiches, spaghetti, ravioli, pasta and meatballs, anything. This super tiny cafe’ is pumping Mon-Fri and the buzz is great. With all the creative and media agencies in the area and the Asos and News Corp office in the same street, it ‘s the favourite of a lot of employees.
THE CURIOSITY: The barista knows most people’s names and will welcome you with a G’day!
Movida – Spanish tapas
Movida, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Movida is the perfect place where you want to go early (I live next door and it is always – always – busy!) and stay long. For someone who travelled extensively around Spain like me, the tapas are very authentic and won’t disappoint your picky palate. Service is excellent, very buzzy and plenty of good vibes. Match your tapas with some Spanish wine and don’t think about your wallet: you will have a good time!
THE CURIOSITY: This is the fourth addition to the Movida family around Australia: there’s Movida in Melbourne, Movida Next Door, Movida Aqui, Movida at the Airport and they all serve great quality Spanish tapas.
… THE LATEST NEW ENTRIES ON HOLT!
Cafe’ e cucina – Napoli style cafe
Cafe’ & Cucina, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
This cafe has only been open for a matter of weeks right in front of my office – News Corp – and my colleagues are already in love with its Napoli-style cakes, lasagne, sandwiches and coffee. I go there for their fresh cold pressed juices and their cannelloni. Top notch!
THE CURIOSITY: this cafe’ has been selected as one of the 10 best Sydney lunches for $10 or less. “Cafe’ & Cucina” means both “Coffee & Kitchen” and “Coffee & Cuisine” in English, but I agree with the owner that it does sound much more poetic in my language, Italian!
Mama’s Buoi – Vietnamese restaurant
Mama’s Buoi, Holt Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Mama’s Buoi seeks to emulate the flavour, soul and communal spirit of eating in Vietnam. The restaurant’s crew encourages guests to ‘eat the food like a family’. Mama’s Buoi’s specials are quirky and can get messy and you are more than welcome to make use of your fingers. The Mama’s Buoi philosophy is reflected in the warm and welcoming interior and cosy courtyard at the back. A big graphic reads “ME KHONG” on the wall, and family photos adorn the place and line the menus. Greenery, including herbs used to cook by the chef, thrive on windowsills.
THE CURIOSITY: Sydney’s head chef, Tiw Rakarin uses fresh produce daily. With no cool room, raw ingredients are broken down every morning. Long, slow cooking – six to seven hours each day – provides the pho’s flavour without needing additives.
OK, BUT WHERE IS HOLT STREET?