Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tio's + Wild Rover small bars, Surry Hills

I LOVE the advent of the Sydney small bar scene. This is kind of an odd thing for me to say seeing as I don’t really drink and I have only been to about three of Sydney’s small bars. Actually, it’s more likely I’ve only been to two, not three – but whatever the number I do love them. I love them as they are not big, over-crowded, noisy pubs. I like the intimate feel of a small bar and how they all seem to specialise in something – rum, whiskey, tequila...hangovers.

On a recent(ish) girls night out I was lucky enough to try two of Surry Hills small bars – taking my grand total of small bar visits in Sydney to a whooping FOUR!

First stop was Tio’s which is located on Foster Street – just up from Bar H. Tio’s specializes in tequila although there are other drinks on beer.

There's not much on offer in terms of food, but they do serve bags of popcorn (free with your drink order) and at 6pm we noticed a limited food menu being handed out. But, pretty much it’s just tequila, so line your stomach beforehand. The popcorn is pretty moreish though...sprinkled with paprika it's savoury and spicy (but not too spicy).

I can't quite remember which two cocktails I ordered - but they were from the cheap (aka $10.00) side of the menu. I think I probably had the Paloma as it has grapefruit in it and I LOVE grapefruit. Sticking with the theme of drinks I love it makes sense then that my second drink was the El Diablo as it has Ginger Beer in it.

I’m not sure what’s with all the bras behind the bar. The barman assures us they are real, functioning bras handed over by their lady customers. I don’t know – bras are SO damn expensive, there’s nothing (not even a stomach full of tequila) that would get me to hand over my bra without receiving a fistful of cash so I could go buy a replacement bra.


Our next stop is The Wild Rover. If I hadn’t seen someone opening the nondescript door to this bar as I walked past a few weeks prior I would have no idea that a cool, small bar lurked behind the walls of what honestly looks like an old butchers shop. There is literally nothing identifying this as a bar – I love the clandestine, hidden feeling of this place – even though it sits on a busy road in Surry Hills.

They specialize in whiskey here at Wild Rover and the feel of the place is decidedly “Irish pub meets the New York Irishman circa 1940” (or something like that). There's of dark wooden furniture, exposed brick walls, pewter mugs for beers and a large central wooden bar dominating the downstairs room. I particularly love the old railway station signboard that serves as a drinks menu...

The staff here are really friendly and don’t bat an eyelid when all I order is a Cranberry Juice (I’m all boozed out from the tequila bar earlier). There’s a few food options on offer and the girls I’m with decide to order a (very delicious) vegetarian sausage roll to tide us over until we hit our dinner spot later on.

Do you prefer a small bar over a pub dear reader, and if so what's your favourite Sydney small bar?

Tio's is at 4-14 Foster Street, Surry Hills.  

Tio's Cervecería on Urbanspoon

The Wild Rover is at 75 Campbell Street, Surry Hills. 

The Wild Rover on Urbanspoon


  1. Tina@foodboozeshoesJanuary 16, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    Love the popcorn and refrescoes at Tio's, and Wild Rover in general :) Yay for more small bars!

  2. m not much of a drinker too but m fds love discovering small bars instead of going to the generic swanky ones

  3. I love small bars.. I have been a few times to one in the city, called Small Bar. Love the atmosphere and just chilling.. I too don't drink that much, but a much better alternative to pubs.

  4. i had no idea that was the entrance of the wild rover! awesome cant wait to visit

  5. Helen (grabyourfork)January 16, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    I think everyone ends up with a hangover after Tio's. lol!

  6. I like the look of these place friend, the small bar Surry Hills hipster :)

  7. What a fun night! I loved The Wild Rover - such a fun, relaxed atmosphere.

  8. Sherrie @ Crystal NoirJanuary 17, 2014 at 1:10 PM

    Ooh, great atmosphere at all these places! I think I'm definitely a small bar kinda girl :P

  9. Sara (Belly Rumbles)January 19, 2014 at 12:56 AM

    Loving Sydney small bar scene. Recently a well known Melbourne bases travel blogger told me that we are rocking it over Melb. Hmmmm next Syd/Melb wars maybe?

  10. We're slowly morphing into Melbourne aren't we? I would have walked straight past Wild Rover for sure...

  11. It was lots of fun - thanks for arranging it.

  12. After just two drink though? I'm such a lightweight.

  13. Now you know...but don't tell everyone! LOL.

  14. I find small bars less intimating then pubs...the people don't seem there just to get blind drunk...though maybe I'm leaving too early and don't get to see that part?

  15. I LOVE cocktails, though I've found find a wine that I don't mind so I can drink grown up drinks now too.

  16. I often just get a softdrink or juice...I don't like feeling drunk at all.

  17. I love small bars as well, and am a big fan of the one closest to work which is Small Bar in Crows Nest. Imaginatively named, I know!


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