The Share Plate Guide to... Wollongong Small Bars
For the longest time, Wollongong was a typical port city. Plenty of RSLs and large pubs, serving the needs of the then population. As it moves now to a post-industrial creative hub, a new wave of small bars has changed the landscape - opening the city up to a new generation who prefer more intimate venues and curated selections.
Births and Deaths
Subtle shopfront? Check. Great decor? Check. Gin only menu? Check. Located at the former Office for Births, Deaths and Marriages, this knockout small bar limits it's impact and is sustainably minded. Lively without being loud and cosy without being crowded means it's never a bad time to pop in. New cocktails pop up regularly, and their focus on using native ingredients gives a homegrown twist to the classics.
- The Riverside Mofo, using native rivermint, lime and Mt Uncle Distillery botanic gin
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 4pm to 12am at 2/74 Kembla Street, Wollongong.
A gin-focused small bar that will even pop across the road to pick-up your wood-fire pizza order - they take care of you at Juniper. A focus on education is front and centre if you'd like to know more about what you're drinking - and with over 60 gins to choose from, along with a curated selection of beer, wine and spirits, there's plenty to keep you coming back.
- Sloe Down and Smell the Roses - Plymouth Sloe Gin, rosé, elderflower tonic, rosewater, blueberries and rosemary make for a fragrantly dry drop
Open 5pm-midnight Thursdays and Fridays, 4pm-midnight on Saturdays and 2pm-7pm on Sundays, at 121 Keira Street Wollongong.
Husband and wife team Arron and Barbora have combined their heritages into Moominn, a small bar with touches of Czech and Chinese throughout. This is a home-away-from-home feel that provides warmth as soon as you step inside. The menu combines crumbed cauliflower and deep-fried cheese alongside wontons and spring rolls, plus goulash and knedlik (dumplings!). A top option for a grazing dinner with a bottle of wine (or three).
- The Share Plate team's favourite beer is Budvar from the Czech Republic - dangerously good and a great pair with the knedlik dumplings!
Open 5pm-midnight Mondays to Thursdays, and 5pm-midnight Fridays and Saturdays, at 68 Crown Street, Wollongong.
The sister bar to Moominn, Uncle Bok's comes from the same duo - but with a bit more room and energy. The food is hearty to go with the space, with more of an Asian focus than Moominn. Live jazz each weekend brings a change of pace, and the owners cosy-busy style has transferred across bringing that same warm home-away-from-home vibe.
- Brie and pear spring rolls with cranberry sauce are awesome with a glass of white
Open 5pm-10.30pm Tuesdays and Wednesdays, plus 5pm-midnight Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 50 Crown Street, Wollongong.
The Little Prince
The OG small bar of Wollongong - The Little Prince has been sitting tucked away in Globe Lane for some time now. A leafy back deck is filled during the week and on weekends as inventive cocktails are rolled out with precision. The kitchen spins out a tasty combo of dishes and there is always a good soundtrack - reasons enough as to why it remains the top choice for many around town.
- It's getting damn cold at this time of year, so you best order a mulled wine and tell the bartenders to keep 'em comin'
Open 4pm-10pm Tuesdays and 4pm-midnight Wednesdays through Saturdays at Globe Lane, Wollongong.
The Black Cockatoo
Wollongong's very own secret bar. Comfortable speakeasy vibes with a late night licence and an atmosphere that is special because of it's lack of pretension. A favourite with the local hospo crowd, the Black Cockatoo is run by the same team behind the Throsby Wine Bar (see below), and continues their knack for doing simple things very, very well.
- They've got a great cocktail list here, but if you can grab a booth or stool, settle in and work your way through their tinnie selection.
Open 5pm-midnight Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5pm-2am Fridays and 6pm-2am Saturdays at 88 Kembla Street, Wollongong - walk into Creamies Gelateria and go on through!
This rough and ready small bar is a guaranteed good time. A specialty for whiskey lovers, as well fantastic cocktails, the Wolf brings the energy to the Gong. Gigs can get rowdy in the best way, and the combination of vibe, great bartenders and tunes mean it's equally solid to start the night or finish it.
- The bartenders are one of the best parts at the Wolf - ask them anything and sample from a rich whiskey list.
Open 4pm-midnight Mondays through Saturdays plus 4pm-10pm on Sundays at 103/53-61 Crown Street, Wollongong.
As the first wine bar, and the first operator to hold a small bar licence, Maddie and Erick from the Throsby are genuine pioneers. They knew what worked from their time in New York and Sydney, and were able to transplant the idea with a touch of their own flair. The Throsby is a wine bar focusing on small, minimal intervention winemakers within a casual, contemporary setting. Regularly bringing in new bottles and hosting industry events, how popular the Throsby remains is a testament to what they bring to the city.
- Chef Jimi's menu is ever-evolving and always on point - the savoury crepes are ridiculously good. Don't be shy on asking Erick for a recommend on a good pairing glass.
Open 4pm-10pm Sundays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and 2pm-midnight Fridays and Saturdays, at 88 Kembla Street, Wollongong.
Read about the Throsby and Black Cockatoo owners in our Q&A, plus more local Illawarra food businesses, inside the Illawarra issue - covering restaurants, bars, producers, locally developed apps and social enterprise initiatives from the area! Purchase here:
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