Sometimes, the only way to get a real break from the hustle and bustle of daily living is with a cold beer in a friendly pub: a fact known by Parramatta locals for at least 200 years.
Proof of that is the City being home to one of Australia's oldest watering holes, the Wheatsheaf Hotel, built at the turn of the 17th century. All that remains of its once rowdy bar is a pile of ruins, but there's certainly no shortage of lively pubs nearby.
The Albion Hotel
The Albion Hotel has been keeping Parramatta's people hydrated since the 1860s. These days, the expansive beer garden, dotted with trees and canopied with striped umbrellas, is the place to retreat. There's a tempting signature cocktail list, including a Rose Negroni (Regal Rouge Wild Rose Vermouth, Campari, Beefeater Gin, peach bitters) and a Salted Caramel Espresso Martini. Live music adds to the laid-back atmosphere on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, while DJs power the dance floor on Saturday nights. Hungry visitors can fill up on hearty pub classics – from burgers and pizzas to Angus rump steaks.
135 George Street. Open Monday to Thursday, 10am - 4pm, Friday 10am - 6pm, Saturday 9am - 6pm, Sunday 9am to 12am
The Woolpack Hotel
In 1796, The Woolpack became one of the first ten pubs in Australia, when Governor Phillip handed over a licence. Originally, the hotel occupied a building across the road, before moving to its current spot in the 1890s. Since then, it's had a contemporary revamp, giving it a beautiful outdoor courtyard, a main bar filled with plush lounges and a high-tech sports bar. There's plenty of drinks to choose from, including a long, interesting wine list and a fun, creative cocktail menu. M & J Thai Restaurant runs the dining room, serving up lunch specials, stir fries, curries and noodles.
19 George St; Open Monday to Wednesday, 7.30am to 12.00am, Thursday to Friday, 7.30am - 4.00am, Saturday, 10.00am - 4.00am and Sunday, 11.00am - 10.00pm.
Bavarian Bier Cafe
If ever there were proof of Australia's devotion to beer, it's the Bavarian Bier Cafe, Parramatta: its home is a converted church, with high ceilings, stained glass windows and stunning chandeliers. This is one of six Bavarian Bier Cafes in Sydney, but no other lives in such an unusual building. The house biers are brewed according to Bavarian Purity Laws, which date to 1516, so they're comprised of four ingredients only: malt, hops, yeast and water, and the menu focuses on German cuisine, including haus-made pretzels, sausages and schnitzels.
2-8 Phillip Street; (02) 8836 1400. Open Monday to Thursday, 11.00am - 11.00pm, Friday-Saturday, 11.00am - 1.00am, and Sunday, 11.00am - 10.00pm.
The Commercial Hotel
The Commercial Hotel's claim to fame is its beer tanks. Filled with unpasteurised draught, these vessels allow drinkers to get their brew in its freshest, purest state. The best spot to enjoy it is in the airy beer garden, complete with splashes of greenery, a 3.5-metre screen and an all-weather canopy, which lets in the sun but shuts out the rain. Another atmospheric option is the light-filled Verandah Bar, overlooking the garden. The menu covers pub classics, as well as some adventurous signature mains, such as French-style lamb shank and crab ravioli.
2 Hassall St; Open Monday-Thursday, 10.00am - 4.00am, Friday, 10.00am - 6.00am, Saturday, 9.00am - 4.00am, and Sunday, 10.00am - 12.00am.
PJ's Irish Pub
No city with a soul is complete without an Irish pub and, in Parramatta, PJ's takes the mantle. As at most alehouses inspired by the emerald isle, music is central, with DJs spinning old school tunes on Fridays and bands belting out '90s anthems into the wee hours on Saturdays. But that doesn't mean the craic is inescapable. For a quiet Guinness, there's the Ante Room, which features a sandstone fireplace, or the Hearth, fitted with red banquettes. The first floor terrace is dedicated to a sunny beer garden. On the bistro menu are burgers, woodfired pizzas, steaks and moreish snacks, such as baked camembert with rosemary, lemon and garlic.
74 Church St; (02) 9635 8811; open Monday to Thursday, 10.00am - 4.00am, Friday, 10.00am - 6.00am, Saturday, 9.00am - 6.00am, and Sunday, 9.00am - 12.00am.