Smudge Eats: Manly Guide

[First published on Smudge Eats, December 2015]

Neighbourhood Watch: Manly, Sydney

- by Camilla Sampson

The warm weather is upon us and it makes sense to head out of the city and into the ocean. Or at least sit beside it while we watch summer sunrises, dine on fresh summer dishes and sip on fruity cocktails. Manly is just a short bus or ferry ride from the CBD, brimming with beachy bars and some more sophisticated spots. Here are a couple of venues we like to spend a few hours wining and dining in, around one of Sydney’s favourite beaches.


Start the day with a coffee from Showbox on Whistler Street. Have it in, or take your beverage of choice down to the beachfront. Owner, Bo Hinzack, has been in the industry for more than 12 years and his keen interest in coffee roasting has led Showbox to share beans and blends from varying suppliers with its customers.

Coffee often comes from specialty roasters such as Mecca, Reuben Hills, and Single O so there’s always something new to try. The industrial style decor brings something different to Manly, and Bo’s focus on the importance of the relationship between farmer and supplier means you’re getting a coffee made with care.


The Pantry holds the prime spot on Manly’s beachfront, it’s a few steps away from the main Corso drag but in a little spot all of its own. Leather seats, ocean views, floor-to-ceiling windows, and delectable high quality ingredients make breakfast here somewhat of a treat.

The typical Australian brunch menu is out, and European influences are in. Choose between eggs benedict, eggs Florentine, Tuscan frittatas or sardines on toast. The influence is European but the ingredients are Australian, including Bangalow leg ham and Western Australian sardines. White polenta porridge and Irrewarra Bakery granola are sure to draw interest, and there’s plenty of fresh fruit on offer too.

A historic little spot, dating back to 1919, The Pantry opened under its new guise in 2010. Since then it’s been an endlessly popular spot, so booking is advised.


A light, airy space right on the wharf, Papi Chulo is the prime place to watch the boats dock beside your evening meal. High quality Australian produce, an award-winning wine list, and an eclectic menu influenced by Asia, South America, and Canada have given Papi Chulo quite the reputation.

Fresh seafood is a focus, with oysters, salmon, South Australia live pippies, Moreton Bay bugs, New Zealand flounder, and jumbo king prawns all featuring. Asian dressings complement much of the seafood, while Papi Chulo’s is also well renowned for its burgers and slow-cooked, smoked BBQ recipes straight from the USA’s deep south.

Papi Chulo brings the best of Australian ingredients to Manly’s waterfront, with flavour fusions and twists you won’t find elsewhere, in a fun, relaxed setting.

After Dinner Drink

Finish off your evening in Manly with a couple of cocktails at the quirky nautical themed bar, The Hold. Nautical paraphernalia lines the walls and exposed timber, naked light bulbs and curved, pirate ship-like interior brings to life the treasure hunts we enjoyed as kids. Originally launched as a high-end cocktail bar, co-owner, Keith Skinner, decided to rebrand in order to create a low-key vibe that was more suited to its location. Locals come for the monthly whisky tasting, Mexican snacks and Spanish tapas.

Cocktails range from well made classics, such as the espresso martini, to signature drinks such as The Hold Punch (bounty rum, house-spiced liquor, dandelion bitters, tropical juices, ginger and nutmeg foam). If you have a favourite they can likely make it, with the bar priding itself on being able to make any beverage of choice.

But it’s well worth letting the expertise of the highly-trained mixologists lead the way, creating something unique just for you.

Photography by Amanda Davenport

FoodCamilla Sampson