When any coffee addict, flower fan, foodie, traveller, millennial or Instagrammer asks me “hey, Lauren, where should I visit in Sydney?” – I simply cannot go past recommending the same place: The Grounds of Alexandria. An inner-city haven with a bar & cafe, gardens, farmyard animals, florist, market stalls and delightfully themed displays, this hangout spot is one of my absolute faves in sunny Sydney!
Australians usually end up giving nicknames to a lot of things and “The Grounds”, as it is affectionately referred to by Sydney-siders, is no exception. Sydney adores this place and for good reason. Way back in 2015, I started to hear talk about the Grounds of Alexandria and I remember thinking: “What is this place? Why is there all this fuss about a coffee shop and why on earth is everyone raving about it?”
By 2017 I was in the midst of a full blown case of The Grounds FOMO and I decided it was time to find this place. I needed to see for myself exactly what everyone was going on about. In this guide to Sydney’s best coffee playground, we’ll explore this gorgeous urban wonderland – which is guaranteed to have you develop a serious longing to visit here ASAP and inject a dose of way too much prettiness direct into your Insta feed…
But first, coffee!
Melbourne has long reigned as the coffee capital of Australia… However ever since 2012 the Grounds of Alexandria has upped the game, by serving up a much-needed dose of quality caffeine beans for the fancy peeps of Sydney. Located in the inner-west suburb of Alexandria and created by Jack Hanna and Ramzey Choker; this spot used to be an abandoned industrial carpark and pie factory…until these two pioneers came along and envisioned the creation of a magical space; where people would be able to come together to enjoy ethically sourced & sustainable coffee. Their signature roasted beans are so popular and delicious that you can now enjoy these at many different cafes throughout Sydney.
The Grounds isn’t a coffee shop per se…there are multiple food & drink venues here, with a variety of options for the discerning foodie:
The Café is more than just a café – with a bakery & patisserie alongside a seasonal menu, this lively area is ever popular with local & visiting foodies. Seating is available, however waiting lines can be long. If you don’t have the time to wait & wander around then you can also order from their takeaway bar and reservations for tables can be booked via the website.
For anyone interested in baking, a special feature is the option to watch the artisan bakers create sourdough loaves and fine pastries. A variety of coffee beans and teas are also on display and up for sale if you want to take a taste of the Grounds home with you.
The Cafe opening hours: Monday to Friday – 7am to 4pm, Saturday & Sunday – 7.30am to 4pm
The Potting Shed
The Potting Shed is the signature “watering hole” and this is where you want to be, if you relish the feeling of being surrounded by a dollop of nature whilst you tuck into a three-course menu, nibble from “share” plates with your mates and enjoy a few drinks. With a swing chair, hanging pot plants, a bar and an abundance of urban brick & terracotta style decorations, it feels like you’re just hanging out at the farm on a lazy afternoon. I know you will be taking photos of all your wonderful food & drinks, so after you’ve done that then you’re able to print them out on the oh so handy Instagram printer here.
The Potting Shed opening hours:
Monday to Thursday – 11.30am – kitchen closes at 9pm
Friday – 11.30am – kitchen closes at 10pm
Saturday – 11am – kitchen closes at 10pm
Sunday – 11am – kitchens closes at 9pm
With an open courtyard festooned with hanging pot-plants, a fountain, sweeping vines and a glasshouse; the garden is the perfect place to sip & chill, with plenty of seating and multiple food & drink choices. The “BAR-B-Q” shop offers tasty burgers & fries, there are wood-fired pizzas available, whilst the Garden Bar serves up coffee, smoothies, juices and craft sodas.
BBQ Opening Hours:
Monday, Thursday, Friday – 9am to 3pm
Tuesday & Wednesday – 11.30am to 3pm
Saturday & Sunday – 8am to 3.30pm
The Garden Bar opening hours:
Monday to Friday – 8am to 2pm
Saturday & Sunday – 8am to 3.30pm
Woodfired Pizzas opening hours:
Monday to Friday – closed
Saturday & Sunday – 8am – 3pm
The Grounds Florals by Silva
Hands down my favourite location to find beautiful blooms in Sydney – The Grounds Florals by Silva is their resident florist. Apart from having friendly & helpful staff they also have one of the prettiest flower displays I’ve ever seen in the world! Fresh blooms are delivered at least 4 times a week, so you are guaranteed to always find an updated selection of flowers here.
This is the place where I discovered “rainbow roses” for the first time – these roses are made by using a special dying technique which creates the variations of colour of the petals.
Apart from your mandatory roses in all colours of the rainbow, the florist also offers a myriad of blooms including sunflowers, daisies, peonies, babys breath, poppies, snapdragons, dahlias, “pom poms”, lavender, cotton and native Australian blooms, depending upon the season. Wrapped in recycled brown paper lend the bouquets a farmyard vibe and are in keeping with the Grounds’ rustic retro feels; there’s also hessian bag posies, succulents for gardens lovers and a selection of homewares.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 8am to 5pm
That Instagram fountain photo
So cliché but, sorry not sorry, it simply must be done! The fountain within the Garden area under the bougainvillea laced arbour is one of the most photographed locations in this city. Once you’re done waiting your turn to get a shot (I’m not joking, there are usually a few people waiting their turn to take a photo here), be sure to wander around and admire the outdoor seating area. Some of my other most loved spots for adorable photos here include the London-style red phone booth which is an ATM and the seat high up on the back of the classically vintage ute, surrounded by pumpkins and vegetables.
To market, to market
With a selection of over 80 market stall holders to choose from, the Grounds regularly mixes up their weekend market offerings to keep us entertained and well fed! Here are some of the regulars and my personal favourites:
Traditional fresh lemonade
I don’t know about you, but fresh traditional lemonade reminds me of my childhood, hot summer days at theme parks and carnivals – so when I first visited and saw their lemonade drink stand, it was love at first sight! Strawberries, blueberries, lemons, plums and oranges can be purchased as well as variations of traditional fresh lemonade.
Maya Sunny Honey
If you love pancakes, waffles or anything that requires a healthy dose of all-natural sweetness, then don’t walk past the fresh honey market stall. Often one of the first stalls as you walk in via the Huntley Street entrance, you will be able to view the selection of honey on offer – and yes, this includes yummy honeycomb. If you’re lucky, they might also have one of their bee hives on display as well.
Sweet & savoury treats
For all the sweet tooths, this is where it’s at! A selection of nuts, mouth-watering cakes, fresh pastries and donuts with Nutella & strawberries are available at three different stalls, right outside the Cafe.
The Grounds Markets opening hours: Saturday & Sunday – 9am to 3.30pm
Farmyard friends & school holiday fun
Once the home of the famous resident pig “Kevin Bacon”, who has recently retired from showbusiness, you can now find a new star of the show – the spotted Piggy called “Harry Trotter”! There’s also chickens and a rooster which the littlies (and big kids like me) will love checking out. Pizza making classes, extracting honeycomb and building terrariums are just some of the fun activities on offer in the current school holiday program.
One thing the Grounds does which sets it apart from anywhere else is their ability to stylise a venue with creative themed decorations. Currently there is a Mary Poppins theme complete with cherry blossoms, bubbles wafting through the air, streetlamps and a bag & kite display, to celebrate the release of the new Disney “Mary Poppins Returns” movie. Throughout the year, the themes change on the regular…and I’m going to be the one to call it out first, so I’m predicting either a Chinese New Year or Valentine’s Day theme to shortly arrive for February!
Events & Weddings
The Grounds offers up their space for functions and you can even hire it out for your special day! No seriously, people do have their wedding receptions here and given the decorating skills & unique space, it comes as no real surprise. I can just imagine this oasis lit up with sparkling fairy lights as being one of the most unique locations in Sydney for a bridal reception. There’s even special events and “Masterclasses” which include a variety of activities; some of the current classes available include whisky tasting, coffee workshops and calligraphy classes.
The best things in life are free…
With regularly updated themed displays, gorgeous flowers, neon signs, an array of market stalls, amazing coffee, endless food & drink options, plenty of seating and activities to entertain adults & children, the Grounds really is one of the best ways to spend an hour or two in Sydney. As the saying goes, some of the best things in life are free and in the case of The Grounds this is so very true. There is no entry fee which is awesome, especially when considering that you won’t be able to walk out of here without a smile on your face, a full belly and a ton of photos for your Insta feed.
The finer details
Address: 7a, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria, NSW, Australia 2015
Parking: Whilst there is parking on site, there are limited spaces available. In order to avoid potential cases of parking rage, I’d recommend to park on one of the neighbouring streets instead.
Public Transport: 10-minute walk from Green Square train station
I hope you have enjoyed this guide to one of Sydney’s best locations and would love to know what you think of it – is this somewhere you would love to explore or are you already a fan of the Grounds?!