Monday, February 10, 2014

The New York Times - Sydney's Manly

Clockwise from top left: Mambo Coffee and Tees; dinner fresh off the grill at Papi Chulo; the south end of the beach at Manly; Chica Bonita. Clockwise from top left: Mambo Coffee and Tees; dinner fresh off the grill at Papi Chulo; the south end of the beach at Manly; Chica Bonita.
Sydney’s scenic enclave Manly has long been overshadowed by glitzy Bondi on the other side of the harbor, but that suits its laid-back nature just fine. Locals regularly hit the waves before heading to work in Sydney’s financial district, a five-mile ferry ride across Sydney Harbor; it’s not uncommon, while slurping fresh oysters, to spot a humpback whale leap out of the water just a shell’s throw away. Lately, artists, musicians and creative types drawn to Manly’s natural beauty and mellow pace have transformed the area into a new hub of culture and dining, and starting today, the nine-day Australian Open of Surfing takes place along its shores. Here, a field guide to enjoying the area.

Papi Chulo | The restaurateur Justin Hemmes, who owns popular Sydney restaurants like Ivy, the Establishment and Mr. Wong, opened this Latin American eatery on the water last month. “Manly has always been on the radar for me,” said Hemmes, who first considered opening something on its shores 10 years ago. “It has been growing leaps and bounds and the dynamic is right.” The joint’s unpretentious vibe matches his smokehouse and grill menu of spice-rubbed meats, empanadas with wild greens and a ceviche of Ora King salmon with jalapeno, celery, pineapple and crispy corn. 22-23 Manly Wharf, Manly; (61) 2-9240-3000;

Mambo Coffee and Tees | This cafe and clothing shop is situated right on the oceanfront path at the south end of the beach — where, from 6 a.m. onward, a steady stream of surfers, paddleboarders and swimmers make their way from Manly to nearby Shelly Beach. It started as a pop-up last October; thanks to the ever-present foot traffic, it’s now open for good. 5 Marine Parade, Fairy Bower, Manly; (61) 2-8957-2909.

misschu | Located opposite the ferry terminal, this is Manly’s first Vietnamese “tuckshop” (cafe). The owner Nahji Chu prepares delicious salmon vermicelli salad, roast-duck-and-banana-flower rice-paper rolls and elegant “crushies” (frozen blended drinks) – the coconut-and-lychee one is heavenly. 5/54 West Esplanade, Manly; (61) 2-9976-3682;

Chica Bonita | This cool little Mexican restaurant was opened by Sean Miller, an L.A. transplant who came to Australia on a surf trip and never left, and Luke Miller, a local. The friends attract a steady crowd with their northern Mexico- and Southern California-inspired menu, which includes Baja fish tacos and carne asada fries. Shop 9A/B, 9 The Corso, Manly; (61)-29-976-5255

Bow + Arrow | A local fashion photographer, Myles Pritchard, opened a tiny pop-up boutique last year with his friend Tash Lanni to serve what he calls the “abundance of creative and beautiful people” in Manly. Now, they have a permanent shop that offers lifestyle-store staples, like Juniper Ridge incense and D.S. & Durga perfume, and highlights local labels like Natalie Marie jewelry, Holly Ryan and Pigeon + Weasel. Artists also work and collaborate in a studio space within the store. 15 Whistler Street, Manly; (61) 2-8068-2195;

Hotel Steyne | This hotspot for tourists, which opened in 1858 on the beachfront, hosts popular crab-racing and trivia nights. After a recent facelift, it’s now home to the Phoenix Chinese restaurant, which dishes out addictive yum cha lunches and dumplings, and the Moonshine bar, where locals sip ciders on tap from a balcony overlooking the beach. Upstairs at the Blacketts Bar, it’s all about the black ales. 75 The Corso, Manly; (61) 2-9977-4977;

Salt Motion Gallery | The Bondi-born, Manly-based surfer and photographer Joel Coleman started a blog in 2007 to share his surf photography with friends. Now he displays and sells his signature seaside images, which have found a fan following in the United States and Canada, at this three-year-old gallery. Market Place, Manly; (61) 2-9976-6518;