Adelaide is a city that loves to party and barely a day goes by without something happening in South Australia’s vibrant, exciting capital city. While the city’s inhabitants are the very model of restraint during the day, by night Adelaideans shed their cloaks of normality and the exhibitionists come out to play. Here’s our guide to the top five hidden nightspots in Adelaide.
Hidden away on Leigh Street, Casablabla is the standard bearer for the city’s amazingly colourful and vibrant demographic and one of the best hidden nightspots in Adelaide. Step inside this treasure trove of world cultures and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re in Turkey. Or Morocco. Or Bali. Or Cambodia…
Described as a ‘multicultural tapas lounge bar’, Casablabla’s regulars dance to the planet’s coolest beats, including DJs, live Brazilian samba bands, soca music from the Caribbean, Flamenco from Spain and Middle-Eastern belly dancers.
The menu draws inspiration from literally everywhere and there’s a great selection of gourmet pizzas and sharing plates to choose from and for A$35 per person you can go rogue and let the chef decide what to feed you while quaffing from a nicely-curated wine and cocktail list either inside or out in the courtyard.
2. Clever Little Tailor
© Clever Little Tailor
2. Clever Little Tailor
We’re not 100% sure where the ‘tailor’ fits in but the bar is most certainly clever and as you step inside, you’ll be left with no doubts that it’s little. The setting is an old vintage store on Peel Street and the décor is bare and stripped back to the bones, with old-fashioned masonry, reclaimed wood, beer barrels and stone floors. But, despite giving the impression that the builders simply gave up and went home halfway through the job, it manages to remain a warm and inviting place to be.
Interesting and unusual beers, bar snacks and superb charcuterie plates from Lucia’s at the Central Markets combine perfectly with the intimacy and old-world charm the bar is famous for.
Clever Little Tailor really is very, very clever. It has tried – successfully – to hark back to more civilised times, when Adelaide was a young city lit by gas-lamps and permeated by the smells of coal fires and baking bread.
3. Maybe Mae
© Maybe Mae
3. Maybe Mae
Maybe Mae (no, we don’t know who she is either) has been described as being at ‘the peak of Adelaide’s hidden bar game’ and we all know the best place to be hidden is in plain sight. In the basement of Peel Street’s Bread & Bone, one of the city’s best burger joints, Maybe Mae is a cosy, subterranean art deco-inspired speakeasy that defines Adelaide cool.
Mirrored walls, green leather booths and a nod to Miami’s South Beach 1930s vibe and a stunning cocktail list that wouldn’t be out of place in the city’s funkiest nightspots, Maybe Mae represents the very definition of understated opulence. You don’t need to shout about it, you simply have to do it, and they do it very, very well.
Hidden literally and metaphorically, it’s easy to spend far, far too long here but you’ll be glad you did.
Behind the West End brewery on the banks of the Torrens River is an old railway shed close to some sort of research facility. You could be excused for thinking this is part of a James Bond-esque spy mission but it is in fact the location of one of Adelaide’s true hidden gems.
Four friends have created Entropy, a bright, sparsely-decorated space on Little Queen Street in Thebarton and it is one of the hottest tickets in the city serving up Latin-inspired breakfast and lunch, all made on-site from local produce but the star of this particular show is the coffee which is some of the very best in the city. Friday night turns into Char/Bar where in true Aussie style, the barbecue comes out and they grill anything they can get their creative little hands on while pairing the meat, seafood and veg with high quality Australian wines and craft beers.
A hidden gem in that not many people know about it yet and a hidden gem in that it’s not the easiest place to find but when you do make sure you remember the route because you’ll most definitely be coming back.
5. Ancient World
Hidden around the corner from a sausage shop on Hindley Street in the bowels of the West End is Ancient World. It’s a café, a bar, a gallery, a venue for cool live music and a native plant seller and according to one review, ‘it’s maybe one of about four places in Adelaide where you can dance without fear of judgement’.
Ostensibly an artist-run venue supported by the Renew Adelaide project it’s the definition of a dive bar but with a tropically-themed beer garden and if you were born and bred in Adelaide, it’s likely that you’ll know someone who painted it, made bits of it, decorated it or donated a movie prop, a trinket or a scary face mask.
A proper Bohemian vibe, local booze, scruffy staff and cool art installations are accompanied by dancers, DJs, live jazz and a ‘do whatever you like’ attitude that has brought this previously disused space back to life and if you’re looking for a hidden gem in Adelaide, Ancient World is the grand master.