“Tiger” at Harry’s Cafe De Wheels
Meat pies, for good or ill, are an icon of Australian cuisine. The popularity of the pie is not just amongst tourists. A former New South Wales premier described the meat pie as Australia’s national dish. They can be found frozen in supermarkets, in hot boxes at convenience stores, and lovingly crafted in restaurants at nearly every price point. Pies are often served simply with tomato sauce (ketchup), but often with additional toppings or side dishes to round it out to a full meal. Below are a few good pie options in and around Sydney.
Harry’s Cafe De Wheels, Woolloomooloo
Cowper Wharf Roadway & Brougham Road Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011
A longtime Sydney institution, this place is a retro styled roadside stand festooned with neon lights and photos of celebrities chowing down on a pie. Having a pie here is like having cheesesteak at Pat’s or Geno’s in Philly or a hot dog at Pink’s in L.A.. It’s something you’re told you have to do as a tourist but its not necessarily the best example of the art. As a person who spent quite a lot of time in Australia I was almost embarrassed to eat here, however the place does seem to have its own local following as there were quite a few locals enjoying a pie or some of Harry’s other offerings. Harry’s pies are by no means bad, but you can get one just as good, if not better at many other places in Sydney. The “tiger” is the classic item to sample. It’s an Aussie beef pie, topped with mashed potatoes, mushy peas and gravy. In my opinion, this is the only proper way to serve a pie, although I will concede that a plain pie is much easier to eat on the move.
There are many locations, but Woolloomooloo is the original, so if you’re going to go with kitsch, go with the original.
Central Baking Depot, Sydney CBD
37 – 39 Erskine St, Sydney 2000
Central Baking Depot’s brisket pie
Conveniently located within five minutes’ walk of George Street, Central Baking Depot offers baked goods, sandwiches, pizza and, of course, pies. When I visited, they were offering a chicken & spring vegetable pie, a brisket, mushroom and red wine pie and a standard beef. This is a lunchtime spot as they close at 4:30 pm on weekdays.
I opted for the brisket. the filling was reminiscent of a good beef stew, and the crust was sturdy and substantial while remaining flaky.
Pie in the Sky, Cowan
1296 Pacific Hwy Cowan, NSW 2081
A roadside rest stop along the Pacific Highway about a 45 minute drive north from Sydney offering an impressive array of beef, lamb, chicken, vegetable and fruit pies. The pies are better than most, and with a cliff side location, you can’t beat the view of the largely unspoilt Hawksbury River valley below.
It’s a bit far to go if you’re keeping to Sydney, but well worth a visit anytime a road trip brings you north out of the city.
The Pie Tin, Newtown
1 Brown St Newtown, NSW 2042
The Apple Pie That Ate Newtown
They’re not lacking variety, from the classic mince pie to more original fillings including pulled pork and Texas style brisket. The selection of sides is nearly as expansive, including salads, couscous, beans and the obligatory mushy peas and mash.
The Pie Tin also serves an impressive array of sweet pies, such as Cherry Ripe delight topped with bits of the eponymous candy bar and “the apple pie that ate Newtown”. At 900g per slice – about 2 pounds to my fellow Americans – this is a serious dessert for a big eater.
For my meal, I sampled two savory pies and something sweet for desert…
The Moroccan lamb pie is a lamb curry enveloped in a flaky, light crust. With chick peas and regional spices it is evocative of a Moorish feast.
Bangers & Mash
Bits of sausages, onions and gravy in an open pie shell topped with mashed potatoes. Classic flavors in a novel presentation.
Date, Walnut and Butterscotch Rustic Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
I’m not generally a fan of butterscotch, but here, it works well.
Note: Do not follow the search result for The Pie Tin in Apple’s iOS Maps app here! You’ll end up at a private house several blocks away. You’ll be ok if you plug in the address manually though.
Pieface is a chain as ubiquitous in Australia as Starbucks is in the States. It is, without a doubt, fast food. If you’re pie-shy or just after a snack, they do offer mini pies. Pieface has expanded beyond Australia via franchising with at least one location in my hometown of New York, so you may Be able to sample this delicacy or rekindle memories of your Aussie experience without leaving home.
DUB Pies, Brooklyn, NY
211 Prospect Park West Brooklyn, NY 11215
While not in Australia, and with more of a Kiwi influence, people back in NYC have at least one good non fast food option for meat pies. DUB (down under bakery) Pies does the classics and some more interesting specimens such as curry veg (my non-beef favorite), Thai chicken and an assortment of other Kiwi/Aussie items such as Caramello Koalas and lamingtons. If you go in, try an ANZAC biscuit (cookie).
Is your favorite place not listed? Share it in the comments!