My favourite Newcastle bars and pubs are better than yours

Laura Kebby -

Drink Eat Lifestyle Opinion

Every single Novocastrian has their favourite haunt. The places they go to linger in the corners of dark bars after a rough day, hang out with mates to kick start the weekend or catch the game on the big screen. See writers like to refer to something called the Hemingway effect, something I’m absolutely an advocate for, in that we love a drop of the good stuff. In light of this, I feel like I can at least throw my seven cents into the ring on this one. Whether you love a cocktail, Melbourne Bitter on tap or your whiskey neat, most of us love to indulge. So here are my favourite local pubs/bars and they are better than yours.

Now please note that this list isn’t about live music venues, that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

The Koutetsu

Now there are a few things that are important to me in regards to heading out to a bar. Good service, low lighting, and having someone understand me when I ask for whiskey that’s “a little cowboy but not too cowboy”. I don’t know a lot about bar tending, or the finer details about alcohol for that matter, except for the fact that I like to drink it. But the boys at The Koutetsu do, and boy are they very (very) good at it. Despite the nature of the speak easy phenomenon, there’s not an ounce of pretentiousness in sight, and the moment you step through the door, each and every bartender makes you feel at home. The cocktails are adventurous, the recommendations are perfection, and the banter is on point. Possibly my favourite place in Newcastle.

Grain Store
64 Scott Street Newcastle East

I drank two schooners of purple beer here the other day. Like I mean it was literally purple. They had the NBA on the big screen and I spent the better half of the (very early) afternoon sipping beer, eating chicken wings and watching the game. Life’s simple pleasures will make you simply happy. Remember that. The beer selection is always on point – 21 taps of 100% independently owned Australian craft beer and cider to be exact, which rotate regularly. There’s detailed descriptions of each one as well, so you can do your ‘um-ing’ and ‘ah-ing’ in your own time – including alcohol percentage for the conscious. If the banter or the ball game doesn’t tickle your fancy, they have an array of boardgames for you to use and pursue as you’d like. It’s a wonderful place.   

The Commonwealth Hotel
35 Union Street Cooks Hill

I feel like you all know me by now, so you’ll understand why the next line is so important. They have Melbourne Bitter on tap. Controversial you say? Whatever, I don’t care. I love the purple stuff and it’s always my go to. But the reason I love this pub is so much more than that. The atmosphere is always wonderful, the food is GLORIOUS and the bar staff are always super friendly. They always have some sort of game going for you to sit and sip your beer to, and they are also one of the few pubs to play AFL if that’s your jam. The renovations have definitely done them justice and the place looks schmick.



The Grand Hotel
32 Church Street Newcastle 

So I kind of have the diet of a six year old who’s been left unsupervised at a birthday party, so I usually try and make at least a weekly pilgrimage to the Grand Hotel to have a proper feed and some down time. It’s always warm (so much warmer than a pre-war terrace house with tenants on a budget that’s for sure). The staff are friendly, the happy hour is even better and the food is delightful. Oh… and despite my earlier statement, the Underground of the Grand Hotel hosts some of the biggest jazz musos in the world every Tuesday night – fun fact.

Lowlands Bowling Club
98 Dawson Street Cooks Hill

Lowies will always hold a special place in my heart. I mean, who can go past $10 burgers, BYO bbq and barefoot bowls on a Sunday? It’s perfection. But Lowlands is so much more than your average bowling club, particularly with unique dining events like Urban Mess. Look out for the next event and book your table. It is actually a culinary delight that you don’t wanna miss.

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