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Guide to Adelaide's Underground Bars

Home > Adelaide > Bars | Cocktail Bars | Nightclubs | Nightlife | Lists
by Natasha Stewart (subscribe)
Food and words.
Published October 4th 2014
Descend into some of Adelaide's hottest nighttime spots
Deep underground Adelaide has a whole other nightlife just waiting to be discovered. With the growing number of small bars opening up, there are also some new underground bars joining some tried and true favourites.

There's something about descending the stairs to a hidden drinking den that makes a night out seem that little more exciting. If you're interested in delving a little deeper into Adelaide's nightlife here is your guide to the underground drinking scene... Literally.

1. Maybe Mae

15 Peel Street, Adelaide
Open: Mon-Thu 4pm–12am, Fri-Sat 4pm-2am, Sun 3pm-late

2013 has seen Peel Street transform from a reasonably dull thoroughfare to a bustling street of bars and restaurants. Maybe Mae is one of the newest faces on the street; a secret art deco bar found through the Peel Street-Leigh Street tunnel. Upstairs Press Food and Wine's sister restaurant Bread and Bone churns out burgers, hot dogs and other woodgrill bites while Maybe Mae hides behind the wooden wall. Search for the keyhole and all is revealed.

It's hard not to go straight for the cocktail list. The Entire Donkey is a refreshing tall glass with gin, coriander and citrus topped with ginger beer, while the Rye Idea features applejack, maple, citrus and aromatswith a rye whiskey infused with speck fat from Bread and Bone upstairs. They're more classic style cocktails with a bit of a twist. There's also an interesting selection of Australian and international beers, and some good brews on tap that come in 200ml, 350ml, and 1892ml sizes.

There's no dance floor down here; Maybe Mae is more of a mixing and mingling kind of place. The bar sits in the centre while luxurious booths dot the outside. On weekends a sprawling line tends to form out the front, so it's not too hard to miss, but on week nights the vibe is a lot quieter and you can easily get a booth to go with your cocktail.

2. Bank Street Social
48 Hindley Street, Adelaide
Wed-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri 4pm-2am, Sat 6pm-2am, Sun 8pm-2am

Nearby is Bank Street Social. Look for the big wooden brown door and then head down the dark stairway until Bank Street Social appears below. Booths seat larger groups along one wall while smaller tables line the other. Up back there's a big dance floor with DJs coming in on weekends.

There's no cocktail list, but the bartenders can make you just about anything under the sun. Pick your poison and let them surprise you with something creative, or just go with an old favourite. They've got a huge range of spirits, so try sampling a different gin with your tonic or appreciate the differences between a whiskey and a whisky. Bank Street Social is not the place for getting blind drunk, instead it's about having a fun time but also appreciating a good drink.

3. Jack Ruby
89 King William Street, Adelaide
Mon-Thu 11am-12am, Fri 11am-3am, Sat 12pm-3am

Named after the nightclub owner who shot Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby is a bar and dinner with a definite American flavour. The spacious venue features a large bar and several dining areas. Get an American brew or a spiked milkshake, even if you're not drinking there's a good selection of American sodas.

The bar menu features lots of burgers and other American grub like fried chicken, dogs, soft tacos, ribs and mac and cheese. Thankfully its not just trendy, Jack Ruby serves up quality meals and one of the tastiest burgers in Adelaide. It's perfect bar food and goes well with a few drinks.

It can get pretty busy on weekends, so if you're just popping in for a quick bite to eat you might need to rethink your plans. They regularly have live music, other nights you'll get DJs spinning the tunes. It's a great bar that offers a little bit more.

4. Pirie & Co. Social Club
121 Pirrie Street, Adelaide
Wed-Thu 11am-10pm Fri-Sat 11am-2am

Pirie and Co. is a restaurant on Pirie Street that opened its underground club the Social Club earlier this year. There's a jazzy vibe with the red curtained stage and bunches of tables, but the venue flits between many personas.

The stage has seen the likes of Dustin Tebbutt, Showbiz & AG, Allday, Smith Street Band, Kav Temperley (Eskimo Joe) and Kingswood, but other nights DJs handle the dance floor.

The foliage backed bar will set you up with a wine or beer, or something from the cocktail menu. They don't have the biggest range around, but there's still a decent selection.

5. Tijuana Showgirls
9 Hindley Street, Adelaide
Fri-Sat 9pm-3am

Tijuana Showgirls is not what you'd expect from a name like that on a street like that, but the only dancing girls you'll find here are the fully clothed ones on the dance floor. Descending down the stairs you'll feel like you're heading somewhere seedy, but instead you'll find a lively and colourful bar.

Sure their cocktails come frozen poured from a machine, but you'll come here for the atmosphere rather than a class in appreciating fine spirits.

DJs keep Tijuana Showgirls alive and there's always a packed dance floor where things can get a little wild. It's a hugely different vibe from most of the other places mentioned, but its fun when you're continuing into the wee hours.

6. Supermild
182 Hindley Street, Adelaide
Thu 9pm-3am, Fri-Sat 9pm-5am

Last but not least is Supermild, a stop that can't be missed on an underground tour. It's been a staple of Adelaide's bar scene for years. It's not the cleanest or the classiest, but its a classic spot delivering long necks and live music.

The vibe can really ebb and flow. Sometimes you'll walk down to find a laid back scene with people sipping on beers and chatting around tables, other time the dance floor will be packed with sweaty bodies.

Sure there's no bare brick walls and wood panelling, but Supermild is one of those places that proves you don't need all the fancy trimmings to have a good time.
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Why? Delve into Adelaide's underground nightlife
When: Open throughout the week
Where: Underground, all over Adelaide
Cost: Prices vary
Your Comment
It seems I've missed a whole world underground while I've been trawling through tunnels :)
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11309) 2874 days ago
Great job getting second place.
by Bastion Harrison (score: 4|12626) 2867 days ago
This is such a brilliant list! There were a few that I had heard of, but you have brought my attention to lots more! Thank you for such an entertaining article - can't wait to check out these places! :)
by Tema (score: 2|879) 2864 days ago
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