Where: 31 Belgrave Street Manly 2095
Opening Hours: Mon - Sat 6pm - midnight, Sun 6pm - 10pm
Phone: 02 8065 4805
When it comes to small bars, the inner east has more than their fair share. It's reassuring then, that one of Sydney's best is down the road and across the water.
Its location is discreet. Retro furniture sits scattered outside the doors of a shopfront on Manly's Belgrave Street. Step inside, and you'll find yourself surrounded by silver patterned wallpaper, amber lampshades and a cosy atmosphere. People lounge around on low couches as waiters weave between, delivering the plates of share food that visitors pick at casually between sips and conversation. At the far end of the room sits the bar, with a glowing wall of tequila bottles set behind it. This is Miss Marley's, where the cocktail options are dizzying, the Central and South American food is worth fighting for, and the tequila list would satisfy even the fussiest aficionado.
The interior channels that particular style of retro-kitsch 50s glamour that makes places like Porteño such a hit. And while the atmosphere is good, it's the menus that are worth the ferry trip. My first pick from the cocktail menu, the House Margarita ($18), is snappily served up on a black leather coaster. It's a shaken blend of Herradura Blanco, pressed lime, Grand Marnier and agave water, served straight up with a salt dipped rim. No wonder they call this place a 'tequila bar' - there's no turning back from here.
Before I'm too sidetracked by the cocktails, I decide some food is in order. A mixed plate of Empanadas (3 for $10) and Goat's Curd and Basil Stuffed Mushrooms ($12), served with house-made tomato marmalade, have me convinced that the food is as good as the drinks. Other highlights from this decidedly authentic menu include Ceviche ($18), kingfish and tuna served with mixed grapes and piscito sour, and Spice Baked Squid ($17), filled with a crisp jamon and kipfler potato salad. It's all designed to share, making this a perfect spot for small groups.
Dazzled by the fare thus far, I ask my lovely waiter for a recommendation. This turns out to be La Bomba ($17), fresh passionfruit shaken with Tromba Blanco tequila and rich orange liquer, with a touch of fresh pressed lime. The flavour explosion manages to be sweet, but not too much. If tequila is not quite your thing, they also serve up a mean flapper-style Blood and Sand ($18).
Perhaps the only limitation of this small bar is that, well, it is small. This makes for a nice intimacy but, considering the justified popularity of this place, it's worth taking the time to book.
La Bomba: passionfruit shaken with El Jimador and Grand Marnier, with lime
Good For Groups: