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I'll be meeting my dad in Sydney next month, and after dinner (already got that scoped out) we'd like to head to a nice, old-school, civilized pub/hotel for a beer or three -- ideally something like his favorite spot in Melbourne, Young & Jacksons. Any ideas? Is the Art House too posh? Is the Lord Nelson worth the hike, or is there something a little less touristy?

We're staying near Galeries Victoria/Town Hall, so something walkable from there would be preferable.

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There's a couple of unpretentious ones with rooftop terraces, normal prices, and views of the city near the place where you begin the walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sorry I can't remember exact locations or names. And there's one on the other side (not the other end) of the bridge which makes its own beer which is nice and not very pretentious and not especially higher than normal prices. Again sorry for the lack of details but maybe this is enough to tip somebody off who does know more... –  hippietrail May 27 '12 at 10:41
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I'm not sure exactly what your definition of 'central Sydney' is, but the vast majority of the 'classic' pubs are in and around the Rocks area.

Personally my first choice would be the one you've mentioned - the Lord Nelson. It is a bit of a walk from the main area of The Rocks, but it's worth it. Not only is the pub itself impressive, but their on-site micro brewed beers are worth the trip alone! (Just be careful - some of them are strong!!)

On the way back (or to?) the Lord Nelson, there's the Hero of Waterloo (81 Lower Fort Street), which dates back close to 200 years and is definitely worth a visit.

Back over the other side of the bridge on Cumberland street there's the Australian Hotel. The pizzas here are great - get a half Crocodile, half Kangaroo if you want the real Australian experience :) On Cumberland is also the Glenmore - nothing overly special about the hotel itself, but if you can get onto the rooftop then the views alone make it worth the visit (the roof is often closed for parties/corporate functions/etc)

In the more mainstream area of The Rocks (ie, George St) you'll find no end of hotels, ranging from the Fortune of War (The oldest hotels in Sydney - worth a visit, but don't plan on staying long) through the Mercantile, and to the Lowenbrau (German - definitely not an Australian Classic!), and even Establishment if you've looking for something more modern (your father will probably want ear plugs though!). The Rocks area at night is beautiful, so you can't beat simply taking a stroll along George St and ducking into anywhere that takes your fancy!

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Great answer, but what's wrong with Fortune of War if it's not worth staying? –  jpatokal Jun 3 '12 at 12:14
    
There's nothing "wrong" with it as such, but downstairs (the "authentic" part) is relatively small, and can get crowded easily. Upstairs might as well be any other pub anywhere in the world so isn't anything special. Not saying you can't stay there all night (I certainly have on at least one occasion!) - just saying I wouldn't plan on it in this case. –  Doc Jun 3 '12 at 16:25
    
So we ended up going to Fortune of War, which was OK but a wee bit generic (could've been a pub in England), and Lord Nelson, which is a bit fancier but more "Sydney" in feel with the sandstone building, microbrews, good pub grub etc, and it got the thumbs up from Dad. Thanks again for the tips! –  jpatokal Jun 14 '12 at 1:40
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