Your Neighbourhood Guide to Robertson Quay
For a small city Singapore boasts an impressive collection of eclectic and diverse neighbourhoods. There are the famous areas like Chinatown, Little India and the Arab Quarter, but then there are some you may not know so well. Whether you’re a visitor or a local to Singapore, we’re all often guilty of forgetting about the greatest places that can be found right on our own doorsteps. This is a guide to Robertson Quay, one of the best areas in Singapore for food, wine and nightlife. It also happens to be my own local ‘hood so I have the benefit of two years pounding the pavements and finding all the best that this great neighbourhood offers.
For those unfamiliar with Robertson Quay, the beauty of it is, aside from being a spot by the river, it is much more chilled than its busy brothers Clarke Quay and Boat Quay. It’s a more local crowd, people just doing their own thing, or out to enjoy the balmy evenings we’re so lucky to have here.
Hanging out by the river at the Quays is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon in Singapore. If you’re looking for good coffee in this part of town, you won’t be disappointed. If you’re heading along the river from Great World City up towards Clarke Quay you can find several good coffee shops.
Anthesis [closed] occupies a prime riverfront location and serves up brunch and excellent coffee. The menu is extensive, actually making it a little difficult to decide what to order! Anthesis is billed as a bakery and bistro and as such offer an extensive array of bread choices, including platters of breads with humous and home made jams. They do sandwiches and a variety of sweet and savoury brunch items. We tried eggs with multigrain bread and pancakes with caramelised peach that were both good although nothing to rave about. The coffee was though and they had free wifi. I think this place will continue to improve with time.
86 Robertson Quay, Singapore, 238245
phone +65 6737 9873
Smitten [closed] is tucked away at Quayside and offers a shady area to sit whilst you sip on one of their expertly prepared caffeinated beverages. The flat white here is strong but smooth and they sell their own beans or ground coffee for you to take home. Smitten is tucked away in the little covered area between Nanson Road and the river.
60 Robertson Quay, Singapore, 238252
phone +65 9876 2347
Toby’s Estate is a very popular coffee spot along the river. It’s not one of my favourites but I mention it because a lot of people like it. The coffee is fine, food I’ve had here has been ok too, but there’s just no ‘zing’ to it.
8 Rodyk Street, #01-03, Singapore, 238216
phone +65 6636 7629
Kith Cafe, if you didn’t already know, is one of my all time favourites. It’s a great place to meet up with friends for a coffee or to go the whole hog and have a full bacon and egg brekky. The location by the river means there are lots of kids playing around most days but because it’s outdoors it just makes the whole place quite fun (I should point out that chairs aren’t super comfy though).
7 Rodyk Street, #01-33, Singapore, 238215
Common Man Coffee Roasters opened in August 2013 and has been packed out every time I’ve walked past. The coffees are excellent and the Common Man full breakfast will keep you going well into the day.
Common Man Coffee Roasters
22 Martin Road, Singapore, 239058
phone +65 6836 4695
Now when it’s time for lunch, you may want something a little more substantial. And possibly more comfortable. Here are a few suggestions that you’ll find open for lunch most days (call ahead earlier in the week to check), on the weekends you’ll find that most of the options listed in the dinner section below will also be open for lunch.
Em by the River is good for any time of day really. The seating area is predominantly outside by the river, in the shade of lovely trees where you can sit and watch the riverside action. The menu is simple, they do a range of eggs and then some more substantial dishes like pasta and sandwiches. The food here isn’t outstanding but the location is a great one. Prices are a little on the high side, $16 for Eggs Benedict, it’s certainly not the most expensive I’ve had though. Happy hour is between 5 and 9pm which is also a great time to enjoy this spot.
Em by the River
1 Nanson Road (on the river at the back of The Gallery Hotel), Singapore, 238909
phone +65 6836 9691
Up the road from Robertson Walk at UE Square is District 10. A buzzy restaurant named after its original location up near Bukit Timah. District 10 is another place good for lunch or dinner. The corner location is a great space and the restaurant sprawls from cosy inside seating to a large alfresco area. The relaxed atmosphere is perfect for a catch up with friends, the menu has good options for vegetarians and carnivores, and their Black Angus Burger ($22) is great. They also do a mean cocktail.
81 Clemenceau Avenue, Singapore, 239917
phone +65 6738 4788
Spathe Public House
8 Mohamed Sultan Road, Singapore, 238958
phone +65 6735 1035
*New Listing* Miharu is great for cheap and cheerful Japanese ramen. The address at 1 Nanson Road is very deceiving. You actually enter from the street on Saiboo St (the southern end of Mohamed Sultan), I’ve included a picture of the shopfront below to help you find it.
1 Nanson Road (it’s part of the Gallery Hotel but it’s easiest to enter from Saiboo Street)
phone +65 6733 8464
Fatien Bar A Vin
60 Robertson Quay, Quayside, Singapore, 238252
phone +65 6836 6110
Bella Pizza is a perfect neighbourhood pizza place. Bella is usually busy but not too busy, the tables spill out onto the walkway by the river and service is good. Pizzas are made with thin crusts and there are a variety of fillings. Even better, they do takeaway if you fancy sitting in front of the tv and eating pizza one night!
30 Robertson Quay, Singapore, 238251
phone +65 6734 0139
For cheap and cheerful Thai you can’t go past Cafe Supunsa Thai restaurant hidden at the bottom of the Riverside View residences. The menu features all your favourite Thai highlights like Papaya Salad, Green Curry and Pad Thai. It’s not the most attractive place to sit and dine, although the courtyard is pleasant enough, but they also do take away so it’s perfect for a night in.
Cafe Supunsa Thai
30 Robertson Quay, Singapore, 238251
phone +65 6884 5632
Wine Connection (see the section below on Drinking and Bars)
*New Listing* Barraka is a Spanish Tapas place in Robertson Walk. Initial reports about a Spanish chef made me a little excited about Barraka, but alas the food disappointed. It’s a good place for a decent glass of wine in a good location though.
11 Unity Street, #01-18, Singapore 237995
phone +65 6737 9130
*New Listing* Super Loco is a Mexican street food concept that opened in August 2014. Super Loco is the sister restaurant of Lucha Loco on Duxton Hill and offers a more relaxed and casual space than the original. The menu is standard Mexican fare with a decent wine list and cervezas as well as cocktails. You can read a full review here.
For Bak Kut Teh, noodles, porridge or many other Chinese options, you can check out the small row of shophouses on River Valley Road as you turn right out of Mohamed Sultan. We eat here all the time, sometimes dining in but also taking food home. There are several good vegetarian options too. The best strategy is to walk into each of the little shops and look at the menu to decide your best option. Prices are super cheap and the food is good. Not sure what my expert local friends would say about it but the place is always busy so that must say something.
There must be a dozen Japanese restaurants dotted around the Robertson Quay area and I have to admit I haven’t tried any of them! I mention it here just so you know that it is an option. Hopefully I’ll rectify my oversight soon and let you know.
Bars and Drinking
I can’t write about Robertson Quay without mentioning good ‘ole Boomarang. I am Australian after all and (even though they spell Boomarang instead of boomerang) it deserves inclusion for holding the undisputed status as the best sports bar in Singapore. Well certainly if you live around Robertson Quay anyway. My one complaint about Boomarang is that it’s quite expensive for what is essentially a pub. A glass of wine here is $16 to $20 and you’re at a sports bar, not looking over the Marina Bay Sands. However, you can happily sit here and chat to your friends whilst your husband sits enthralled with whatever sport he happens to be there for. You can also order good food; steaks, fish and chips, burgers and even salads are all done very well. Again, not cheap at around $25 per main meal, but good quality and it’s all about the location and venue. If you’re after sport, this is the place to come. They also do a good weekend brunch. Especially good if you have kids and they can run wild whilst you enjoy your meal.
60 Robertson Quay, Quayside, Singapore, 238252
phone +65 6738 1077
11 Unity Street, Singapore, 237995
#01-19 Robertson Walk (enter from Mohamed Sultan), Singapore, 237995
phone +65 6235 5466
Bar Bar Black Sheep is a popular bar on the river up towards Great World City. It’s always pretty busy with a mixed crowd enjoying the riverside ambience. There are three food menus on offer; western, Thai and Indian. The western menu is pretty average, my burger was very processed and lacked flavour, and I haven’t tried the other menus. Drinks are standard prices for Singapore and it’s still a great place to have a drink and while away the evenings.
Bar Bar Black Sheep
86 Robertson Quay, Singapore, 238225
phone +65 6836 9255
Zouk Nightclub is just over the bridge from Quayside so deserves a mention if you’re looking for somewhere to kick up your heels late into the night. You could also head to China One or the Pump Room, a little further up at Clarke Quay.
17 Jiak Kim Street, Singapore, 169420
BoCHINche at 22 Martin Road now has a really well priced selection of groceries that includes smoked paprika from Spain, tuna, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tea, honey, jam, Argentinian wine and home made Chimichurri sauce . The selection has been curated by Diego Jacquet based on his years of experience using ingredients in kitchens around the world.
22 Martin Road, Singapore
phone +65 6235 4990
Wine Connection at 11 Unity Street also offer an excellent range of cheeses and wines for sale.
Cold Storage is hard to go past for supermarket supplies. On the second floor of UE Square, this Cold Storage stock a decent range of local and international products.
UE Square, 81 Clemenceau Avenue, Singapore, 239917
i-Clean drycleaners at 11 Unity Street (next to Wine Connection) do standard drycleaning, washing and ironing and they even do heavy winter coats.
The Healing Touch on River Valley Road offer a range of massages ideal to cure those aches and pains. I’m not crazy for massages but on the odd occasion I need one these therapists have been good.
5 Tank Road, Singapore, 238061
phone +65 6737 0147
Essential Nails Spa (closed)
This little nail salon, tucked away next to the 7-Eleven in UE Square is run by two lovely aunties who have a great range of nail colours and always do a very good job. They charge $16 for an express pedi and $45 for a full one hour pedi.
81 Clemenceau Road, Singapore, 239917
phone +65 6887 3283
As this article went to post there is considerable construction work going on between Robertson Quay and Clarke Quay. Most of the walkway along the river between these two locations is now shut off and you’ll need to walk along River Valley Road for the most direct access.
This guide puts a focus on the best of the spots to eat and drink around the Robertson Quay area, as well as a few other handy tips. Let me know if you think there are other places that should be included here and I’ll be sure to pop in and check them out.