Dempsey Hill is one of the hippest places for families to hang out, eat and play in Singapore. This enclave of ex-military barracks has been carefully renovated over recent years and is now home to some of Singapore’s best restaurants, cafes, and boutiques. Just a five-minute trip from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road, Dempsey Hill is a lush tropical oasis. We’ve spent many hours exploring all that this wonderfully relaxing area has to offer (all in the interest of research) and have hand selected the best spots to eat, play and shop around Dempsey Hill!
EAT, DRINK, BE MERRY
The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar
Everyone is scrambling to get a table at The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar, part of the open-kitchen concept at COMO Dempsey. It’s Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s newest venture, so expect refined dining, but with a relaxed vibe. Both times we’ve been sans kids – once for set lunch with friends and devoured a creamy burrata with citrus compote and silken cod for main (at a very affordable $40++ a head), and also on a dinner date night when we ate to-die-for pepper crab dumplings, sesame salmon with olive and passionfruit tapenade and wood oven pizza. If you want to treat the kids, weekend brunch on the verandah might be more relaxing than indoors (note, no dedicated kids’ menu). Private rooms are available too for when you’re in the party mood. We love this place with it’s black and white styling and verdant green bar!
17D Dempsey Rd, Singapore 249676; www.comodempsey.sg
Open Farm Community
Our absolute favourite spot to treat the kids (and ourselves) to a feast is Open Farm Community, pictured top. The moment you step into the epic grounds of this farm-to-table restaurant, you’ll see why it’s such a family favourite. Abutting thriving beds of kale, thyme and Italian basil you’ll find a huge sandpit for the kids to play, a garden, a collection of quirky sculptures, a Common Man roasters coffee shop (the Farmacy) and a sprawling green (where you can bowl or do a spot of yoga on OFC’s market day). The kids’ menu is so healthy, fresh and inventive that you’ll happily scoff their leftovers. LOVE that lasagne. Resist the temptation and save your appetite for the transcendent handmade mud crab pappardelle (or anything else from the superb menu for that matter). For the full story, including mouth-watering pics, check out Honeycombers’ review of OFC here. Warning: Once you go, you’ll find yourself back most weekends.
130E Minden Road, Singapore 248819; www.openfarmcommunity.com
For an elegant dining affair, check out PS. Cafe at Harding Road. The food is truly magnificent, and special mention must go to the cakes, stunning both in terms of taste and magnitude (one serve of the Blackout chocolate cake will satisfy four, and then some). Watch out, the shoe-string truffle fries are seriously moreish. The ambience at this stylish cafe is simply divine, and the outdoor lawn and garden will entertain your little ones for a good hour or so.
28B Harding Road, Singapore 249549; www.pscafe.com
The White Rabbit
A HoneyKids fave, the White Rabbit is a stunning former chapel on the outskirts of Dempsey proper. The high arched ceilings and intimate booths make for a truly grand dining experience, and we love the whole Alice in Wonderland whimsical vibe. The modern European fare is similarly special; we couldn’t go past the Alaskan king crab tagliatelle or the 36-hour brandt short ribs (or let’s be honest, the duo chocolate tart with lavender ice-cream). Owned by the Lo & Behold group (the masterminds behind Tanjong Beach Club, Loof and OverEasy), it’s little wonder we feel right at home here. The Rabbit Hole is one of our favourite places on earth, so make sure you step in to the garden before and/or after your meal for a gin or two.
39C Harding Road, Singapore 249541; www.thewhiterabbit.com.sg
Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant
If you’ve got a hankering for hot and spicy nachos, enchiladas or quesadillas, then look no further than Margarita’s. The venue has a fun Mexican vibe, with its terracotta and cobalt tiles, smoky aromas and La Bamba beats. It doesn’t hurt that the lime frozen Margaritas are some of the best to be found in Singapore. As you can imagine, it gets pretty rammed here in the evenings, so book ahead. If you can’t get a table, but still need a hit of chilli con carne, head a few doors down to La Salsa.
Block 11 Dempsey Road, #01-19, Singapore 249673; www.margaritasrestaurante.com
Jones the Grocer
Known Australia-wide as the purveyors of fine gourmet produce, Jones the Grocer has a huge food emporium at Dempsey. It’s our go-to for weekday takeaway coffee and weekend lazy breakfasts. And did we mention it’s a dog-friendly venue? The rainbow cake is so good that our kids actually eat it all (instead of just the usual icing lick). We challenge any foodie worth their salt to leave the place without a bag full of goodies from the bakery, deli and shop. It’s just the place to put together a fabulous antipasti platter. And if there’s anything you just can’t source, head across the way to Culina for more epicurean delights (psst: they supply to Fairprice Finest).
Block 9 Dempsey Road, #01-12 Dempsey Hill, Singapore, 247697; www.jonesthegrocer.com
Samy’s isn’t just a famous curry restaurant, it’s an institution. Traditional fiery curries have been served straight onto banana leaf at this Dempsey Indian eatery for over 20 years. It’s a no-frills kind of joint, with low prices to match (which only adds to its appeal). Indulge in signature South Indian dishes such chicken masala and the famous fish head curry. It’s a Singapore must-do, and seriously tasty!
25 Dempsey Road, Singapore 249670; www.facebook.com/Samys-Curry
Chopsuey serves high-end East-meets-West nosh in blissful French-influenced colonial style surroundings. It’s brought to you by the same crew that runs PS. Cafe, so as you’d expect the food, ambience and fit-out is spot on. While Chopsuey feels more ‘date night’ inside, you won’t feel out of place with your junior diners out on the terrace for the delish Sunday yum cha. True to the Asian dining experience, it’s a plate-sharing concept, which you’ll be thankful for when the feast arrives – no food envy! You’ll find something for all tastes with classics like steamed dumplings, more adventurous offerings like tingling chilli-jam prawns and inventive dishes such as the delectable steamed ‘lasagne’ of snapper and tofu.
10 Dempsey Road #01-23, Singapore 249549; www.chopsueycafe.com
The grand-daddy of family-friendly seafood restaurants, Jumbo’s takes prime position at Dempsey Hill. See how many peanuts your kids can eat with chopsticks while you await delicious seafood fried rice, dipping buns and scallops with broccoli. Crab lovers will be in their element with the sweet and soupy chilli crab, but make sure to don the large paper aprons. The little ones will love checking out the fish and crustaceans in the floor-to-ceiling tanks inside. (Psst: If you love Dempsey and Chinese seafood joints, don’t miss Long Beach Seafood just down the hill).
Block 11 Dempsey Road #01-16, Singapore 249673; www.jumboseafood.com.sg
Jim Thompson Restaurant
If you’ve been lucky enough to visit Jim Thompson’s home in Bangkok, you’ll adore his sophisticated Thai restaurant in Dempsey. While the man himself is no longer with us (he went missing on a walk in Malaysian Cameron Highlands in 1967), his passion for Thai food and culture lives on. The décor is just as quintessentially Thai as his pad, with paper white walls, dark wood and generous silk furnishings. The food is an extension of the opulent interiors, with distinctly traditional Thai dishes such as fresh pomelo salad, prawn cakes with chilli-plum dip and creamy red curry.
45 Minden Road, Dempsey Hill, Singapore 248817; www.jimthompson.com
RedDot Brewhouse is a locally owned (but South African influenced) open-air bar that serves handcrafted beer and good pub grub. It’s a relaxing place for a drink with friends and/or a family dinner as there’s plenty of shade, room to roam and a gentle breeze. And if you go on a Sunday between 12 and 2pm, the kids can get involved in activities like cooking classes, face painting and catching fish in the pond. There’s ample free parking right out front, making it easy to nip in and out.
Block 25A Dempsey Road #01-01, Singapore 247691; www.reddotbrewhouse.com.sg
The perfect spot to wind down on a Friday night after a hectic week, is under the stars at Muthu’s Curry. Expect the same amazing Indian curries that are sold out at the Race Course Road branch every day, just in a more chillaxing setting. We keep going back for the cold Kingfisher beer, crispy poppadums and spicy chicken tikka masala. Note: opt for dishes with only one chilli rating unless you have a mouth of steel!
Block 7 Dempsey Road #01-01, Singapore 249671; www.muthuscurry.com
Roadhouse serves up consistently good American comfort food. The Josper-grilled burger menu is so awesomely sinful that you owe it to yourself to indulge (or to craft your own burger from a mouth-watering list of ingredients). The signature Fabulous Foie Gras wagyu beef burger with mango salsa, balsamic reduced shallots, rocket and garlic mayo is pretty fancy. We like that the devilish kids’ menu isn’t just the standard fare you’d expect from a burger joint, but also healthy options for dessert like the berries and honey yoghurt (to offset those fries). It’s great value at just $12 for a main, dessert and drink (Jazzy Juice or Moo Moo Milkshake!)
13 Dempsey Road #01-07, Singapore 249674; www.theprivegroup.com.sg
The Green Door
We’ve been frequenting this little patch of Dempsey Hill for pre-and-post dinner tipples ever since it was the Hacienda bar. The Green Door features vintage styling, industrial-sized fans and a knockout cocktail list. Our personal favourites are the lychee martini and the classic cosmopolitan. And the boys are always more than satisfied with the craft beer on offer. If you find your pre-dinner turning into, well, dinner, there’s also a respectable nibbles menu to keep your hunger at bay. Feel free to bring your furry friend along as pets are regular patrons of this quirky establishment.
13A Dempsey Road, Singapore 247694; www.theprivegroup.com.sg
Carrotsticks and Cravings Cafe
Planning to go organic? Head to this cafe for açai bowls and avocado toast for breakfast and quinoa tarts and salads for lunch. Meanwhile, the kids will be kept happy and healthy with mini cupcakes, fruity popsicles and energy balls: they’ll need the fuel for all the running around they will be doing in the open spaces surrounding the place. It’s walk in only though, folks, no reservations.
75E Loewen Rd, Singapore 248845; carrotsticksandcravings.com
Ben & Jerry’s
Dempsey is home to the flagship store of America’s best ice-cream joint: Ben & Jerry’s. Need we say more? Step inside and you’ll be spoilt for choice with the seemingly endless variations of cleverly named flavours (Karamel Sutra, anyone?). Once they’ve landed on a dessert, let the kids savour it while you decide on your sinful treat. Pure, unadulterated happiness right there.
Block 8 Dempsey Road #01-14, Singapore, 247696; www.benjerry.com.sg
PERFECT KIDS’ ACTIVITY SPOTS
Our kids scream like crazy when they hear a Go-Go Bambini visit is on the cards, which is a glowing endorsement for this indoor fun zone. Highlights include a life-sized floor piano (think Tom Hanks in Big), giant purple slide, ball pit, multi-level obstacle course. and even a cosy corner for toddlers. The in-house cafe serves life-saving COFFEE and snacks and is a good refuge for parents from the noise and general shenanigans. Our only complaint is that prams are strictly not allowed, which makes difficult work for parents with newborns.
Block 8 Dempsey Road, #01-15, Dempsey Hill, Singapore 247696; www.gogobambini.com
There’s a whole lot to love about Huber’s awesome new location on Dempsey Hill. The bistro is uber-casual, designed to complement the huge two-storey butchery. Head straight to the amazing soft-fall playground for the kids to run wild. It’s shaded and gated, so you won’t have to worry about losing track of your adventurous little people. Then retire to the bistro for a bite to eat and a refreshing drink. As you can imagine, the meat is as fresh as it comes. They’ve got at least seven sausage dishes on the menu, and some pretty good-looking burgers too. Before you leave, don’t forget to stock up inside, and you’ll be sorted for meals for the foreseeable future!
22 Dempsey Road, Singapore 249679; www.hubers.com.sg
If you journey a little off the beaten track, past RedDot Brewhouse, you’ll find the Tree Lizard. It’s a wallet-friendly family cafe serving burgers, salads, pizza and pasta. You’re sure to find something to satisfy your hunger. The real reason to spend an afternoon here is for the attached playground. Your kids can burn that excess energy while you eat your St. Louis Pork Ribs in peace.
Tree Lizard, B1-01, 25 Dempsey Rd, Singapore 249670; www.treelizard.com.sg
Bend, stretch and flip! The Yard is where it’s all at for tumbling tots from age 12 months (where parent participation classes will give little ones the perfect building-block for future gymnastic success), right through to senior classes (for talented gymnasts age 11 plus where they can accelerate their cool skills). Kids drop-off classes start from age three, and The Yard’s fun but challenging vibes will encourage mini-gymnasts to really get to grips with coordination, strength and agility during their weekly lessons. Expect state of the art equipment and top-notch local and international instructors on hand to help your kiddo nail that back-flip.
The Yard,72 Loewen Road, #01-07, Singapore 248848, e. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.theyard.com.sg.
SWISH! Swim School
If you were at the HoneyKids pool party at SWISH! last year, you’ll already know just how amazing this place is. This lovely school is tucked away within the Loewen Cluster on Dempsey Hill, and we adire the indoor and outdoor pools set in a beautifully restored black-and-white property. The water is temperature-controlled and salt water chlorinated, which is much more gentle on the skin. Swimming lessons for kids of all ages, including babies, are available, the school also provides a dedicated coach for children with special educational needs.
SWISH! Swim School, 72 Loewen Road, #01-08, Dempsey Hill, Singapore 248848; www.swishswimming.com
SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP
Affordable Style Files
If you’ve seen our interview with the utterly fabulous Hong Henwood of Affordable Style Files, you’ll know we’re already huge fans of this interior stylist and everything she does. And we are seriously crushing on her retail venture in Dempsey. Pop into the store for divine homewares (we’ve got our eye on the stylish all-weather rugs).
6A Dempsey Rd, Singapore 247661; www.affordablestylefiles.com
Cuckoo Little Lifestyle
Cuckoo is a treasure trove of exquisite children’s products including furniture, decor, fashion, toys and gifts. We think they’re one of the best stores in Singapore for cool kids’ furniture. Mumpreneurs Francesca and Emily will help you find all the to-die-for furnishings you need to create the perfect little person’s room (and then some). Never fear, if you have any room left on your credit card, you can always nab that essential Oliver bunk bed online. Love.
Blk 68, Dempsey Hill, Singapore 247662; www.cuckoolittlelifestyle.com
Red Sea Gallery
Smack bang next to Jones the Grocer you’ll find leading contemporary art space Red Sea Gallery. Adorning the walls and floors you’ll find works by local and international artists in mediums of painting, sculpture, print, photography and video installation. With new exhibitions almost monthly, there’s always something new and exciting to see (and buy) at Red Sea Gallery.
Block 9 Dempsey Road, #01-10 Dempsey Hill, Singapore 247697; www.redseagallery.com
Photography (lead image): @twinkle_miri
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