The Duxton area was a former 13-hectare nutmeg plantation with 1,800 trees introduced to Singapore in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles. The nutmeg court at The Pinnacle @ Duxton marks this historic presence, now surrounded by towering blocks and hipster hangouts. Pockets of quiet parks and converted shophouses make this a destination full of character in the midst of the CBD.
History is embedded in these buildings along Neil Road, providing a glimpse into colonial Singapore architecture.
Jinrikisha Station (20 Maxwell road)
Built from 1903-1904 in the Edwardian style and now conserved, Jinrikisha is Singapore’s last reminder of the once ubiquitous leg-powered rickshaw, which were first imported from Shanghai to Singapore in 1880. This ideal
corner location catered to customers from the nearby Tanjong Pagar docks and adjacent thoroughfare that led from the docks to town.
Tea Chapter (9 Neil Road)
The finer intricacies of Chinese tea and its corresponding service standards are practiced here in the very first conservation shophouse. Get in tune with grand tea master Patrick Kang who has over 20 years of experience in Chinese tea art and Chinese culture. Mon-Thu 11am-10.30pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 11am-10.30pm. Tel: 6226 3026
L’Aiglon (69 Neil Road)
A stylish cocktail bar for late night tipples, with expertly crafted mixes from rare champagnes and whiskies. Cocktails uses a ‘gentlemen’s pour’ of 45ml per shot of alcohol, so don’t hesitate to try their signature Asian Sensation Kettle or Screaming Tomato. Mon-Sat 6pm till late. Tel: 6220 0369
89 Neil Road
Here stands the conserved former Eng Aun Tong Factory building (where Tiger Balm had once been made) now housing a myriad of offices and agencies. Built in 1924 in the neoclassical style, the factory operated until 1971 when production was contracted out and thereafter moved out to the Jack Chia group’s factories in Jurong.
PINNACLE @ DUXTON
Previously known as Duxton Plain Public Housing, The Pinnacle @ Duxton, completed in 2009, boasts the world’s two longest sky gardens of 500m each on the 26th and 50th floors. Catering to hungry residents and visitors are various eateries within this complex.
Essen @ The Pinnacle (#01-01, 1 Cantonment Road)
Delve into a mix of Western, Mediterranean and fusion cuisine under one roof: Garcons, Kin Khao, El Jefe Corner, Wild Wild Catch, La Stella and Two Wings. Touted as the “best deepfried chicken wings in Singapore” , we made a pit stop at Two Wings to grab some (from $8.50 for four wings) with their signature chilli sauce, reminiscent of the classic Hainanese chicken rice chilli. Also, don’t be fooled by their name, these crispy goodness don’t come in twos, but starts from fours, and you’ll be glad you had more. Mon-Sun 10.30am-11pm.
Tanjong Pagar Community Club
Located in the iconic residential complex, this club also houses Maple Loft for your ice cream fix ($3.20 for a single scoop, additional $0.70 for premium flavours like black sesame and hazelnut rocher; cones additional $0.90) in our sunny weather, great for retro-themed parties too. Also don’t miss out Buffet City with their international spread ($26.80+/adult and $17.80+/child).
Duxton Plain Park
One of the smallest parks in Singapore, and established before WW2 by the British, Duxton Plain Park grows one of the most significant flora. A memorial Tembusu tree was planted here in honour of late Lee Kuan Yew, who started his political career at Tanjong Pagar. Buried in the same plot is a time capsule with memorabilia to let future generations understand what he meant to Singapore, only to be opened in 2065.
Did You Know?
Duxton Plain Park was also once a railroad reserve for the line to Pulo Saigon on the South bank of the Singapore River.
Skybridge at the 50th floor
With views as far and wide as Batam and Bukit Timah on a clear day, and a consistent strong breeze, one can relax here for hours just gazing at the urban landscaping and watching the tiny cars down below travelling along the winding roads–it’s really therapeutic. $5 admission fee, daily 9am-10pm, limited to 200 members of public per day to the 50th floor. Tel: 8683 7760 for more assistance.
Nestled in a quaint space with the only cobbled street in Singapore (yes, it is a big deal), Duxton Hill brings you into another timeframe altogether. The conserved shophouses with European, French, Chinese and Indian influences housing a range of international cuisines provide a fitting setting for a romantic rendezvous indeed. You’ll also find Russian restaurant Buyan (9 Duxton Hill) serving up classic borscht soup ($14), shashlyk ($40) and beef stroganov ($32), and Japanese-inspired French pastries such as Berry Berries (strawberry shortcake, $6.70) at Flor Patisserie (2 Duxton Hill).
Lucha Luco (15 Duxton Hill)
If it’s Mexican, it’s gotta be loco (crazy). This bustling modern taqueria (taco shop) and garden bar often spills over with its heaving model and expat-heavy crowd. The no-reservations rule means you should head here early to tuck into tostaditas ($16), elotes (the famous grilled corn, $8), and costillas de cerdo ($30). Some of the more family-friendly crowd has migrated to its sister outlet, Super Loco at Robertson Quay. Tue-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri 5pm-1am, Sat 6pm-1am. Tel: 6226 3938
L’EntrecÃƒ ´te (37 Duxton Hill)
Start off your meal with a complimentary glass of kir, white wine slightly sweetened with blackcurrant liquor. Steak out with their signature steak and unlimited crisp-thin fries ($32.90/$39.90 large), and pair it with their own Cuvee de L’EntrecÃƒ ´te, or something from their vintage and international labels in house. Don’t miss out on their desserts; must-tries include the profiteroles de L’EntrecÃƒ ´te ($15), Vacherin du Bistrot ($15) and homemade lemon tartlet ($12). Mon-Thu 12-10.30pm, Fri 12-11pm, Sat 5-11pm, Sun 12-10.30pm. Tel: 6690 7561
Latteria mozzarella bar (40 Duxton Hill)
Dining sotto le stele or ‘under the stars’ is the way to go at this al fresco terrace space with great vibes. Indulge in the rich creamy varieties of fresh mozzarella cheeses that takes centrestage in stracciatella, bottarga and roast zucchini ($22), burratina, roast pumpkin and truffle ($23) and Latteria mac and cheese ($28). Sun-Fri 12-2.30pm, daily 6.30-10.30pm. Tel: 6866 1988
Opium houses, brothels, and gambling dens flooded Duxton Road in the 19th and early 20th centuries, making it an area of vice. Though a few karaoke bars remain, the street has transformed into a hip place to be seen, with the notable boutique Duxton Hotel (83 Duxton Road) currently undergoing changes. MeatLiquor (99 Duxton Road) for American diner-style burgers like the Dead Hippie ($22), Squire and Scoundrels (72 Duxton Road) for more burgers from U.S. Angus beef to sea bass fillet ($18 each), and Pince & Pints (32-33 Duxton Road) for its lobster rolls with the trimmings ($58) are some of the eateries around the area. For healthier pursuits, ride with the pack at Crucycle (68 Duxton Road) and get your heart rate up.
Littered With Books (20 Duxton Road)
Thought-provoking quotations and short blurbs from books line the shelves and walls of this two storey bookshop where you can easily lose yourself. There’s something for everyone: ’littered’ with topics from cookery books and digressions into specific food topics, to ponderings of ancient maps, to fictional worlds, and on a more serious note, bibliographies.
Juice Junkie (#01-02, 68 Duxton Road)
Make a conscious choice with Juice Junkie, where their cold pressed juices are locally sourced and organic! Refreshing choices include Bunny’s Coco Fix, which provides an antioxidant boost and promotes heart health; Doctor Rabbit, with detox and flush; as well as Yummy Bunny, a beauty, anti-aging and energy booster. Hop over or order online at www.juicejunkie.com.sg for juice cleanses (starting from $290) or themed 6-pack juices ($90, customisable option at $100).
Linking Neil Road and Tanjong Pagar Road, this quieter side street has its own personality too. Once housing Chinatown’s poor in the late 19th and 20th centuries, the area has now been cleaned up, with repurposed shophouses containing a range of interesting finds such as the Korean joint, Twins (7 Craig Road), Italian fare from PerBacco (#01-03, 20 Craig Road) and inITALY (38 Craig Road), plus newly opened small plates purveyor Kite (53 Craig Road).
Pasta Brava (11 Craig Road)
Established in 1993, Pasta Brava continues to serve up some of the most satisfying Italian fare in town. Popular favourites include the squid ink pasta ($24) and ravioli filled with minced beef ($23.50) and the classic tiramisu ($11). The dim lighting and eclectic Peranakan decor creates the perfect romantic setting for a first date too–talk about the food and collectibles if you run out of conversation! Mon-Sat 12-2.30pm and 6.30-10.30pm. Tel: 6227 7550
Binomio (#01-02, 20 Craig Road)
Opened in 2012, Binomio boasts the chops of executive chef Jose Alonso, who first came to Singapore working for Santi Santamaria. With a name that means ’duo’, the concept integrates tapas bar and restaurant into one of the most respected and buzzing Spanish eateries in town. Dine on gambas al ajillo, tiger prawns in olive oil ($26) or squid ink paella with clams and calamari ($70) to share. Mon-Fri 12-2pm, 6-10.30pm; Sat 6-10.30pm. Tel: 6557 0547
Tong Mern Seng Antiques (51 Craig Road)
Established since 1972, and eye-catching for its unique signs: “Some fools buy. Some fools sell” and “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” . Go treasure hunting in this truly vintage three-storey shop house which sells anything and everything retro from bed frames, typewriters, Peranakan tiles, chandeliers and old school trunks from a time that’s slowly receding into our museums.