Yes, it's something of a tourist destination these days, but deservedly so. There's just something about it -- maybe it's the fifty-year history represented by the photos of Sinatra, Elton John, Colonel Sanders, et al, all hung with pride all over the little shack. Maybe it's the unbeatable location next to the Finger Wharf and the allure of chomping down on meat pies on the waterfront just as countless sailors have done before you over the decades. Some might even say it's the pies themselves, the basic meat one taking the nod by a nose over the curry version by my reckoning (btw, combine the curry with the chili sauce to just about burn your lips right off). Certainly the optional pea sauce over the top has its fans, as peculiar as that might be to some. The more matter of fact among us might hazard to guess that much of its appeal is that it's invariably the wee hours of the morning after many a drink that brings people there, and even a cardboard box (or McD's) would do the trick in those conditions. But that would be missing the point.
So what is it about Harry's that makes it a classic? If only we knew, we'd make a fortune by bottling the secret. But we don't. (Was Ali the best boxer of all time? No, but he was the Greatest.) All that we do know for sure is that Harry's has got that thing going, that inexplicable vibe that just can't be replicated intentionally. It just is what it is -- a food legend and a can't-miss stop for anyone who ever visits Sydney.
What's really interesting to me is that the meat pies at Harry's simply can't approach the quality of those freshly made at small local bakeries all over Australia. Not that I was eating meat pies every day, but I gotta say that the best one I had was the curry pie from the little bakery in Cessnock whose name I've unfortunately forgotten. It's on the lefthand side of the main drag as you're driving through heading toward the vineyards. Well worth a quick stop.