You've most likely watched the race that stops the nation from a crowded pub, or worse, huddled around an office computer. This year make a day of it with these five waterfront dining options. Each of the following is giving you the chance to get dressed up and celebrate with spring sunshine drenched views, fresh seafood, and Champagne, without missing any of the Melbourne Cup excitement. Don't spend another year missing out at your desk, grab a group and book in for some festive fun this November.
Where to watch the Melbourne Cup
This Crown Street garden bar is perfect for kicking back with large groups in a relaxed and leafy atmosphere. With two-levels of lush interiors, twinkling fairy lights in the sprawling courtyard, and a great food and (of course) wine list, it's a good choice for Cup Day. The Winery's Melbourne Cup lunch includes four courses, Champagne on arrival, and free entertainment after the big race. For $139pp, you can enjoy a feast including Sydney rock oysters with smoked salmon caviar, and native finger limes; Cone Bay barramundi with potato salad, sea herbs, and garlic butter; and a dark chocolate and burnt mandarin mousse for dessert. You can also pop a bottle of Champagne for $89 to celebrate or keep the bubbles flowing at $15 a glass.
Cargo has been a Darling Harbour party bar for almost 20 years, carolling revellers from the waterfront strip into a top quality night of dancing and drinks. It has recently reinvented itself as a sleek waterfront '80s bar with street food-style dishes and cocktails. For Melbourne Cup they're pulling out all the stops with a $90pp sit down lunch downstairs and a $115pp cocktail party upstairs. The lunch gives you three courses, and a choice of drink on arrival and the cocktail party will have roaming canapés and beverages for three hours. Both floors will be playing the race on huge screens with the chance to be part of exciting sweeps and an after party from 4pm. Don't forget to wear your finest Cup Day fashion, there'll be prizes for best dressed.
Bungalow 8 and the Loft are ideal for taking in the spring sunshine and dazzling water views all afternoon safe in the knowledge that the party will heat up once the sun goes down. Choose your own Melbourne Cup adventure with both venues hosting the race on big screens, sweepstakes and the chance for you to dress to impress without going to the race course. Head to Bungalow 8 for a three-course sit down lunch with Champagne on arrival, fresh seafood platters, antipasto plates, bowls of wedges to share and delicious mains including a beef short rib cos salad and pan-seared barramundi for $125pp. Upstairs at the Loft, enjoy a three-hour cocktail party for $135pp, and grab bites of duck pancakes, wagyu burgers, and truffle and parmesan arancini balls. Stick around once the race is over, as the clubs come alive with a kick-on party from 4pm.
The Finger Wharf in Woolloomoloo has one of the best water views in Sydney, beyond the bobbing moored yachts you can catch a glimpse of the Royal Botanic Gardens and you're surrounded by the buzzing atmosphere of the historic pier's many eateries. Kingsley's is your go-to for classic Australian dining, with locally-sourced seafood and beef, and a relaxed long lunch attitude. For Melbourne Cup they're offering a three course lunch with shared seafood platters, your choice of main and dessert, and a glass of Champagne on arrival for $169pp. If you can drag yourself away from the pretty view, they'll be showing the big race and awarding prizes for best dressed.
The relaxed coastal dining options of Manly are only a short ferry ride from the city away, and Manly Wine is a perfect choice for enjoying a beachside get together. They're offering three seperate options for Melbourne Cup day in the restaurant and upstairs in the beach suites. In the beach suites, choose the Racing Royalty package for a selection of canapés and three-and-a-half hours of wine, beer, and soft drink for $125pp, or buy drinks as you go while enjoying the canapés with a Flemington Favourite package for $70pp, which includes a glass of Champagne on arrival. In the restaurant enjoy the race with a leisurely four course lunch for $125, that includes a glass of Moet and Chandon on arrival, coconut-poached scallops with mint and coriander; salt and pepper calamari with black garlic aioli; and roast chicken with spiced pumpkin, green beans, and riberry jus, to name a few.