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Making cocktails At Bondi Icebergs Dining
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The best restaurant bars in Sydney

Where the drinking is at least as good as – or maybe even better than – the exceptional eating

By Matty Hirsch
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Drinks and dinner can be a daunting proposition. Picking one of Sydney’s top restaurants is difficult enough; throw in the choice of which bar(s) to hit up (before? After? Both?), and suddenly you’ve got a lot to consider. A cocktail bar, a wine bar or a pub? Somewhere you can hear each other talk or somewhere for a bit of a post-meal boogie?

Thankfully, some of the city’s best places to eat ease all that decision anxiety by doubling down with epic bar offerings, allowing you to experience the best of both worlds under one roof. These are more than just solid places to bend the elbow while you wait for a table – these are places worth crossing town for, where knockout drinks and dynamite snacks are always a guarantee.

Sydney's finest restaurant bars

Waiter at Hubert
Photograph: Anna Kucera

1. Hubert

Restaurants French Sydney

Given that Hubert takes only a handful of bookings and it’s perpetually rammed, you’ll probably be spending a good chunk of time in the restaurant’s boisterous bar, Bar Pincer, anyway. And you’ll have such a good time that there’s every chance you won’t even want a table. Some of the menu’s greatest hits like the duck-liver parfait and escargot in XO sauce are also available on the menu, and there’s a cracking happy hour from 4-6pm, too.

cocktails At Bondi Icebergs Dining
Photograph: Anna Kucera

2. Icebergs Dining Room and Bar

Restaurants Bondi Beach

Even the most cynical Sydneysider can’t deny the magic up here. Don’t worry if you’re not as bronzed and beautiful as the rest of the crowd – for every Bondi glamazon sinking a Spritz, there’s a trio of sweaty tourists fresh from a coastal walk taking a selfie on the balcony. And who could blame them? The views are even more dramatic from the bar than from the dining room, and look even better after a couple of signature No 8 cocktails.

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Beef burger served with salad on the side
Photograph: Anna Kucera

3. Rockpool Bar & Grill

Restaurants Sydney

Popping in to the bar at this big-ticket steakhouse is the equivalent of taking high tea at a five-star hotel and not spending the night. You still experience all the glamour and the polish, just without the financial commitment. At $22, David Blackmore’s full-blood Wagyu burger is still one of the best steals in town. For an extra fiver you can pair it with a glass of red, but you should probably go full Don Draper and order an ice-cold Martini.

Making cocktails at Bistecca
Photograph: Anna Kucera

4. Bistecca

Restaurants Italian Sydney

Given that Warren Burns and James Bradey are some of the city’s most respected bar operators (they brought us Grandma’s and the Wild Rover), it makes sense that their first foray into restaurants is no slouch in the drinking department. Scoring a table isn’t always easy, but you’ve got a dedicated Negroni menu, Aperol Spritzes on tap and a Carrara marble bar that’s a destination in its own right to entertain you while you wait. Bonus points for the bargain weekday Aperitivo Hour from 4-6pm.

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Inside restaurant at Bennelong
Photograph: Anna Kucera

5. Bennelong

Restaurants Sydney

When it comes to bars and Bennelong, the question is: which one? You’re under one of the Opera House sails at one of Sydney’s finest fine diners, so the setting and service are epic no matter where you sit. If drinks are your primary port of call, head up the stairs and grab a low table by the expansive window for dead-on Harbour Bridge views. If food is why you’re here, the U-shaped Cured and Cultured Bar more than has you covered with an exceptional snack menu.

Fred's
Photograph: Anna Kucera

6. Fred's

Restaurants European Paddington

The mood in the front bar at Fred’s is decidedly dark and, er, moody compared to the bright, airy farmhouse fantasy dining room. But hey, that’s often what you want and expect from a bar, and the execution is just as professional. There’s also a whole other world downstairs at basement bar Charlie Parker’s, where the cocktails fuse seasonal produce and chef-like technique. The bottom line is it's hard to go wrong.

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Making cocktails  at Bentley Bar and Restaurant
Photograph: Anna Kucera

7. Bentley Restaurant and Bar

Restaurants Australian Sydney

Bentley is widely regarded as one of the best places in all of Australia to drink wine. If that strikes you as a bogus claim, just look up how many awards sommelier Nick Hildebrandt has won for his show-stopping list. Whether you opt for a bottle or glass of something classic and precise or esoteric and cultish, quality and precision are never in doubt. The bar menu is equally considered – think white pea hummus and witlof, or kingfish collars with curry butter and fried buns.

Alcohol at Momofuku Seiobo
Photograph: Anna Kucera

8. Momofuku Seiobo

Restaurants Darling Harbour

The bar at Momofuku Seiobo might possibly be the best worst-kept secret in town. There are only five seats, all reserved for walk-ins, and if you don’t time your arrival perfectly (i.e. leave work early to get there half an hour before they open), well…tough luck. Get it right, however, and you’ll score a colossal fried chicken sandwich and a coconut turnover so good it will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

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Person behind deli glass at Continnental Deli
Photograph: Anna Kucera

9. Continental CBD

Restaurants European Sydney

Sure, the Newtown original rocks the bar vibe more than the CBD sibling, but this is a list of killer restaurants with killer bars, and the Phillip Street outpost of Sydney’s excellent deli-bar-bistro is very much a restaurant, as the roaring lunch trade attests to. Push past the tables and pull up a pew at the bar, though, to get your hands on a French dip or a trademark tinned Martini. Or, better yet, both.

Person behind the bar making cocktails at Alberto's Lounge
Photograph: Daniel Boud

10. Alberto's Lounge

Restaurants Italian Sydney

There’s not a whole lot of elbowroom at Hubert’s pocket-sized baby brother, but what the place lacks in square footage it more than makes up for in buzz and natural wine. Stick around long enough and you’ll probably find yourself doing exactly what almost everybody else in here is – starting with skewered veal tongue and anchovy on squishy white bread, tucking into a plate of pasta and finishing with some housemade gelato and an amaro over ice.

Need somewhere to party after?

Home Nightclub
Home Nightclub
Photograph: Supplied

The best clubs in Sydney

Nightlife

Sydney loves to party, we'll party on the roof, in the basement, by the pool, even once every few months in a suburban bowling club. We've collected our city's best clubs and nightlife hotspots. Despite restrictions, Sydney is still up for a good boogie, the trick is knowing where to look and not relinquishing a night out because you think it can't be done. It can – here's where to start.

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