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The Unicorn Hotel chicken schnitzel
Photograph: Anna KuceraThe Unicorn Hotel's chicken schnitzel

The best chicken schnitzels in Sydney

There are some hungers that only schnitzel can answer, so next time you're craving golden crumbed fillets get some take away from one of these schnitty legends.

Written by
Time Out editors
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Crumbed chicken breast hammered out flat might sound like an incredibly simple dish, but there is an art to getting schnitzel right. The shell needs to be well-seasoned and to stick to the meat instead of falling off like an ill-fitting jacket. The meat needs to be cooked through but remain tender and juicy. And the quality of your sauce is a linchpin to the whole enterprise – good gravy is everything. We ate a lot of schnitzel to bring you this list – may our stomachs and waistbands have mercy on us.

  • Bars
  • Paddington

Just a short walk up from Taylor Square, you can order Sydney’s unofficial best schnitty ever – but looking at this plate of free-range freshness, with its crunchy coating laying on a bed of mash and housemade gravy, we may just make it official. The chicken is sourced from the Bannockburn region, brined in 10 per cent salt for four hours, flattened, crumbed and herbed before it becomes this truly scrumptious schnit. It dominates the plate, with the wing pointing to the heavens. A pillow of buttery smooth mashed potatoes underlies it, and it's surrounded by a rich pool of gravy. Watch out for friends who didn't order as well as you to try to dip their chips into your abundance of gravy. There’s no messing around here: only a sprig of greenery for garnish. With a schnitty like this, you don't need much more.  

Una's Upstairs
  • Bars
  • Darlinghurst

Una’s Upstairs is a Darlinghurst institution that nails European comfort food, with its homely atmosphere and food from the heart. Enter into a kitschy wonderland full of alp paintings, figurines, disco balls and a few pride flags. You can order many takes on the humble schnitty here, a chicken Jaeger Schnitzel with mushroom sauce, rösti and cabbage salad is the crowd-pleaserA huge schnitzel almost hides the plate, propped up on a bed of creamy potato rösti with crunchy edges and poured over with a mushroom sauce. It's crisp, salty and zested with a lemon wedge, and $24.40. Hearty, rich, generously proportioned and available for take away and delivery. Rejoice!

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White Cockatoo Hotel
  • Bars
  • Petersham

The White Cockatoo turned West Village turned White Cockatoo again has seen enough changes to make your head spin. The good news is there’s still a schnitzel on the menu, no matter what flag it flies under, and it’s big. Not platter big, but still a sizeable, tender fillet of chicken hammered flat, thinly crumbed and fried until golden brown and properly crunchy. They're not reinventing the wheel here but sometimes only a classic will do. Fries and salad with sauce on the side, the combo is a real contender. The crunchy bird is available for take away, just swing in to place your order.

  • Bars
  • Glebe

Punters who come to Tommy's are usually there for a bite of the densely breaded Hunter schnitzel that comes on a plate thick with silky mash, a heap of sweet pickled red cabbage, and a bowl of cream sauce brimming with mushrooms. If not that, it's for one of the half-litre beers that range from delicious dark lagers to the classic Budejovicky Budvar. Best to get both. While the doors may be closed for now the rush of take away drivers have set up camp. Offering take away during lockdown is a blessing for Glebe locals, perfect for winter nights, or any other night to be honest.

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The Eastern European café, 21 Espresso, in Double Bay has been feeding generations of Sydneysiders since first opening its doors in 1958. You don't come here for the up-to-date decor – you come for the schnitzels, matzo ball soup and the light-as-air cheesecake. They're famous for their half'n'half veal and chicken schnitzel platter with a side of creamed spinach. Add an order of lecso salad (a Hungarian capsicum dish like a ratatouille) or the super creamy mushroom sauce. Espresso 21 have thankfully always offered take away, which we need now more than ever.

  • Bars
  • Manly
  • price 2 of 4

Ordering a schnitzel can be a Goldilocks scenario. Some are too big, some are too small, but here, the schnitty is juuuust right. This perfectly portioned butterflied breast has a lightly herbed crumb, generous enough to seal in all the juices to keep the meat as succulent as possible. It helps that the bird is only gently tenderised, allowing for a chunkier slice of chook than your average pub schnit. Once fired to just the right shade of amber-gold – a hue somewhere in between a freshly washed labrador and Ron Weasley – there’s nothing left to do but give this delicious fried Frisbee a sprinkling of sea salt flakes (the fancy kind) and lay it on a bed of hand-cut chips, fried up with the same expert touch. The side salad is served in its own accompanying bowl – no sweaty lettuce wilting against the hot chippies here – and dressed with a piquant and peppery house vinaigrette. A serving of mayonnaise, a la Belgium, and a fresh lemon wedge come as standard, but it’s worth opting for a side of mushroom sauce.

More tasty treats this way

The best bar snacks in Sydney
  • Bars

As the line between restaurant and bar becomes increasingly blurry, it's now possible to make a whole meal out of the excellent bar snacks flying over the counter at our favourite haunts. These are the places we head when we're not sure if drinks is going to turn into dinner, but we want to keep our options open.

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