View of sydney Opera House at Quay Sydney
Photograph: Supplied/NikkiTo

Where to eat and drink near the Sydney Opera House

The top spots for pre- and post-gig snacking and toasting

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Any Sydneysider knows that getting a good feed near the Sydney Opera House is a hard game.

If you're looking for an easy, delicous lunch or dinner, perhaps followed (or proceeded) by a quality drink before hitting up the sails for a show, it can be hard to know where to look in a district rife with over-priced tourist traps. 

So, where do I eat and drink near the Sydney Opera House at Circular Quay? 

In this list, we've found the very best restaurants, bars and eateries for you to pick up dinner, lunch or a simple pre-show snack while you're in the heart of Sydney's most famous part of town. You're welcome. 

While you're in the area, check out the best restaurants in Sydney right now, then wander around the Rocks and check out the MCA.

Stay in the loop: sign up for our free Time Out Sydney newsletter for more news, food & drink inspo and activity ideas, straight to your inbox.

Restaurants near Sydney Opera House: where to eat and drink

  • Circular Quay
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

While Deux Frères means "two brothers" in French, don’t go off the name – this Circular Quay spot is a charming ode to the glorious pintxos bars dotted all over Basque Country. At Deux Freres, you’ll be able to get your hands on a bunch of both hot and cold small plates, starting from $6 a snack. Gildas, patatas bravas and truffle jamón with a glass of vermouth? Don't mind if we do.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • French
  • Sydney
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Park your butt on an outdoor seat at the completely alfresco Whalebridge at sunset and, as you look over towards the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park beyond it, it’s impossible not to understand why Sydney’s harbour is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Watch the ferries pull into Circular Quay's wharves, the sparkle of the last rays of sun reflecting off the water, the sky change colour, as people behind you wander over to the Opera House for an evening show. It’s a very Sydney experience. And take it from us, the food here is good too, making Whalebridge a solid option for pre- or post-theatre dining.

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Alice Ellis
Sydney Editor
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  • Sydney

Beauty and convenience don’t always go hand in hand, but Opera Bar is a glam exception to the rule. It manages to be both one of the most enviably located bars in the city as well as its most advantageous spot for a pre-show drink or snack. On the day you snag a seat facing the Harbour Bridge up on the raised promenade you should go buy a lottery ticket, because lady luck has smiled on you. 

  • Circular Quay
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

There’s a lot of noise surrounding the battle between carnivores and vegans, especially online, but imagine if there was a place where we could eat side-by-side, in digestive harmony; in one plastic basket a classic Mary’s burger with fries, and next to it, an identical burger, only this free from any animal products? This dietary utopia is a reality thanks to Mary’s CQ, the ground floor burger bar found in Circular Quay.

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  • Cocktail bars
  • Circular Quay

In the basement of a heritage warehouse in Sydney’s CBD you’ll find a Sicilian-inspired cocktail bar named for the ill-fated wife of Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 mobster masterpiece, The Godfather. Dimly lit and dramatic as the movie itself, Apollonia is, by sheer geography alone, a triumph. Carved into the sandstone bedrock of Customs House, the hand-chipped, 150-year-old walls have been ambitiously transported to the 21st century, with accents of marble bars, deeply stained wooden finishes, mismatched tiles and red leather banquette seating

  • American
  • Sydney
  • price 1 of 4

Get mouth-watering chicken, a great drinks menu, vinyl tunes and party vibes at Belles Hot Chicken in Circular Quay. All of your Belles favourites are on offer: wings, drumsticks, tenders and even buffalo cauliflower. Each of those are available in the signature flavours: chicken salt, original, traveller, hot and really f**kin hot. You better bring a fire extinguisher. There are also Nashville-style chicken sandwiches, tasty sides, and "heaving share plates" for those coming in a group.

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Alice Ellis
Sydney Editor
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  • Italian
  • Circular Quay

You’ll find the rustic Italian restaurant Grana within the historic walls of Hinchcliff House in Circular Quay – and we reckon you should. Once you’re there, you’ll soon see why. Firstly, the space is gorgeous, with sandstone- and exposed-brick walls, warm moody lighting, and striking dried floral displays, channelling a country house in Tuscany. But the food is what will make you return. Grana is home to its own mill, which the chefs use daily to grind New South Wales' grains – such as spelt, emmer, and khorasan – into flour to make their own pasta and pastry. (If you’re wondering about the name, Grana is the Italian word for ‘Grain’.)

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • French
  • Circular Quay

Dreaming of fine French fare? You’re not alone. We say head to Bouillon L'entrecote in Circular Quay and feast until your heart's content. Located a short stroll from the harbour, the good looking restaurant is owned and operated by Frenchmen Johan Giausseran and Vincent Ventura (also Brasserie l'Entrecote in Pymble) and heroes traditional French cuisine at a reasonable price point. That may look like duck liver parfait and baguette; French onion soup; snails with parsley and butter; or Wagyu tartare – and crème brulée to finish it all off, of course.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • Circular Quay
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

George Street stalwart Jacksons on George has reopened with a fresh look and former Icebergs chef at the helm. The multi-level venue now sports a ground floor casual bar, a charming bistro and an airy rooftop bar. Choose your fighter. 

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • Sydney

Does it get any closer to the Opera House than dining under its sails? The thought “By God, this is a beautiful place to eat a meal,” is almost certain to strike at some point as you dine under the dominating, post-Brutalist arches of executive chef Peter Gilmore's restaurant inside the Opera House. And that’ll be before you even see the food. There are four ways to eat here: the restaurant downstairs; the cured and cultured section up a floor; and at the top, a bar and 'The Dress Circle' which has the best views in the whole restaurant.

 

  • Circular Quay
  • price 2 of 4

Drink up some of the best views in the city at Cafe Sydney. The huge balcony looks over Circular Quay with a bird's-eye view of the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and Sydney ferries making their way across the sparkling blue water. If you're in full impress-your-mates mode, order a seafood platter with a selection of oysters, bugs, crab, scampi, marron and prawns

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  • Mediterranean
  • The Rocks
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Le Foote is the rocking Parisian wine bar and Mediterranean restaurant housed in the former Phillip’s Foote restaurant in The Rocks. It's from the Swillhouse crew (HubertAlberto’s LoungeShady Pines and (RIP) Frankie's Pizza) and we reckon they've kicked it out of the park. Hot tip: if you don't have a booking for the formal dining room, nab a seat in the bar, and be sure to order the fish sandwich. Or, stroll on out to the courtyard and pretend you're somewhere in Europe. 

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Fusion
  • Circular Quay

You'll find Lana in Hinchcliff House, at the self-described "urban neighbourhood" of Quay Quarter. It's an Italian-ish up-market osteria heroing fresh seafood with low-waste principles. Seasonality is key at Lana, and head chef Alex Wong’s menu is constantly shifting, leaning on the best available local produce. So, even though the venue’s soul is Italian, you’ll find plenty of Antipodean and Asian flourishes.

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  • Mexican
  • Circular Quay

Circular Quay has a restaurant bar serving up swanky Margaritas and red hot modern Mexican eats. The interiors are inspired by grand Mexican haciendas, complemented by views of Circular Quay and the Harbour Bridge. As the name gives away, the drinks are focused around Patrón, with limited and rare bottles available. Come for fresh tacos featuring freshly pressed corn tortillas and fiery salsas. You'll also be able to order up soups and small plates, enmolada con pollo (mole chicken enchilladas) and taco platters to share. 

  • Australian
  • The Rocks
  • price 4 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

It takes a lot to be the city’s preeminent fine diner, but Quay proves again and again that they deserve the mantle. The fact that their latest iteration has only made it a better dining experience goes to show that even when you’re at the top of your game, there’s always new heights to scale. The king of Sydney fine dining still reigns supreme, and if you've got the cash to splash, this is one spot to add to your bucket list.

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  • Chinese
  • Sydney

They’ll tell you to go for the Peking duck. They’ll tell you it’s a juicy bird with crisp skin and sweet meat. And they’d be right. It is. This is just one of the many roast delights at Mr Wong – a two-level Canto-extravaganza offering everything from fancy dim sum to green beans stir-fried with pork mince and house-made XO sauce. The Wynyard light rail station is right there so you can just pop off to Circular Quay whenever you're ready to revel in the wonder of the Opera House.

  • Japanese
  • The Rocks

There’s no set menu at Izy Aki, not really. Instead, chef-owner Darren Templeman creates an omakase-style menu each day depending on what produce is in season. You’re in very good hands here, with Templeman serving innovative, delicious dishes with Japanese, French and Italian influences. The intimate restaurant is located in the heritage-listed Sailors Home, tucked away in the sandstone of The Rocks. Blink, and you may miss it, which adds to its charm. But don’t actually miss it: head down George Street, and then descend Cadmans Cottage Stairs, and you’ll find Izy Aki.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • Chinese
  • Sydney

Luxe, elegant and a little bit special, pearls are the ocean’s jewel. Pearl is also the name of the elevated Cantonese restaurant that’s now open in Circular Quay by the Lotus Dining Group (Lotus the Galeries, Lotus Barangaroo, Lotus Double Bay). And just like the ocean's shiny lustrous sphere, it's pretty special, too. Located in the Quay Quarter on Bridge and Young Streets, the 84-seat restaurant and bar serves modern takes on the cuisine from China’s Canton province, with influences from Hong Kong, where chef and director of culinary Cheung Shui Yip is from. Expect all the hits: dim sum, fresh seafood, succulent meat, and tasty rice and noodle plates.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Sydney

Penelope's is found in the Quay Quarter Tower and boasts views of the Harbour Bridge. The open space is polished with velvety eggplant-purple and emerald-green seats and brass finishings. It’s by the chef and owner of Hello Auntie and Hey Chu, Cuong Nguyen. At Penelope’s, Nguyen wants to challenge stereotypes and make guests think about what ‘Australian cuisine’ should be. That looks like bakar chicken with garlic toum and turmeric and lemongrass sambal; a prawn cocktail with bush tomato Marie Rose sauce, charred witlof and nuoc cham; and pork and prawn ravioli with a brown butter and sage sauce, which is inspired by the classic wonton. And if you think that sounds yum, you’d be right.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • The Rocks
  • price 2 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

There’s some excitement to be found in this Japanese restaurant and bar. Bar snacks are bite-sized and pack a tasty punch. Salty and often deep-fried, they are perfect accompaniments to the long and potent drink’s list. A hungry group should make a bee-line for the chicken karaage (crunchy crisp-fried pieces of chicken) or the renkon chips – lotus roots that have been lightly fried, sprinkled with coarse rock salt and served with edamame dip. If you’re rolling two deep, opt for the melt-in-your-mouth teriyaki burger balls.

  • Sydney

There are stories. Mysteries. Legends. And they’re all surrounding the window seats at this stunning Quayside locale. We’ve heard of people talking up terminal fatal illness to nab one. Others try the old ‘I’m a very important friend of owners Matt Moran and Pete Sullivan’. Some just happen to get very lucky when they book. So would you fake a serious (though presumably non-contagious) illness to get prime position here? Maybe, if you’d seen the backdrop of Sydney Harbour, the Bridge and the Opera House.

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  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Sydney

Aster Bar is found on level 32 of the InterContinenal Sydney, which recently underwent a whopping $120 million facelift. And while you will need a reservation to take a seat at this bar, you absolutely should. Why? Because Aster boasts some of – if not the – best views in Sydneytown. Think sweeping vistas of the Harbour, Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens. We have had a Negroni here and let us tell you – life's good at Aster.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Cocktail bars
  • The Rocks

Finding a good Irish bar in Sydney is like searching for a four-leaf clover: hard to find but you’re lucky if you do. Frank Mac’s gin and cocktail bar is close to the top of our list, with its heritage charm, extensive gin list and one of the largest botanical collections in Sydney.

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Melissa Woodley
Travel & News Editor, Time Out Australia
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  • Cafés
  • Circular Quay

The mega food court is home to more than 25 different cafés and takeaway joints. You'll find cheap Thai maestroes Chat Thai, Indian street food by Billu's, sweet treats from Messina, crumbed goodness from Schnitz, warming laska from Hawker Star Malaysian Kitchen and much more in the Circular Quay compound. 

  • Wine bars
  • Circular Quay

If the Great British Museum and a wine bar had a love child, Bar Messenger would be it. Art Deco interiors and Australian wines are the name of the game at the swanky bar that's found in Circular QuayAs it stands, Sydnersiders love a good hidden bar and the novelty of the entrance to this one will not disappoint. A sultry greek painting marks the spot – once you press the buzzer and pull the artwork aside, you won’t be sure if you’ve stepped into the hallway of a dimly lit gallery or bar. The paintings are quirky, the tables are marble and the intimacy of the cushioned booths will make you forget where you are. It’s only fitting that Bar Messenger is all housed in the charm of one of Sydney’s most historic buildings.

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Caitlyn Todoroski
Contributor
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  • Cocktail bars
  • Circular Quay

There’s a lot of history in the walls of 10 Bulletin Place, Sydney. Now, 10 Bulletin Place is home to Bar 1880 – a speakeasy-type bar that pays homage to its history and exudes character and charm in spades. Come for 'forgotten’ cocktails with cheese and charcuterie, and enjoy alfresco out the front.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Bars
  • Sydney

This neon-lit Bridge Lane bar is all about smashing together rock'n'roll aesthetics with Japanese food. Kid Kyoto – the third venue from Sam Prince, who is also behind the nearby Indu and Mejico – has taken inspiration from Nirvana lyrics and (there's a giant sign fluorescent sign bearing 'Come As You Are') and is dishing out an Izakaya-style menu. 

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