Cheap hacks for fancy places
Hack: Go for apéritif
Getting a table at this five-star French diner ain't easy (but it is well worth it) and it's not cheap (again, worth it though). If you're low on the cash flow, head in early and sidle up at the bar from 4-6pm and you can order a shiraz, riesling or G&T for just five bones or a $10 Negroni (they're usually $22), along with a cut-price bar snack menu, which includes $3 devilled eggs, $5 pâté and a $10 burger.
Hack: The five-star set-menu and lunch special
David Thompson has brought his Long Chim empire to Sydney to stoke the flames of our South East Asian eats. Order up the $45 set menu, which is a best of hit list from the greater menu. Or you can pop in for a bargain $25 lunch combo. Choose a bowl of noodles, a salad or even a curry with rice and they'll throw in a signature Thai soda, beer or glass of wine.
Hack: Delfino Aperitivo
The Dolphin already has some well priced belly fillers, but every Sunday they up the stakes with this happy hour. Each week they invite a chef to come in and prep bite-sized versions of some of their signature dishes – one week you may enjoying fried chicken sandwiches from the Los Angeles-based Louis Tikram, the next Franklin's Analiese Gregory is serving up fresh Tasmanian abalone.
Hack: The markets
There are two options here. First of all, did you know you can just hit up Billy Kwong for a few snacks at the bar? Well you can. Walk on it and order a serve of dumplings, a side of native greens and a glass of Project wine and your dinner is set. Wanna go even cheaper? Hit up Carriageworks Farmers Markets on Saturdays to try Billy Kwong food at a fraction of the cost. Try the giant pork bun – you’ll be lost forever in that hot, oily, amazing chilli sauce.
Hack: Head in for lunch
For one of the best restaurants in Sydney, this joint ain’t actually that pricey (normally it’s a set menu of five – brilliant – courses for $95). At lunch though, they’ll do you three-courses for $60, so you can drink an extra glass of natural wine from their carefully curated wine list.
Hack: The aperitivo hour
This slick rooftop terrace and dining room embraces the Italian tradition, dishing out snacks and aperitivo drinks every weekday from 3-6pm. Order up $10 Aperol, Negroni, Peroni, prosecco or Espresso Martinis, along with $10 antipasti favourites of pizza and salumi.
Hack: Check out Baretto
Been hanging to try Pilu’s famous suckling pig but can’t raise the coin? Then get down to Pilu at breakfast or lunchtime; skip past the fancy gate to the restaurant and head into Baretto (formely call the Kiosk) café next door. There you can get the same pig shredded up and stuffed between Sonoma sourdough with mayo, fresh slices of fennel and peppery rocket for $15.50. Ask for it toasted – trust us.
Hack: The bar
You can sit up in the restaurant proper for the full Bentley shebang, or down in the cheap seats in the bar for a more casual affair. It’s the same food though, cooked by the same chefs, so what’s the difference? The price, that’s what. Try the best darn pastrami sandwich of your life in the form of the Bentley Sandwich, go a side of those famous chips or try their house-cured meats. Regardless of what you do, it’s going to be a feast.
Hack: The breakfast
Situated in the historic Yellow building at the Paris end of Macleay Street, it’s hard to find a more delightful restaurant in Sydney than Yellow. They’ve gone veggo for their evening service, but meat is still on the menu at the weekend brunch. Prices are pretty fair here anyway, but that brekky is extraordinary value – we’re talking about the best breakfast in Sydney, people.
Unless you have the metabolism of a nine-year-old and the finances of a Kardashian, you never stand a chance against Sydney's ferocious dining machine. The openings just don't stop – and ain't nobody got time to keep on top of what's what. Except us, of course. Behold: our definitive eat-and-destroy list.