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Spaghetti prawns at Fratelli Paradiso
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Restaurants without a set menu for Valentine's Day

Want the romance without the set price tag? Check out these ace Sydney diners

By Time Out editors
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Whether you love or loathe Valentine's Day it rolls around every February 14 without fail, and Sydney restaurants capitalise on the day by dishing out set menus with hefty price tags. If  still want to dine out on Valentine's Day but want to be able to choose what you eat, we've rounded up a bunch of the best spots to go that stick to a full a la carte menu on V-Day. 

Want to impress with flowers instead? Check out our guide to Sydney's best boutique florists.

Feel like a drink? Here is our guide to the best bars in Sydney.

Restaurants without a set menu for Valentine's Day

1. 10 William Street

Restaurants Italian Paddington

If Italo snacks and funky wines are your jam head into 10 William for Valentine's Day. The full a la carte menu will be on offer and you're certain to feel a touch more romantic after a glass of blushing Sicilian Suscaru from Frank Cornelissen alongside a bowl of ragu pappardelle. Full disclosure – it will be very busy with other lovers. 

2. Porteno

Restaurants Surry Hills

Why not extend your general love of Argentinean dining over open flames and make it a night of love all around, because these guys won't force you into a set menu when you're trying ot impress your bae. 

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3. Fratelli Paradiso

Restaurants Potts Point

This Italian institution will be dishing out all the favourites – risotto all’Ametriciana, lasagne, calamari fritti, bresaola and tiramasu – all night long. Note that there's no reservations – so slip in early or try coming a little later if you want a chance on V-Day. 

4. Continental Deli Bar Bistro Newtown

Restaurants Newtown

It's already a primo date spot, but the fact that you can rder your cheeses, cured meats, tinned seafood and excellent wines as you see fit on Valentine's Day only makes this more of a going concern. 

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5. Spice Temple

Restaurants Sydney

Rather than choosing some airy harbourside venue with Opera House views, why not head to Neil Perry's special subterranean temple of spice. You'll find a menu that roams China from Sichuan to Yunnan to Guangxi. The service is breezy yet professional, and if you don't want to sit down straight away there's a bar out the front serving cocktails named after the animals of the Chinese zodiac. 

6. The Apollo

Restaurants Greek Elizabeth Bay

Maybe Greek food is the food of love this year, but the hot tip here is don’t order everything, as much as you’ll want to. You will leave Apollo uncomfortably full. The set menu is a good call from both a budget and 'best of' perspective, but you can go your own way just as easily.

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7. The Unicorn Hotel

Bars Paddington

We all know that more love is found in a pub than a restaurant, so why not head to this Oxford Street boozer on Valentine's Day? Forgo any air of fanciness and celebrate romance over a golden brown schnitzel, a beer and a round of pool. 

8. Cho Cho San

Restaurants Japanese Potts Point

Cho Cho San has what is quite possibly the most beautiful restaurant interior in Sydney, which makes it a top notch spot for the day of love. Inspired by the izakayas of Japan, it has plenty of snacks, raw options and meats cooked over coals, and the drinks list is as impressive as the food.

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A plate of cured meats
Photograph: Jason Loucas

9. Rosetta Ristorante

Restaurants Italian The Rocks

Rosetta spreads out over three levels with a split-level bar, a crudo and mozzarella bar, and a 60-person outdoor terrace with harbour views. The sprawling space means you've got a decent chance of getting a table (even on one of the busiest dining days of the year) and you can order up vitello tonnato, osso bucco and cotoletta alongside Bellinis, Negronis and Italian beers.

Want more great date night options?

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