Darling Harbour is definitely one of Sydney's most visitor-heavy areas, packed with hotels, attractions, exhibitions and ways to while away a day in the city. When you need to refuel for more adventures these are the restaurants Darling Harbour is known for. For more dining inspiration, check out our guide to the best Newtown restaurants, Surry Hills restaurants and Bondi restaurants.
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The best Darling Harbour restaurants
Let’s get something straight: Sepia is a fancy restaurant, but there is nothing pretentious about it, and therein lies its magic. You aren’t given a moment to even consider resisting being completely looked after – that’s how things are done here. The interior boasts an Art Deco theme – it’s classic. The menu, in contrast, is not. Martin Benn is right on the cutting edge of food right now. Correction: Benn has been on the cutting edge of food for a couple of years; it’s just that the world hadn’t noticed until recently.
It pays to take a closer look at the tourist districts of our city, because every now and again you unearth gold from under the mountain of clippy koala souvenirs. Take King Street Wharf, for example. If you dismiss it as a tourist trap you’ll only be denying yourself all the harbourfront beers and good times on offer at the Sydney outlet of Beer DeLuxe. In yet another case of good Melbourne things coming to Sydney (Belle’s Hot Chicken, we’re looking at you), the craft beer fanatics behind Beer DeLuxe have taken over a space right at the north end of King Street wharf, just before Barangaroo begins, and have set up a two-level temple to fermented fun.
For the last 50 years the Malaya Restaurant has been serving up a mix of traditional and contemporary Malaysian cuisine on King Street Wharf. This is where you go for satay chicken, crab sang choi bow, prawn laksa, curries and Szechuan eggplant. Fill your belly with South East Asian spice as the sun sets behind the city.
Ribs! Ribs! Ribs! And bibs! For plenty of messy, barbecue-y fun and not much cash, Hurricanes is a goer. You can smell it from across the water, and while it may not be the most elegant dinner on the cards, once you're chin deep in a full rack of pork ribs slathered in sweet and sour barbecue sauce, you won't care.
Jimmy's Margaritaville has moved on to more tropical climes and in its place we have the Port, a spacious seaside oasis that's all about cold drinks and fresh seafood in chic surrounds. The playlist will jump from Bossa Nova to the Beastie Boys while you kick back on outdoor lounges overlooking Darling Harbour. The interior is as fresh as new sheets and does a good job of making you feel like you're miles from the office. We're talking the full coastal experience - blonde timber, white and mint tiles and a whole lot of greenery. It's open and breezy and if necessity brings you to this corner of the city there are definitiely worse places to sit by the water, drink a frozen wine cocktail and eat a plate of crisp school prawns, flash fried and dipped in seafood sauce.
Ah, Cargo Bar – the old faithful of the King Street Wharf drinking holes. Cargo Bar isn’t quirky, it isn’t unique, and it isn’t bringing anything new to write home to mum about. But what Cargo Bar does do well is tick all the boxes if you want a dependable venue to wet your whistle and line your tummy. It's got the harbourside location – tick. It's got the kind of stylishly inoffensive décor that blends into the background and is happy to play second fiddle to the views of Sydney Harbour – tick again. It’s also got a well-rounded wine list, plenty of beers on tap and a damn fine cocktail list. There are worse things in the world than to nab yourself a table at Cargo Bar on a sunny afternoon, share an antipasto platter or pizza and make a dent in the cocktail list.
Blackbird boasts an extensive Modern Australian menu that includes grain fed rib eye steaks stone oven pizzas, salads and creative desserts. They also have an extensive cocktail menu that may include some flaring if you time it right. Plus there are DJ sets on Friday and Saturday nights so all your Darling Harbour party needs are sorted in one spot, located in Cockle Bay Wharf.
More Darling Harbour highlights
Many of our big attractions are found along the waterline at Darling Harbour, so we put together a guide on the best bits of this visitor-friendly part of the city, from top ticketed exhibitons and natural wonders to drinking and dining spots to keep your energy up for a day out in the city.
More fun times in Sydney
Sydney’s a beautiful place to live and a glorious city to visit. We’ve picked out 20 things to do in Sydney at least once, from kayaking on the harbour and cocktails with a view to our favourite weekly markets, the best underground restaurant in the city and where to get your culture fix. Take a read and get cracking on that ultimate to do list.