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The outside of Pellegrino 2000 with a leafy tree
Photograph: credit/Katje Ford

The 32 best restaurants in Surry Hills

Your ultimate guide to this stretch of prime Sydney restaurant real estate

Maxim Boon
Avril Treasure
Written by
Maxim Boon
&
Avril Treasure
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Leafy and buzzing Surry Hills might just be the neighbourhood with the very best of what this city has to offer in terms of eating and drinking. Whether it’s homestyle, hole-in-the-wall Indonesian or an all-out chef’s menu from a kitchen with nothing but open flames, each and every price point and palate is catered to on these streets, from the fringe of the city down to the bottom of Crown. Time Out Sydney's editors and critics, including Food & Drink Writer Avril, have chosen their favourite picks from the 2010 postcode. Go forth and eat well. 

After a bargain? Check out Sydney’s best cheap eats

Surry Hills restaurants

  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Surry Hills

There are certain dishes that stick in your head, like a catchy pop tune that you find yourself humming for days after hearing a snippet on the radio. These dishes can be few and far between, but when you find one, it’s almost impossible to stop thinking about it. Jane, the little sister to chef Tristan Rosier's Arthur, provides more than one of these catchy dishes. Come try for yourself.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Surry Hills

If the sign of an excellent restaurant is that you can’t stop thinking about it after you’ve left, then Pellegrino 2000 is the cream of the crop, offering banging food, attentive and warm service, and a dining room that you won’t want to say arrivederci to. It may take an attempt or two to finally secure a reservation, and it may be at 5.30pm, but it’s absolutely worth it. And whatever you do, don’t skip the bread and butter. 

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills
  • price 1 of 4

What can be said about Spice I Am that hasn’t been said already? For nearly two decades, this literal hole in the wall has been putting the ‘A’ in authenticity when it comes to Thai cooking, serving up ferociously fiery som tum, tom kha and a host of other signatures that will have you wiping your eyebrows and reaching for that milky iced tea, or whatever bottle you BYO'd.

  • Restaurants
  • Australian
  • Surry Hills

There may not be electricity in the Firedoor kitchen, but that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of power. Helmed by Lennox Hastie – the visionary chef who spent years honing his signature style of cooking with fire in the Basque country at Asador Extebarri – Firedoor celebrates how ingredients at their peak transform thanks to billows of smoke, burning wood and a lick from the open flame. This is real culinary wizardry, and a coveted spot at the chef’s counter is the best place to watch the magic happen.

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  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills

What Nomad may lack in intimacy, with its cavernous spaces and industrial-chic-cum-Nordic fitout, it certainly makes up for in warmth: by way of food from the heart, friendly service and enough garlicky aromas to take any first date to a next-level relationship.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Sydney

Mitch Orr plays to his strengths at his latest venture, creating enough show-stopping flavours to match the ace location. We say come with a group of friends, order a bunch of snacks – the tomato and ricotta tartlet; market fish crudo; and Jatz with anchovy and smoked butter, of course – with fine drops, and settle in for a memorable evening at this new Sydney hotspot.

Hugo Mathers
Freelance Contributor
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Surry Hills

The capacious Crown Street site formerly known as Toko is now the home of Andrew Becher’s latest grand venture, Armorica – a grand, glittering jewel in Sydney’s crown (street). No stranger to dropping a casual few mill on a resplendent refit, this grandiose renewal is as tastefully opulent as one has come to expect from the self-confessed Francophile behind Potts Point’s fine-dining duo Franca and Parlar. Executive chef Jose Saulog's food is spectacular. And, you must-order the chocolate bar.

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Carly Sophia
Contributor
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Surry Hills
  • price 2 of 4

It's all about the details at this tiny, family-owned Korean gem, like the beautiful handcrafted chopsticks. Sure, you'll find fried chicken and bibimbap here, but it pays to branch out and venture bravely into the territory occupied by clam soup or the so-called platter of nine delicacies: a neat little pile of pancakes surrounded by colourful condiments, each one more delicious than the last.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Surry Hills

For the team at the Blue Door, it’s all about giving back more than what they’ve taken. Chef Dylan Cashman’s entire ethos is about grass-roots operations, literally. The ambitious and innovative 24-seat restaurant on Waterloo Street places sustainability on the same rung as deliciousness, and Cashman is as exacting in his ethics as he is in his execution. The local flair doesn't stop at the food though. The Blue Door's wine list is curated by general manager (and ray-of-sunshine incarnate) Angelica Nohra, and is almost entirely Australian, heavily focusing on the diversity of wine from all over NSW. The Blue Door is one to not miss (and you sure as heck won't, with the aforementioned blue door).

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Surry Hills

'Copains' means 'friends' in French, which is an apt name for this gem by longtime mates and chefs Morgan McGlone (culinary director of Potts Point’s Sunday, and founder of Belles Hot Chicken) and Nathan Sasi (the founding chef of Nomad). Sasi’s partner, Sali, is also co-owner. Friends since their paths crossed in 2010, the duo long dreamed about opening a little wine bar where they could catch up and enjoy good bottles of natural wine. In late 2022, that’s exactly what they did. And while Copains is a wine bar first, restaurant second, McGlone and Sasi’s menu is no afterthought, serving the kind of seriously tasty food that one dreams of (speaking from experience). Whether you've got a date night, or catch-up with a mate, come here. 

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Surry Hills
  • price 1 of 4

The Dolphin now has a dedicated in-house pizza kitchen. It boasts a handmade Neapolitan Mesiano wood oven, a dough recipe made of three types of Italy-imported flours, and the masterful hands of head pizzaiola Sasha Smiljanic, who previously led the kitchen at popular Newtown pizzeria Bella BruttaIn a raised corner of the main dining room, like an all-night on-stage performance, pizza bases are scattered with toppings, flashed in the oven and swept to your table in about ten minutes. The crust is wide, puffy and charred with cracked black bubbles, the type you feel could be torn off, stacked up, and served as a sumptuous stand-alone dish.

Hugo Mathers
Freelance Contributor
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Surry Hills

Like Egypt’s soaring pyramids and Miley Cyrus’s ‘Flowers’, the Gilda is a masterpiece. Consisting of a vinegary guindilla pepper, a plump briny olive and salty anchovy all held together on a tiny stick, the best-known of all Spain’s pintxos is a flavour knock-out. At Gildas, Lennox Hastie’s second Sydney restaurant after can’t-get-a-booking Firedoor, the chefs have put their own touch on arguably the world’s greatest snack, adding a sliver of cheek-sucking preserved lemon. The result, like we said, is a masterpiece. Couple that with a handsome dining room, on-point service and other stellar plates, and we reckon Gildas is a triumph.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills

We first fell in love with Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate back at Bodega, where they married Spanish tapas and rockabilly sensibility, forever changing Sydney’s dining scene. They one-upped themselves with Porteño, an Argentinian grill that threw down the gauntlet for carnivorous thrills in this city. Now in its second life, down on Holt Street, the restaurant remains a knockout – as much for malbec, rib-eye, sirloin and Wagyu skirt as for wood-fired vegetables and desserts drenched in dulce de leche.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Surry Hills

By now, you’ve surely had a tipple (or five) at sepia-hued cocktail bar the Rover. But did you know there’s an excellent British-inspired seafood bistro located on the top floor? We know Surry Hills isn’t the first place you think of when you imagine seafood, but trust us, the Rover slings produce so fresh it’s as if it's just been plucked from the ocean. Take for example, the seafood plate for one, which comes with Merimbula oysters, raw scallops, triger prawns and mussels, served with a trio of Champagne mignonette, wakame mayo and Marie Rose sauce. We say head here for a fresh dinner, and then stroll downstairs for an evening cocktail. Oh, and the game-changing fisherman’s pie with smoked trout and potato gratin is a must-order.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Surry Hills

A slick restaurant by the Nomad crew has landed in Surry Hills. Expect to find a 300-strong wine list with 25 drops by the glass ranging from wines on tap, to fancy ones served from Coravin (a nifty tool to serve wine without removing the cork, allowing it to be preserved longer), plus rare and funky wines for those who like to spice things up. And because this is a Nomad venue after all, the flavour in each dish packs a punch. Beau is a great date night spot in our books. 

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Surry Hills

With its hypercolour walls in earthy vermillion hues, green amaro bottles and an open kitchen that dominates the space, Bastardo’s dining room is a step back in time. Either to a coastal Italian villa in the 1960s or, perhaps, to Commonwealth Street in the early noughties, when Milgate, Abrahanowicz and Valore first swung open the doors to Bodega. This Sicilian, Argentinian and Italian love letter is all heart, and all Surry Hills.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Sydney
  • price 3 of 4

There are many things to love about this bunker-like fine diner. The fact that it is really affordable is one thing. That the food is beautiful to look at (and even better to eat) is another. And there’s also that feeling you get when you’re scaling the stairs to below street level, chic Nordic wooden furnishings all around, Ella Fitzgerald on the stereo, staff only too keen to make you comfortable. It’s just a lovely place to be.

  • Restaurants
  • Middle Eastern
  • Surry Hills
  • price 3 of 4

Whether it's charred and juicy cabbage skewers dressed in a harissa emulsion or a riff on lamb tartare livened by fermented mushrooms, roasted chilli and preserved lime – Nour paints an incredibly detail-oriented picture of modern Middle Eastern cuisine that's about as refined as it gets. The adventure begins the moment you step off Crown Street and into this pastel-hued sensory wonderland and gets a a whole heck of a lot wilder after an arak cocktail or two. 

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  • Bars
  • Wine bars
  • Surry Hills

The jury is still out as to whether Poly is a wine bar or a restaurant, but the fact that it’s close to impossible to come here without succumbing to the temptations of the menu and ordering half of it pretty much confirms you can (and should) use it as the latter. Start small, with unforgettable anchovy toast or the signature fried potato sauced in salted egg, but don’t hesitate to splurge on a magnum of something funky and a barbecue snapper with native spices and brown butter.

 

  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Surry Hills

Chef-owner Tristan Rosier's smart updates to comforting flavour combinations offer intriguing surprises along the way at Arthur. Add a good-value all-Aussie list of natural-leaning vino, smart service and the dining room's glorious golden glow, and it all becomes a package deal that's very hard to resist.

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Surry Hills

You won’t be able to find a website for Kood. That’s because the Korean tea café and kitchen doesn’t have one. Or a phone number, for that matter. Instagram? Forget about it. What you will find, though, if you happen to stroll past 414 Elizabeth Street around lunchtime, is a line nearly snacking out the door. Hungry workers waiting to be served by a smiling Korean lady working out of a teapot-sized kitchen. They come for authentic Korean food that's a flavour bomb. Think soul food at its best. And, this bowl costs just $16.50.

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Avril Treasure
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out Sydney
  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills

Some might argue that izakayas are places where great food plays second fiddle to bending the elbow, but that’s not the case at Fujiyama. Yes, the stockpile of sake and other fine things to drink is very good, but the eats – be they expertly sliced pieces of sashimi, favourites like chicken gyoza and miso eggplant, or something from the list of specials – are outstanding. It’s stood the test of time in this competitive ’hood, and if the crowds are any indication, it’s not going anywhere. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Spanish
  • Surry Hills
  • price 2 of 4

From the team that brought you Porteño, Bodega 1904 and had a helping hand in LP's, Bella Brutta, Stanbuli and the Continental Delis, Wyno is, strictly speaking, a wine bar. However, vintages aside, the bites here are easily as good as the bottles. The garlicky toasts forming the base for its signature fish fingers (no, not the breaded and frozen kind), land warm and charred, topped with raw kingfish and a sharp cuttlefish ceviche. Dark, Basque-style cheesecake – a crustless thing baked extra-hot to set the shape – sits proudly on the counter, ready to be cut and dressed with sweet, sticky preserved cumquats, and the salt-crusted, handsome, impossibly flavourful focaccia, served hot from Wyno's sister bakery up the street, is some of the best crumb in town.

  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills

Chin Chin is sprawled out over two levels of the historic Griffiths Teas building. It’s a noisy, neon-flooded affair with room for 160 and a giant menu that fuses Thailand’s greatest hits with Australian and Southeast Asian flourishes. Add killer cocktails, well-priced wines and bountiful banquet menus to the equation and you’ve got yourself a big night ahead.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Surry Hills

Gogyo's kogashi (read: burnt AF) ramen is one of Sydney's must-try dishes, full stop. Yet to focus on the merits of this trademark charred miso and chicken stock number alone would be a crime, because the classic tonkotsu, shoyu and shio broths are all standouts as well. Throw in a handful of inspired snacks like guacamole with gyoza skin and seared salmon sushi, and it becomes clear this ain't just another ramen shop.

  • Restaurants
  • Fusion
  • Surry Hills
  • price 2 of 4

Fusion cuisine has something of a daggy reputation among the culinary cognoscenti, but Nikkei is proof that melding the cooking of two cultures together can very much lead to magic. The cuisine in question here is Nikkei, a combination of Peruvian and Japanese fare that has a long history and has given rise to some of the world's great restaurants. Expect killer pisco cocktails and a colourful collision of flavours.

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  • Restaurants
  • Indonesian
  • Darling Harbour

You could be forgiven for thinking that the constant crowds at Medan Ciak are due to the fact that everything costs under $20. That might, indeed, be part of the reason. The other is the outstanding Medan fare – porky fried rice and salty-sweet noodles that wouldn’t be out of place on a Malaysian menu – you’d expect to find on the streets of the North Sumatran capital. Simply put, this is one of Sydney’s best Indonesian restaurants.

Vacanza
  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills

They're firm believers in the less-is-more mantra at this Bourke Street pizzeria, which earned rave reviews in Bronte before opening this second outlet in 2012. The crisp, thin bases are very legit and they fly the buffalo mozzarella in fresh from Naples, which is a pretty good indication that sourcing ingredients here is serious business. A seat out on the sidewalk makes for primo people-watching, and there's the added bonus of it being BYO.

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  • Bars
  • Surry Hills

Before plant-based eateries of all shapes and sizes began popping up on every corner, there was Yulli's. They paint with broad strokes, incorporating influences from here, there and everywhere: kale and saltbush gyoza, edamame and coconut moneybags; and Korean fried broccolini are just some of the things you'll find. And being that this is where was Yulli's Brews was born, make sure you order a beer.

Osteria Emilia
  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills

Emilia is a refuge for Italian pasta purists – enter, and you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon a rustic local treasure in the backstreets of Parma or Bologna. All the pastas are made in-house with the use of local, certified organic and/or biodynamic ingredients, and whether it's a simple spag with aglio, olio e peperoncino, or duck and truffle tortelli coated in butter and herbs, the quality of those ingredients is what really shines. When you’re through, buy some to make at home.   

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Surry Hills
  • price 2 of 4

Melburnian pizza lovers worth their salt will be well acquainted with top-flight pizzeria and mozzarella bar chain DOC. With three outlets currently operating in Melbourne, including its flagship store and deli nestled in the heart of the city's Italian food district on Lygon Street in Cartlon, DOC has become a go-to for authentic Italian cuisine, heroing high-quality produce, superb antipasti, and a fast, no-fuss vibe. Now, Sydney’s pizza seekers can also join the DOC fan club, as its first store in NSW has opened for business in Surry Hills.

 

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Surry Hills

Spaghetti and Spritzes: are there any two things more possibly in tune with eating and drinking in this day and age? Well yes, yes there are: vegetarian and vegan cooking, menu puns, restaurant interiors and bright blue noodles perfectly suited to social media, and alcohol-free drinks that might just be better than the hard stuff. Mark and Vinny’s offers them all, under one roof, but know that if you’re just after antipasti, lasagne and tiramisù, Mark and and Vinny’s has them, too. 

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