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Photograph: Anna Kucera

The best restaurants in Sydney right now

Here are our editors' picks of the best restaurants in Sydney – from cheap eats to fine dining, and everything in between

Written by
Alice Ellis
,
Elizabeth McDonald
&
Maxim Boon
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February 2023 update: With warmer days and nights having embraced Sydney, it feels like a proper (muggy) summer, and dining-out season is in full swing. People are out and about, and street-side dining is being encouraged by a new City of Sydney policy. Find a spot with cover, since the weather still has a tendency to be wet! Our recommendation: it's best to book in advance at the most popular spots right now.

Here's our list of Time Out's best places to dine in Sydney right now, from hot newcomers to time-honoured institutions, ranked by our expert local editors. How did we narrow it down? When ranking, we considered fun, flavour, creativity and value for money – at every price point. So yes, of course, you’ll find a fine diner inside the Opera House here, but you’ll find neighbourhood pizza, hole-in-the-wall Thai and lunch-only ramen, too. Bon appétit. 

After something more casual? Check out our favourite cafes in Sydney. And our list of the best cheap eats.

The best restaurants in Sydney

  • Restaurants
  • Sydney

What is it? An exploration of the Turkish coastline by the all-star crew behind the celebrated Nour. Aalia is so spesh that it won Best Fine Dining Restaurant in our Time Out Sydney Food & Drink Awards 2022. Executive chef Paul Farag dances between the flavours and ingredients of his own Egyptian background while turning the screw on preconceived notions of Middle Eastern fare.

Why we love it: The regional Turkish dishes are so complex in execution that a crash-course tutorial by your waiter is required, with delicious results. Exceptional dishes are matched by an exceptional wine list by sommelier Eleonore Wulf, showcasing largely Australian winemakers with a few hops abroad to Lebanon and France for good measure. Just as elegant as the libations is the venue itself, thanks to architect Matt Darwon.

  • Restaurants
  • Australian
  • The Rocks

What is it? A supreme fine diner, and a world-class culinary experience in almost every respect.

Why we love it: Where to begin? Perhaps the dress-circle harbour views? Or the exquisite works of art on each and every plate? The custom-made crockery? The cornucopia of produce grown exclusively for the restaurant? The service team’s unrivalled professionalism? Some restaurants are engineered for special occasions and totally worth the splurge – this is most definitely one of them.

Time Out tip: Historically, cruise ships sometimes obstructed the Opera House, but in current times there's nothing to get in the way of planning a picture-perfect marriage proposal. 

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  • Restaurants
  • European
  • Newtown
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A permanent Inner West site for one of the city’s most beloved chefs, spruiking clever cross-cultural share plates as well as a dynamite list of natural wines. 

Why we love it: Paci treads that fine line between European-style wine bar and casual restaurant that Sydneysiders know and love. It's brought to life by a young, energetic service team. And you’ve got to applaud a place with enough moxie to put steak Diane back on the menu in this day and age.

Time Out tip: Chef-owner Pasi Petänen’s signature dessert – sticky licorice cake topped with sweet carrot sorbet, all concealed in a cloud of creamy yoghurt mousse – is unmissable.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Darling Harbour

What is it? You will find no sombreros here, nor will you find a zig-zagged taco stand. The words ‘California’ and ‘Baja’ are but a distant memory from the moment you ascend the staircase, leaving Clarence Street behind and landing firmly in an Oaxacan casa. The soaring chamber of a converted CBD warehouse is one of a series of new openings by the Milpa Collective – the newcomer hospitality powerhouse sweeping across Sydney on a mission to showcase the very best of regional Mexican cuisine.

Why we love it: Build your own bites on hand-pressed tortillas, swaddled lovingly in a linen cloth and piled high with perfectly cooked, lightly charred and tender sirloin. A saccharine sweet mango salsa is balanced by earthy and warmly spiced chichilo mole, a bitter 400 year old secret recipe that blends cocoa beans and cinnamon. Whack a little piquant green salsa on top and you’re in for a very good time. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Prospect

What is it? Phil Wood has new digs and very big shoes to fill. The former Guillaume and Darcy’s local now serves up clean, elegant and flavourful comfort food.

Why we love it: Before skipping town to commandeer the culinary program at Pt. Leo Estate on the Mornington Peninsula, Wood manned the pans under Neil Perry in Sydney for the best part of a decade, as the executive chef at Rockpool and its short-lived successor, Eleven Bridge. In those kitchens, he melded Asian flavours, top-drawer Australian produce and high-wire French technique with an often extraordinary degree of finesse. In this one, where he’s playing the chef-owner role for the first time (along with partner in business and life, Lis Davies), the motifs are not dissimilar, but the end results are far less tightly wound.

Time Out tip: Brioche rolls make for an excellent mop for cacio e pepe. Mmmm...

  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Chippendale

What is it? A reliable favourite for dishes with a point of difference, given love in the wood-fired oven.

Why we love it: Sooo many things to love! The fermented potato bread with kefir cream and dashi jelly, those blood sausage sangas, that ice cream fashioned from yesterday’s sourdough bread – some of the dishes that take top billing on the Sydney dining dance card, with very good reason. 

Time Out tip: There’s never a bad time to be at Ester, but if there’s a best time, it’s Sunday lunch, when sunlight spills into the bare-bones room. Be warned: one bottle of funked-up natty wine can turn into three in a flash.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • Bondi Beach

What is it? An elegant and refined all-season Med eatery with stunning views and equally beautiful interiors.

Why we love it: Mediterranean by the sea isn't exactly groundbreaking for Bondi, however this beauty is the perfect setting for lunch – rain, hail or shine. The interior is textural and moody and morphs beautifully based on whether it's a sunny day or rainy weather. 

Time Out tip: Have a drink at the bar before lunch and toss back a dozen fresh-shucked oysters while you're at it.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Paddington

What is it? Certainly Sydney’s – and, dare we say, Australia’s – most revolutionary seafood restaurant, helmed by superstar chef Josh Niland.

Why we love it: The new chef’s counter format has transformed the squeezy Oxford Street space and makes for a more dramatic and interactive way to enjoy the wizardry on display – think terrine made from coral trout head, striped marlin ‘nduja, dry-aged mahi mahi, and even chips made from fish eyes. 

Time Out tip: While the refurb has greatly enhanced the overall experience, the set-up suits groups of two far better than threes or fours. Choose your dining companion wisely.

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  • Restaurants
  • Australian
  • Surry Hills

What is it? Hyper-seasonal plates of premium produce and pristine proteins from a kitchen powered solely by firewood and open flames.

Why we love it: More and more chefs are cooking with fire these days, but none pull it off like Lennox Hastie and his team. They pinpoint what makes ingredients sing – whether it’s an asparagus spear or a 200+ day dry-aged beef rib – and heighten your respect for the subtleties of cooking in the process.

Time Out tip: The bar is the best place to sit, so you can watch Hastie in action.

  • Restaurants
  • Australian
  • Sydney

What is it? The flagship CBD fine diner from superstar chef-sommelier duo Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt.

Why we love it: Wildly creative flavour combinations that perpetually push the boundaries of 'Australian food', and one of the country’s standout wine lists, have kept Bentley high on almost every ‘Best Of’ list since the doors swung open at the Surry Hills original. Fourteen years on, it’s still kicking goals. 

Time Out tip: Prefer not to strap in for the full tasting-menu experience? Pull up a pew at the bar for schmick small plates and a glass of something glorious instead.

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  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Stanmore

What is it? One of Australia’s most cherished restaurants, tucked away in an unassuming Stanmore corner terrace.

Why we love it: Even though this is about as big-ticket as restaurants get, the intimate and unpretentious mood will make you feel right at home. Chef Dan Puskas hits it for six with the onslaught of single-bite snacks that kick off his considered tasting menu, and follows it through to the end with his stupidly good signature dessert: a housemade mead vinegar custard with raspberries and strawberry consommé. 

Time Out tip: Summon the pros for assistance with the wine list, which is packed with treasures.

  • Restaurants
  • Bondi Beach

What is it? The beachside benchmark for ‘paddock to plate’ dining, now nearing its third decade of operation. 

Why we love it: Every Tom, Dick and Harriet focuses on the local, seasonal and sustainable these days, but chef-owner Sean Moran was something of a visionary when he opened this Bondi stayer in 1993. His roast chook is the epitome of comfort food, and the room’s coastal kitschiness never gets tired.

Time Out tip: A long Sunday lunch on a sunny summer’s day is the ticket here – and with a reasonable $25 corkage fee, it pays to bring a special bottle along with you.

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  • Restaurants
  • Darling Harbour
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? A glassed-in box at the end of a Pyrmont wharf showcasing a show-stopping collision of Japanese and Italian influences.

Why we love it: It might fly a bit under the radar compared to some of the other heavy hitters on this list, but ask a handful of big-name chefs where they’d head on a night off, and it’s a guarantee that LuMi will come up. Simply put, there’s no other top-end restaurant tasting menu quite like it.

Time Out tip: Prepare yourself for rich dishes, and don’t eat much beforehand – this is no-holds-barred territory.

  • Restaurants
  • Sri Lankan
  • Darlinghurst

What is it? An inner-city bolthole dishing up hoppers, sambols and cooked-to-order curries with profound depth of flavour, all made from a kaleidoscope of spices, ground and roasted in-house. 

Why we love it: Even if you’ve dined at LFS a dozen times, chef-owner O Tama Carey’s vibrant, visceral cooking keeps you coming back. From the tang of the acharu pickles to the bold-as-hell black curry and eye-openingly fragrant love cake, it’s hard to think of more exciting food in Sydney right now.

Time Out tip: The unbeatable Crab Curry banquet ($75pp) has developed a serious cult following and takes place on the last Sunday of every month. Book well ahead.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Newtown

What is it? Outstanding dishes that explore fermentation with polished service and fascinating wine.

Why we love it: The lauded Happy Chef space on King Street has finally seen its better day. Odd Culture Newtown is a two-level craft beer, natural wine and ferment-happy diner from the group that brought us the Oxford Tav, the Old Fitz and the Duke of Enmore. With friends like that, you know it's going to be all killer, no filler. There's even a sister venue just a few doors down that sells amazing natural wine and wild ales that you can take home or drink over dinner.

Time Out tip: Order the fish on toast, then order it again.

  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Sydney

What is it? The Swillhouse Group's beast of a brasserie, in a CBD basement bathed in OTT Belle Époque detail. It was the People's Choice Favourite Restaurant in our Time Out Food & Drink Awards 2022.

Why we love it: Hubert isn’t afraid to lean into the cheeky, tricked-up theatrics that make for a night to remember. Fortunately, food quality and service smarts aren’t sacrificed in the process. This is the total package, topped off with stupendous crème caramel that'll stick to your ribs.

Time Out tip: A handful of private dining rooms and larger-than-life mains make this an ideal spot for a group. There's even a cinema you can hire for an all-out shindig.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Surry Hills

What is it? Not quite a bar, not quite a restaurant, this former sports bar at the Norfolk Hotel has had a Spanish-style transformation.

Why we love it: There are few places in Sydney that fill the much-needed void of late night joints to settle in, sip, snack and sip again. What the team at La Salut is able to accomplish out of such a tiny space illustrates how some of the best things in life come out of a tin or a jar and need few embellishments. 

Time Out tip: There are three choices of jamon, served simply on a plate with some crusty bread. Go for the cured pork shoulder.

  • Restaurants
  • Double Bay

What is it? Hospitality veteran Neil Perry has upped stumps and moved on over to Double Bay, with his signature fusion of modern Australian with Asian flavour.

Why we love it: The family vibe at Margaret is palpable, and all the things we love about Perry's cooking are still at the fore. Spectacular aged beef, a whole glass fridge of oysters and specially imported wines you won't find anywhere else.

Time Out tip: Grab yourself a Martini. It's Margaret's favourite (she's Perry's mother, the restaurant's namesake).

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Potts Point
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Real-deal Japanese with a modern twang, anchored by astoundingly delicious yakitori.

Why we love it: Chef-owner Keita Abe established himself as a master of the robata grill when Chaco Bar burst onto the scene in a Darlinghurst bunker half a decade ago. His recent move to roomier quarters in Potts Point finds him painting with broader strokes and putting together a generous tasting menu that’s a testament to his talent.

Time Out tip: Abe is also one of the most revered ramen chefs around, and he’s leading the charge for new-wave noodle soups at the original site, now Chaco Ramen.

  • Restaurants
  • Sydney

What is it? A longstanding, harbourside fine-dining landmark overseen by Matt Moran. 

Why we love it: Both the relatively recent renovation and overhaul of the menu by head chef Tom Gorringe have brought the restaurant firmly into the here and now, thanks to the kitchen’s less-is-more approach and a brighter spotlight on native ingredients. The panoramic outlook from the floor-to-ceiling windows, on the other hand, remains some of the city’s best.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Paddington
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? An effortlessly cool, poky natural wine bar and restaurant in a two-storey Paddo terrace.

Why we love it: This is as close as you’ll get in Sydney to a destination-worthy drinking spot in the backstreets of Paris or Milan. The soft pretzel with whipped bottarga is still THE bar snack to be reckoned with, housemade pastas are properly al dente, and it’s never a question of which bottle of wine from the forward-thinking list to choose, but how many.

Time Out tip: Save room for what is, without question, the tip-top tiramisù in town.

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

What is it? Heartfelt Korean cooking in a Surry Hills bolthole that will make you reevaluate your definition of ‘hole in the wall’.

Why we love it: Watching owner Kenny Yong Soo Son and his family work together in the teensy open kitchen sparks total joy. Yes, Korean fried chicken, mandoo and dolsot bibimbap are on offer, but branching out into more unfamiliar territory here yields incredibly delicious and memorable rewards.

Time Out tip: You can count the number of chairs at Sáng on your fingers and toes, so bookings are essential. The drinks list packs a fair bit of interest onto a single page, but it’s also BYO.

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  • Restaurants
  • Potts Point

What is it? Plant-based food at the height of its powers in Potts Point. 

Why we love it: In retrospect, head chef Brent Savage’s decision to ditch meat back in 2016 was way ahead of its time. Now, in a move totally in tune with the zeitgeist, the kitchen has gone entirely vegan – and there’s no better place to appreciate fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds, all prepared at the temperatures, textures and techniques that really make them shine. 

Time Out tip: Smallish portion sizes mean those with bigger appetites should opt for seven courses rather than five.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Sydney

What is it? The Gowings building we know and love, with a menu by Sean Connolly.

Why we love it: The QT group has taken over at the historic Gowings building with a schmick new outlook and a seriously grown-up menu. Salads prepared tableside, friendly service and steaks so good you'll need a second stomach.

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  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Surry Hills

What is it? Honest, local ingredient-focused farm-to-table fare with a secret wine list.

Why we love it: Sustainability has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, but these folks talk the talk then also walk the walk. The menu changes several times a week so there's no waste, and whole animals are butchered to make the most of each beast.

Time Out tip: Go for the wine pairing, you'll be able to taste some truly special wines that are almost all from NSW.

  • Restaurants
  • Newtown

What is it? The platonic ideal of the neighbourhood pizzeria, brought to us by the team behind LP’s Quality Meats.

Why we love it: Three words: the clam pizza. It’s life-giving stuff. But then again, so is the housemade mortadella number with parmesan and green olives. And how about that pepperoni? In a town full of top-notch pizza, these are the pies to beat, with upbeat service to match. 

Time Out tip: Don’t skip the starters. Unlike at so many other pizza parlours, Bella Brutta’s antipasti kicks ass.

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

What is it? Familiar Middle Eastern flavours given new life in big, breezy, bustling surrounds on Crown Street.

Why we love it: Nour set out to do something different from the multitude of Sydney’s Lebanese restaurants, and it definitely lives up to that promise. Turns out falafel in dumpling form isn’t half as kooky an idea as it sounds.

Time Out tip: Those who like their drinks bottomless should book in for Saturday lunch or Sunday brunch. Up for something more casual? Pop in to their new charcoal chicken shop, Henrietta’s, two doors down.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Sydney

What is it? Fully realised contemporary Cantonese in a behemoth of a basement, decked to the nines in Shanghai nostalgia.

Why we love it: It’s purpose-built for business and pleasure in equal measure, perfect for big groups and big nights out and open for lunch and dinner all seven days of the week. A total box ticker. 

Time Out tip: Dumplings here are as good as they come, but the full range is only available at lunch, so head in during the day if dim sum is your jam. And be sure to get stuck into the awesome wine list.

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  • Restaurants
  • Potts Point

What is it? Potts Point’s always-bustling address for urbane Italian. 

Why we love it: Not a whole lot has changed since the Paradiso bros set up shop in 2001. The concise menu remains scrawled on the blackboard, with the lights down just as low; service still comes with swagger; and, most importantly, the crisp-fried calamari, pillow-soft lasagne, scampi spaghetti and tiramisù continue to knock socks off. 

Time Out tip: They don’t accept bookings, so have a back-up plan in place if you don’t do waitlists.

  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills

What is it? A stalwart of Sydney’s world-renowned Thai restaurant community. 

Why we love it: When Spice I Am opened in 2004, it broke new ground by staying true to the source material and refusing to compromise on spice levels. Competition is much fiercer nowadays, but each and every dish on the dizzyingly long menu still delivers the same genuine Scoville-fuelled thrills that made it such a hit in the first place. 

Time Out tip: Go the traditional sour curry with cha-om leaf omelette and prawns for the win – and bring a nice bottle of fresh and fragrant white to chase it.

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  • Restaurants
  • European
  • Paddington

What is it? Honest, ingredient-focused farm-to-table fare by Danielle Alvarez in a stunner of a dining room.

Why we love it: There are dreamy restaurant interiors, and then there is Fred’s – a glamorous farmhouse fantasy come to life, with a wide-open kitchen at its core. Watching the graceful, linen-clad chefs and servers get the job done is practically a night at the ballet, except here it comes with a first-rate rack of lamb and a garden’s worth of produce at its prime.

Time Out tip: Venture downstairs to basement bar Charlie Parker’s for a round of inventive pre- or post-dinner cocktails.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Barangaroo

What is it? A surefire bet for seafood in Barangaroo, from the Bentley boys. 

Why we love it: There’s no shortage of restaurants along Wulugul Walk, but none of them come close to Cirrus, which excels across the board. It matters not whether it’s raw or roasted, filletted or whole – what you get is the cream of the ocean’s crop, with jaw-dropping wine and seasoned hospitality to boot.

Time Out tip: It’s a great shout for a business lunch, but things are substantially more tranquil at night when the wharf is less chaotic.

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  • Restaurants
  • Freshwater
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Sharply executed Sardinian signatures right up above Freshwater’s sandy shores.

Why we love it: Unless you’re lucky enough to live in this heavenly pocket of the Northern Beaches, heading out to Pilu feels like a holiday in your own hometown. Setting foot in this weatherboard house for an afternoon of suckling pig, seafood stew, seadas and an award-winning cellar stocked with exceptional vino is time and money well spent. 

Time Out tip: Baretto, their small kiosk down below, is pole position for a post-surf panino or alfresco aperitivo.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A petite laneway pasta parlour that follows in the footsteps of sibling wine bars Dear Sainte Éloise and Love, Tilly Devine.

hy we love it: The Harbour City’s obsession with pasta is at an all-time high, but thanks to a focus on lesser-known shapes and a willingness to stray from the tried and true, Ragazzi stands out. And because these are the brains behind two pioneering wine bars, there’s good drinking aplenty to be had.

Time Out tip: Need lunch on the fly? Fabbrica is their casual, takeaway pasta and panini shop around the corner on King Street.

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  • Restaurants
  • Sydney

What is it? World-renowned chef Peter Gilmore’s artful, imaginative interpretation of Australian cuisine, under the soaring sails of the Sydney Opera House. 

Why we love it: Much like a ride on the Manly Ferry or the coastal walk from Coogee to Bondi, eating inside the Opera House is a Sydney rite of passage. Both the food and the service are every bit as polished as the magnificent setting.

Time Out tip: For the rest of 2020 they’re merging dinner and theatre with in-house classical performances to accompany a three-or-two course dinner. Stay tuned for what 2021 holds as the Opera House gets back up to full steam.

  • Restaurants
  • Sydney

What is it? A pedigreed CBD newcomer fusing Italian fundamentals and flashy technique, care of two of the city’s top chefs.

Why we love it: Federico Zannellato (LuMi) and former Oscillate Wildly head honcho Karl Firla are bringing back the power lunch in high-flying style. They’re unafraid to reboot saltimbocca and squid ink risotto, and they go straight for the jugular with the likes of luxurious lobster maccheroncini and fontina-coated cauliflower gratin. Amen.  

Time Out tip: Picco Leo, their more casual café and bakery next door, cranks out cracking coffees and spot-on slabs of Roman-style pizza.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Bondi
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Merivale’s fun-loving Italian people pleaser and home to what’s probably the most blissful courtyard in the southern hemisphere. 

Why we love it: One bite of the ridiculously puffy, pillowy, stretchy, spongy, salty wood-fired bread is all it takes to fall head over heels with Totti’s. It’s so damn delicious you’ll likely be tempted to make an entire meal out of antipasti, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Or the Negronis, which are available by the litre. 

Time Out tip: Can’t be bothered getting to Bondi? Hit up the more compact CBD sibling, Bar Totti’s.

  • Restaurants
  • Steak house
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? The sequel to Bistecca, which offers a broader spectrum of carnivorous thrills but keeps the old-world elegance front and centre. 

Why we love it: Handing over your mobile phone at the door allows you to surrender completely to a bygone era of prawn cocktails and Waldorf salads, when drinks were stiff and proper and whole fish were filleted tableside. If you need to loosen your necktie and let out your inner Don Draper, this is the place. 

Time Out tip: You don’t need to give up your phone to sink Martinis in the lounge, but you should anyway – the boss can wait.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Potts Point

What is it? Fresh, whimsical takes on Japanese izakaya staples in a stripped-back sliver that epitomises minimal chic.  

Why we love it: So many restaurants like this buck tradition and trade on style over substance, but Cho Cho San really gets the balance right. The adventurous (and affordable) drinks list keeps pace with a menu that spans miso eggplant sticks, tonkatsu-stuffed steamed buns and teriyaki fish collars, with matcha soft serve at the finish line.

Time Out tip: The $65-a-head set menu is an absolute steal, but why not try it all? The lion’s share of the à la carte items are also available as half portions.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? Hubert’s hyper-stylised baby sibling, which channels the look, feel and flavour of an Italian trattoria straight from the ’70s.

Why we love it: The Swillhouse Group leaves no stone unturned when they commit to a concept, and Alberto’s is no exception. Stucco, wood panelling and more vintage posters than you can shake a stick at set the stage for mighty good times. You’ll want to double up on the pane fritti with anchovies and keep the Chianti topped right up.

Time Out tip: It pays to remember they’re open ‘til midnight, in a city starved for options at that hour.

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  • Restaurants
  • Darlinghurst
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A cavernous corner spot in Darlinghurst specialising in housemade pastas and Italian-leaning home cooking.

Why we love it: Bar Vincent has an old soul. They serve ricotta gnudi spiked with bitter greens soaked in simple sage butter, and roasted spatchcock slick with herb-flecked olive oil. Sourdough baked in-house is free of charge and a slice of lemon cake will only set you back a tenner. What’s not to love?

Time Out tip: Tell them you’re sharing, and the chefs will portion out the plates accordingly.

  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Coogee
  • price 3 of 4

What is it? Merivale’s highly anticipated, loosely Mediterranean high-flyer on Coogee Pavilion’s middle level.

Why we love it: From the trolley proffering bumps of caviar and vodka shots to the marble bathrooms straight outta Architectural Digest, Mimi’s is all about opulence. And exec chef Jordan Toft’s food fits the bill: bite-sized smoked eel vol-au-vents, handpicked spanner crab on salted brioche, King George whiting stuffed with scallops and wrapped in kombu. Cast your account balance woes aside, and let loose.

Time Out tip: If a Spritz with a side of sea breeze is what the doctor calls for, sidle over to Una Más, the tapas bar across the hall.

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  • Restaurants
  • Surry Hills

What is it? An Argentinian grill-house as seen through the eyes of visionary chefs Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz.

Why we love it: Blood sausage hot off the parilla. Suckling pig pulled straight from the asador. Organic cauliflower lightly scorched in the wood-fired oven. These are just some of the reasons why Porteno has stood the test of time. Factor in the floor team’s charisma and darn good malbec and you quickly understand why it’s just as celebrated after a decade in the biz.

Time Out tip: Meat-centric it may be, but Porteno happens to be a haven for pescatarians and vegetarians, too.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Mosman
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? One of the most highly regarded Italian restaurants Down Under, now red meat-free and more relaxed thanks to a recent makeover.

Why we love it: Ormeggio has always been a gorgeous place to eat, what with its primo position amongst glimmering boats bobbing up and down in the marina. The addition of a marble gelato bar and a more approachable menu – featuring the likes of a DIY Moreton Bay bug piadina and mud crab you wrap up like san choy bau – have made it an even more likeable one. 

Time Out tip: You’ll find Chiosco, their “BYO and barefoot-friendly” trattoria offshoot, further along the jetty.

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  • Restaurants
  • Modern Australian
  • Surry Hills

What is it? A more relaxed approach to degustation dining in a cosy, heritage-listed, former corner shop.

Why we love it: Chef-owner Tristan Rosier strips away the frippery tied to pointy-end restaurants without sacrificing what matters at Arthur, with a tasting menu full of contrasts. Thoughtfully sourced produce, native ingredients, an all-Aussie drinks offering and an everything-from-scratch ethos turn this neighbourhood restaurant into something greater than the sum of its parts.  

Time Out tip: Booking Ts & Cs are detailed, so be sure to read carefully.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Darlinghurst
  • price 2 of 4

What is it? A concept we can all get behind – ramen by day, and edgy izakaya by night. 

Why we love it: If we’re talking lunch, it’s gotta be the uncompromisingly rich A5 Wagyu ramen or the duck consommé with smoked duck breast and yuzu jus. If we’re talking dinner, cue the spanner crab and truffle chawanmushi, burrata topped with bonito flakes, spicy miso lamb ribs and a couple of red-miso eggplant handrolls.

Time Out tip: There are only 40 bowls of ramen available at lunch each day, and no bookings are taken, so plan to arrive the moment it opens.

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  • Restaurants
  • Bistros
  • Newport

What is it? The northern haven of long lunch luxury from the Merivale crew.

Why we love it: A meal at Bert’s is as close as we can ever get to actually living the jazz age in all its glory. There’s not a dining room in the city that can hold a candle to the soft-focus beauty that Merivale have achieved in the final instalment of the Newport’s renewal, and though we can’t afford the $2 million price tag on a Newport residence, an afternoon of café society luxury can be yours.

Time Out tip: Make a day of it and spend some digestive hours in the sunny, expansive beer garden of the public bar downstairs at the Newport.

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Sydney

What is it? A Bangkok street party crammed into a sunken restaurant in Angel Place, fueled by smoke, chilli, and colourful lights.

Why we love it: David Thompson has devoted his culinary life to the pursuit of Thai cuisine, racking up Michelin stars for Nahm in Bangkok, before coming back to Australia to open up Long Chims in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. That way everyone can see if they have what it takes to withstand the off-the-Scoville-charts hot larb.

Time Out tip: Ask about the heat levels. Don’t let your pride get in the way of maintaining functioning tastebuds.

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  • Restaurants
  • Newtown

What is it? Ground zero for cheese, charcuterie, tinned fish and canned cocktails galore. 

Why we love it: Continental is the stuff of European fever dreams, all terrazzo and timber, free-flowing vermouth and shelves piled high with imported curio. Making a meal out of all that’s in the deli fridge is awfully fun, but the famous meatball sanga and housemade mafalda tossed in XO sauce made from offcuts prove there’s plenty of know-how in the kitchen, too.

Time Out tip: Downstairs is all about the deli, but if a more stretched out sit-down affair is what you’re after, request upstairs.

  • Restaurants
  • Greek
  • Elizabeth Bay

What is it? The go-to choice when it comes to elegant, modern Greek eats.

Why we love it: If consistency is the marker of a good restaurant, then the Apollo is a great one. Walk in, order the taramasalata with pillowy pita. Follow that with the salty, honey-coated saganaki cheese or the wild weed pie, and then carve up the oven-baked lamb shoulder with a side of garlicky oven-roasted chat potatoes. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Time Out tip: Make a meze hour booking between 5 and 5.30pm Monday through Thursday, and you’ll score a set of souped-up snacks for two for $60, with drinks for only a tenner.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Darling Harbour

What is it? The Star’s flag-bearer for first-class Japanese.

Why we love it: Rarely do restaurants of this calibre come with so many different ways to enjoy them. Because it is a hotel establishment, there’s morning breakfast, which might include a spanner crab omelette or a waffle smothered in yuzu jam. For lunch and dinner, you’ve got tempura, fresh cuts of meat off the robata grill and fish flown in from all corners of the globe. And then, if you really want to splash out, the ultimate sushi omakase adventure.

Time Out tip: The omakase counter only accommodates eight people, and books out months in advance.

  • Restaurants
  • Bondi Beach

What is it? Exactly where you want to be, when a long Italian-ish lunch by the sea is on the cards. 

Why we love it: It’s nigh impossible to imagine a more enviable spot for a restaurant on Earth than the south end of Bondi, perched above the world’s most Instagrammed swimming pool. Of course, you could get by on the vistas alone, but Icebergs ups the wow factor in every way, from the flawless produce to waitstaff who excel in the art of silver service.

Time Out tip: A Sunday session in the bar is the pinnacle of people watching (and the Iceburger is next level).

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