The best restaurants in Sydney
Do you know your blood clams from your flame cockles? Or what the hell a stargazer is? Josh Niland does. This young gun chef wants to personally introduce you to the treasures of the high seas.
Here at Hubert, the Frenchified first restaurant from Sydney’s favourite bar boys, the Swillhouse group the chicken is the go-to. That’s what you get with one of Sydney’s most innovative chefs, Daniel Pepperell in the kitchen.
It’s brunch with fine-dining credentials, a coffee spot that also does dinner, and it’s brilliant anytime of day. Welcome to the all-day dining renaissance.
Sometimes you walk out of a dining experience and think ,‘We only want to eat here for the foreseeable future.’ That’s how you’ll feel after dinner at Paper Bird, the mod-Asian diner from the Moon Park team.
Ringside seats don’t get better than the stools lining the Momofuku Seiobo kitchen. This is as close to the cooking action as you can get without head chef Paul Carmichael reaching over and handing you a veggie peeler and a bag of spuds.
We’ve waited a very long time for O Tama Carey to open her own restaurant. Now the Sydney chef has a permanent home that’s bringing tropical fire, and the only thing standing between you and more curry is the wait time on a table.
It takes moxie to make a potato the star of your degustation, but here, tubers are a power move. At this understated dining room in a Stanmore terrace, a whole confit spud was the most memorable dish of the meal.
At their first hole-in-wall location in the corner of a Strathfield shopping plaza, Ho Jiak’s kitchens tapped into a thirst for nyonya cooking – hybrid Chinese-Malay cuisine – so strong that patrons quickly spilled out onto the communal seating outside.
Sydney loves a bit of smoke, so it makes sense that two of the guys behind Porteño couldn’t be satisfied with one firey restaurant alone, so they backed Luke Powell to head up a restaurant that rejects all imitations and does barbecue the southern American way.
Chris Benedet (Rockpool, Cirrus) took over the control decks and, overseen by Yellow co-owner Brent Savage, is doing a fine job protecting the restaurant’s permanent record. Yellow is as great as ever.
Chef Mat Lindsay slings big, punchy flavours into the wood-fired oven so that the blistering heat can work its magic, softening the fat of a tender half duck, blackening the leaves of cauliflowers and drawing the flavours out of the shells of their famous king prawns.
Dining at Aria will make you fall back in love with Sydney. It’s a kind of romantic alchemy forged by the floor-to-ceiling glass – the only thing between you and the the Sydney Opera House – and six flawless courses from the chef Joel Bickford.
Lunch 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.
Apple, peach, cherry and grapefruit might sound like a list of ingredients, but they’re not what you’re eating, but how you’re eating. They are the woods that are feeding the charcoal oven, grill and hearths on which everything is cooked at this fire-powered Surry Hills restaurant.
Merging New York's bodegas with Europe's wine bars and Argentina's skill with meats sounds like a pipe dream, but Elvis Abrahanowicz and Joe Valore of Porteño, Bodega and LP’s Quality Meats fame made it a reality with Continental Deli Bar Bistro.
To create something entirely new in an industry built on tradition sounds impossible, but that is what Kylie Kwong has done with her modern Chinese-Australian diner in Potts Point.
Is it too much to ask to go on a culinary adventure, and be done in a snappy two hours? Not at Automata, Clayton Wells' mod fine diner in Chippendale’s jam-packed dining precinct.
The kitchen in the concrete-lined restaurant in Angel Place is a fire and smoke-fuelled locomotive, filling the dining room with that sweet wok breath that promises fat, flat noodles with extra char.
You can’t help but feel like a serious power broker with your back up against the plummy leather banquette and a dry-aged steak that’s big enough to feed two.
At Hartsyard 2.0, there’s no sign of a sophomore slump. Aside from the absence of their famed fried chicken what you’re getting here in 2018 is just a slightly more sophisticated pressing of their original neighbourhood diner.
At 82 items long, Spice I Am's A3, double-sided, laminated menus have been keeping flavour fossickers on their toes for 14 years, thanks to head chef Sujet Saenkham's authentic brand of Thai cooking.
Behind the little linen curtains and dark timber façade of this Oxford Street diner you’ll find an experience so warm and inviting it feels like you’ve gone back in time to Julia Child’s kitchen.
Picking up the giant menu book at Golden Century is like sitting down for story time, but the tale you’re about to embark on involves a lot of shellfish, eating all the fried things and having hazy recollections of thinking that second bottle of Hunter Valley chardonnay from Scarborough was a bonza idea.
Early this year one of the most famous restaurants in the country decided it was time for a little nip and tuck of the old operation. Fast forward a few months and Quay has sleek new look, a sharp new menu and it's even harder to get a table than before.
How do you convince a town whose bachelor degrees are powered by six-dollar Thai that they should pay $36 for a Panang curry? Serving it inside a room that looks to be moonlighting as a European wine bar is a good start.
You might not expect a seriously schmick wine bar and restaurant housed in the original Fairfax building in the heart of the CBD to be all about inclusivity, but the Bentley Restaurant and Bar by sommelier Nick Hildebrandt and chef Brent Savage wants everyone to have a good time.
Frills and frippery can be fun, but nothing tops tripped back Italian in the weekend lunch stakes. Fratelli Paradiso has been dishing up the goods for close to two decades and it's still as stuffed as a fresh cannoli on a Saturday at noon.
Sydney is in the midst of a full Italian renaissance, and so when a classic Italian restaurant in Rushcutters Bay decides to change things up, they go and transform themselves into... a classic Italian restaurant, but this time with a sharp focus on all things Roman.
Gogyo comes from the same people who brought Japanese ramen juggernaut Ippudo to Australia. They specialise in a kogashi (which means ‘charred’ in Japanese) ramen, which sees a pan heated to a smoking-hot temperature before a dollop of miso paste is added and then it's deglazed with chicken broth.
This particular stretch of Bayswater Road is not where we expected to find Sydney’s best Mexican food, but suddenly this barren field is bearing delicious bounty in the form of a whole snapper, deboned and dressed like a traffic light.
Finding amazing food in the least likely places is one of the best things about Sydney. All that sprawl means more hot spots for ace noodles, baked treats, and in this one very specific case, a smoked chicken katsu.
Opening up a excellent restaurant is hard. What’s even more difficult is staying great. After four years on Macleay Street, Jonathan Barthelmess and Nic Wong’s modern Sydney-via-Tokyo joint Cho Cho San has managed to do just that.
Dining fashions may come and go, but drinking Spritzes with ocean views and a corps of Sydney’s most beautiful people at neighbouring tables will never go out of style.
They’ll tell you to go for the Peking duck. They’ll tell you it’s a juicy bird with crisp skin and sweet meat. And they’d be right. It is. This is just one of the many roast delights at Mr Wong – a two-level Canto-extravaganza.
Inside the beautifully restore Marie Louise salon on Enmore Road you can sit upstairs in the dining room-proper, but we’re all about the casual vibes of the black and white-toned downstairs bar, where you can sit next to your partner and watch all the action of the bar unfold.
The delicious is in the detail at Juan, the compact Japanese diner in Redfern where there are only four main meals to choose from. Go with a friend and you’ve tried 50 per cent of the menu – a stat that allows little chance for food envy to kick in.
They've clearly put a lot of thought into how people are going to approach the beautiful restaurant inside the Opera House sails.
This is the most impressive sushi counter in Sydney. The only challenge is landing one of those eight spots that let you take both hands off the wheel and let chef Chase Kojima do the driving during your omakase dining experience.
It's the restaurant that made a simple baloney sandwich an Instagram sensation, a soft milk bun bearing a sour, bright tomato sauce and a smooth, light slice of baloney.
You’d think going out for a little fancy fish with water views would be an simple request in a harbour-front city, but it's taken culinary kingpins Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt opening Cirrus to finally nail the brief.
This little beachfront restaurant looks like a coastal café but has the heart of a fine diner, and for nearly 25 years it has been setting the standard for thoughtful modern Australian cooking.
Cory Cambell (ex-Noma and Vue De Monde) has created a straight-shooting menu for this top floor, waterfront venue down in Barangaroo.
Our advice is as true today as it was when we first wrote it: don’t order everything, as much as you’ll want to. You will leave Apollo uncomfortably full.
You don’t come to Sagra to show off. It’s not about pomp or prestige, any more than fiddly garnishes or fancy plating. But taking someone there will impress them, because this is one of Sydney’s most beloved modern Italians.
Sydney might have invented the dance known as ‘queuing for hours for a hot new restaurant’ but that aspirational jig was perfected by Melburnians when Chin Chin, proved that the quickest route to popularity was a hot wok, a cache of chilis and a stocked bar.
Here they're all about a modern spin on classic Middle Eastern dishes. Spiced short-rib, haloumi and baked olives come straight from the wood-fired oven that powers the kitchen area, while two kinds of arak, Lebanese beer and wine from Bekaa Valley are housed behind the bar.
Mud crabs are the new dining status symbol. Forget lobster – either you can afford to shell out on the fleshy crustaceans (that usually go for $140-odd dollars a kilo) or you can’t.
Right in the heart of this new dining precinct is a white-tiled lunch spot lit by a pink neon sign, where Robyn in on the stereo and Vietnamese is on the menu. Don’t you dare pre-snack because you’ll need every inch for the titular, lacey-edged, coconutty pancakes in a luminous turmeric gold.
The Dolphin Hotel has been taken over by none other than Maurice Terzini, the man behind Icebergs and Da Orazio, and he’s brought everything but the sand with him.
When you want to live your best pre-GFC life and drop cash on red meat, red wine and oysters, this is the best place in Sydney to indulge yourself.
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