Where to eat during Vivid Sydney
Best for: Swish tequila cocktails and tacos with views over the harbour
Neil Perry and head chef Pamela Valdes (who learned to cook from her grandma growing up in Xalapa, Mexico) have created a menu that's focused around freshly pressed corn tortillas and fiery salsas. You can also order up soups and small plates, enmolada con pollo (mole chicken enchilladas) and taco platters to share. The flouncy interiors of the former Café Ananas are no where to be seen and in its place you'll find a fit out inspired by grand Mexican haciendas, complemented by views of Circular Quay and the Harbour Bridge.
Best for: Swanky take away dinner boxes
Mike McEnearney and his team at No.1 Bent Street will be bringing snacks to the people, by the way of cute take-out picnic boxes. You need to make sure you order online or by calling before 4pm each day and then you can pick up your box between 5pm-9pm that evening. Choose between the likes of spit roast chicken, hot smoked salmon or wood fired pumpkin, accompanied by matching salads.
Best for: Big groups and the indecisive.
The mega food court is home to over 25 different cafés and takeaway joints. You'll find Neil Perry's Burger Project, cheap Thai maestros Chat Thai, Indian street food by Bilu's, sweet treats from Zumbo, crumbed goodness from Schnitz, sushi rolls by Sushi Train, warming laska from Jimmy's Recipe and much more in the Circular Quay compound.
Best for: High-flying views above the crowds
This Cuban-inspired cocktail lounge at the Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour boasts a glassed in box that juts out over the concourse, making it prime Vivid-viewing territory. To ease the squeeze, you can book a table, and they'll also shake you up a Vivid inspired cocktails of vodka, lemon juice, lavender syrup, raspberry syrup, blue pea flower and edible flowers.
Best for: A sit down affair with neon lights and a rock'n'roll soundtrack
Order up thick slices of pork belly are cooked down in masterstock; impossibly juicy chicken meatballs; and 4+ wagyu steak with fermented chilli sauce. They also do a mean riff on a Martini – made with gin blended especially for the restaurant by local distillers Archie Rose, mixed with sake and a herbal, savoury shrub of fennel and edamame beans.
Best for: Cocktails and snacks right among the action
On Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout MCA Café and Sculpture Terrace will transform with some help from Bombay Sapphire. You'll be standing within the installations projected on the MCA façade by artist Jonny Niesche, and there will be a list of custom gin-infused cocktails.
Best for: A sweet treat while venturing through the light walk
Along the Botanic Gardens' light walk you'll find a 'Cupcake ATM' dispensing freshly-baked cupcakes. Surry Hills' Sparkle Cupcakery will be whipping up two custom creations for the festival, with galaxy frosting and two different flavours (red velvet and chocolate banana).
Best for: Catching the views while totally missing the crowds
This Lavender Bay dining spot has panoramic views across the harbour, making it a top spot to see Vivid's synchronised lighting display. Book in and work your way through Sails' a la carte menu, which places an emphasis on classic French techniques, or settle in with a seven course degustation menu.