While it’s not quite accurate to say Surry Hills has the monopoly on Sydney’s best Italian cuisine, it sure does come close. For authentic, wood-fired pizza – think perfectly thin, hand-stretched and loaded with top-quality produce – Vacanza, the Dolphin and DOC (the first Sydney branch of one of Melbourne’s most popular pizzerias) are must-tries, any way you slice it. The calibre of pasta is just as high, whether it’s served with traditional, rustic charm at Osteria Emilia, or with a contemporary wink at Mark and Vinny’s Spaghetti and Spritz.
Italian eats may be this suburb's strong suit, but Asian flavours give them a run for their money. You’ll find one of Sydney’s best Japanese eateries, the small but mighty Izakaya Fujiyama, on a quiet backstreet just off Devonshire. Or if a steaming bowl of soupy noods is your pleasure, look no further than the kogashi ramen at Gogyo. Some of the most beautiful dishes you’ll ever clap eyes on can be found at kick-ass Korean Sáng, but, then again, mighty Melbourne import Chin Chin is no stranger to plates that look as good as they taste.
Want to eat like a baller on a budget? Be it hands-on street eats, like deep-fried calzones at Pizza Fritta, finger-lickin’ fried chicken at Butter, affordable sit-down fare from the likes of Lebanese charcoal chook experts Henrittea, or beloved Thai Spice I Am, you really don’t have to flash that cash to eat well in Surry Hills.
Unless, of course, you want to. There are many fine-dining establishments that will happily help you part with your dollars in exchange for sublime service and knock-out food. But where should you unburden your wallet? Nour paints an incredibly rich and detailed picture of modern Middle Eastern mezze that's about as refined as it gets, while top-flight Spanish tapas gets an infusion of fine dining finesse at Porteño. But for our money (and yours), we suggest heading to the city end of Surry Hills for a flame-perfected feast that’s firing on all cylinders – you won’t find any flashy tech in the Firedoor kitchen, just open flames, wood smoke, and a menu that celebrates ingredients at their peak.