Picking the right place to eat in the CBD very much depends on what you’re hungry for – and how big your wallet is.
There are plenty of affordable feasts offering incredible bang for your buck, be you in the mood for rich, delicious pasta from Fabbrica (161 King St); crispy, delicately spiced pitas from Jimmy’s Falafel; thick, slurp-worthy noodles from Xi’an Biang Biang (39/1 Dixon St); or a juicy burger from the lads at Mary’s CQ (7 Macquarie Pl). (Check out our pick of Sydney’s best cheap eats for more inspo.)
If you’re happy to fork out a little more, the mid-range budget options are just too numerous to comprehensively list. But you’d do well to consider The Continental Deli (167 Phillip St), where a gilda and signature Martini is a must before your meal; Mr Wong (3 Bridge Lane), where the Peking duck is near-impossibly succulent; Hubert (15 Bligh St), a bistro so consummately French you could be dining in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower; and the Gidley (161 King St), a decadent ode to a bygone age when steaks the size of toddlers, Waldorf salads and prawn cocktails were all the rage.
Should you want to really splash some cash, the city’s finest eateries, helmed by roll call of celebrity chefs, will happily help you empty your wallet. Matt Moran’s legendary Aria (1 Macquarie St) is a shrine to world-class cuisine with astonishing views that are almost as delicious, while the world-wide renown Peter Gilmore is a perfect fit for his restaurant Bennelong (Bennelong Point), housed within one of the ivory scallops of Sydney’s most famous building. And of course, there’s Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrand’s Cirrus (10/23 Barangaroo Ave), an elegant seafood restaurant that’s the jewel in the crown of recently revived Barangaroo precinct. (Check out our pick of the best CBD restaurants for more must-book tables.)
But should you find yourself famished in the wee small hours, you can always rely on Golden Century (393-399 Sussex St), the much-loved Cantonese stalwart that’s the undisputed ruler of late-night eats in the CBD. It’s not fancy, it’s not necessarily cheap, and don’t expect a smile from your waiter while he scribbles down your order, but the near-mythic deliciousness of the pippies in XO sauce kicks the butt of any other morsel you could possibly lay your hands on at 3am.