Choosing somewhere to go for a bite to eat on holiday can be frustrating. Suggestion after suggestion is made and rejected as quickly, before you settle for your regular go-to choice. This situation becomes even more exasperating when you’re in a new city.
Are you taking a world cruise and looking for places to dine in Sydney so you can avoid that tedious argument? Then you’re in luck. We have compiled a list of the best places to eat and drink in Sydney covering the broad spectrum of diverse delights on offer.
The Best bars in Sydney
The Barber Shop – Cocktail Bar
With a dimly lit bar, you cautiously pass through the partition door and into a hidden treasure in the heart of Sydney. The Barber Shop features European décor and tips its hat to British history. With an extensive range of gin, you can sample the latest flavours or old classics. Alternatively, try some of the finest Australian and European wines.
Gin came bursting out of the shadows in Sydney back in 2015 and has become a staple of the bar scene in the city. The Barber Shop takes pride in being one of the earliest and most resilient advocates for the beverage and is certainly seeing the rewards from its growing popularity.
With a handpicked collection of more than 250 rums from the local area and around the world, the selection at Lobo Plantation is one of the most extraordinarily diverse and tempting that you’re likely to find in the city.
The underground rum bar has a warm Cuban charm and a distinct design. Organiser extraordinaire, Nat, spoke to us about Lobo:
“The Lobo Plantation is a cocktail bar based around the decadent lifestyle of Julio Lobo, Cuba's last sugar baron. Descend the spiral staircase and be transported to pre-revolution Cuba complete with Cuban sandwiches, wicker chairs, and rum. Lots of rum. Their love of rum knows no bounds although you will find other spirits featured on their back bar and cocktail lists. Oh, and they like to play with fire. Order their signature cocktail, the Old Grogram, to add some flames to your Sydney cocktail adventures.”
The Baxter Inn
There are so many elements to The Baxter Inn that make it stand out. The backlit wall of whisky, the sliding library ladders and incredibly smartly presented bar are all hidden behind a rather understated front door.
If you were walking down the street and came across the old loading dock, you’d almost certainly see queues lined up to get into the Inn. Those in the know are waiting to step into sea of amber and a whiskey bar that has been named the 6th best bar in the world in 2015, and 12th in 2016.
Forget the hard sweets, lumbar-supported chairs and taking your shoes off at the door, this is no normal trip to your grandmother’s. The compact brick bar offers up some of the best long drinks in the city – pay particular attention to the icy options with fresh fruit garnishes. A stripped-back experience, Grandma’s Bar is a tropical experience with a familiar feeling. Thursday night is live music night, but every night you can sample the likes of a Peanut Butter Colada, or an alcoholic, Caribbean-style iced tea.
Earl’s Juke Joint
We’ve all been there, stood in the butchers picking out some pork chops for dinner when you are suddenly overcome with the burning desire to pull up a chair in a New Orleans-style cocktail bar. If this sounds familiar, then perhaps you should start buying your meat from Bella Meats.
Nestled behind the perfectly legitimate butchers façade is Earl’s Juke Joint, a moody bar lined with old-school photos. Earl’s is up there as one of the most popular watering holes in Sydney, with punters enjoying the selection of cocktails and craft beers.
The Best restaurants in Sydney
Despite only opening in Sydney’s CBD (Central Business District) in 2016, Restaurant Hubert has become a staple of the area. As you make your way down the stairs you’ll feel like you’re at an ultra-exclusive, invite only restaurant for government officials, movie stars and spies.
Divided into a cocktail bar and a dining room, wine bottles are layered up the walls with vintage posters breaking up the space. If the grandeur of the setting isn’t enough to win you over, then the French-style food sure will. Duck liver parfait, steak tartare and crème caramel feature on the decadent menu.
Having spent more than 40 years as a humble corner shop, SHUK has transformed its space into an elegant dining experience offering up classic Israeli and Mediterranean staples. Situated in the heart of Bondi, it is a favourite amongst locals and tourists. Based around meals and dishes that the owners used to love back in Israel, you have to try the likes of baked-egg shakshukas and the tasty hummus and minced lamb.
The Apollo is Australia’s take on modern Greek food, and it does a very good job of it. In art deco surroundings, the menu is made up of shared plates like warm pita, whole lamb shoulder, taramasalata and much-much more.
Natasha Firman spoke to us about The Apollo and their recent success:
“We were thrilled to have made the top ten in the 2016 The Monocle Restaurant Awards. The winners of The Monocle Restaurant Awards are restaurants that Monocle awarded for their dishes, great chefs, old-school staff, lively manners and perfect dining rooms.”
This is not a place for a fleeting visit. To best appreciate The Apollo come in and sit down for the long haul so you can truly soak up the lively atmosphere, heavenly aromas and tastes.
Opening its doors in 2013, Nomad set out to combine the best wine, produce and design that Australia had to offer in one restaurant in the heart of Surry Hills, Sydney. The restaurant offers a laid back atmosphere that is perfect for families or groups of friends to come together in this turn of the century warehouse, sat around the large open kitchen in the centre of the room.
A full-time baker prepares fresh breads daily, offering up superb sourdough, brioche and selection of flatbreads which you can try with their own cheeses. Try the house-speciality of Jersey milk haloumi, or goats’ chevre mature.
Some regard the dumplings served up at Mr. Wong as the best that you’re likely to find outside of China itself. If you get in early enough – this restaurant is particularly popular – hunker down at your table and prepare for one of the best dining experiences in Sydney.
Rather than sitting down, eating and leaving pretty quickly, you should dedicate most of your evening to enjoying as many aspects of Mr. Wong’s menu and wine list as you can.
The Fine Food Store
Dedicating its time to produce quality food and service, the Fine Food Store’s menu is a product of passion and innovation.
Richard from Fine Food Store spoke to us about what makes the spot so popular:
“Recently revealing its Brooklyn-inspired renovation, this cool and contemporary café is a much-loved favourite to locals for over 10 years. They pride themselves on the highest standard in coffee & food, from cold brew to a v60 filter coffee – to be enjoyed at a picturesque window seat or to-go when you’re on the run.”
The guys behind this eatery have set up a casual and warm environment for you to try a delicious mix of light-bites and hearty favourites.
Masala Dosa at Chatkazz
Sydney is rich tapestry of different cultures, so if it is Indian food that you’re craving, head to Chatkazz.
The colourful restaurant is inspired by classic south Indian street food and serves up everything from dhal curries, to cheese dabeli and the must-try masala dosa. The tang from fermented rice and a deliciously crisp lentil batter is balanced perfectly with the standard spiced potato stuffing, but really anything you put in your masala dosa will be well worth the $9.90 you spend.
Determined to create an “Indian experience with the best Indian street food and farsan”, Chatkazz established themselves to bring the smells, the buzz, the experience and flavours of India to this part of Sydney.
Tortilla Spanish omelette bocadillo at Encasa Deli
Step off of the street in Sydney and straight into a Madrid deli. A huge hit with office workers on their lunch breaks, Encasa Deli is an atmospheric spot to sample the joys of monster rolls stuffed with anything from calamari rings to a Spanish style of steak and eggs, and the famous Tortilla Spanish Omelette. Even for the carb-cautious, this is a dish you cannot avoid. Bread is packed densely with thick wedges of a potato omelette, roasted peppers and topped off with a beautiful aioli.
Happy as Larry
Happy as Larry was the brainchild of Chris, Adam and Anthony, three mates with a joint passion for pizza. Bringing the tastes of a Napoli wood fire pizza to Sydney, Happy as Larry provides punters with a creative seasonal menu, using the freshest possible New South Wales ingredients.
Made from recycled materials, the van began life as a twenty-foot shipping container. Fitted with an eco-generator, their food truck is self-sufficient and fully sustainable.
Veggie Patch Van
As you can probably guess, this is a food truck catering to vegetarians and vegans. Serving up the area’s best produce, dive into a zucchini and feta burger or pick up some sweet potato chips served with kale and a vegan basil mayo.
Over 90 per cent of what is used on the Veggie Patch Van is grown and farmed in New South Wales, with a seasonally dependent menu. Sustainability is key for the team here, with the van running on recycled vegetable oil and the kitchen being solar powered.
Urban Pasta is a firm favourite with locals and tourists alike and is the first mobile pasta bar in Sydney. Choose from penne, ravioli, gnocchi, fusilli and fettuccine, add your choice of sauce ranging from the classic Napolitano to the creamy boscaiola and sit down to some of the best pasta in Sydney.
Where the locals eat in Sydney
Three blue ducks
Don’t be mistaken as you pass through the Sydney suburbs and industrial estates, Three Blue Ducks is a Saturday lunch staple for locals seeking delicious food within a stunning, heritage-listed building.
Hanging lights illuminate the room shaped by its exposed brick and industrial style design. Ingrid Ferguson told us about the inspiration behind the restaurant:
“The story of the Three Blue Ducks is really a story of a few guys who were taught a few things and learnt a few more things and travelled a few roads, surfed a few breaks and came to the realization that they wanted to live lives of hard work, eat real food from good, ethical sources, cooked well and served without pretension to people without the sun on their backs and salt n the air, by people who care about the world they have inherited and the one to come.”
Like many establishments in Sydney, Three Blue Ducks is proud of the quality of produce grown in Australia: “We definitely focus on ingredients and products from Australia and New Zealand. We have a small list of requirements that a product must adhere to in order for us to purchase it. We look at location, free range, line caught, pasture fed, MSC certified, spray free/chemical free among other things.”
This award-winning restaurant produces the entirety of its menu in-house, a testament to the passion and unquestionable talents of the team.
“We buy our bread from our neighbours Iggy's bakery. But asides from that we do almost everything in house, be it pickling, fermenting or smoking. We make dashi and strain labneh, jams and curds, cakes and muffins. We make a real effort not to waste things either whether it be using the left over orange rind from the juicer to dehydrate and make into a seasoning or working together with the bar's drinks and specials using what's in season and the chefs will be using in the dishes. Currently the chefs are experimenting to make our own yoghurt. We have a little garden out the back of the restaurant which we try and utilise as absolutely much as possible too, we get honey from the bees, a plentiful harvest of bananas and lots of herbs to use in our kitchen too.”
“We love our local community and work to promote sustainable food practices with our foodie friends, and by supporting initiatives such as Grow it Local, and setting up footpath herb gardens for all to share. All of our organic waste is collected and composted by locals, and local community gardens, that in turn grow amazing food for local families.
“We also try to do our environmental bit by making renewable energy from our rooftop solar power system for use in the kitchen and dining areas. Our cleaning chemicals are eco-friendly, non-toxic and biodegradable, and we used biodegradable takeaway containers.”
The Bach Eatery
This place is one that you will visit time and time again. The Bach Eatery dishes up an impressive variety of New Zealand wine and beers alongside fabulous food. When asked to describe it, Philippa Potaka said: “The Bach Eatery - fun, fast & fresh with a Kiwi twist. Rustic grub & sweet booze to match. Inspired by the summer days.” It is very hard to beat good food coupled with great Kiwi hospitality.
A welcoming neighbourhood café in Sydney’s Inner West, Saga is a reflection of the personalities of Andy Bowdy and his partner, Maddison Howes. With a menu ranging from brunch food to delicate pastries, Andy is best known for his show stopping cakes.
We asked Lee Tran from The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry where to go in Sydney for a bite to eat, and she didn’t hesitate in recommending Saga:
“Saga cafe in Enmore. It’s run by Andrew Bowden – @andybowdy to his 60,000 followers on Instagram – who is known for his blockbuster, multi-layered cakes topped with torched meringue. His savoury menu is just as strong. Eggplant parmigiana sandwiches, broccoli and Parmesan focaccia and a charred corn pudding with cornbread crumb and spelt are some of the standouts you can order.”
This is a modern and friendly café perfect for a pit-stop when exploring Sydney.
You’ll do well to find a better view of Sydney harbour than the one on show at Café Sydney.
Over the last 17 years this establishment has become one of the most distinguishable dining destinations in the city, courtesy of not only its views, but also the brilliant food and faultless service.
Joe from 2 Hungry Guys couldn’t think of a better place to recommend:
“If you're visiting Sydney and want to dine somewhere that encompasses everything that's great about our beautiful city then Cafe Sydney is the place to be. Sitting right in the middle of Circular Quay, this popular restaurant serves expertly prepared and delicious food whilst boasting some of the best views of Sydney Harbour. On top of this they also have an absolutely superb bar and cocktail list, so whether it's a delightful meal in an amazing city or cocktails with a view, you won't regret a trip to Cafe Sydney.”
Clearly, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to places to eat and drink in Sydney. Enjoy the sun and wonderful outdoor spaces with a bite-to-go from a food truck, sit down in some magnificently unique restaurants or discover the best hidden bars in the city.