Read our guide to the best restaurants in Sydney.
From fine dining with incredible views at Quay to woodfired dishes at Firedoor, Levantine food at Nour and the iconic Sean’s Panorama in Bondi.
Ester is everything you’d want in a neighbourhood restaurant – cool space, lovely atmosphere, friendly, relaxed service and excellent food.
The dimly lit dining room with its low hanging lights and exposed brick walls create a modern, cool vibe in a dining room that’s full every night. Sit at the bar to get the full experience.
Choose the excellent value set menu at $98 pp which includes highlights from the mostly wood-fired menu such as the blood sausage sanga, grilled wagyu beef and potato bread with kefir cream and trout roe.
The wine list is mostly made up of organic and biodynamic (minimal-intervention) wines.
Read on for our guide to the best restaurants in Bondi…
Sean’s Panorama, Bondi
I’m totally in love with Sean’s Panorama – it’s that neighbourhood restaurant you wished you had at the end of your road – lucky for me, I did for a few months.
Sean’s Panorama feels like home – and it has been in North Bondi since 1993 – with its mismatched furniture, art work that doesn’t feel curated and the warmth that envelops you when you enter.
The menu changes on a weekly basis usually but always offers four selections for each course, much of which is sourced from chef Sean Moran’s farm.
A variant of the “chook” chicken dish is always on the menu – hopefully it’s the fantastic version with the tarragon butter sauce.
The farm plate is also a regualr feature on the menu – a plate of vegetables from the chef’s farm which is far more interesting that it might sound!
If you’re lucky they’ll have the liver parfait on the menu too.
You can’t talk about Totti’s without mentioning the bread.
Big, puffy portions of woodfire cooked bread, which is a must start to every meal with San Daniele prosciutto, burrata and heirloom tomatoes to enjoy it with.
While the full menu is very good, it’s the simple things that stand out here – excellent quality Australian produce standing on their own feet.
The atmosphere at Totti’s is the epitome of buzzing – from long lunches on the terrace to fun, rambunctious evenings with friends in the main dining room, Totti’s offers something special for every occasion.
A wine bar making it on to my list of Sydney’s best restaurants, and with good reason – the chef trained at Bondi institution Sean’s Panorama.
The European focused menu features dishes cooked on a robata grill and a number of pasta dishes, but the best part for me is the charcuterie.
Order some of the excellent focaccia with jamon, salami and a plate of tomatoes to enjoy with your wine.
The wine list is focused on biodynamic, natural minimal-intervention wines.
Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, Bondi
A lunch at Icebergs is one you’ll always remember, if only for the mesmerising views of Bondi Beach and the famous Bondi Icebergs Pool beneath the restaurant.
On a beautiful sunny day, this view is hard to beat in Sydney.
The modern Italian menu includes many classic dishes, but the star here is the setting.
The photo above was one I took after my lunch there – more pictures on my Instagram here.
North Bondi Fish, Bondi
Another one of my favourites in Bondi on the very north end of the beach, as much for a drink or for a full dinner.
Start your evening (or spend the whole evening) on the terrace with views of Bondi Beach in front of you watching the stunning sunset.
At North Bondi Fish you can literally roll from the beach in your Budgy Smugglers for a glass of wine and oysters or get dolled up for dinner – it strikes that balance perfectly.
From the fish focused menu try the hiramasa kingfish crudo; the linguine, spanner crab, cherry tomato, garlic, chilli; and the fried calamari.
Read on for our guide to the best restaurants in Surry Hills Sydney…
Firedoor, Surry Hills
As you might have gathered from the name, firewood takes centre stage at Firedoor with dishes cooked on wood-fired ovens and grills that dominate the dining room.
High quality Australian produce and ingredients do the talking here, particularly with the must-order 203-day dry aged rib of beef.
Firedoor has the simplest of concepts executed with impeccable precision.
Nour, Surry Hills
Nour, in Surry Hills, is the place to go to in Sydney for excellent Levantine food.
The beautiful space feels light and bright during the day but comes into its own in the evenings when the lights go down and the open kitchen and woodfire oven take centre stage.
From the menu try the tomatoes with smoked almond tarator and salted barberries and the lamb shoulder with charred baby gem, dates and cacik.
Other favourites include the Mujaddara, aged rice with lentils, with smoked labnah and crispy onion; and the fried cauliflower with wood roasted grapes, ras el hanout and a smoked almond crumb.
Nomad, Surry Hills
Presently called Nomad Up The Road after a fire in September 2019 caused a temporary relocation, the current Nomad looks similar to the original with its white walls, light tones and soft hues.
From the menu, starting with the flatbread with cannellini bean hummus and cumin burnt butter is a must.
Also try the kingfish ceviche with avocado and finger lime; zucchini flowers with truffle honey and pecorino; and cauliflower gratin with jamon and manchego.
Poly, Surry Hills
Located on the ground floor of Paramount House Hotel in Surry Hills (which you’ll see in our guide to the best hotels in Sydney), Poly is the younger sibling to highly acclaimed Ester in Chippingdale.
Poly is more of a wine bar, and there are indeed some excellent wines here, focused on organic and biodynamic wines with minimal intervention, but that would be doing a disservice to the food on offer.
Try the anchovy toast, the pork terrine and the dangerous confit potatoes, all of which are excellent.
Shwarmama, Surry Hills
A jazzed up kebab shop wouldn’t usually make it on a best restaurants list but Shwarmama is a little different.
It’s a collaboration between Paramount Coffee Project (which does some of the best coffee in Sydney) and chef Mat Lindsay, owner of Ester and Poly, both of which also feature in this list.
Try the falafel pita with falafel, tahini, hummus, harissa, cucumber, onions, pickles and pickled chillies or the Shawarm with spiced marinated chicken, tahini, hummus, garlic sauce, harissa, onions, cabbage, pickles and chips,
Keep reading our guide to the best restaurants in Sydney…
Quay, The Rocks
The food at Quay is exquisite – this is fine dining at its best but with the friendly, not-too-formal service Sydney is renowned for.
From a small bowl of hand-harvested seafood dressed with virgin soy sauce to crumpets with smoked roe and cultured cream to bone marrow pasta, this is cooking at the highest level.
Add in a view of the opera house and Sydney Harbour Bridge and you have a pretty perfect evening – which does, however, come with the price tag you might expect.
Restaurant Hubert, Sydney CBD
There’s something special about Hubert: from the moment you walk down the winding staircase, through the velvet drapes into the dark, sexy space you know you’re going to have a good evening.
The menu is French at its core – think roasted snails, deep-fried molten ball of Gruyère and a whole roast chicken – but the highlight is the small sea urchin, trout roe and avruga caviar tart (pictured below).
Hubert is cosy, sexy, and feels like it has been here for decades.
Read on for our guide to the best restaurants in Potts Point…
Cho Cho San, Potts Point
Cho Cho San is a modern Japanese restaurant, which ventures far from the traditional.
The design is part Scandinavian, part industrial warehouse in style with whitewashed bricks walls and white distressed wood dominating.
From the menu, try the Sydney rock oysters with wasabi vinegar; the pork katsu steamed bun; prawns with kombu butter; and the crab fried rice.
This modern izakaya is as serious about the cocktails as it is about the food, with Japanese twists straying far from the classics.
The Apollo, Potts Point
You’ll want to order the whole menu at Apollo, but here’s a tip – order the “Full Greek” tasting menu for a very reasonable $60 per person as it includes all the standout dishes you really must order.
Start with the taramasalata with house-made pita bread served warm in a little pizza box before moving on to the saganaki cheese with honey (pictured below) and the roast lamb ribs with a side of chat potatoes.
Take a seat at the marble counter where you can take in the whole restaurant and its buzzy atmosphere.
Big Poppa’s, Darlinghurst
Big Poppa’s is one to have on your list for when you visit Sydney.
Not only for the upstairs dining room where the menu focuses on cheese, pasta and more cheese, but also for the downstairs bar with its dim lighting and leather booths.
The whole venue is open until 3am, which is very rare in Sydney.
Bathers’ Pavilion, Balmoral
I love the setting of Balmoral Bathers’ Pavilion and would really recommend a lunch here.
The Art Deco building sits right on the beach and on a warm day the doors and windows open on to an idyllic view of the sea.
Sundays on the terrace upstairs with champagne and oysters to watch the sunset is a dreamy way to end the weekend.
Read on for our guide to the best restaurants in Paddington, Sydney…
Saint Peter, Paddington
What St John in London did for nose-to-tail eating, Saint Peter does for fin-to-scale cooking in Paddington in Sydney.
The whole menu is fish, but not fish as you might know it.
With the help of the chef’s fish butchery nearby and an on-site dry-ageing room, the food here is inventive and one of a kind.
The menu changes regularly but example dishes include Stinging Nettle, Egg Yolk & Smoked Yellowfin Tuna Ham Pie; Sweet & Sour Hand Filleted Yamba Sardines; Crumbed Corner Inlet Garfish, Yoghurt Tartare & Herb Salad; and Swansea Bonito, BBQ Zucchini, Bush Tomato Harissa & Preserved Lemon.
The oyster selection is fantastic too.
10 William St, Paddington
More of a wine bar than full restaurant, 10 William St is a great place to visit for some sharing plates over a bottle or two of wine from its ever-changing wine list chalked on the walls for you to see.
You come here to try a new wine that you haven’t tried before – staff will willingly guide you on this.
Dishes on the menu include ricotta gnocchi and crab and corn cappelletti and their signature pretzel with whipped bottarga.
The Paddington, Paddington
The Paddington – part pub, part restaurant, part cocktail bar – is all about the French rotisserie.
There’s a half or a whole chicken with fries and salad; a 1kg côte de boeuf; and a whole baby barramundi with ginger, shallots and chilli.
A great option for groups, The Paddington is always buzzing with a local crowd.
Mr Wong, Sydney CBD
My dinner at Mr Wong’s was probably the biggest disappointment of all my dinners in Sydney – it just didn’t deliver for me. So why include it on this list?
Well, everyone I’ve spoken to since has been surprised that I didn’t love it and commented that I must have ordered badly.
You should never be able to order badly in a good restaurant, but the general consensus is that Mr Wong is one of the best restaurants in Sydney.
I did love the vibe, however, and would suggest going in a larger group (4+) so you can order a lot of different dishes to share and make the most of its lively atmosphere.
Restaurants that I wish I’d been to include Felix, Fred’s, Bar Totti and Rockpool.
The Best Restaurants in Sydney
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Disclaimer: None of the restaurants have paid to be featured here, this is an article on some of our favourite Sydney restaurants that we wanted to share with our readers. Read our editorial policy here.