Trying to whittle down a list of restaurants in Sydney to five must-visits is admittedly a fool’s task, since this is a town that takes food very, very seriously. The eats in Australia are among the freshest and most enticing in the world; a panoply of cultural influences (especially from nearby Asia) and Australia’s climate mean produce is always available. (Just don’t mention The Great Banana Shortage of 2011 to anybody who lives here; we still shake and tremble at the memory.) The restaurant scene changes rapidly and with little warning, and a devoted clutch of foodies make big noise about the latest openings, rushing to grab a seat, a bite, and a chance at being the first in their group to report back. That said, there are plenty of well-loved mainstays as well as newcomers that have changed the face of their neighborhoods. Try one of these for a big night over the course of several scrumptious dishes.
The Winery by Gazebo
It’s always a scene at this jam-packed, two-level spot in the heart of trendy Surry Hills, where fashionable young ladies, groups of guys, and couples on dates pack in for glasses of wine, bowls of chips, and hearty meals. Weekend afternoons are especially popular—and boozy. Grab a table in the “Elvis Room” or out on the patio and while away the day.
The opening of this Argentinian steakhouse helped bring an otherwise unimpressive stretch of Cleveland Street to life a few years back; it’s still drawing them in with a hearty menu that’s also welcoming to fish lovers and vegetarians. Dishes like grilled octopus and a wood-roasted pumpkin, fontina, and almond ravioli are just as renowned as its sirloin and skirt steaks. Carnivores will love the wood-fired meats.
The Star casino in Pyrmont gets a bad rap, which is too bad because it’s a glistening complex worth a visit, especially if you want a choice Japanese meal. (The name’s a combo of Sydney and Tokyo, you see.) Park it at the back bar for an expertly mixed cocktail before digging in to fresh sushi, juicy prawns, or glazed cod.
It’s a little touch of the country here at Chiswick, which draws in crowds that enjoy the bucolic setting in leafy Woollahra. The seasonal dishes are made for sharing, with ingredients sourced from the kitchen garden out back so everything is always fresh and flavorful.
This local marigold-hued landmark in Potts Point serves lovely, creative dishes. The weekend breakfast and brunch menu has all the Australian classics and some surprises (toasted liquorice bread!), but it’s dinner hour where the chefs’ talents really come through. Be sure to order a side of jacket potatoes, whipped up to look like cupcakes, and topped with a dollop of sour cream and chive “sprinkles.”