Seafood is big business in the Sydney dining scene. After all, the city is perfectly situated to serve the best the vast Tasman Sea has to offer. No visit to the Harbour City—or Australia as a whole—would be complete until you’ve tried a delicious plate of Barramundi, a firm and moist whitefish native to the waters of northern and western Australia, or tasted a few Moreton Bay bugs, which, despite their name, are not insects, but delicious little slipper lobsters that practically melt in your mouth. (They taste great grilled to tender perfection or served on a cold seafood platter with aioli.) Just about every restaurant in town features seafood on the menu, but there are a few specific locations that specialize in dishes centered around fish. They’ve earned their keep with locals and tourists alike, so next time you’re in town, give one of these spots a try.
Fish Face Dining
For years, Darlinghurst’s Fish Face was perhaps Sydney’s best-known seafood eatery—a quality spot where crowds gathered on the sidewalk, waiting for their chance to smash a plate of delicious fish and chips. Now Fish Face has upped its game, morphing into a full-fledged restaurant in nearby Double Bay. Stop in for an elegant, well-made dinner on a fancy night out.
Sydney Fish Market
It isn’t much to look at—and there are plans to overhaul the whole shebang—but that shouldn’t keep you from dropping by this Sydney institution on the waterfront, where you can pick up fresh seafood to cook at home, grab a hearty pescetarian meal, or even sign up for a class where you can learn how to shuck an oyster, fillet a fish, or peel a prawn.
This tiny, white-tiled corner shop has been a favorite of Surry Hills locals for just over two decades. There aren’t many tables, so you’ll want to arrive early. You can go the traditional route with fish and chips, but I recommend being adventurous; the menu brims with great options like Sichuan pepper prawns, dory with grapes, almonds, and gratin potatoes, or a hearty fish pie complemented by mushrooms, leek, celery, mashed potatoes, and parmesan.
This elegant eatery at the end of pier 21 on Jones Bay Wharf has been dishing up lovely, thoughtful seafood for a decade, and the quality has never wavered. They’re known for their Asian-inspired dishes (the curries are particularly renowned), and appetizers are a must (I like the calamari). Headed in with a large group? Consider the degustation or Flying Fish menus, which bring several courses to your table for a set per-person price.
The Sardine Room
This quaint little bistro in Potts Point offers up lovely dishes that marry great ingredients with quality cooking—stuff like smoked eel and cheddar croquettes with cherry tomato chutney, smoked cod and gorgonzola risotto with leek and peas, or a simple, elegant whole salt and pepper lemon sole with snow peas and aioli. Good luck ordering—you’ll want to eat pretty much every item on the menu.