Eating is an essential part of any trip to Sydney. The city's food culture is famous around the world, defined by local ingredients, global influences, and a thoughtful approach to fine dining. Seafood is often in the spotlight, alongside lamb and Asian herbs and spices. Don't be afraid to venture off the beaten track—this harborside city is packed with world-class places to eat at, from the city center to the beach and suburbs. Read on for our guide to some of the best.
Rare ingredients are just waiting to be discovered at Quay in the Rocks, where chef Peter Gilmore has designed intriguing six- and ten-course menus with a gastronomic twist. Don't miss the white coral dessert, constructed from freeze-dried white chocolate and served with apricot ice cream. Thanks to a complete renovation in 2018, the interior now has stunning vistas of the harbor; meanwhile, the service has been impeccable since Quay opened in 2001.
Looking out over Circular Quay towards the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, diners at Aria are treated to incredible modern Australian cuisine. Executive Chef Joel Bickford plays with Australian seafood, European cheeses, and Asian sauces to create an unforgettable culinary experience. Choose from a two- or three-course meal on weekdays, and three or four courses on weekends. There is also a tasting menu available.
When it comes to décor, Cirrus is relaxed and airy—but the team behind this Barangaroo restaurant takes its seafood very seriously. Order the fish and chips and you'll enjoy flathead battered with quinoa, head and all. The team prioritizes sustainable sourcing, gathering the best fish from across the country. The desserts are to die for and panoramic water views don't hurt, either. Surprisingly, a decent vegetarian menu is also on offer.
This small spot in Stanmore is named after the sixpence restaurants that were common in Australia in the late 1800s and fed the populace on the cheap. Like sixpence restaurants, Sixpenny only offers a set menu, but the similarities end there.
The restaurant highlights all things Australian, from traditional recipes to creative new products like biodynamic rain-fed rice from the Northern Rivers. Fortunately, the space remains unpretentious and staff are happy to share their knowledge of native ingredients.
Tucked away in Potts Point, this restaurant takes its name from its location: a historic yellow house that was once home to one of Sydney's most influential art collectives.
Freshly baked bread, hard-to-find greens, and Instagram-worthy plates make Yellow an all-day destination. Many dishes can be made vegan on request and there are also vegan wines available.
You may have heard of Australians' passion for throwing a shrimp on the barbie by way of Paul Hogan. However, despite calling itself a barbecue restaurant, you'll find no shrimps or sausages at Firedoor in Surry Hills.
This is a modern grill, powered entirely by wood fire, where the skilled chefs cook everything from kangaroo to clams. Complex flavors and interesting salads make Firedoor a must for carnivores.
Fred's brings European farmhouse simplicity to Paddington, with much of the food cooked over an open fire. Chef Danielle Alvarez (who trained at Chez Panisse in California) has a light touch, adding just enough excitement to dishes like lamb cutlets and butterflied quail without overcomplicating things. The open kitchen adds to the slow food experience, where diners can see the whole culinary process.
For northern Italian classics, you can't go past Lucio's in Paddington. This restaurant has been a neighborhood favorite since 1983, with fresh pasta made in-house daily and a generous six-course dinner tasting menu. The slow-cooked lamb shoulder is especially delicious. Artists tend to congregate here, and the bright yellow walls are covered in their work.
Mr. Wong is a sprawling Cantonese restaurant in Surry Hills, serving dim sum at lunch and an extensive barbecue menu at night. We recommend getting your hands on any of the dishes that include the show-stopping Peking duck or king crab.
A little more upmarket than the tasty and affordable Chinese restaurants in nearby Haymarket, Mr. Wong stands out thanks to a stellar Aussie wine list, intimate interior, and top-notch service.
Chef Tetsuya Wakuda's French-Japanese fusion redefined Australian dining when it opened its doors in 1987. Served with apple, kombu, and soy, the confit ocean trout is Tetsuya's signature dish, while the ten-course tasting menu is also enduringly popular (and pricey). Complete with views onto a Japanese garden, the dining room is filled with modern art and white linen.
Divided into a bar and lounge, Hubert is a warm and welcoming Parisian-style establishment. The champagne and wine list is extensive, and the food is rich and satisfying. Order the chicken fricasée for a faithful version of the French classic. Hubert also hosts events, with live jazz every Wednesday and Thursday night.
Catalina has been a Rose Bay institution for over 25 years, with a reputation for summery cocktails, oysters, and long lunches that encapsulate Eastern Suburbs sophistication. Order the crispy skin barramundi (from Cone Bay in Western Australia), or the roasted suckling pig for two.
Grab a spot on the the balcony, which sits out over the sparkling blue water of Sydney Harbour. The restaurant can be reached by ferry or water taxi from Circular Quay, as well as by car and bus.
This hidden gem in Chippendale offers unfussy food that brings out the best of Sydney's seasonal produce. Diners are served a regularly changing set menu at both lunch (five courses) and dinner (five or seven courses), with the option to add an innovative beverage pairing. The interior features shared tables and industrial-chic décor, while service is friendly and casual.
Chef Bill Granger is credited with kickstarting Australia's avocado toast obsession, making his three Sydney cafés an essential part of the city's dining culture.
The menu is slightly different at each; in Bondi, you'll find a laid-back yet luxurious beach vibe, while the Darlinghurst and Surry Hills outposts ooze inner-city cool. The focus on fresh, wholesome food remains unchanged, drawing crowds of locals and out-of-towners for brunch on weekends.
This tiny space in Darlinghurst is bursting with flavor, inspired by Sri Lanka's diverse and underrated cuisine. The tantalizing curries are best shared, scooped up by pieces of bowl-shaped rice hoppers.
If you're feeling adventurous, try the arrack, a spirit distilled from the sap of the coconut flower. Make sure to arrive early for dinner or prepare to line up, as Lankan Filling Station does not accept reservations.