10 Dishes to Try in Sydney

Sydney is synonymous with world-class seafood and the harbor views that accompany it, but that's not all this cosmopolitan city has to offer. Thanks to its multicultural population, Sydney is home to a diverse culinary culture just waiting to be explored.

While Melbourne is famous for its pizza, pasta and gyros, Sydney shines when it comes to Chinese and South-East Asian cuisines. Read on to find out how to eat your way through Australia's largest and most surprising food city.

01 of 10

Bush Foods

Small plates with native ingredients at Paperbark restaurant

Courtesy of Paperbark 

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that inhabited the continent for at least 60,000 years before colonization relied on its native plants and animals, including finger limes, wattle seeds, saltbush and lemon myrtle. The native flora and fauna are called bush foods and these ingredients are rapidly regaining popularity throughout Sydney, appearing on the menus of fine dining restaurants like Paperbark and Bennelong. For a more comprehensive understanding of bush foods, book an Indigenous-led tour.

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02 of 10

Smashed Avocado

Avocado on toast

Matilda Delves / Getty Images

Smashed avocado on toast is Sydney's iconic brunch dish, usually accompanied by a latte or a freshly-squeezed mimosa. Local chef Bill Granger is often credited with kicking off the trend in the '90s, and it's still on the menu at his eponymous cafe in Darlinghurst.

For a more contemporary take, try Cafe Rumah in Surry Hills or Bowery Lane in the city center. Just be prepared for the eye-watering price tag at most hotspots; in 2017 avocado toast became a topic of national debate when property developer Tim Gurner blamed Millennials' expenditure on smashed avocado and coffee for their inability to buy a house.

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03 of 10

Meat Pie

Tiger pie with fries and a Coke

Courtesy of Harry's 

The humble Aussie meat pie may seem simple, but the perfect combination of beef and pastry is so much more than the sum of its parts. Harry's Café de Wheels has served up Sydney's best pies for over 70 years from nine locations across the city. Order the Tiger (topped with mushy peas, mashed potato and gravy) for the full experience.

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04 of 10

Yum Cha

People eating yum cha with chopsticks

Thai Yuan Lim / EyeEm / Getty Images

Craving dumplings for breakfast? Try yum cha. In English, dim sum generally refers to small-portion Chinese dishes, while yum cha describes the meal where these dishes are eaten. Sydney's yum cha is the best outside Asia, with dozens of excellent restaurants serving dim sum in Haymarket, Sydney's Chinatown.

Head to Marigold, the Eight or Palace Chinese from around 10 a.m. and choose from the incredible number of delicacies brought around to each table via trolley. Yum cha literally means "sip tea" in Cantonese, so make sure to accompany your selections with multiple cups of the stuff.

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05 of 10

Sydney Rock Oysters

Plate of fresh oysters with lemon

 Courtesy of Sydney Cove Oyster Bar

Widely recognized as the best in the world, Sydney rock oysters are an unmissable delicacy. This oyster species is endemic to Australia and New Zealand, and offers a sweeter and more complex taste than Atlantic, Pacific, or Kumamoto oysters. Eat them by the dozen, fresh or Kilpatrick style with bacon and Worcestershire sauce.

The Sydney Cove Oyster Bar looks out towards the Harbour Bridge, and Saint Peter in Paddington focuses on sustainably sourced seafood. If you'd rather shuck your own, head to the Sydney Fish Market. The prawns aren't bad either.

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06 of 10

Fish and Chips

Fish and chips with the ocean in the background

Jeremy Hudson / Getty Images

Eating fish and chips on the beach is an Sydney rite of passage, inherited from England's much cooler climate but somehow still perfect for the Australian sun and surf.

Most local takeaway joints do a passable version of battered fish, fries, and tartar sauce wrapped in brown paper, but we recommend Doyle's or Bottom of the Harbour for top-notch seafood. Don't forget to keep an eye on your lunch, or you'll be fighting the seagulls for it in no time.

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07 of 10

Bánh Mì

Banh mi pork sandwich

HoangPhoto / Getty Images

Sydney's many iterations of this Vietnamese baguette run the gamut from cheap sandwiches to gourmet creations. Filled with pork, pickled vegetables, cilantro, chili, and pâté, the fresh and punchy flavours of bánh mì must be tasted to be believed.

Marrickville Pork Roll, with storefronts in the inner west and Haymarket, is Sydney's reigning champion for value and taste, but Bau Truong's deep-fried fusion bánh mì is a worthy challenger.

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08 of 10

Portuguese Custard Tart

Portuguese custard tarts

kstphotography / Getty Images

Arguably Sydneysiders' favorite sweet snack, the Portuguese custard tart is a rich and wholly satisfying pairing of creamy custard, crispy pastry, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. The most authentic can be found in the neighborhood of Petersham, where Gloria's and Sweet Belem preside over Sydney's Little Portugal.

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09 of 10


Honeycomb gelato

Courtesy of Gelato Messina

Sydney's year-round sunny weather means it is always a good time for ice cream. Gelato Messina, founded in Darlinghurst in 2002, is a giant of the city's gelato scene, scooping house-made flavors like apple pie, blood orange and chocolate fondant, plus weekly specials. There are now a dozen Messina stores across the city.

For something a little more low-key, try Cow and the Moon artisan gelato in Enmore. Since 2011, this small store has won national and international awards for flavors like strawberry, balsamic vinegar and panna cotta, and fig and mascarpone.

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10 of 10


Thali with curry, rice and sauces

Sergio Amiti / Getty Images

Thali means "plate" in Hindi, referring to a style of eating where multiple curries, sauces, vegetables, rice, and bread are served on a single dish. In Sydney, the thali represents the most adventurous way to eat Indian food, experiencing a whole world of flavor in a single meal.

Take a trip to Billu's in Harris Park (often called Sydney's Little India) for authentic, delicious, and beautiful thalis. Closer to the city, Maya Masala is another excellent option.