From degustation in the Blue Mountains to vegan fine dining, French-Japanese fusion and flame-grilled perfection – these are Sydney's best restaurants.
Move aside, Melbourne – there’s a new culinary capital in town. The Harbour City may be known for its big-ticket items, but a burgeoning restaurant scene has been bubbling away, and now it’s ready to take centre stage. From Cantonese in the CBD to native Australian in the Blue Mountains, Sydney’s best restaurants span locations and cuisines, but have one thing in common: absolute deliciousness. Here are our top picks of the latest, greatest must-try restaurants in 2023.
After the ultimate place to stay to soak up Sydney’s best? A stay at Ovolo Woolloomooloo may be just what you’re after.
In 1989, Tetsuya Wakuda opened a small French-Japanese restaurant in Rozelle, simply called Tetsuya’s. One move to Sydney’s CBD and 34 years later, the French-Japanese restaurant is now considered one of the world’s best, renowned for combining classic French cooking techniques with the Japanese philosophy of letting seasonal ingredients shine. Look over an exquisite Japanese garden as you work your way through the degustation menu, perfectly paired with a wine from the large cellar. Dishes change as regularly as the seasons, but previous examples have included NSW Rangers Valley Wagyu, young oyster mushroom, nettle and sansho, or Hokkaido scallops with seaweed crumble and tomato consommé. For traditional fine dining, there’s nowhere better.
Ormeggio at The Spit, Mosman
No list of Sydney’s best restaurants is complete without a waterfront wonder, and Ormeggio at the Spit is one of the city’s finest. Overlooking the body of water in Northern Sydney called The Spit, this buzzy Italian hotspot is all about sustainable seafood and great cocktails, served with a knockout view. Take your seat by the water’s edge to peruse the a la carte selection – will it be the hand-shaped rosemary focaccia and oysters to start? Just make sure you leave room for the signature Pavoni risotto, swordfish cotoletta and ‘coppa gelato’, a very local take on the classic ice cream sundae. Fancy exploring the Northern Beaches a little more? Book a stay at Barrenjoey House Palm Beach for days spent on the sand.
The inner-west suburb of Petersham isn’t the first place many would look for one of Sydney’s best restaurants, but therein lies the charm of Sixpenny, a fine diner that writes a nightly love letter to all things Australia. Chefs Daniel Puskas and Anthony Schifilliti tell the stories of our sunburnt country through their degustation menu, working with local suppliers, growers and producers to create a progressive and innovative offering that’s guided by the seasons. The accompanying wine list is considered and accessible, but to get the very best out of it, let the sommeliers guide you through with a pairing.
Yellow, Potts Point
Fine dining and veganism don’t always go hand-in-hand, but at Yellow, nestled in Sydney’s Potts Point, they're a match made in heaven. Having already opened the award-winning Bentley Restaurant & Bar, Monopole and Cirrus, chef Brent Savage recognised a need for vegan dining, so set about creating a tasting menu that treats vegetables with the same consideration as protein, with delicious results. Each dish heroes unique heirloom vegetables, grown by local farmers – think poached turnip with whipped tofu and kombu, or beetstrami with hemp ricotta and chimichurri. Group Sommelier Nick Hildebrandt’s drinks selection includes both the familiar and lesser-known, with natural, biodynamic and vegan drops all making an appearance.
Atelier by Sofitel, Sydney
The best of southern French cooking meets the finest Australian ingredients at Atelier by Sofitel, the flagship restaurant of the five-star Sofitel Sydney. Gaze out over Darling Harbour as you devour dishes like Grima Farm Jerusalem artichoke veloute with charred leek, hazelnut and truffle, or O’Connor beef cheek daube Provencal, with celeriac puree, swede and turnip. Steak savants need not look further than the Boucherie Atelier, where some of the best cuts of meat are grilled to your liking and served with a range of accompaniments. Just like the food, the wine list is an inspired combination of French and Australian drops, all chosen to complement the intriguing textures and flavours of the seasonal menu.
The Blue Mountains might be known for its spectacular natural scenery, but one restaurant is aiming to make it an epicurean destination. Arrana, found in the heart of Springwood, offers locals and visitors a fine dining degustation experience that showcases native Australian ingredients like emu, muntries, Davidson plum and Illawarra plum. Elevate each dish with a beer and whiskey pairing, or let the drinks team guide you through their extensive offering of wines, cocktails, beers and spirits – either way, you’re bound to get a true taste of modern Australia. While visiting this unique part of the world, why not stay a while? The nearby Lilianfels Resort & Spa has everything you need for a boutique escape.
Mr Wong, Sydney
Mr Wong is a modern Cantonese classic and for good reason; since opening in 2012, it has become the go-to for Sydneysiders looking for delicious dim sum, beautiful barbecue duck and a larger-than-life dining room. With over 80 dishes and 240 seats, we suggest coming hungry…and with a group. Executive Chef Dan Hong, also of Ms G’s in Potts Point, knows a thing or two about knockout flavours - pick your way through the a la carte selection or leave it in the hands of the experts with the banquet menu. If you’ve eaten too much to move too far, check in to A by Adina Sydney, a luxe apartment escape just a five-minute walk away.
Urban Tadka, Terrey Hills
Not all of Sydney’s best restaurants lie in the CBD – nestled in the northwest suburb of Terrey Hills sits one of the city’s best Indian restaurants, renowned for dishing out refined flavours from all over the sub-continent. Urban Tadka, named for the traditional technique of tempering spices, celebrates the versatility and diversity of Indian cooking, using traditional methods and a specialty grill to offer dishes like vada doi, lamb kakori seekh and gosht khurmani korma. Best of all, with a dining area, bar, function area and relaxed lounge, it has a spot for every type of celebration.
Restaurant Moon, Darlinghurst
What happens when you combine a love of Thai cuisine with a curiosity and passion for European technique? It looks something like Restaurant Moon. This unique combination starts with the interiors, with blue velvet, brass stools and a minimalist aesthetic feeling very 'European wine bar'. However, this is where the restraint ends – the degustation menu is a masterclass in flavour, with dishes like Angus beef tartlet, Southern Thai-style BBQ chicken and Thai curry with pork rib and minced fish with rice. It’s Thai food, but not as you know it.
Firedoor, Surry Hills
When it comes to open-flame cooking, there’s no one better than Lennox Hastie. The UK-born chef cut his teeth at some of the best restaurants in the UK and Europe and eventually found a home in Sydney, where he opened Firedoor in 2015. Cooking only with fire and seasonal ingredients, Lennox and his team combine experience, patience and instinct to create a daily-changing menu with dishes like Murray cod with charred cos, grapes and capers, or Jerusalem artichoke with chestnuts and onion kimchi. The open-plan kitchen affords a front-row seat to all the action – watch as the team works over two wood-fired ovens, three grills and a wood-burning hearth to create your flame-licked meal.
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For more of the city's gourmand destinations, check out Sydney's Best Restaurants with a View.