Sydney is a gourmet paradise, with some of the world’s best chefs. Asian and Mediterranean cooking have had a major influence on Australian cuisine, with spices and herbs finding their way into most dishes. Immigration has brought with it almost every type of cuisine, from African to Tibetan, Russian to Vietnamese.
Sydney is a great place to try the Australian style of contemporary cuisine, which emphasizes fresh ingredients and a creative blend of European styles with Asian influences. And because there’s no doubt in my mind that a really great meal will stick in your mind long after your visit to Australia is over, I’ve included some of Australia’s top restaurants in these listings. The prices may be high but are almost always well worth it, especially if you are looking for an experience rather than just a meal.
Breakfast is big in Australia, a favorite time of day to meet friends and linger over a hearty repast (albeit often a late one). As for coffee, Australians favor a range of Italian-style creations. Ask for a latte if you just want coffee with milk.
And remember that in Australia, the first course is called the entree and the second course the main.
What to Know About Dining in Syndey
Most moderate and inexpensive restaurants in Sydney are BYO, as in “bring your own” bottle (wine only), though some places also have extensive wine and beer lists. More moderately priced restaurants are also introducing corkage fees, which mean you pay anywhere from A$2 to A$8 per person for the privilege of having the waiter open your bottle of wine. Very expensive restaurants are usually fully licensed and don’t allow you to BYO.
Sydney’s cheap eats congregate in center-city areas such as Crown Street in Darlinghurst and Glebe Point Road in Glebe. There are also inexpensive joints scattered among the more upscale restaurants in Kings Cross and along trendy Oxford Street.
Some restaurants add a surcharge on public holidays and Sundays, usually around 5% or 10% per person. Restaurants argue that it’s difficult to get staff to work on these days, so they need to provide a cash incentive. In Australia, waiters rely on their wages rather than tips.Smoking is banned in all Sydney restaurants, except at some with sidewalk tables or courtyards. Always ask before lighting up.
Best Pub Grub
You can get some really good food with a glass of wine or a schooner of beer on the side in several city pubs. Among the best is The Four in Hand, 105 Sutherland St., Paddington (tel. 02/9326 2254; www.fourinhand.com.au), which has a great restaurant and also does good bar meals, including slow-roasted lamb shoulder and confit pork belly, with all main courses less than A$25. Harts Pub, corner of Essex and Gloucester streets, The Rocks (tel. 02/9251 6030; www.hartspub.com.au), has a great range of craft beers and gourmet and pub grub offerings for A$18 to A$25. In Darlinghurst (Kings Cross), head to The Local Taphouse, 122 Flinders St. (tel. 02/9360 0088; www.thelocal.com.au), where you can delve into a massive beer list and graze from the extensive menu; on Sundays, a roast’s on offer from 1pm. Another gem in Darlinghurst is The Darlo Village Hotel, 234 Palmer St., Darlinghurst (tel. 02/9331 5457; www.darlovillagehotel.com), serving steak and ale pie, bangers and mash, and more, with main courses from around A$18.
Manly is 30 minutes from Circular Quay by ferry. The takeout shops that line the Corso, as well as the pedestrian mall that runs between the ferry terminal and the main Manly Beach, offer everything from Turkish kabobs to Japanese noodles. You’ll find better restaurants along the seafront (though there’s a road between them and the beach).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.