Locals come here for chef Matt Moran’s modern-Australian dishes that blend European and Asian influences, like roasted scallops with shaved fennel and a tamarind-and-date dressing. The place is also popular for its view of the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House, and for its unparalleled maître d’, Peter Sullivan.
We loved: Peking duck consommé with duck dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms.
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This long-standing pub just underwent an expensive renovation, but the tiled floor in the sprawling front bar helps keep the vibe authentic. In the moodily lit trattoria, chef Danny Russo turns out terrific Italian dishes like gnocchi with smoked ham hock and crushed peas. Out back, in the expansive beer garden, the drinks of choice are classic negronis and “lageritas” (margaritas topped with Hoegaarden wheat beer, served in a pint glass).
We loved: Squid-ink tortellini stuffed with sweet crab and served in a roasted tomato sauce.
Insider tip: Come on Sunday for the Italian roasts—whole suckling pigs or ducks cooked in a wood-fired oven.
Chefs Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate had a hit on their hands from the moment they opened this mellow tapas bar. They use Spanish and South American dishes as a jumping-off point for globally influenced dishes like beetroot, witlof (in the endive family) and orange salad served with lebneh (fresh yogurt cheese).
We loved: Argentinean-style beef empanadas loaded with hard-boiled egg and black olives.
Not content with the success of his fine-dining spot, Marque, chef Mark Best is also consulting on the casual, seasonal and organic-produce-driven menu at this restaurant in Sydney’s grand 189-hectare Centennial Parklands.
We loved: Chickpea soup with a 64-degree duck egg; gazpacho topped with mozzarella and green tomatoes; wagyu tartare with french fries.
Justin North builds on his reputation as a champion of local, organic producers at this more moderately priced version of his iconic Becasse. The kitchen, under Becasse alum James Metcalf, turns out clean-flavored dishes featuring Outback-raised wagyu and Australian saltbush lamb.
We loved: Spiced kingfish sashimi with shredded fennel and orange.
Millions of dollars have been poured into this multilevel complex of bars and restaurants that’s part Studio 54, part ’70s Playboy Mansion. Once past the velvet ropes—a reservation helps here—the best dining options are Uccello, with its wood-fired oven and comfort-food Italian menu, and Ash Street Cellars, chef Lauren Murdoch’s terrific, elegant wine bar.
We loved: At Uccello, spicy stew of local prawns; ricotta and spinach gnudi. At Ash Street Cellars, guanciale-and-mushroom bruschetta; chorizo with parmesan-crumbed artichokes.
A ferry ride across Sydney Harbour to Manly followed by a steep climb over the headland (or, for the lazy, a taxi ride) is all part of the adventure of dining at Pilu. The ultimate destination: a sublime table overlooking Pacific waves and curving white sand. Sardinian chef Giovanni Pilu’s wonderful takes on his native cuisine include saffron pasta with a baby-goat ragù.
We loved: Fish soup of clams, mussels and fregola; slow-roasted suckling pig.
Born-and-bred Sydney chef Peter Gilmore transformed Quay, a former tourist trap, when he took over in 2001, bringing his Asian- and European-influenced cooking and a devotion to local produce.
We loved: The signature trio of “sea pearls”: tapioca-crusted crab and yuzu; egg white set around a core of eel brandade; and scallop and crème fraîche rolled in caviar.
This frantic open-air Surry Hills café overlooking a busy road serves exhilaratingly spicy Thai street food loaded with hand-pounded spice pastes. At the end of 2008, owner Sujet Saenkham opened a swankier outpost in Darlinghurst.
We loved: Crispy pork belly; fermented-rice vermicelli with yellow fish curry sauce.
Brilliant chefs around the world make the pilgrimage here to sample Tetsuya Wakuda’s internationally renowned marriage of Japanese sensibilities, innovative culinary risks and the best local produce for his definitive modern-Australian cuisine. The degustation menu of no less than 10 constantly evolving courses—like a chilled corn soup with saffron and vanilla ice cream—is the only dining choice (there’s no a la carte option).
We loved: Confit of Tasmanian ocean trout with konbu, daikon and fennel.
Christine Manfield recently returned from London (where she made an impression with East@West) to oversee this sultry courtyard restaurant. Playing to loyal fans from her days at Sydney’s Paramount, she creates eclectic dishes with inspirations that range from Southeast Asia to Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
We loved: Braised wagyu beef shin with prawns, green chile and galangal; “Coco loco” dessert, with roasted coconut cream, vanilla rum jelly and “cigars” filled with coconut, lychee and pineapple sorbet.