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Insider Guide to Sydney Restaurants

One of Australia’s most famous chefs, Peter Gilmore is a Sydney native who invigorated the harbor-front restaurant Quay with his devotion to local produce and Asian- and European-influenced cooking. Here, he shares his favorite restaurants in the city, ranging from incredible dim sum to cutting-edge French.

Sexy, Subterranean Chinese: Spice Temple

“Owned by the celebrity chef Neil Perry, Spice Temple is in the basement of his steak restaurant Rockpool. You enter through a door that’s actually a big illuminated digital screen and descend a flight of stairs to a very dimly lit restaurant with lots of reds and dark timber. They specialize in regional Chinese cuisine, especially Sichuan food. You can have a crispy cumin-lamb pancake, or a spicy quail dish with peanuts and lots of chiles.” rockpool.com

High-End in Surry Hills: Marque Restaurant

“This is where to go for a cutting-edge, high-end experience (besides Quay). There are lots of great chefs in Sydney, but I find Mark Best to be the most interesting. Though his roots are French, his food is modern European with Asian influences. It’s a very personal cuisine, and therefore not tied to a specific nationality or movement—it’s more about the quality of the ingredients and using different techniques, as in his pickled Diamond clams with cured sea urchin and hazelnuts. It’s quite an intimate setting—very dark and moody with only 30 or 40 seats.” marquerestaurant.com.au

The Sailors Club
Photo courtesy of Sailors Club.

Go-To Lunch: The Sailors Club

“This is a really fun place to go for lunch and sit outside overlooking Rose Bay. The restaurant used to be called Pier but was renovated. They changed the name, the look, the menu—everything. They’re serving really casual seafood like fish and chips and grilled yellowfin tuna.” thesailorsclub.com.au

Natural Wine Bar: Love, Tilly Devine

“There’s a cozy little wine bar in Darlinghurst that does really interesting wines and nice bar snacks. The guy who owns it, Matt Swieboda, is the ex-sommelier at Quay. He’s really into small, boutique, natural wines.” lovetillydevine.com

Up-and-Coming: Sixpenny

“There is a really top little restaurant in Stanmore, a suburb of Sydney, run by two talented young chefs, James Parry and Daniel Puskas. They’ve been around Sydney for a while, but have lots of fresh ideas and just recently opened their tasting menu only restaurant. Their food is really modern and very focused on seasonal, local produce.” sixpenny.com.au

Trendy and Over-the-Top: Mr. Wong

“Next door to the Establishment Hotel, this place recently opened and it’s really quite amazing. It seats 240 people and they serve really good dim sum and Cantonese specialties like roast duck and stir-fried rice with pork and prawns. It looks like old Shanghai and the atmosphere is quite fun.” merivale.com.au/mrwong

Dim Sum Obsession: Sea Treasure

“On my day off, my family and I go out for yum cha—tea and dim sum—it’s definitely my comfort food. There are heaps of yum cha places in Chinatown, but I grew up on the north side of Sydney and this is my favorite spot up there. They have good food and a great atmosphere.” 46 Willoughby Rd., Crows Nest (02) 9906 6388

Classic Breakfast: Bill’s

“That’s a hard one. I don’t really go for breakfast—I’m too busy! But Bill’s is very good, and quite famous. They have several locations, and serve a full Aussie breakfast with scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, roast tomato, sausage and mushrooms, and incredible ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter.” bills.com.au

Delicious Pastries: La Renaissance Café Pâtisserie

“This is a really good pâtisserie in The Rocks [the old part of the city] that serves modern French pastries, beautiful cakes and Sydney’s best macarons. You can pick up food to go or sit outside at their little sidewalk café.” larenaissance.com.au

Gelato Break: Pompei’s

“Down at Bondi Beach, this is a pizza restaurant that serves really good gelato. I had a fantastic peach gelato there the other day. They also serve a great salted-caramel gelato.” pompeis.com.au

Legendary Butcher Shop: Victor Churchill

“Sydney has what is probably the most beautiful butcher store in the world. It’s in an Eastern suburb called Wollahra, and the store’s been family-run since 1876. It’s the place to go for amazing meat and charcuterie. You can also take butchering or cooking classes if you like.” victorchurchill.com

Don’t-Miss Cultural Activity: Museum of Contemporary Art

“Down in The Rocks, overlooking Sydney’s harbor, this museum just had a major renovation and nearly doubled its size with a new addition. It has an impressive collection from modern Australian artists, including video installations from Shaun Gladwell and works by photographer Tracey Moffatt.” mca.com.au

Park Hyatt Sydney
Photo courtesy of Park Hyatt.

Favorite Hotel: Park Hyatt Sydney

“If you want a five-star experience, I definitely recommend the Hyatt. It’s right on the harbor down on The Rocks, which is the old part of Sydney. It’s handy to everything. They just had a major refurbishment.” sydney.park.hyatt.com

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