Even though I’m not living there at the moment, Sydney will always be my ‘home town’.
After first moving there to study food science at university, it’s the city I’ve kept coming back to in between my travels and wanderings.
I still get emotional when flying into Sydney, especially if they start playing ‘I Still Call Australia Home’. It’s a truly fabulous city. If you only have enough time to visit one place in Australia, I’d really recommend a few days in Sydney above anywhere else. I’m biased, I know.
I couldn’t narrow my Sydney recommendations down to just 48 hours worth of eating and drinking like I normally do. So I’ve divided it up between breakfasts, lunches and dinners in different locations. Enjoy!
updated: 19th November 2012
BREAKFAST / CAFES
A very cool urban cafe in Surry Hills. The coffee lives up to some pretty high expectations and love the all day menu with many Mexican influences. If you’re up for it they get a big wrap for their breakfast ice cream sandwich.
Kitchen by Mike
A large ‘canteen’ in a funky industrial setting attached to a home wares and furniture design store. The food is top quality and love the ‘canteen’ style where you just choose what looks best and it gets put on your plate and you’re good to go. Lunches are more of a forte but the breakkie menu is excellent. And it doesn’t hurt that ‘Mike’ is an all round nice guy.
The Grounds of Alexandria
My sister has been raving about this place for ages. And when she finally dragged me here for breakfast on the weekend I’m now a convert. Love the massive gardens and the edgy design. The coffee is excellent and the food will keep you coming back for more.
Bourke St Bakery
Some of the best bread and pastries in Oz. The pies and sausage rolls are an Australian institution. Good coffee too. Get a ginger brulee tartlet for later.
Suburban location but my favourite breakfast in Syd. Try the poached eggs with spinach & za’atar.
The Darlinghurst, Surry Hills and Woollahra outposts are all great. Famous for their ricotta hotcakes and scrambled eggs. But it’s all good.
LUNCH IN BONDI
Nth Bondi Italian
Casual, breezy, beachy, all with one of the best views in Sydney. LOVE this place. Food is simple casual Italian. No bookings but it’s fun having a drink at the bar while you wait.
A favourite from way back. Some of the best service in Sydney. Tiny casual location that is serious about the best quality food AND simplicity. A match made in heaven. Not cheap but worth it. Bookings essential.
As fancy as dining gets in Bondi. Brilliant views. Awesome simple Italian. With a price tag. Have a drink in the bar. Bookings recommended.
Plus! Make sure you walk along the cliffs to Bronte beach or even Clovelly if you need to walk off dinner.
LUNCH IN MANLY
Catch the ferry from Circular Quay.
One of the best ways to spend a day on the harbour for hardly any money. If Zoos are your thing you could catch the ferry to the Zoo instead.
Fish & chips on the beach
It’s been way too long since I did this.. trust your instincts. Follow it up with ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s
Haven’t been but heard great things. Italian. If you’re in the mood for a ‘proper restaurant’ for lunch.
DINNER IN SURRY HILLS
An old favourite. Brilliant value. Simple Italian. Menu changes all the time and it’s always amazing. No bookings.
Tiny bar that does brilliant food as well. Go early and pull up a pew. Super knowledgeable bar staff will help you find eating and drinking heaven.
Young chef team doing modern, fun food that’s been dubbed ‘dude food’. Shared plates so you get to try lots of different little yummies. Great wine list too. Have a drink at the pub downstairs
Best pizza in Sydney. No bookings. Real minimalist Neapolitan style pizza.
Super fun Argentinian / Spanish inspired tapas place. Great wine. No bookings.
The grown up brother of Bodega. Massive space that is a temple to the grill. No bookings (except for larger groups) but waiting in the moody bar upstars is no hardship. Go early. Go often. Make sure you order the pork. And the lamb. And the brussels sprouts.
DINNER IN THE CITY
If you ever want to feel like you’re in Paris and not in Sydney, Felix is the place for you. All the bistro classics done exceptionally well. Have been a fan of the chef, Lauren Murdoch for ages.
Rockpool Bar & Grill
For the best steak or fish you’ll ever have. The decor is a bit banker formal. But I still love it. You can also eat in the bar if you prefer more casual. My Irishman loves their burger.
Fun modern Chinese in a moody, underground space. Better if you have a larger group so you can order more dishes.
Fratelli Fresh (Cafe Sopra) – Bridge St
Rustic space and brilliant fresh Italian inspired food. Casual. No booking. Probably the best value dining in Sydney. Other Fratelli are worth visiting. Now in Potts Point, Walsh Bay and the original in Waterloo.
Berta – on the border of Surry Hills.
The location is a back alley but the space is very NYC. Food is brilliant. Italian small plates to share. No bookings so go early. Excellent Italian wine list with heaps by the glass. One of my absolute favourites. Great value too.
DINNER IN THE ROCKS
About as fancy and expensive as dining gets in Sydney. Also wonderfully delicious and the view is unmistakeably Sydney. Bookings are a must along with a fat wallet.
Modern Japanese. Outstanding food and cool space. Bookings recommended. Great list of sake.
Casual, Modern Australian food. Get a table outside if you can. Also great for a drink.
DINNER IN DARLINGHURST
A casual inexpensive lane way restaurant that has a connection to the guys at Bourke St Bakery. Love the simple menu and simple cooking.
A fabulous fish cafe where I met the love of my life. It’s all about super fresh fish prepared with great skill. No bookings but pop your name on the list and have a drink at the Darlo bar or Eau-de-Vie
Dan Hong, the chef is Sydney’s answer to Momofuku in NYC. Modern food with an Asian slant. Really fun space and young service team. No bookings so wait in the bar.
Tiny cosy space. Best handmade pasta in Sydney. If you love rustic Italian this is the place for you! Bookings recommended. The Victoria Rooms across the road are great for a drink before or after if you need.
ON MY LIST TO TRY
Their website says they are ‘all about seasonal Italian’ with a picture of a whole leg of proscuitto. They take bookings too!
A huge Cantonese focused restaurant serving the real deal in stylish surroundings.
Apparently they serve chips cooked in duck fat with their burgers.. Say no more.
I already know I’m going to love it based on my experience of the MoVida establishments in Melbourne. Can’t wait.
A Surry Hills cafe with serious coffee credentials.
John and Peter Canteen
Tried to go here for breakfast once, but they only open for lunch! Great rustic space near the Carriage works markets.
Clothes are expensive in Australia. So it’s not the greatest place for shopping from a value perspective.
Checkout the new Westfield in Pitt St. Or for more rustic charm, have a look at the Queen Victoria Building OR the Strand Arcade. If you need a department store, David Jones is my pick.
Paddington – Oxford St.
Around the corner of Glenmore road is my favourite haunt for up and coming Aussie designers. William St in Paddington has some higher end Australian designers. Collette Dinnigan, being the most famous.
ps. If you’re looking for more Stonesoup travel tips, head over to the Stonesoup Travel Directory.