If you're not already a movie star, you'll sure feel like one when you dine at one of the top restaurants in Sydney.
It's more than just the perfect service, the to-die-for décor, and the bold, creative genius of internationally recognised chefs taking dining to a whole new level.
It's knowing that the chair you're sitting on has probably cradled some of the most exciting backsides in the world. An Oscar winner or two. Perhaps a diva fresh off the stage at the Opera House. A hungry president still in his sailing clothes after a power junket on the harbour. Or a hung-over rock star with a bed-tousled model in tow and a bad case of the munchies.
You could be forgiven for expecting it to all be a bit over the top. A tad pretentious.
But it's not. Sydney is the party city - Australia's capital for having a good time, and doing it with confidence, style, a healthy dash of irreverence, and lashings of glamour.
Sydney restaurants have this attitude nailed. Even the top Sydney restaurants are all about the food, the beverages, the ambience, and knocking themselves out to rock your world.
Sydney restaurants tick all the boxes
All the planets were certainly in alignment when foodie gods created Sydney's restaurant culture. It ticks ALL the boxes, with surprise extras on the side to really amp up your dining out experience.
- Luminary chefs keep the city's diners in culinary thrall, like lead characters in a super hero epic, complete with cult followings and good-humoured battles for top spot in the food chain
- Produce with impeccable provenance, whisked in by jet or harvested locally and delivered deliciously fresh daily
- More chefs' hats than any other Australian city. (Eat your heart out Melbourne)
- Spectacular waterfront settings with heavenly views of the harbour and city lights at night are par for the course at many Sydney eateries
- Conversely, many of the best inner-city restaurants offer settings so fabulously stylish and uber-cool you'll have to whip out the camera for a few Kodak moments to drool over later and to plaster on your Facebook to say, "Here we are." And "Look at what I'm eating!"
- A sunny temperate climate ideal for al fresco dining
Find the best restaurants in Sydney
Sydney has a multitude of dining out precincts. Too many to mention here. But here are some of the hot spots to find Sydney's best restaurants:
It's first on the list for good reason. The pumping inner-city suburb of Surry Hills is home to several of the very best restaurants in Sydney. A couple are awarded Australia's finest and are up there with the world's best.
But no worries if you're on a budget. This precinct is packed to the gizzards with eateries of all descriptions, including the most sophisticated pub grub in the universe, funky little cafes, and ethnic restaurants by the dozen.
Sydney CBD restaurants
There are some really big names to enjoy in Sydney's dynamic CBD, including several with legend status! The main eat streets are George, Elizabeth, Macquarie, Sussex and Kent.
This part of "Old Sydney" is home to several top Sydney restaurants, as well as some charming pubs. It's hugely popular with visitors from interstate and abroad, thanks to harbourside locale and many historic convict-built buildings and laneways.
Now you're really spoilt for choice. Not only a generous helping of iconic Sydney restaurants, several of which reside in VIBs (Very Important Buildings) but jaw-dropping views to boot.
Here's where to play spot the big shot Bondi hipster in sweat pants and sunglasses, having brekky by the seaside with their fancy pooches. The locals are up early so many Bondi eateries are open for business as soon as the sun rises. Later in the day, frock up for a memorable night out at one of the awesome local restaurants with panoramic views of Bondi beach.
You'll never go short of a good feed in this lively part of town. Many restaurants are open until late, and there's a huge variety of ethnic cuisines to choose from, at prices to suit all budgets. Victoria and McLeay streets and Bayswater and Darlinghurst Roads are lined with eateries of all persuasions.
Where does one start? So many options, ranging from the cheap and cheerful to the flash and pricey, line the waterfront on both the harbour and surf sides, with the streets in between offering a virtual smorgasbord of edible goodies.
Or "Little Italy" is a well-known foodie hangout. Leichhardt is famous for its quality eateries offering a mouth-watering array of cuisine and relaxed pavement dining under shady market umbrellas.
Historic inner-city Glebe is a treasure trove waiting to be explored by the gastronomically adventurous. In this compact suburb on the edge of the CBD, there are over 150 food outlets, including diners dishing up top-notch modern Australian cuisine. Many places are open late, while there's no shortage of cafes open early for a hearty healthy breakfast.
This is Sydney's boho central, with loads of cool BYO eateries tucked in between vintage clothing shops and funky bars. There's a virtual United Nations of authentic cuisines to choose from, mostly at very affordable prices, as this is where the local Indie crowd, musicians, and thespians like to hang out.
North Shore Sydney Restaurants
On the harbour's north shore awaits yet more top Sydney restaurants, including Australia's best seafood restaurant. Here you can indulge in the quintessential Sydney waterfront refined dining experience. Sublime award-winning food, unrivalled ambience, dream views. What more could you wish for?
A short but spectacular ferry ride from the CBD, this gorgeous harbourside village oozes ambience and is loaded with excellent restaurants, historic pubs and groovy bars. In fact, the quality of the local dining is the reason why well-heeled gourmands fight so fiercely over Balmain real estate.
This bustling precinct is busting at the seams with Asian cuisines of all types - not just Chinese, but also Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese. Styles range from reverentially traditional through to bleeding-edge contemporary.
Relaxed, festive and wonderfully authentic, Sydney's Spanish Quarter is in the CBD and is the place to go if you're itching to tango with tapas and sangria. It's home to the Spanish Club, where Sydney's Spanish community gather for a regular taste of "home".
Oxford Street, Paddington
A firm favourite with fashionistas, this area is heaven on a stick for those who love to eat or simply nibble on a few perfectly presented lettuce leaves in between forays into designer boutiques.
Darling Harbour on the west side of the CBD has great waterfront restaurants with al fresco dining, eye-popping views of the marina, plus fun things to see and do before or after your meal.
Always book for Sydney's best restaurants
Sydneysiders love to eat out and are very enthusiastic supporters of their local restaurants. Even what appears to be a quiet, unassuming eatery may be a much-loved haunt, so make sure you book your table.
For Sydney's best restaurants, it pays to book some time ahead, especially for Friday and Saturday nights. Also book ahead for special occasions such as Valentines' Day and any day there's a big event on in town, such the footy Grand Final and Mardi Gras.