Flying interstate this summer? Or just need some inspiration for things to get up to in your hometown? Broadsheet’s city cheat sheets are here to help. From the hottest new players that live up to the hype, to old favourites that continue to deliver, this is how to make the most of your visit.
For a simple breakfast of avo on toast or an exemplary toastie (and good coffee), go to Torpedoes, a cute new cafe in a remodelled shipping container at Sub Base Platypus. Until last year, the harbourside area was a no-go zone for 150 years – it’s been a gasworks, a torpedo factory and also a base for the Royal Australian Navy’s Oberon-class submarine (back then it was called HMAS Platypus – thus the curious name). The area is still being redeveloped, but the pretty public spot near the North Sydney ferry stop has this cafe – and, if you visit after 12, you can grab a vino or beer.
For a more extravagant breakfast, head to Pyrmont’s Quick Brown Fox. The all-day breakfast menu includes elegant dishes such as folded eggs with truffled crème fraîche, and a show-stopping koshihikari (premium short-grain rice) congee served with a chilli fried egg, enoki mushrooms, maple-glazed bacon, grilled cabbage, chilli relish and optional quinoa-fried chicken or king prawns. It’s a winner.
Sean’s Panaroma in Bondi is a long-lunch fave and a quintessential Sydney dining experience. The dining room walls are filled with art and pieces chef Sean Moran has picked up over the many years, and there are roses and other colourful flowers everywhere – almost as pretty as the ocean across the road. The food isn’t tricked up or flamboyant – just outstanding produce cooked with a deft touch (the roast chicken is the benchmark for the city).
If Italian is more your scene, it has to be a Totti’s lunch. Try not to fill up with the puffy woodfired bread and the house-made ’nduja and burrata (it’s almost impossible), because you’ll absolutely regret not being able to eat the pasta and tiramisu. Book a table in the sunny courtyard.
When Lotus opened in 2002 it was the place to go. It shut in 2012, but Lotus 2.0 made a comeback this year, opening in the same Potts Point spot – and it’s once again the place to dine. It was where Dan Hong – one of Sydney’s most respected chefs – made a name for himself, and eating his food at the reboot shows you how far he’s progressed. Order everything.
Alternatively, there’s sexy CBD laneway eatery Ragazzi. You absolutely need to start with the deliciously salty, extremely buttery anchovy bread (so good), then move onto the handmade pastas paired with whatever they recommend to drink. You’re in safe hands here.
The vibe is casual and the drinks superbly made at inner-west bar-pub hybrid Marrickville Hotel. There’s a dog-and-kid-friendly courtyard out the back and lots of stuff to look at, such as record covers, art and bric-a-brac. Food isn’t fancy – there are cheese and meat plates (all $10) and toasties if you feel like snacking.
If you prefer a view with your drink – and I mean a spectacular view – the recently remodelled Terrace Bar at Bondi Icebergs is the place to go this summer.
Cantina Ok – a 20-person, standing-only mezcal mecca at the end of Council Place in the CBD – is F-U-N, and you won’t find a better Margarita in town. Sure, it might be devoted to Mexico’s lesser-known booze, but it’s much more than that. It makes outstanding nuanced cocktails of all sorts, and always delivers interesting conversation and an atmosphere of inclusiveness.
Pre-dinner, post-dinner (and dinner if need be)
Surry Hills wine bar Poly continues to impress us with its innovative, interesting and immensely tasty snacks. You’ll also find a wine list that flits across the globe, representing the world’s best and most remarkable winemakers.
A recently opened wine bar we’re also into is Little Felix (an offshoot of French restaurant Felix). It serves magnums and fancy cheese, and has a sophisticated, moody beauty. It’s part of the Ivy complex in the city, so you could hit up tapas-loving Bar Topa after and travel from France to Spain in a couple steps.
Finish the night with some dancing, tacos and vino at The George. The smart people head straight to the adjoining bottle-o to grab a takeaway bottle of minimum-intervention wine (there’s a $20 corkage fee to drink it on-site). Everything is interesting and the staff are informed, so they’ll guide your decision to your happy place. Then order a couple of tacos from the kitchen before cutting loose on the dance floor. There’s a DJ booth and it’s open until 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.
Two of Australia’s most famous beaches are now connected by an 80-kilometre harbourfront walking track. A series of existing paths between Bondi and Manly beaches were recently merged, and, while you can’t possibly do the whole thing and luxuriate in the city’s bars, eateries and galleries (the entire walk takes about seven days), you can combat a slice of it.
The track takes in the Waverley Cliff Walk in the eastern suburbs, the Harbour Walk from Rose Bay to Rushcutters Bay, then Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. It crosses the Harbour Bridge and travels along the coastal paths in Kirribilli, Bradleys Head and Balmoral Beach, then it heads north along the Spit Bridge, around Dobroyd Head and North Head, finishing up at Manly Beach. The path meanders past a number of landmarks – with plenty of opportunities for dips in the ocean and harbour. The part you tackle is your choice (there’s an app you can download too), but I reckon Camp Cove and South Head near Watsons Bay is a lovely section. There’s a lighthouse, some historic fortifications and history, impressive harbour views and sheltered coves for dips.
SHOP AND RELAX
You could experience some culture by checking out a summer blockbuster exhibition at MCA or AGNSW, or do a spot of shopping. This year, burgeoning Australia beauty brand Aesop opened its largest store in Pitt Street Mall, and it’s beautiful. Monumental granite slabs (mirroring the granite pavements that line the CBD streets) wrap the interior of the sandstone building.The softly lit, plant-filled space brings a little coastal serenity to bustling downtown.
If the lotions and intoxicating scents make you feel like relaxing, Onda Beauty is offering one of the city’s best facials. It was founded in 2016 by three long-time friends: Australian actor Naomi Watts, former Condé Nast fashion market director Larissa Thomson, and former Australian and Donna Hay editor Sarah Bryden-Brown. It has outposts in Tribeca in New York City and Sag Harbour in The Hamptons – and now, Sydney. The Paddington shop is next to homewares and lifestyle retailer In Bed, which sells linens, ceramics and other pretty things.
If you’re looking for some elegant clothing, visit one of the two outlets of Aussie atelier P Johnson. He’s recently branched into female clothing, and, while the pricepoint is high, the made-to-measure suits and jackets are outstanding.
For more suggestions, check out our 2018 guide to 24 Hours in Sydney.