Flying interstate? Broadsheet’s city cheat sheets cover everything from new players that live up to the hype to old favourites that continue to deliver. This is a hit list that’ll have you making the most of every minute in Sydney, no matter where you’re staying.

Sydney’s bakery scene has kicked off in recent years. And while there are some outstanding contenders for your attention, you can’t go past AP Bakery – there are three of them now, and they all offer a quintessential Sydney experience. The latest is the CBD's AP Place, where pizza bianca – Roman-style sandwiches on a focaccia-like bread – are in top spot (alongside salt and vinegar hash browns). Then there's the cactus-strewn AP mothership, located on the rooftop of Surry Hills hotel Paramount House, where you'll rip into the zingy Aleppo pepper and Asiago scrolls, gloriously flaky buttermilk croissants and cheesy egg rolls. Or, head to the hole-in-the-wall digs in the backstreets of Newtown for a ham and cheese baguette – a thing of beauty – as well as outstanding seasonal danishes and an array of other pastries.

We also strongly encourage you to make moves to the pointy end of the northern beaches, where bolognaise jaffles are served, quite literally, on the water at Sammy's. But if you're sticking close to the city limits, you won't go wrong with a Vegemite and avo scroll at Shadow Baking, or a hefty brisket burrito at The Corner Deli by Lox in a Box, the beloved bagel stop's first dine-in digs.

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Need to bust a hangover? Or just love a little spice on a slower morning? Ricos Tacos has you covered. The cracking tacos are served on a rainbow of plastic plates at The Norfolk in Redfern, guaranteed to give you a new-found appreciation for this handheld king of snacks. You’ll be in safe hands with an order of the chipotle-salted hash browns too.

Over in Potts Point, laneway cafe Pina does an outstanding sausage-and-egg roll dripping with cheese (which one Broadsheeter couldn't stop dreaming about) and a mean coffee.

Want a classic? You can’t go wrong with a trip to Bills (Darlinghurst, Bondi, Double Bay or Surry Hills). And Rising Sun Workshop’s breakfast ramen is worth repeat visits.

Whether you want a casual sanga, a sleek fine-dining experience or a natural-wine-soaked Italian long lunch, you’re sorted in Sydney. Redfern's Fontana brings the buzz of Italy’s regions to an inviting room above the main drag. It’s a good vibe at night, but we like parking up at a table for Saturday lunch and ordering up big on house-made ricotta (trust us, it’s outstanding), a couple of bowls of whatever handmade pasta is on rotation, and bottles and bottles of wine. The focus here is on regional Italian specialties, so there’s a high chance you’ll try a dish you’ve not had before.

Nearby is sandwich joint Good Ways, which has remained high on our hit lists since opening in 2021. Expect nostalgia-fuelled classics and not-so-classics, like the sandwich with kangaroo mortadella, salami, ham, provolone and chilli paste. Continue your Sydney sandwich crawl with a mean, fully loaded schnitty sanga at Kosta's Takeaway (in Rosebery, Rockdale or Circular Quay). Clovelly Road's Cut Lunch Deli, Small’s Deli in Potts Point and Fabbrica in the CBD don't miss either. Phew.

On the other end of the dining spectrum is Woodcut in Barangaroo. The menu highlights the cooking methods used in each of the four open kitchens (steam, fire, smoke and ice) and the chef's table experience is a real gem. Have any of the seafood and don't miss the halloumi. It's ideal for Sydney visitors – you've got a view of the water and you're in close proximity to the best drinking in the city – like an after-dinner rum at Old Love's or a mezcal number at teeny Cantina OK!.

For an old faithful, you can’t go past Sean’s in Bondi. Across the road from the famous beach, this notorious long-lunch staple does the classics brilliantly.

While we classify this jazzy spot as a bar, not a restaurant, Bar Copains is the Surry Hills spot that the Broadsheet Sydney team can't stop raving about. The brown-butter leeks cooked in a bag are outstanding, as are pig’s head fritti and baked-to-order madeleines with zesty citrus curd. Meanwhile, Clam Bar's daggy ’80s-leaning drinks – including one served in the “classiest tiki glass you’ll ever see” – join a standout macaroni alla vodka laced with cheesy kimchi, a magnificent raw seafood bar, and a cheese and bacon burger that’ll have a lasting impact. But booking a table at beloved Italian wine bar 10 William St is a must; its pretzel with whipped bottarga is one of our ride-or-die Sydney dishes. Drinking and dining in this Paddington nook is a quintessential Sydney experience.

Another famed Sydney dish is the Jatz cracker topped with an anchovy and smoked butter at Kiln, up top at the chic Ace Hotel in Surry Hills. The views over Sydney are like nothing even lifelong Sydneysiders have seen before, and maverick chef Mitch Orr only impresses in the kitchen. You’ll be in a room designed for good times and sipping from an immaculate wine list curated by local pro Mike Bennie.

After a Sydney classic? Book in advance at seafood restaurant Saint Peter, where James Beard award-winning chef Josh Niland is doing clever and creative things with fish. Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Point is an essential Sydney experience (particularly if a bowl of pasta is your bag) and the CBD's new neon-lit Korean diner Funda is one of our city's recent best. Here, blush-coloured bonito carries pickled ginger and sprigs of micro-mustard; burrata cosies up to soy-marinated raw prawns; and the spectacular yeast meringue hides makgeolli ice-cream and soybean rice cake, piñata-style.

Sydney was once more of a beer garden city than a rooftop bar kind of a place. And while we still love holing up in a pub’s al fresco area for the afternoon (check out our favourites here), we do like to take advantage of the city’s newfound appreciation for a rooftop. Why not combine the two with The Taphouse? The Darlinghurst boozer's just had a full revamp – and its greenery-filled rootop is a prime spot for a NSW-made beer. Head up to Old Mate’s Place for a solid cocktail and skyscraper views. Get with the litty committee at the surprisingly sleek bar atop the State Library. Or head along to the Woolly Bay Hotel on the water in the inner-eastern suburb of Woolloomooloo, which now boasts a Med-inspired rooftop bar that makes a mean Dirty Gin Martini.

You wouldn't be amiss to head to Ricos Tacos in Redfern, if you didn't make it for a feed earlier in the day. Sundays bring ripper carne asadas to the cheery courtyard, and the award-winning Maybe Sammy crew is on drinks.

Love a Martini? Head along to Bar Planet – opt for the house version, poured theatrically from a giant decanter. Or, scribble your preferred order (whether it’s dry, dirty, filthy, wet, vodka or gin) on a coaster and it’ll be made to your taste. If a Negroni’s more your speed, Bar Conte is all about nailing the Italian aperitif; it’s got 20 different types of the cocktail on the make, including a classic take, the Sbagliato (an old favourite made famous via Tiktok) and a barrel-aged number. And if you make your way over to Gildas in Surry Hills – a sophisticated Basque-inspired bar by one of Sydney’s best chefs, Lennox Hastie – you’ll find a devotion to sherry, alongside interesting wines from Australia and Spain. You'll order a Gilda or two too, if you know what's good for you.

A hops and yeast fan? Get yourself to Marrickville’s breweries. Between the very-good-fun Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre – complete with easy-drinking beers, a fantastic Cantonese-Australian restaurant and a museum of Hawke memorabilia – Philter’s English-pub vibes, the breeziness of Grifter and the buzz of Batch, you’re set for a ripper beer-filled afternoon.

One Sydney bar has continued its domination on the international stage: Maybe Sammy. Coming in at number 15 in the World's 50 Best Bars for 2023 list, the cocktail bar is all about hotel-level hospitality and playful drinks – with party-ready bartenders ramping up the vibe to new heights. Nearby Cantina Ok! makes the city’s greatest Margaritas.

Others to add to your hit list? The dramatic Clocktower Bar is inside a hollowed-out art deco clock tower; it’s like stepping into an episode of Mad Men, complete with cocktails the discerning Don Draper would drink. The team at PS40 is making sodas in-house; natural-wine bar Love, Tilly Devine has a fresh new look; and the Marrickville Hotel in the inner west is the fun and loud venue bringing together the cool factor of a small bar with the chill vibes of a pub.

Pre-dinner, post-dinner (and dinner if need be):
Shell House has a little bit of something for everyone – a ground-floor bistro, a slick dining room, a rooftop bar and another cocktail bar – within a 400-tonne clocktower. We recommend a pre-dinner drink on the outdoor terrace and a meal in the dining room, followed by an after-dinner libation downstairs in Menzies Bar.

Over in Newtown, Continental Deli’s drinks are as good as its Euro bistro-style dishes (or tinned fish, charcuterie and cheese if you’re feeling snacky). And keep the good times rolling at buzzy Cafe Freda’s, the Darlinghurst corner joint that does fun bar snacks alongside a menu of spunky wines.

Late night:
When we think late-night, we think basement boozing – and for a city with great weather, Sydney has an awful lot of subterranean spots for drinking. The Caterpillar Club opened just in time for peak merriment and is the epitome of a good night out in Sydney (or the world). Nearby, the ever-sexy Apollonia does an outstanding Negroni, while whisky haven Baxter Inn is a timeless favourite. Ramblin’ Rascal is consistently one of the city’s rowdiest bars.

Keen for a dance? Club 77 in Darlinghurst is an old favourite that’s had a welcome revamp. Head underground for a solid line-up of producers and DJs till 4am. Bonus: it has a great natural-wine and craft-beer selection, plus pre-batched cocktails.

If you’re in Sydney, you’ll likely want to spend some time in the great outdoors – and Sydney’s natural swimming-pool game is unbeatable. Whether it’s a harbour pool, or one built into the rocks of its beaches, you’re in for a treat. Check out our favourites here.

For a few years now, Sydney’s Sorry Thanks I Love You has been curating fashion, jewellery, artisan spirits, books and more, all on one website. Now there's a physical store where you can shop a little bit of everything in one space.

In Paddington, shop luxurious candles and perfumes at Libertine Parfumerie, stylish and sustainable clothing at Maggie Marilyn, the bright designs of Aussie classic Oroton, swimwear at Fella and breezy leisure wear and jewellery at Lucy Folk.

And beautiful glassware brand Maison Balzac’s Surry Hills store offers a serene shopping experience.

This article was originally published on December 5, 2022 but was updated on December 22, 2023 to reflect new details.