Let’s finish 2020 with a bang. After the longest year ever summer has finally arrived, coronavirus restrictions ease again on Monday, meaning we’ll be able to hit the dance floor for the first time since March (even if we’re a little out of practice), and soon this wild, intense year will be over.
In stark comparison to the drudgery of the rest of the year, I’m going to end 2020 on a high. I’ll be knocking back Margs and fish’n’chip tacos at a breezy new Bondi diner, scoffing down the best panettone I’ve ever tasted and consulting our guide to the best bars for dancing to remember where to go for a boogie. For the first time in a long time, things are feeling on the up – and I don’t want to jinx it, but 2021 might be looking bright. Follow my adventures here.
With everything that’s happened this year, it’s easy to forget that Sydney only had a few glorious months of lockout-free nights on the town before the word “lockdown” became a staple in our vocabulary. And sure, Monday’s wound-back restrictions will still mean that only 50 people can be on nightclub dance floor at once – but that’s a whole lot better than trying to shoulder-boogie in your seat. Most clubs and bars haven’t yet announced how they’ll be heralding this new era of disco fever, but I’ll be compiling a hit list of venues to visit with the help of Broadsheet’s best bars for dancing guide. From knocking back tiki-inspired drinks on the dance floor at The Cliff Dive, to a post-pizza boogie at Frankie’s and doing the twist to golden oldies at the Soda Factory, I can’t wait to party like it’s 2013 – pre-lockout and pre-lockdown.
Here’s where to eat
Despite everything, Sydney’s dining scene has continued to flourish this year, with a clutch of outstanding new eateries highlighting just how good we have it in our part of the world. An inner-west Peruvian diner, another spot to enjoy the city’s puffiest bread, Sydney’s first Nigerian restaurant, and an opulent eastern-suburbs eatery for when you’ve got cash to splash are just some of the venues that made our best restaurant openings of 2020 list.
And while it’s easy to focus in on the new and the fresh, our old faithfuls have continued to smash it out of the ballpark. Many of my favourite meals this year were at spots that have been around for a little while – Lankan Filling Station, Bennelong and Cafe Paci among them. If you’re looking for those staples, check out our best restaurants guide – it’s chock-full of classics, whether they’ve been around for decades or just a year or two.
And there’s more
Though we’re on the downhill slide to Christmas, Sydney isn’t short of new places to eat. I heartily recommend nabbing one of the window seats overlooking Bondi Beach at Calita, a bright, fresh and fun Mexican joint that’s serving fish’n’chip tacos and an extremely good Chilli Margarita.
Over in Redfern, Kinhboy is taking one of my fave Vietnamese dishes, banh xeo (stuffed pancake) and converting it into a handheld taco. It’s perfect drinking food, and the streamlined but excellent wine and cocktail lists are well up to their supporting role.
And new CBD lobby cafe Sevens Specialty Coffee is doing its level best to coax me into pulling on my good pants and heading back to the office after months working from home. It’s serving Ona coffee, bagels from Small Talk in Dulwich Hill piled with smoked meats from LP’s, plus excellent croissants from Tuga.
The Icebergs Terrace x Ketel One Botanical bar has returned for another season, giving punters the chance to sip summery cocktails (my pick’s the Ketel One Botanical with cucumber and mint) as they gaze out on one of the best views in the world. The food menu is also topnotch – and a casual alternative to dropping loads of cash at Icebergs Dining Room (also a worthy enterprise). Think razorfish crudo with blackcurrant and saltbush; mozzarella with eggplant fritti and finger lime; and a toastie stacked with LP’s mortadella, Asiago and fermented-chilli relish.
Speaking of Icebergs – I cannot get enough of its panettone, crafted in collaboration with Sonoma. It’s filled with Aussie natives and, with a swipe of butter, makes a perfect afternoon snack (or you could just save it for Christmas Day, as the Italians intended).
Ham it up
Yay, it’s summer. It’s also ham-eating season. If you need some insights on choosing the best one, we chatted to two butchers to get tips and insider knowledge, because frankly there are a lot of decisions you need to make. Light or double-smoked? Bone in or out? Free-range? Glaze or no? Cold or hot? And then, once you’ve whittled down what you’re into, hit up our guide to Sydney’s most flavoursome and juicy hams.
Carriageworks Twilight Christmas Market is back, helping you knock off all your Christmas grocery shopping at once. Head to the heritage precinct for gingerbread and mince tarts from Flour and Stone, cherries from Drive In Orchards, bivalves from Mimosa Rock Oysters and hams from Linga Longa Farm. More than 70 producers, growers and farmers will be there on the day, and they’re all from NSW.