We’re people who, quite simply, love good food. And have opinions on it. Loathe to waste a meal on something not quite up to scratch – be it a humble midday sandwich or late-night multi-courser, double-shot oat latte or $28 Martini. We’re into it all and we like to talk about it – and this makes this feature one of the best to put together.

In 2023, the fan faves have been thematically strong. It’s carbohydrates (burgers, mostly), Bar Copains and plates pedalling an assortment of salty bits and pieces. Dessert got one run (Bar Copains once again). From Marrickville to Crows Nest – and all over Surry Hills – these are our favourites of the year: the drinks and dishes Broadsheet’s staffers, editors, writers and photographers couldn’t stop thinking about (with a few keen eaters who were unable to pick one, so pop in twice – why not?)

Potato scallops with sour cream and chives at Bar Copains, Surry Hills
One thing we know about Morgan McGlone is that he knows how to use a deep-fryer. He revisits this talent in the tiny kitchen at Bar Copains, where he’s serving thick-cut potato scallops. While I’ll always have a soft spot for the local fish and chip shop staple, these well-salted, extra-large, golden-battered crunchy discs (that come served with sour cream and chives) have levelled up my standards. If there ever was an upscale version of Pringles’ sour cream and chives, these would be it.
Aimee Chanthadavong, writer

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Flank steak with mustard seed jus and fries at Babs, Enmore
I’m writing this with a tear in my eye. Not only because I get emotional about a good piece of meat, but also because this was one of the best things I ate this year and I might never get to eat it again. It was a rainy Thursday when I walked into pop-up restaurant Babs and, feeling damp and slightly anaemic, I made the choice to skip over the many delicious-sounding pastas and order a steak. It was honestly one of the best decisions I’d made that week. The flank steak – perfectly cooked with a thin crust and a melty tender centre – came pre-cut in pretty little strips and drowning in mustard seed jus. The fries (a must!) are hand-cut and lightly fried with the skin still on. At the urging of our waitress, we dumped fistfuls of the fries in a wreath around the steak allowing them to soak up the sauce. By the time we finished dinner it was absolutely bucketing down, but my post-steak glow made it all worth it.
Lucy Bell Bird, national assistant editor

Mushrooms on toast at The General, Dulwich Hill
The folks at The General make the best mushrooms on toast in all of Sydney. If you disagree, I’ll fight you! It’s one generous slice of sourdough, piled with button, Swiss brown, oyster and enoki mushrooms, marinated and par cooked – with confit garlic – before they’re sauteed until the edges get crispy and golden. I never knew I could feel so strongly about mushrooms, but I’m telling you, every bite is transcendent. Order it with a cup of spicy house-made chai and you’ll know what happiness is.
Pilar Mitchell, writer

Normandy burger at Hubert, CBD
My apols to the good people at Hubert for what I am about to say. Lord knows they don’t need any more burger heads (or Broadsheeters) queuing up Bligh Street an hour before the big doors open. Sorry, but not sorry: Hubert’s Normandy burger is fucked-up good. The symphony of blushing dry-aged beef, stretchy gruyere, zingy pickles and “sauce Hubert'' amounts to a perfect bite. Each one is pure joie de vivre – but only if you’re chasing with a $7 glass of fizz. I can’t wait to line up for this one again.
Dan Cunningham, directory editor

Jerusalem bowl at Khamsa, St Peters
Owner Sarah Shaweesh keeps her cards close to her chest when she talks about the “secret ingredient” in her family’s falafel recipe. Each crisp ball is fried to order at the recently reopened Palestinian cafe, and as you bite into the fragrant and verdant green centre you can taste the difference. The best way to enjoy them, in my opinion, is in the expertly balanced Jerusalem bowl with a dollop of smoky baba ganoush topped with pomegranate, earthy lentils and rice, crispy fried pita bread, cauliflower, creamy hummus and the slightly acidic fattoush, which cuts through the fried vegetables perfectly. Every bite is a different sensory experience.
- Emma Joyce, features editor

Anchovy-topped zucchini flower at Gildas, Surry Hills
If I see a zucchini flower on a menu, I’m usually angling for the table to order a serve. They’re just yum – and usually cheese-filled, a big plus when eating anything. But, on a recent pre-dinner trip to Lennox Hastie’s sherry bar, I had to be convinced. (I was trying to save precious tummy space.) Lucky I have bendy arms, because the Gildas zucchini flower is phenomenal and I haven’t stopped thinking about it – or telling people to move on it, quick smart (with a fino-spiked house Martini too). Flash-fried in the lightest of chilli-speckled batters, the bloom is topped with boquerones en vinagre (pickled anchovies). It’s perfection. No notes. See you soon, Hastie.
Grace MacKenzie, Sydney food and drink editor

Zucchini, chilli and gruyere buns at Flour and Stone, Woolloomooloo
It’s probably for the best that our office moved up the Crown Street hill, because this was becoming a daily obsession. Yes, Flour and Stone’s cake-topped counter is a sweet tooth’s delight. But those who know, know that these savoury buns are where it’s at. I don’t really know why they ask, “Toasted and buttered?” when you order – what other way would you have it?
Alice Jeffery, shopping editor

Ploughman’s plate at Kaska, Darlinghurst
As someone who, regrettably, has never ploughed a field, I can’t speak to how authentic the ploughman’s lunch is at Kaska. But I can confidently say that this collection of ham, slaw, cheese, toast, pickles and a boiled egg (could this be an ancestor of girl dinner?) is much more than the sum of its parts. Give this – and Kaska – a go next time you’re hankering for brekkie in Darlinghurst.
Callum McDermott, writer

Diavolo pizza at Cicerone Cucina Romana, Surry Hills
Since moving to Sydney, my dining partner and I have been on the hunt for the best pizza in town. The Harbour City has some seriously impressive contenders Bella Brutta, Westwood and Dimitri’s, I’m looking at you!) and until this year, we’d come to an agreement that these, our top three spots, would share the crown. Then we ordered the Diavolo from Cicerone and decided there was a clear winner. Sure, the dough has a similar consistency to Bella Brutta, and a delightfully excessive amount of cheese like at Westwood. I thought the Dimitri’s Bee Sting was the only pie to nail the hot-to-honey ratio, but the Cicerone kitchen team has done that, too. So why does this pizza win? One very simple convenience: how it’s sliced. Instead of the usual floppy triangle requiring a double-handed grip, this big cheesy slab is cut into rectangles. Eat it with a knife and fork, fold it like a taco, or use it to hoover mass amounts of chilli oil into your mouth, free of mess – and full of joy.
Hollie Wornes, social media editor

Cheese & bacon burger at Clam Bar, CBD
I’ve been struggling to get over the cheese and bacon burger at Clam Bar. For me, it epitomises that special transcendence you only get from the first bite of a top-notch burger – where your soul leaves your body for a moment, and you are somewhere else in the cosmos. I’m not sure where that somewhere else is, but this burger took me there on more than one occasion. It’s juicy, meaty and stabbed through its heart with a pickle-skewered steak knife. I looked up the menu to fact-check my memory and was shocked to learn that it’s no less than $35 (which I happily paid at the time without really questioning it). Part of me is appalled by the idea of a $35 burger, but the part of me that gets to leave my mortal body when I bite into one would pay it again and again.
Declan Blackall, photographer

Hokkaido toast at Lulu, Bondi
My pick for best new restaurant of 2023 is Lulu, and its Hokkaido toast (or prawn toast) is out of this world – and the Bangkok Basil cocktail right there with it. The interiors are stunning, and the service – in my opinion – is second to none.
Hannah Singleton, photographer

BKE roll at Paramount Coffee Project, Surry Hills
There are plenty of bacon and egg rolls in this city, but PCP's version elevates the genre to new heights. The base model is a rumpled, well-crusted milk bun spilling over with yolk-yellow, garlic-infused scrambled egg; crunchy rashers of bacon; crisp kale; and lashings of smoky, house-made barbeque sauce. If that isn’t enough of a snack, you can add a neon slice of melty American cheese (yes), or smashed avocado (probably going overboard). It’s a dream. I sometimes think about it on rainy Tuesdays.
Michael Harry, national editor

Reuben pretzel croissant at Shadow Baking, Darlinghurst
It’s difficult to imagine how to improve upon the mighty Reuben. But the trio of Gelato Messina chefs behind Shadow Baking, which opened its first permanent bakery in October, have found a way. Crunchy, laminated layers of viennoiserie are loaded with house-made pastrami, topped with oozy gruyere, zingy sauerkraut and sprightly pickles, then doused in Russian dressing. If possible, eat yours nice and hot – straight from the shop’s oven (arrive early).

Anything at Kosta’s, Rosebery
I can’t go past Kostas! I usually post photos on my ‘Gram of what I’m shooting and this one definitely gets all the “Where is this!?” replies. As well as everything here tasting 11/10, the digs have a feeling of The Bear about them when ordering and receiving your food – you almost feel part of the chaos.
Chad Konik, photographer

Butter and garlic-seared swordfish belly nigiri at Osaka Bar, Glebe
Osaka Bar re-opened in Glebe this year, with a seasonal kaiseki menu consisting of 10 beautifully crafted courses – including a nigiri section where the super-charming chef, Kazu Nakatani, will feed you until you’re satisfied. My favourite is his butter-garlic-seared swordfish belly nigiri (you won’t find that on any omakase menus in Sydney! Kazu-san can be quite unorthodox with some of his nigiri choices). This combination of butter, garlic, rice and velvety swordfish belly just melts in your mouth. Oh, and his miso-cured A5 Kagoshima Wagyu is stunning. Grilled to perfection, sweet miso shines to cut through that buttery meat.
Daniel Phu, writer

Al Green at Small’s Deli, Potts Point
“Hey Siri, play How Can You Mend a Broken Heart by Al Green.” That’s me quoting myself on the plane home to Melbourne after eating the Al Green – the best salad sandwich of my life, not the American soul singer – from Small’s in Potts Point. The sauciness. The sproutiness. The specious simplicity. No other compares. Let’s Stay Together, Al.
Tomas Telegramma, writer

Anything at Crescent Croissanterie, Crows Nest
Why is there so much croissant talent north of the bridge right now? How are Layers in St Leonards and Crescent in Crows Nest so good? Seriously. It’s just getting silly. The things that Crescent owner Elly Kim can do with laminated dough are magic. I loved the yuzu-and-honey-glazed palmier when I went last, but everything is good: ordering something here is like listening to Abba: Gold – it’s nothing but hits.
Callum McDermott

Roast Little Hill Farm chicken, bok choy, oyster sauce at Ursula’s, Paddington
I ate this chicken three times this year and I must say, the third time really was the charm. I’m pretty proud of my own roast chicken efforts, but there’s something about this succulent serving of bird in combination with the raw bok choy and oyster sauce. It’s the kind of dish that makes people say, “I never order roast chicken when I’m out but this is making me think I should order roast chicken when I’m out”. Obviously you need to get a side of the Paris mash – in hindsight, that could have made this list in its own right. Oh, and the lemon meringue pie. I’m not going to say anymore, you’ll have to see for yourself.
Alice Jeffery

Quattro formaggi pizza at Peppina’s, Marrickville
This one’s slightly biased after shooting Peppina’s and then trying the pizza, but I’m convinced it’s the best in Sydney. I had the Quattro Formaggi – four cheeses with honey walnuts and thyme – and now I’m officially converted to putting honey on cheese pizza, always.
Hannah Singleton

Amaro crème caramel at Bar Copains, Surry Hills
Tucked away in a corner of Surry Hills is Bar Copains, a fresh and fun wine bar that lets the food do the talking. While every dish on the menu wows, the amaro crème caramel is the one I can’t stop thinking about. An unassuming saffron-hued slice with a pool of caramel sauce and flecks of vanilla bean as the only adornment. Each bite is a symphony of bitter and sweet, impossible to resist. Simply divine with a glass of dessert wine.
Karina Arora, writer