This article is part of a regular Broadsheet series where we talk to Sydney chefs about their favourite places to eat and drink.
Breezy, sunny days gliding gently into long, balmy evenings: summer in Sydney is, as the kids say, a big mood.
Afternoons spent napping on one of the city’s many beaches deserve to be rewarded with crisp wines, citrusy cocktails and delicious food – so we’re lucky that, when it comes to summer-friendly restaurants, Sydney has plenty.
When kitchen duties are done, these are the restaurants, fast-food joints and other eateries that some of Sydney’s best chefs are drawn to.
Jacqui Challinor, Nomad
“I plan on eating at Paddington’s Don Peppino’s as often as I can this summer. I went for the first time in December and I don’t know why on Earth I left it so long to get there. Everything was amazing, but the fagiolini [green beans] is still making my mouth water four days later.”
Lucas Cerullo David, Nikkei
“Beef tartare at Continental Deli, Newtown – it’s great sitting at the bar or on the footpath. Chicken hearts and tsukune [Japanese chicken meatball] at Tokyo Bird with a big, cold Asahi beer.”
Mitch Orr, CicciaBella
“I’m biased, but obviously Bondi’s Icebergs Dining Room [CicciaBella is part of the Icebergs group]. I spend so much time by the pool that ducking upstairs to the bar is always my favourite way to spend a day off. The burger is the best in the city, but I’ll always smash some oysters and raw seafood. You also can’t beat lunch at Pilu at Freshwater. It’s iconic for a reason.”
Trisha Greentree, 10 William St
“Bondi’s Sean’s Panorama is the ideal place for a Sunday lunch during summer. I can never go past their daily pasta and classic roast chicken. Out of the Blue in Clovelly is a true summer staple that has never changed its menu or design with the wind. A fish burger (with added chilli sauce), potato scallops, chips seasoned with their house-blend special salt and a can of Pasito is my go-to. Nothing else says (and tastes) more of summer in Sydney.”
Mike Eggert, Totti’s
“It doesn’t really matter if it’s summer or winter: I’m a chef and I need coffee every day. Good coffee, no exceptions. But the gravy on top though is if you go to Double Tap Coffee in Marrickville, you can get one of Liz [Karaconji’s] excellent sandwiches. Great coffee, great food and absolute legends that work there.
“You’ll also catch me down the highway as many Sundays as possible having a delicious long lunch at the Argyle Inn in Taralga [240-kilometres south-west of the city]. Hugh [Wennerbom] is a great friend and a great cook, and a meal in the summer sun at the Argyle almost feels cathartic. Add to that the direct support of local growers and farmers who are battling horrible drought and fires and there is no reason everyone shouldn’t be taking a drive down to Taralga or Orange or the Hunter. At least one weekend in summer, [you should] get out of Sydney and support local small restaurants who support local farmers.”
Scott Williams, Ragazzi
“I absolutely love sitting out the back or up the front in the window at Newtown’s Bella Brutta on a warm Sunday arvo, eating clam pizza and drinking something cold. Luke [Powell’s] pizzas are excellent as everyone knows, but Bella’s piel de sapo salad with cucumber and ricotta is a real standout, too. The other spot is The George in Waterloo for an al pastor [spit-grilled pork] taco and a bottle from the Drnks wine shop. We may not have a lick of beach in the inner west, but we’re not short on snacks.”
Nicholas Hill, The Old Fitz
“I live in Balmain and tend to stay pretty local on my days off, especially in summer. There are some great restaurants and cafes, and of course great pubs. The best spot for a pre-dinner cold one in summer is the balcony at The London. I regularly eat at New Star, a little Vietnamese place with outdoor seating and BYO. Salt-and-chilli fried fish, Vietnamese pancakes and stuffed chicken wings are a solid starting point.
“There’s also a relatively new restaurant called Greek Door doing some really delicious food and very drinkable wine. I always order the warm, fluffy pita bread and tarama [dip made with salted and cured roe], wild-weed pie and the most flavourful gigandes [baked beans] with tomato and dill.”
Pasi Petanen, Cafe Paci
“[I go to] Bella Brutta for pepperoni pizza and the clam pizza with a cold beer (but this is also my all-year go-to destination). When we can, we will make our way to the Cured and Cultured bar at Bennelong on a Sunday afternoon for yabbies with cultured cream and lemon. It’s nice sitting up at the bar with a glass of wine.
“For fast food, we can’t go past Clem’s Chicken Shop on [Newtown’s] King Street for a whole chook, chips with chicken salt, and a homemade G&T on the balcony at home on balmy evenings.”
Jordan Toft, Coogee Pavilion, Bert’s
“In all honesty, I feel Sydney lacks enough summer-forward eateries … with the amount of harbour and coastline we possess, coupled with the food diversity from our multicultural greatness, I feel we are dropping the ball a little. Bring me a shack on the beach with my feet in the sand serving grilled sardines, octopus and crisp white wine with not too much fuss like we’ve all experienced overseas. Or even smart-serviced waterside chic – just please do it while serving beautiful produce, cooked with skill and a less-is-more approach. Tourist traps and overly fancy food with too many ingredients are a drag.
“[But if I had to pick, I’d say] Icebergs. Who can go past that view? It’s a quintessential Sydney vista. I enjoy squeezing out all the Italian [dishes] ... share as much as you can, take your time and give the great wine list a nudge.
“It’s not ‘total summer’ but Poly [in Surry Hills] gives a sense of escaping the heat and hustle of a city in the depth of a heatwave, with its subterranean feel and cavernous ceiling. You get to choose from delicious snacks, skewers and treats mostly coming off a wood-driven hearth. That, along with a kick-arse wine list, has me coming back.”
Check out Where Sydney Chefs Eat in Autum, too.
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on December 12, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.