Broadsheet’s editors, photographers and writers believe Sydney’s dining scene is one of the most exciting and diverse in the world. It’s competitive, and that’s exactly what drives it to be as good as it is. 2016 has been a year of big-name restaurant, bar and cafe openings, and a handful of sad closures. Let’s look back at the year’s most exciting newcomers.

RESTAURANTS

Georgia Booth, editor
Wilmer
It’s a big call considering I visited Wilmer just last week, but for me, Wilmer encapsulates some of the best things about dining in Sydney. Personable service, excellent wine, laneway seating and it’s so reasonably priced (a big factor in this city). And the menu – a couple of pastas, some vegetables, and the best clams (served with borlotti beans and sauce-drenched bread) I’ve ever had. That’s all you need.

Amanda Valmorbida, assistant editor
Saint Peter, Paddington
Saint Peter is leading a quiet seafood revolution in Paddington. Sydney is surrounded by water, so it’s surprising we don’t have more places with the same dedication to fish. Here, it’s not about the atmosphere or interior, but spanner crabs piled high with crabmeat in pools of coral-coloured sauce and spiky sea urchins. I haven’t seen such interesting (and rare) seafood on a menu in a while, and that excites me.

Pilar Mitchell, writer
Tequila Mockingbird
Tequila Mockingbird’s menu is ambitious – it incorporates cuisines from Mexico, Brazil, Peru and Argentina – but of all the incredible dishes, a simple one stole my heart. Delectable and light, the ceviche taco is the star of the raw-bar menu. It comes with plantain chips and is cut through by a tart Peruvian dressing called menjunge, which means “wizard’s potion”.

Nick Jordan, writer
Kindred
Sometimes restaurant experiences can be really intense. They can be over-designed, full of confusing concepts and ingredients you’ve never heard of. Sometimes that’s great because new things are interesting, but other times I just want to chill out. That’s why I like Kindred. It feels like you’re eating in the chef’s home, because you are. Here it’s just simple, homemade Italian food (the pastas and bread are fucking excellent), good wine and service from nice, appropriately chatty waiters.

Amanda Valmorbida, assistant editor
The Dolphin
Pushing the Italian restaurant into pub territory, Maurice Terzini has fed me well this year. The hand-stretched Sorbello pizza, with marinated family tomatoes picked at the height of sweetness, makes me feel close to Rome. I appreciate the thin-style of pizza, the kind that shatters in your mouth, with just the right dampness in the middle. The vibe is always strong, and it reminds me of the good old days at North Bondi Italian.

Elisha Kennedy, writer
Bob, Three Blue Ducks
“Bob” is the name of the Argentinian grill at the heart of Three Blue Ducks Rosebery. What I love about this place is its simple focus on the three elements of campfire cooking; smoke, wood and char. Whole animals are barbequed and coal-roasted in front of you on Bob; it’s intense and tempting. Paired with simple, zesty salads and fermented veggies, the transformation of a Sunday barbeque into restaurant dining is something I can easily get behind.

Sammy Preston, writer
Nour
Nour’s arresting, soft-rose-and-violet-hued interior will get you in the door – it’s by DS17, which is also responsible for Beta, another 2016 top spot. Design detail has been matched with a finely tuned, interesting update on Middle Eastern fare (a cauliflower falafel and Arabic lamb tartare, for example). And Amir Halpert of The Owl House (another of my favourites) is involved in the cocktail list, which means only very great things.

BARS

Georgia Booth, editor
Big Poppa’s
Give me a two-page cheese menu and I’m a fan. Add hip-hop, gnudi and a solid wine list and I’m yours forever. Lewis Jaffrey and Jared Merlino injected some much-needed fun into Oxford Street with late-night bar and restaurant Big Poppa’s and reminded us that, although a lot of great venues have closed this year, there have been really exciting openings from talented people we’re lucky to have.

Amanda Valmorbida, assistant editor
Charlie Parker’s
It’s not everyday you see a bar fit-out like this. Or a cocktail list (really) dictated by seasonal produce. Built into the bunker below Fred’s, Charlie Parker’s works with local producers to design the cocktail list (which reads like a list of ingredients). But what I love most about this neighbourhood bar is it doesn’t look shiny and new; it seems aged and filled with the ghosts of great nights past.

Nikki To, photographer
Bar Bróse
Bar Bróse is one of those rare places in Sydney that satisfies a visit any time of the night (within reason, of course ... ahem, lock outs). Whether you’re there early for dinner, hanging out all night or rolling in late for one of Analiese Gregory’s late-night sambos (leg ham, n’duja and comté toastie), you’ll always find the vibe. The service is super friendly; the wine list is extensive, informative and exciting; and the food never disappoints.

Jacqui Turk, photographer
Hubert
Going down the spiral staircase here, you get the feeling something special is about to reveal itself, and it does. Far underground, Hubert’s dark-timber panelling, low lighting and grand-piano vision, complete with a backdrop of red velvet curtains, set the scene.

The bar menu is substantial enough for dinner, and the cocktail and drinks list is extensive. Highlights were duck liver parfait and the fried gruyere.

CAFES

Amanda Valmorbida, assistant editor
Broadsheet Restaurant
Honestly, breakfast bores me. That’s why I appreciated spending my mornings at the Broadsheet Restaurant pop-up, a revolving door of Sydney’s most interesting cafe dishes (and coffee). PCP’s scotch-egg-like crumbed egg with ham hock actually got me out of bed. As did Edition Coffee Roasters' dense pumpernickel smørrebrød with smoked salmon, salmon roe and crème fraiche.

Georgia Booth, editor
Collective Roasting Solutions
This is a selfish one because it’s at the top of my street and I can walk up, half asleep on Saturday mornings, in my pyjamas, and it feels kind of acceptable. Even if I couldn’t it would be a favourite; drinking the best coffee in Sydney from one cafe is a pretty excellent concept. The guys that run it are super friendly and eager to spread their knowledge.

Pilar Mitchell, writer
Grumpy Donuts
A lot of folks are doing doughnuts, but none are quite like the fluffy, chewy confections fried daily at Grumpy Donuts. Nimble creativity is the key to Grumpy Donuts’ genius. There’s the Buttered Toast, a doughnut glazed in brown-butter frosting and topped with a sweet, toasted brioche crumb. And the Maple Bacon Bar, an oblong doughnut with maple-syrup icing and two, crisp rashers of candied bacon. Drink it with a cup of refreshing Single O filter coffee.

Nick Jordan, writer
Hills Bros
The best breakfast I had all year was from Hills Bros. It involved brown-rice congee with poached chicken, shiitake mushrooms, bacon jam, gingered carrot and one of those gooey half-boiled eggs you usually get on top of a ramen; an espresso; and two chicken tacos with achiote (a Mexican herb I’d never heard of), jalapeno jam, slaw, chipotle aioli and salsa verde. I’m giving it extra points (enough to get in into this article over Thirty Coffee, Dust and Neighbourhood) for the menu’s total disregard for the stereotypes of Australian breakfast cuisine.

Jacqui Turk, photographer
Like Minds Avoca
Our Central Coast weekends away aren’t complete without breakfast or a lunch at Like Minds Avoca. The corner-block cafe has a large front garden with outdoor seating surrounded by an impressive kitchen garden of herbs and veggies; you know exactly where your food is coming from. Kids run free around the garden; artists show their work in the cafe; and the coffee is seriously good. You really get a great sense of community here.

Sammy Preston, writer
Little Evie
Little Evie is an all-rounder. The cafe is light and cool; owners Dimitri and Sevin are earnest; produce is kept local; the coffee is solid; and there is all-day breakfast. There are a few fun surprises on the menu, too. For a sweet Saturday afternoon drink, I recommend a nip of gin or vodka in one of the house-made sodas.