The Best Restaurants in Circular Quay

Updated 4 weeks ago

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Flanked by the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Circular Quay is undeniably one of Sydney's most iconic destinations – but also its most touristed. To that end, the famous ferry terminal’s crowded dining scene has long been dominated by gelaterias, fast-food chains and ho-hum eateries made to turn tables quickly.

But if you’re looking for somewhere to grab a quality burger before jumping on the ferry to Taronga Zoo, or a fine-diner with sparkling harbour views and artful dishes on par with what you’d find at the Museum of Contemporary Art, this list has you covered.

  • The standard-setter for fine dining in Sydney. Executive chef Peter Gilmore is tireless in his pursuit of what’s interesting, new and Australian. His backyard is peppered with test plantations of rare vegetables, he works with local ceramicists on custom crockery and he’s a leading advocate for native produce. The restaurant’s theatrical tasting menus show off all this and more, bolstered by some of the city’s best harbour views.

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  • A Mediterranean grill and wine bar unlike anything we’ve seen in The Rocks before. Visit Swillhouse Group’s grand-statement venue for two-sip Martinis; dishes cooked over charcoal; and a massive mosaic from Italy.

  • This is the show-stopping star of Matt Moran’s culinary empire. The artfully-plated dishes warrant the lofty price-tags, but those generous harbour views do a lot to offset the sting. This is one of Sydney’s great try-before-you-die restaurants – a pillar of modern Australian dining.

  • Peter Gilmore has made the culinary vision that earned him accolades at Quay more approachable at the Opera House.

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  • This all-day eatery inside Hinchcliff House mills its own flour, using grain supplied by NSW farmers. That means house-made pastas and ciabatta to go with produce-driven share plates and cocktails.

  • Nigiri takes pride of place at this 12-seat omakase diner, and there's a formidable selection of Japanese whisky to go with it. You might end up sharing some with your neighbour – it's all about the convivial vibe here.

  • Set within the historic Campbell's Stores precinct, this luxe Japanese diner lets you choose your own experience. There's an omakase counter where your meal is left entirely up to the chefs, and a bigger dining area with a set menu. There's fresh-caught seafood and sake on the cards no matter where you sit.

  • Vibrant Mexican food, super-rare tequilas and million-dollar views are all on the menu at this smart harbourside diner. But to really feel like a millionaire, splash out on the signature gold leaf Margarita.

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  • Burgers, craft beer, minimal intervention wine, thumping rock music and a fern-filled outdoor dining space with 30 seats. And the whole menu can be ordered vegan.

  • Formerly an oyster bar, this al fresco French diner evokes the Mediterranean with its unmatched harbour views and sterling seafood. It's got you covered for all occasions, from pre-theatre snacks to big-budget lobster and champagne dinners.

  • A ritzy institution on the Customs House rooftop. An appropriate focus on seafood works a treat, given the jaw-dropping views of Sydney Harbour. Book ahead for the window seats.

  • A quintessential Sydney location. This is one of the best views of Sydney harbour you'll find anywhere. And Opera Bar doesn't just coast by on its good looks: the drinks here are great, too. The hardest thing about a trip here is getting a table.

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  • An ultra-luxe fine diner specialising in two of Japan’s great culinary traditions. The multi-course menus highlight premium produce, from lobster to Wagyu and abalone. But you can’t put a price on those stellar harbour views.

  • A pioneering Greek-Australian chef is celebrating the cuisines of the south Aegean at this handsome harbourside diner. Dig into spanakopita-inspired dumplings and chargrilled octopus in the heritage-listed sandstone dining room. Or snag a seat outside for cocktails with one of the country’s most iconic views.

  • The overhaul of this once notorious late-night dive was a long time coming. And the chic public bar, elegant European bistro and sunny rooftop were all worth the wait. The best part? You’ll actually want to be there during daylight hours, too.

  • This heritage corner site has lived many lives – but its most recent one is arguably its best. Come for freshly shucked oysters from the cabinet, premium Australian steaks and a focus on local and French wine varieties.

  • The best of New York inspires the Pellegrino 2000 crew's handsome CBD seafood grill and steakhouse. As ever, it’s all about irreverently executed classics: steak tartare with an unexpected twist; macaroni alla vodka that tastes like the best pasta bake you’ll ever eat; and cocktails that cross New York classics with the “daggy drinks” of the ’80s.

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