Eating well in the centre of Sydney was once difficult. There was little middle-ground between typical food-court fare and expense-account steakhouses. But things have changed in recent years, thanks in part to Barangaroo’s burgeoning dining precinct, a financial district that’s upped its game, and an eruption of restaurants in place of late-night bars and clubs. Now, there’s plenty to choose from in the city centre.

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Restaurant Hubert

Restaurant

Hubert’s low ceilings, timber-panelled walls and candle-lit tables feel like they’ve been there forever. And yet, this convincing facsimile of a grand European restaurant circa World War II only opened in 2016. Behind this extravagant and ambitious facade there’s unmatched reverence for classic hospitality and notably un-classic French food.

15 Bligh Street, Sydney
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Mr Wong

Restaurant

Restaurants all over Sydney have tried to copy Mr Wong’s refined Cantonese-led menu, its modern fit-out and the quality of its service, but none have been successful. Inside, a bank of barbequed ducks aren’t just great to look at: they’re plump, juicy and delicious. Likewise the delicate dumplings, which are some of the city’s best. Chef Dan Hong sets a benchmark that has the right amount of Aussie-Cantonese nostalgia.

3 Bridge Lane, Sydney

Quay

Restaurant

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.

Overseas Passenger Terminal The Rocks, Sydney
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Bennelong

Restaurant

Set within the window-cupped, city-facing end of the Opera House, Bennelong’s dining room is spectacular, no matter if the sun pours in or the CBD’s lights are illuminated. Quay’s Peter Gilmore and head chef Rob Cockerill run a menu that matches the location – seafood from nearby waters, house charcuterie made with all Australian produce and show stopping desserts.

Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
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Aria

Restaurant

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.

1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay

Seta

Restaurant

An ambitious, opulent multi-part Italian restaurant and bar inside Australia's first bank – with an executive chef who ran a Michelin-starred Italian restaurant. Take a seat in the main dining room, crudo bar or chef's table. There's Venetian-style bite-size snacks, 30 varieties of raw seafood and a three-metre-high wine fridge.

11 Barack Street, Sydney

A'Mare

Restaurant

A’Mare is impressive. Owner Alessandro Pavoni wanted to emulate the theatre of a Michelin-starred meal, without the European stiffness – there's a roving gelato cart, pesto pounded tableside and a view over water so pretty that, if you squint, you might be fooled into thinking you're in Italy.

Crown Sydney, Level 1/1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo
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Alpha

Restaurant

Following a stunning makeover, this beloved Greek restaurant reopened in 2021. A handful of old favourites remain on the menu, but everything else – from the sprawling open kitchen to the roaring woodfire oven – is brand new.

238 Castlereagh Street, Sydney
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Cafe Sydney

Restaurant

A ritzy institution on the Customs House rooftop. The menu bounces between Indian and Italian flavours to create an altogether modern Australian vibe that spans surf, turf and vegan dishes. An appropriate focus on seafood works a treat, given the jaw-dropping views of Sydney Harbour. Book ahead for the window seats.

Customs House 31 Alfred Street, Sydney
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Rockpool Bar & Grill

Restaurant

Though the original Rockpool is now closed, the opulent steakhouse which bears its name is still the clear favourite in Neil Perry’s family of bars and restaurants. Despite being (slightly) more casual than the original, this is still one of Sydney’s premiere special occasion restaurants. That’s because Rockpool Bar and Grill epitomises Perry’s legacy of timeless dishes cooked with fastidiously-sourced ingredients.

66 Hunter Street, Sydney
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Bentley Restaurant & Bar

Restaurant

Few restaurants have maintained their excellence and hunger for invention like Bentley. It opened in an old Surry Hills pub in ’06 before moving to this grander location in 2013, announcing its culinary ambitions in the process. Chef Brent Savage and sommelier Nick Hildebrandt continue to post some of Sydney’s most varied and progressive wine lists and degustations.

27 O'Connell Street, Sydney
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Alberto’s Lounge

Restaurant

This lively Italian diner is from Swillhouse, the same group behind Restaurant Hubert. It shows – the place has an ineffable cool and gently subversive food that often seems traditional at first glance, but contains a level of sophistication that’s undeniable.

17-19 Alberta Street, Sydney
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Tetsuya’s

Restaurant

Sydney’s fine dining benchmark. Tetsuya’s alumni (Dan Hong and Luke Powell, to name a few) have gone on to shape the city’s culinary landscape. They earned their stripes here first, plating-up a famous menu that includes the signature confit of Tasmanian ocean trout – one of Australia’s most iconic dishes. It’s all set within a serene Japanese-style interior.

529 Kent Street, Sydney

Ragazzi

Restaurant

There’s 250 bottles of mainly low-intervention wine from Italy and Australia, and a rotating menu of pasta that changes daily.

Shop 3 2-12 Angel Place, Sydney

Continental Deli, Bar and Bistro CBD

Bar

The follow up to Newtown's distinctive tinned cocktail bar offers all the same thrills: cold cuts, cheese, canned goods, fine wine and stiff drinks.

167 Phillip Street, Sydney
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Woodcut

Restaurant

This dazzling fine diner – from the duo behind legendary CBD restaurant The Bridge Room – was worth the wait. Each kitchen of the four kitchens here harness a different element: steam, fire, smoke and ice.

Level 1, Crown Sydney 1/1 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo
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The Gidley

Restaurant

Descend the stairs into a labyrinthine den of lush velvet booths, flowing booze and a menu that champions Riverine rib eye.

161 King Street, Sydney

Bistecca

Restaurant

Apart from sides, there's only one thing on this menu: T-bone steaks, sold by weight.

3 Dalley Street, Sydney

Nobu Sydney

Restaurant

This is the long-awaited Sydney outpost for the beloved Japanese dining empire, and it's brought its signature miso cod along for the ride. Dine on salmon-sashimi tacos and evaporate-in-your-mouth nigiri, knock back "sushi cups" and enjoy some aged sake.

Crown Sydney Level 1/2 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney

Cirrus

Restaurant

Second only to Saint Peter in the art of seafood cookery. While Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt’s Barangaroo restaurant is similarly interested in issues of sustainability, this waterfront restaurant is more focused on luxury. An all-Australian seafood tower, multiple caviar options and an unrivalled selection of chablis are proof of that.

10/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney
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Haco

Restaurant

Keita Abe brings Japanese like you've never seen to Surry Hills with his tempura restaurant. Sit around the centrepiece wraparound counter and order from a constantly-shifting menu.

102/21 Alberta Street, Sydney
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Bea

Restaurant

The handsome first-floor fine diner at Barangaroo House – Matt Moran and Solotel’s most ambitious undertaking yet. Headed up by executive chef Tom Haynes, indigenous ingredients and Australian produce star on a menu of elegant, fuss-free dishes.

Level 1 35 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo

Felix

Restaurant

A classic French brasserie experience from Merivale. Oysters au naturel, Wagyu steak frites and vanilla crème brûlée are all possibilities on Felix's lengthy menu of quintessential French fare.

2 Ash Street, Sydney

Above Par

Restaurant

Above Par is a sleek 60-seater bistro in the heart of the CBD, serving homestyle Levantine dishes from lunch and well into the evening.

215 Clarence Street, Sydney

Mercado

Restaurant

The restaurant in Angel Place has whole rotisserie beasts, daily cheeses, an enviable wine list and charcuterie.

4 Ash Street, Sydney

Spiced by Billu’s

Restaurant

A less-spicy outpost for a Harris Park Indian favourite.

7/33 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo

Bopp and Tone

Restaurant

A solid lunchtime dining option in the CBD, with an alfresco plant-filled terrace and a whopping 900-kilogram wood grill.

60 Carrington Street, Sydney

INDU

Restaurant

Southern Indian spices and village cuisine are at the centre of Sam Prince’s restaurant.

350 George Street, Sydney

Long Chim

Restaurant

Thai cuisine by David Thompson, one of the world’s most lauded Thai chefs.

Corner of Pitt Street and Angel Place, Sydney
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Bistro Papillon

Restaurant

A Parisian-style bistro in the heart of the city.

Clarence Street 98 Clarence Street, Sydney

Spice Temple

Restaurant

Innovative Asian-Australian fusion in a romantic, underground restaurant. It’s also by Neil Perry – expect the dishes here to be stylish, vibrant and well-balanced.

10 Bligh Street, Sydney
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Restaurant Leo

Restaurant

This laneway eatery by Oscillate Wildly’s Karl Firla and Lumi Dining’s Federico Zanellato is plating up duck ragu with curly malfaldine, plus a note-perfect tiramisu.

2-12 1 Angel Place, Sydney

Kottoo

Restaurant

Try its namesake dish, kottu roti – a delicious, textural hash of chopped roti, curry and egg. Plus devilled beef-filled roti wraps, lacy hoppers and golden dosas, in a colourful CBD space.

50 Hunter Street, Sydney

Monopole

Restaurant

The CBD has some of the best cocktail bars in the world, but there’s a surprising lack of venues with a focus on vino. Since moving from its original Potts Point location, Monopole, with its clever mix of snacking and thoughtful drinks list, has changed that.

16-20 Curtin Place, Sydney
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