There's just something about eating in front of a view. It could be the sense of place and occasion that a good view grants; a sweeping vista also has a way of enhancing the taste of every bite, in a strange way. Restaurants with a view can even draw focus and absorb silence. And can do most of the heavy conversational lifting on a date, catch-up or special occasion.

Luckily, we're in Sydney and if there's one thing Sydney can lay claim to it's eating surrounded by natural beauty. That's why most of the restaurants in this guide look out to the water. The rest rely on the city's glistening skyline.

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Cafe Sydney

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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Mimi's

Caviar bumps, vintage booze, barbequed abalone – Mimi's might just be Merivale's magnum opus. Not to mention the fantastic views of Coogee Beach: thanks to its prime seaside location and its huge windows, almost every table in the house is worthwhile.

169 Dolphin Street, Coogee

Bennelong

Views of the city and Harbour Bridge, from inside the Opera House.

Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
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Ormeggio at the Spit

In 2020, this waterside Sydney favourite changed its menu to focus exclusively on seafood. And it's all the better for it. The views out over Middle Harbour, combined with the fantastic seafood, make this one of Sydney's best – and most serene – dining experiences.

D'Albora Marinas The Spit Spit Road, Mosman

Nobu Sydney

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

Quay

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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The Gantry

Enjoy artful, surprising degustations at this understated diner. Inside, it's all about sleek dark timbers – but it's the outdoor drinking and dining that really shines. A table outside by the water on a warm day is the ideal setting for a long, spritzy lunch.

11 Hickson Road, Sydney
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Barrenjoey House

This century-old beachside diner has a new lease on life. Head there for a long seafood lunch – and the dedicated flatbread list. Add in some great views of Palm Beach, and you're in for a corker of time.

1108 Barrenjoey Road, Palm Beach

Chuuka

Sokyo’s Chase Kojima and Melbourne’s Victor Liong have melded two cuisines to create something exciting, energetic and delicious.

62-64 Jones Bay Wharf 19-21 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
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Bathers' Pavilion

This heritage-listed waterfront venue serves up French bistro classics.

4 The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach

Sean’s Panorama

Understated but glorious, eating here is a quintessential Sydney dining experience. Part of the appeal of a meal at Sean's is inarguably the breathtaking views out over Bondi Beach. But, if you can, tear your eyes away from the vista and towards your plate for a moment. Chef Sean Moran's dishes are laser-focused on what's Australian, what's ripe and how to prepare and present it in a way that shows off each ingredient's natural flavours.

270 Campbell Parade, Bondi

Mosman Rowers

Stand-up paddleboarding, jugs of cocktails, rosé on tap and views for days. And it's all set right on the water.

3 Centenary Drive, Mosman

Queen Chow Manly Wharf

Merivale’s waterside Cantonese joint, complete with live seafood tank, oyster bar and dim sum. The views across the water make for an ideal setting year-round.

22-23 Manly Wharf East Esplanade, Manly

Chiosco by Ormeggio

Chiosco is on a jetty – this is as close to your view as you can get.

The Jetty, The Spit Marina, Spit Road, Mosman
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Catalina

This diner has been attracting since 1994, including Beyonce and Jay-Z, Madeline Albright and Bono. The view here involves panoramas over Rose Bay.

Lyne Park, Rose Bay

Jonah’s

Come dine at the restaurant for the views or take it one step further and book one of the eleven rooms for the night.

69 Bynya Road, Whale Beach

Icebergs Dining Room and Bar

This elevated vantage of Bondi’s sloshing surf is one of Australia’s great views – one a less conscientious restaurateur might easily lean on. Not Maurice Terzini, who’s been pushing his resplendent Italian diner to greater and greater heights since 2002.

Restaurant 1 Notts Ave, Bondi
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Public Dining Room

Casual fine food with a killer view. A Balmoral favourite.

2A The Esplanade, Balmoral
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LuMi Bar & Dining

One of Sydney's best degustations with the surrounds to match.

56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont

Pilu at Freshwater

Sardinian fine-dining on the beach. A laid-back Freshwater classic. This is also one of the few places in Sydney that serves culurgiones and fregula – two of Sardinia's most popular pasta shapes.

Moore Road, Freshwater
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Cottage Point Inn

This underrated fine diner has been going strong since the 1950s. It sits on the edge of Cowan Creek, one of several waterways feeding directly into the Hawkesbury River near Mooney Mooney. Expect elegant waterside dining at its best, with beautifully-plated European dishes and a progressive wine list.

2 Anderson Place, Cottage Point
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The Butler

One of Sydney's best outlooks.

123 Victoria Street, Potts Point

The East Village

Come here for pub classics in a spectacular rooftop setting.

234 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst
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North Bondi Fish

Views over Bondi Beach and elevated fish and chips.

120 Ramsgate Avenue, North Bondi
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Nola Smokehouse and Bar

An ambitious New Orleans-inspired barbeque restaurant and whiskey bar on the Barangaroo waterfront.

Level 1 100 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo South

Otto Ristorante

Al fresco dining along Woolloomooloo's Finger Wharf.

Area 8 6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo
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Aria

Face the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge? It's such a tough choice.

1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay

Cirrus

It's fitting that one of Sydney's best seafood restaurants has such a great view of the water.

10/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney
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The Newport

This huge waterfront pub is a Pittwater classic. It's been a northern-beaches go-to for decades, but since being taken over by Merivale, it's reached a new level of popularity – and quality. You can come here for drinks and snacks or a full-blown meal. And no matter where you're eating or drinking, you're likely to have a view of the water.

2 Kalinya Street, Newport