“What good new restaurants should I try?”

Broadsheet’s editors field this question, or a variation on it, almost every day. While we’d just as soon recommend one of Sydney’s straight-up best restaurants or a long-standing institution, the pull of a hot new place is hard to deny.

So here it is: our edit of the best new restaurants in Sydney from the past 12 months, updated monthly. Some of these places are redefining the way we eat and will go on to become classics. Others will be shorter lived. Either way, these are the spots we’re enjoying eating and drinking at in December.

Related Pages
Best Restaurants in Sydney
Best New Bars in Sydney
Best New Cafes in Sydney
Best Restaurants in Sydney's CBD
Sydney Institutions

Cafe Paci

Pasi Petanen is back and he’s better than ever. Since closing the original much-loved Cafe Paci back in 2015, Petanen has been popping up at restaurants around town, with questions about when he would find a new permanent space trailing in his wake. We have that new spot now and it was worth the wait. Things are more casual now, a-la-carte, not set menu. The cuisine genre is hard to pin down, there’s a lot of Finnish, a little bit of Italy and some inspiration taken from Australian favourites. On the wine front, vino maestro Giorgio De Maria has created a wine list with an emphasis on fun, drinkable drops.

131 King Street, Newtown

The Gidley

This follow-up to last year’s smash-hit steakhouse Bistecca has a lot in common with its older sibling. Steak is still the focus (despite an expanded menu), both venues are subterranean and phones are controversially banned at the dinner table. But it’s the little touches that distinguish The Gidley and make it so exciting. Like the Martinis, which come deconstructed with three ramekins filled with garnishes so you can make it how you like it. Or in the theatre of the place – drinks are finished and fishes are filleted right in front of guests at the table.

161 King Street, Sydney

Kuro

This ambitious venue is actually a four-in-one. There’s Brew Bar, a daytime cafe serving coffee and simple pastries; Kuro Dining, a casual Japanese diner; a bar serving molecular cocktails; and Teramoto a promising 10-seat fine-diner. Teramoto hasn’t opened yet and so far, Kuro Dining is the pick of the bunch. Try the black fried chicken, bass grouper with “harusame” (glass noodles) and crab sauce, and aged duck breast with black garlic and soy vinegar.

364-372 Kent Street, Sydney

Bar Vincent

Handmade pasta and natural wines. It’s an easy (and very on-trend) sell. But there’s always room for another player in the field when they’re doing good work. And that’s what Bar Vincent is doing. It’s a simple and charming corner eatery, within which you’ll find plump tortellini, hearty maltagliati and many more pasta shapes, paired with their soul mate sauces. The small wine list backs things up well and the excellent house-made bread is complimentary.

174 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst

Shwarmama

This jazzed up kebab shop with a takeaway focus isn’t exactly a restaurant, but we would be remiss not to include it here. These kebabs are some of the best things to eat in Sydney right now. Shwarmama exists because of a conversation between Matt Lindsay, owner of Ester and Poly (and one of the best chefs in Sydney) and Russell Beard of Paramount Coffee Project and Reuben Hills (two of Sydney’s finest cafes). Now, we have a place where you can have an exceptional – and surprisingly good value – kebab alongside a great coffee from a futuristic coffee machine. Wonderful.

Shop 2 106-112 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills

Ragazzi

It feels like recently every second opening has been an Italian restaurant, so why do we think Ragazzi will stand out? Its pedigree, for one. Chef and co-owner Scott Williams has worked in the kitchens at Movida Sydney and Bacco Osteria e Espresso. He’s putting out a changing menu that’s included cavatelli (thin shell pasta) with pipis and pork sausage, a classic cacio e pepe and a goat ragu mafaldine (long ribbon-shaped pasta). Then there’s the other two co-owners, Nathaniel Hatwell and Matthew Swieboda, the team responsible for Love, Tilly Devine and Dear Sainte Eloise, two of the best wine bars in town. And the wine? 300 bottles strong. It all comes in a snug 40-person CBD space the size of a small convenience shop.

Shop 3 2-12 Angel Place, Sydney

CicciaBella

When Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta opened in 2014, chef Orazio D’Elia was head chef (Da Orazio means “from Orazio” in Italian). D’Elia left the restaurant in 2017, but the name stuck into 2019, even though it had been a couple of years since anything in the kitchen had come “Da Orazio”. So the restaurant was due for a refresh, and when Mitch Orr (from the now-closed well-loved restaurant ACME) became available, owner Maurice Terzini (Icebergs Dining Room) seized the opportunity. Pizzas are now the smaller pizzetta, with toppings including potato, rosemary and lardo (cured fatback). There’s also whole roasted fish, a broad antipasti offering and exciting pasta options. The wine list is mostly Australian and focuses on fun and drinkable beachside drops.

75-79 Hall Street, Bondi Beach

Bodega x Wyno

When news broke that Bodega was leaving its Commonwealth Street premises, it was heart wrenching. The restaurant was 13 years old, and helped introduce an entire generation of Sydneysiders to modern Latin American food. But Bodega lives on now, albeit in a different form. It now shares a space with bottle shop Wyno. It was a savvy move. With its renewed focus on wine in a sleeker space, Bodega x WyNo is the fresh approach we didn’t know Bodega needed. Favourite dishes such as the fish fingers and the banana split have survived the move – but they’re the only constant. The rest of the menu changes often.

50 Holt Street, Surry Hills

Busta

Sean and Luke Miller are serial Manly restaurateurs. They’re the pair behind the much-loved Sunset Sabi and Chica Bonita (which opened a CBD spot earlier this year). Now, they’ve set their sights on Italian. At the moment, Busta has a tight menu: seven antipasti options, three pastas, three mains and three desserts. Fine by us. It’s perfect beachside fare, from a spaghetti mixed with kale pesto, walnuts and cured egg yolk to a luxurious duck ragu whose heaviness is offset by lemon thyme throughout.

Shop 8 2-12 Pittwater Road, Manly

Hopper Kadé

This Sri-Lankan street food spot has two specialities: hoppers and kadé (cup-shaped rice-flour crepes and rice, respectively). The hawker-style eatery used to live in Darlinghurst, but its owners decided to make the move when they were invited to join upmarket food hall Maker’s Dozen in the eye-catching new Exchange building in Darling Square. The menu is divided into sections: hoppers, rice bowls and curries (such as the twice-marinated and slow-cooked chicken Colombo curry) and stuffed roti. The flaky, buttery roti is the star and the must-order on the menu.

The Exchange 1 Little Pier Street, Haymarket

Botanic House

Set among the soaring palms and lush ferns of the Botanic Gardens, Botanic House is one of the most beautifully located restaurants in Sydney. Enter the dining room and that sense of calm continues; the design smartly plays it straight, with caramel-coloured couches and muted timber tones allowing the eye to focus fully on the greenery popping on the other side of the windows. The menu comes from celebrity chef Luke Nguyen, and it offers an insight into various cuisines’ influence on his cooking. There’s mud crab-and-scallop dumplings, crackling pork belly in charcoal bao, soy-sauce ice-cream and poached crisp-skin chicken.

Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney

Gyusha

At most barbeque restaurants you select your meat, it gets brought to you, and you proceed to cook it yourself. Gyusha takes things one step further. Here, you’re asked to take a basket and peruse the shelves of the restaurant (fitted out to resemble those of a high-end Tokyo convenience shop). Then, once you’ve gathered your ingredients – maybe some Wagyu beef, chicken wings, enoki mushrooms and sweet-corn – you bring it back to your table and cook it. Maybe it’s a bit gimmicky, but it’s a fun and original dining experience. If that’s not your bag, you can buy the produce to cook at home.

Shop 7 6 Central Park Avenue, Chippendale

Noi

Anastasia Drakopoulos has restaurants in her bones. Her father Bill owns a suite of them including Aqua Dining, Ripples, Ormeggio at the Spit and the recently opened Fenwick. As for Drakopoulos herself, she’s a co-owner of Lumi, the acclaimed Pyrmont fine diner. Noi is more understated than those restaurants (it doesn’t have an incredible view to fall back on, for one). Instead the focus is on well-executed classic Italian dishes, such as rise e bici (rice and peas) and pansotti (Ligurian ravioli), delivered at an attractive pricepoint. The proficient, Italian-leaning wine list is also worth exploring.

108 Audley Street, Petersham

Mary's Pitt Street

One day, a new Mary’s opening won’t be an event anymore. But if the queues that have been snaking out of Mary’s Pitt Street are anything to go by, we’re a long way off from that day. The Pitt Street outpost of the Mary’s burger clan – which ambush-opened in September out of nowhere – is smaller than other members of the family. But it felt fully formed from day one; the sort of opening that only a hospitality team at the height of their powers can pull off. So why is Mary’s Pitt Street an event? The burgers are still unsurpassed, the drinks (the focus here is on rum cocktails) are as interesting as ever and the vibe and menu is fun and inclusive.

410 Pitt Street, Sydney

Thirsty Bird Newtown

Fried chicken is one of the few foods whose quality can be measured by sound. If the crunch of your first bite isn’t loud, then it’s unlikely to be a great piece of bird. Thirstybird makes deafeningly crispy fried chicken. First in Potts Point, in a small takeaway-geared space, and now in Newtown in a bigger space with plenty of seats. There’s a wealth of classic and spicy chickens available in all the pieces. A range of burgers, such as the Big Kahuna (fried chicken, pineapple, bacon and cheese), rounds things out.

226 King Street, Newtown

XOPP

Many Sydneysiders have fond memories of smashing a bowl of Golden Century’s famous pipis with XO sauce after midnight. Visitors like it too: American celebrity chef David Chang once called it “the best dish in the world”. Safe to say, if any dish deserves to be the namesake of a restaurant, it’s those pipis. XOPP (say it letter-by-letter) recently opened in Darling Square. Although the headline act steals a lot of attention, the supporting cast is also strong: we loved the salted duck egg potato wedges and the chicken liver parfait. Add to that a fun wine list bolstered by the full firepower of Golden Century’s wine arsenal, and you have a sure-fire hit.

The Exchange, Darling Square 1 Little Pier Street, Haymarket

Mary’s Underground

Only the Mary’s group could open a restaurant with a menu that has lobster, flaming bombe Alaska, caviar and raw clams with fermented chilli and make it feel like a party. This ambitious CBD restaurant has all the cues and price tags of a fancy restaurant, but no one treats it like one. There’s not another place in Sydney like it.

7 Macquarie Place, Sydney

Franca

Franca takes its name from lingua franca – a pidgin language developed by Mediterranean traders so they could understand one another. It’s a name that gives this French brasserie a lot of scope to dip its toes into other cuisines. Right now, the bulk of the menu is grounded in France – with some forays towards Italy. That means nicoise salad with a colatura (anchovy sauce) dressing, Wagyu bavette and bouillabaisse pasta. Franca has one of the most beautiful dining rooms we’ve seen this year. So grab a red-velvet seat or sink into the green-leather booths, order a wine from the 200-bottle list, and settle in for a long meal to take it all in.

81 Macleay Street, Potts Point

Alberto’s Lounge

Since opening last December, Alberto’s Lounge has become an instant classic. The Italian restaurant is another brilliant yet gently subversive cover of a well-known restaurant concept from the seemingly infallible Swillhouse Group (Hubert, Frankie’s). The trippa alla Romana dish is already a cult hit, but other great dishes, such as a bucatina all’Amatriciana – chubby and chewy pasta tubes buzzed with chilli and pork – are also worth trying. Get a group together and be prepared to queue. It’ll be worth it.

17-19 Alberta Street, Sydney

Totti's

Nothing much has changed about The Royal’s front bar since Merivale acquired the place. Out back though? Very different story. Totti’s is a new Mediterranean-but-mostly-Italian restaurant that takes full advantage of its large, white-walled dining room, giving way to a spacious open-air courtyard, anchored by two mature olive trees. It’s rustic and relaxed, and so is the food. Pasta is house-made and hand-rolled, the ‘nduja and salami is superb, and the boozy tiramisu is light, fluffy and not to be missed.

283 Bondi Road, Bondi

Prince of York

The team behind the Prince of York is going for a party vibe: somewhere guests of all ages can eat, drink and dance. Upstairs you’ll find a sophisticated take on pub food; dishes include a toastie with cheese and bone marrow, and a pasta bake made with lamb ragu. Downstairs, check your coat and bag into one of 40 lockers and gear up for a dance. There’s a roaming drinks trolley loaded with punch bowls, and tequila and mezcal are sold by the bottle and tagged so people can come back to the bar for pours.

18 York Street, Sydney

Peppe's

This Bondi restaurant is vegan only, but that shouldn’t be what defines Peppe’s. This vibe-y eatery is delicious, fun and just happens to have a plant-based menu. The day's dishes are posted on the restaurant’s chalkboard and make up a hit list of pastas. The house speciality is gnocchi and there are three different options available as well as a special.

261 Bondi Road, Bondi

Osteria Coogee

Osteria Coogee, which quietly opened in May, is fast becoming a firm favourite in the area. It’s little wonder why: coastal Italian flavours and Coogee are a great match. Enjoy classics such as the crudo – sheets of white tuna dotted tomato and pancetta – and the house-made pappardelle, served with lamb shoulder. Our tip: make yourself a regular here before it starts warming up. Once summer rolls in, it’ll be hard to get a table.

31 Alfreda Street, Coogee

Chica Bonita CBD

The big-city sequel to this Manly favourite hasn’t disappointed since it opened in April. It’s delightful and surprising. That’s thanks in large part to chef Alejandro Huerta and his talent for modernising classic Mexican food and marrying it with Australian ingredients. Standout dishes include nopales (“no-pah-lays”) – cactus picked and served with burrata and milk – and a pork-belly dish, slow-cooked and deep-fried until crisp, served with mole.

156 Clarence Street, Sydney

Chuuka

Two respected chefs. Two cuisines. One restaurant. Chuuka is the new diner from Sokyo’s Chase Kojima and Melbourne’s Victor Liong. It’s named after Chinese food introduced to Japan in the 19th and 20th centuries and adapted for Japanese tastes. The food is a mash-up of those two cuisines. Results include tempura-battered chicken coated in sweet-and-sour yuzu sauce, and blue swimmer crab and scallop fried rice with Japanese XO sauce.

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

Dimitri's Pizzeria

Pizza, craft beers, natural wine. It’s a trio showing up everywhere right now, and it’s easy to see why. Dimitri’s is proof that the key to nailing this simple formula is in the steadfast commitment to quality ingredients and produce and to consistent execution. Dimitri’s has been around since 1975, and has had its current owners for the past eight years, but since its move from Crown Street to Oxford, it’s never felt fresher (or more fun). To match the new spot there’s a new oven firing pizza made with new dough. Try the Bee Sting: mozzarella, sopressa, tomato and honey. Or the Brussel Crowe, which is topped with roasted brussels sprouts, caramelised onion, fennel and scamorza.

215 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst

Kitchen by Mike

Mike McEnearney is back with a new iteration of his Kitchen By Mike canteen concept. There’s a new focus on sustainability, locally sourced ingredients and waste minimisation. Though the menu is dynamic, you’re likely to find McEnearney’s much-loved sourdough pancakes with lemon curd for breakfast, hearty salads for lunch, and roasted meats and seasonal vegetables at dinner.

1 Bent Street, Sydney

Ichibandori

The idea here is to show Sydney that ramen isn’t just a cheap dish, but one that can be made with premium produce and creativity. While many other places are about the thickest, most treacherously porky tonkotsu broth, this is more about refinement and doing only a couple of things, but doing them well. Each night the team posts only a handful of recipes (and a special).

Shop 4 81 - 91 Military Road, Neutral Bay

Little Felix

Little Felix is more than a waiting room for French bistro Felix. Thanks to a Cognac and Cointreau-heavy drinks list and a bar piled high with towers of French cheese cut to order, Merivale’s latest opening is a destination in its own right. It’s all set in an opulent, pale-emerald room replete with comfortable dark-toned leather lounges.

2 Ash Street, Sydney

Bayswater Kitchenette

This may be the only venue in this guide where we’d recommend takeaway as much as eating in. At $15, the dinner boxes – heaped with Italian comfort food – are a steal. Whether you order the lasagne or the polenta served with mushrooms (eat-in or to-go), just make sure you follow it up with the light and fluffy tiramisu for dessert. It’s a star.

Shop 1 51-57 Bayswater Road, Rushcutters Bay

Duck & Rice

We get that you might hate the idea of dining in a shopping centre, but at Duck and Rice (and its sibling venue, Babylon), you get no sense of being in one at all. The 500-capacity venue feels intimate in a way that belies its enormous floor space, and it’s rare to find such a large outdoor area for eating and drinking in the centre of the city.

Level 7 rooftop, Westfield Pitt Street Mall 188 Pitt Street, Sydney