“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 right now.

The Covid-19 situation is evolving in NSW and public health recommendations are subject to change. Masks are recommended in indoor public spaces. If you have concerns about visiting businesses or public spaces, or questions about self-isolation or coronavirus testing, see the latest updates from NSW Government.

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Best Restaurants in Sydney
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Bastardo

While Ben Milgate, Elvis Abrahanowicz and Joseph Valore have always infused their venues (Bodega x Wyno, Porteño, Continental Deli Bar and Bistro et al) with Italian ingredients, influences and dishes, this is the first time they’ve really leaned into it. Stracciatella, chickpea fritters and hunks of Parmigiano Reggiano pepper the antipasti menu, and there’s a decent list of silky house-made pastas – some of the best we’ve eaten all year. The room is pumping, the cocktails balanced and the service is effortless, making it a great addition to Sydney’s already strong Italian-food scene.

50 Holt Street, Surry Hills
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Mimi's

This is the grandest restaurant Merivale’s ever opened, and that’s saying something. It took six years, plus the careful stewardship of Justin Hemmes and executive chef Jordan Toft, but we finally have it: Mimi’s is the jewel in the Coogee Pavilion’s crown. And it was worth the wait. The dining room is bright and sweeping, like Est but with beach views. The food is the poster boy for the type of cuisine that Merivale has been spearheading in Sydney for years: a lot of Mediterranean, a bit of Australian, and all produce-driven.

169 Dolphin Street, Coogee

Bar Totti's

A big part of the appeal of Totti’s in Bondi is the setting: it feels like you’re having a meal in a Tuscan backyard, complete with crisp white walls and olive trees. How can that translate to a smaller, darker CBD space? Very well, it turns out. Dishes from Bondi – including that show-stopping bread – have been carried over to the new Ivy precinct outpost, but antipasti – best enjoyed with a drink in hand – is a renewed focus: there are over 20 options to choose from right now.

4/330 George Street, Sydney

Henrietta

This neon-splashed Lebanese charcoal chicken diner, bar and takeaway shop (with a separate window for pick-ups) adds some fun to Surry Hills’ Crown Street strip. Everything here is best eaten with your hands. “You’ve got to get your Lebanese bread and rip it open, put a lot of garlic sauce [toum], chicken, pickles and chips in, then roll it and eat it all together,” says owner Ibby Moubbader and we agree. We’re also loving the Middle Eastern-inspired cocktails.

Shop 1 500 Crown Street, Surry Hills

Ezra

This buzzing eatery – with courtyards for balmy evening dining and an intimate dining room – encourages lingering. The vibe they are going for is Tel Aviv’s cosmopolitan dining scene, and have recruited well-respected chef Ben Sears (Moon Park, Paper Bird) to lead the charge. Like Tel Aviv itself, Sears’s food reflects the diaspora of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) and Sephardic (Iberian, Mediterranean and Levantine) Jewish staples. Think pickles with meze and flatbread, roasted cauliflower dressed with liberal amounts of grated haloumi and punchy za’atar, and lamb tagine.

3 Kellett Street, Potts Point

Jimmy's Falafel

Jimmy’s Falafel's colourful room features booths, frosted-glass sconces and tourism posters of cosmopolitan 1960s Beirut. As the name suggests, there’s falafel, which is stuffed in pita (among other things) and served alongside meze plates including eggplant salad, hummus and silverbeet. At night, there’s also meat cooked on the charcoal grill, and a wonderful smoky scent permeates the air. As at Henrietta, eating with your hands is encouraged and toum (garlic sauce) is liberally applied.

312 George Street, Sydney

Pepito's

Thanks to travel bans, it looks like we’ll be confined to Aussie shores for a long while yet. So a visit to Pepito’s is the next-best thing to a trip to Peru. Based on the “tabernas” (diners where you can eat home-style cooking, drink and hang out) owner José Alkon frequents when he’s in his Peruvian homeland, Pepito’s is serving Latin American cuisine and booze you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the city, while Peruvian punk rock is pumped from the speakers. Expect dishes such as leche de tigre especial – local seafood marinated in lime juice, garlic, chilli and ginger, and topped with deep-fried calamari.

276 Illawarra Road, Marrickville

Ho Jiak Town Hall

Junda Khoo’s grandmother’s Penang-style home cooking informs the menu at Haymarket Malaysian diner Ho Jiak. But the restaurant’s latest outpost (there’s also a small outlet in Strathfield) is more expansive – Khoo’s taking flavours and dishes from regions all over Malaysia and putting his own spin on them. The most popular dish (and our pick) is the har mee bomb – prawn noodle soup inside a dumpling. On drinking: a tiki-inspired cocktail list has been compiled by Yoshi Onishi of nearby Bancho Bar.

125 York Street, Sydney

Little Lagos

It was during a residency at Earl’s Juke Joint that Nigerian-born owner Ade Adeniyi realised finding his own space was something worth investigating. And now we have what is Sydney’s first full-time Nigerian restaurant on Enmore Road. Adeniyi and his chefs are serving substantial, supremely tasty dishes like nothing else you’ll find in Sydney. All that incredible taste is complemented with a wine list put together by Pasan Wijesena of Earl’s Juke Joint and Jacoby’s tiki bar across the road.

125 Enmore Road, Enmore

Restaurant Leo

Federico Zanellato and Karl Firla are two of Sydney’s most exciting chefs. On his resume the genre-bending Zanellato lists Copenhagen’s Noma, Melbourne’s Attica and Sydney’s Ormeggio at the Spit, and Firla was behind hard-to-get-into Newtown fine diner Oscillate Wildly, which sadly closed last year. Now they have opened an elegant Italian eatery in the city’s Angel Place precinct with slick service, white tablecloths and everything made in-house (pastry, bread, pasta, pickles – the lot). The menu swings from lobster ragu with truffles to veal saltimbocca and borlotti bean soup.

2-12 1 Angel Place, Sydney

Lonely Mouth by RaRa

Ramen purveyor Rara Ramen did Sydney’s vegan community a solid when it opened a plant-based version of its diner in Newtown, pretty much right as Covid hit. Hemp seeds, sunflower and soy milk are used in lieu of pork offcuts for a collagen-y, umami-laden broth, while seitan (hydrated gluten) stands in for pork chashu. We reckon Lonely Mouth has probably got the best name of any new restaurant in Sydney (roughly translated from the Japanese word kuchisabishii, it refers to the longing to put something in your mouth, even when you’re not hungry) – and it isn’t just for people who eat a plant-based diet. This is for people who like their ramen made without cutting corners.

275 Australia Street, Newtown

Ormeggio at the Spit

Since 2009, owners and chefs Alessandro Pavoni and Victor Moya had built Ormeggio into one of Sydney’s best Italian eateries. Their new take is more casual, completely meat-free and, rather than offering individual dishes, it’s now shared plates. Seafood is the star, and there’s a gelato bar serving iced delicacies inspired by different Italian desserts. It’s as outstanding as ever and its waterside location is still enchanting.

D'Albora Marinas The Spit Spit Road, Mosman

Saint Peter

This inventive Paddington seafood restaurant has emerged from lockdown with a new look, new vibe and new menu, and we’re into it. It now has a 12-metre Carrara-marble-topped bar running down the middle, with the kitchen on one side of the bench and diners on the other. The switch gives seafood maven Josh Niland and his crew more cooking space, and lets them transform the experience into a quasi-masterclass, offering ringside seats to these masters pin-boning fillets and taking perfectly aged fish skin and grilling it into pork-like crackling. Importantly, it means they can continue the journey of sharing their pioneering fin-to-scale philosophy.

362 Oxford Street, Paddington

Chaco Bar

It may have the same name as its Darlinghurst forebear, but Chaco Bar Potts Point is an entirely new beast where the focus here is exclusively on yakitori (if you’re after Chaco’s exalted ramen, the original location is now Chaco Ramen, and is dedicated exclusively to the stuff). At Potts Point, owner Keita Abe is clearly relishing his singular focus: the skewers he grills over charcoal – whether they’re chicken thigh, heart, liver, pork belly, lamb shoulder, miso eggplant or gizzard – have never been better. Combine it with a fun roster of sides and a tidy cocktail list and you’re guaranteed a great night out.

186-188 Victoria Street, Potts Point