Going out to a restaurant is about more than just the food and service. This guide is for the times when company and conversation are the most important part of the meal. These places have the sorts of dining rooms where you don’t have to strain your voice to be heard, where the background music isn’t actually foreground music and you don’t have to lean in to hear what someone’s trying to say to you. But just because they’re quieter than average doesn’t mean they’re compromising on atmosphere.

These are some of the best places to talk (and eat) in Sydney. They’re worth keeping in mind next time the parents are in town, or you want to settle in with someone for a well-overdue catch-up.

The Gardens By Lotus

Visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship for artisan tea and food by an acclaimed Singaporean-Chinese chef. And the most beautiful place in Sydney to eat dumplings.

Chinese Garden of Friendship Pier Street, Darling Harbour

Bondi Trattoria

The soft pastels here complement the ocean outside and dark wood finishes make the restaurant feel like a provincial home. Thanks to the size of the dining room, it's hard for this place to get too noisy.

34 Campbell Parade, Bondi

Altum

The views hog the attention here – the harbour side of the room has floor-to-ceiling windows that open out to the water. It's a large dining room, which allows plenty of space for conversations to breathe.

1 Olympic Drive, Milsons Point

Fred's

The space is styled like a farm kitchen, with a bright, wood-dominated aesthetic reminiscent of a stylish French country retreat. The mood here is always calm and conversation flows easily.

380 Oxford Street, Paddington

Tetsuya’s

Set in a tranquil Japanese house a step back from the chug of Kent Street, the quiet dining room overlooks a peaceful, Japanese-style garden and bubbling pond.

529 Kent Street, Sydney

Glebe Point Diner

A relaxed bistro space of black-and-white striped walls, with welcome splashes of vivid lime green, Glebe Point Diner lends itself equally to lingering lunches (try to nab one of the veranda tables) and multi-course dinners.

407 Glebe Point Road, Glebe

The Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay

The view out over Blackwattle Bay is stunning enough to keep everyone quiet.

123 Ferry Rd, Glebe

Rockpool Bar & Grill

When it comes to must-do Sydney food experiences, Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar & Grill is right up there. From its opulent, green-marbled, art deco interior to the choreographed service from floor staff.

66 Hunter Street, Sydney

Aria

The interior is classic with white tablecloths, plush chairs and subtle lighting, and tables are generously spaced, giving the room a luxurious feel.

1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay
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