Restaurants

  • This slamming Thai institution has all the classics you know. Plus, a hardcore Thai following to rival the corporates and students dropping in for an affordable lunch and dinner.

  • At this buzzing charcoal chicken joint, get smoky Lebanese-style chook with chips, fattoush and garlicky toum to have in or take away.

  • An ex-Bentley chef is serving a set menu dedicated to snacks at his cosy pan-Asian diner. We loved the quail katsu, styled after Hot Star’s Taiwanese fried chicken.

  • Partway between a Tuscan wine bar and an American speakeasy, this Italian stallion is all about the Negroni. It serves around 30 versions of the classic drink, and Italian liqueurs so rare they're even hard to find in Italy. The menu spans classic aperitivo snacks and pastas.

  • Not every pizzeria can say it has an Italian flour technician at the pass. And the proof is well and truly in the dough here (there’s more than one kind depending on what you order). But it’s the genre-bending toppings that truly stand out: past pizzas on the menu have been loaded with anything from pureed pea to smoked turkey.

  • A garage-style trattoria where you can disappear into prawn ravioli bathing in brown butter and sage sauce, a list of mainly Italian vino, and a lively soundtrack spanning Afrobeat and Italian pop. From the rock star trio behind Potts Point neo-bistro, Bistro 916.

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  • Noisy, spicy and lots of fun – just like the original in Melbourne. Follow the pink-neon bunny to GoGo bar for cocktails, then head to the buzzy dining room proper for Chin Chin classics like kingfish sashimi with lime and coconut, and wok-fired rice noodles with Wagyu.

  • Enter this iconic Sydney restaurant for Med-inspired dishes spanning inventive charcuterie and charcoal-fired plates. Plus, a wine list highlighting Australian producers great and small.

  • The Porteño group’s Holt Street eatery pays tribute to the group’s seminal venue Bodega (which used to be right around the corner) of the early noughties, combined with a ’60s-era Italian trattoria. Pull up at one of the mint terrazzo tables for vibrant antipasti, seasonal house-made pastas and a knockout drinks list.

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  • Charcoal-roasted meats and sides, paired with a choice of 300 wines.

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  • Japanese with a side of jazz? Hit this smooth diner, where legit musos play most nights of the week. Jazzed up ramens and Japanese favourites have been served here for more than 20 years.

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  • A sharp restaurant and bar from the team at Bulletin Place. Naturally, it serves great cocktails.

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  • Forget everything you know about Lebanese food.

  • The family behind The Fold is taking on Surry Hills with this Sri Lankan wine bar and diner. Get a front-row seat at the hopper bar, and share fragrant curries featuring native Australian ingredients.

  • Merivale’s good-times Mexican joint is home to the tacos secreto, where the filling is a surprise until it hits your table. Secreto or not, every taco here is wallet-friendly. But we recommend the DIY platters – they’ll give you even bigger bang for your buck.

  • The list of Japanese spirits at Fujiyama would put most izakayas under the table – but the food is not an afterthought. Hot, cold and raw dishes are elegant spins on Japanese pub classics, and the best place to try them is at the centrepiece bar.

  • Nikkei is a Peruvian cuisine that combines Japanese techniques with South American flavours. That’s exactly what you get at this slick restaurant and bar by the Tokyo Bird crew, where the cocktails are just as vibrant as the food.

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  • Contrasting colours and layered textures –Sáng pushes the boundaries of Korean cooking.

  • A renowned izakaya from Tokyo serving Hakata-style skewers grilled over charcoal. The best seats in the house are wrapped around the open kitchen, where you can watch the chefs prepare and serve the house specialty with military precision.

  • Seafood towers, scampi spaghetti and five types of steak frites are just some of the highlights at this stylish brasserie from the Franca team. Slide into a red leather banquette and admire the capacious dining room – or perhaps that perfect spiral of lemon peel floating in your Martini.

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  • A handsome brasserie-style spin-off by the team from Arthur Restaurant. It’s primed for casual afterwork drinks and snacks with a sharing menu focused on zero-waste.

  • This sleek, casual eatery by Nomad is dedicated to Lebanese manoush. Find a seat in the sunshine and linger over a hand-stretched, baked-to-order manoush, lathered in za’atar and olive oil. Plus, Champagne, wines on tap and Lebanese Fanta.

  • An ironbark-fuelled hearth works magic at this buzzing, subterranean wine bar and restaurant from the same crew behind Ester. Expect a long wine list of both classics and genre-busting naturals, plus an innovative, ever-changing snack menu focused on woodfire flavours and eating with your hands.

  • Top contender for Sydney’s smallest restaurant, Raita Noda is an eight-seater Japanese kitchen in Surry Hills.

  • The grungy trattorias of Rome are the inspiration behind this cool, graffitied Italian joint. Along with classic carbonara and cacio e pepe pastas, it's serving true Roman-style pizza from a huge woodfired oven and natural vino courtesy of Giorgio De Maria Fun Wines. A soundtrack of Roman-Italian beats ties it all together.

  • A traditional Sydney pub with a Central American twist.

  • At this bright community kitchen, ingredients rescued by Ozharvest are transformed into gourmet lunches for those experiencing food insecurity. It’s an Australian-first collaboration between acclaimed Italian chef Massimo Bottura and Ozharvest founder Ronni Kahn.

  • High-quality produce cooked over a naked flame, with no sauces to hide behind.

  • Pass between two heritage buildings to reach this dramatic space with a 10-metre-tall glass ceiling. Inspired by the marketplaces of the Middle East, it’s a romantic spot to enjoy shawarma, velvety burrata and pita pockets.

  • Inspired by Tuscany’s dining scene, this female-led diner is all about fresh pasta (including a squid-ink fettucine with crab), al fresco dining and flamboyant weekly specials.

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  • This Mexican diner's menu is entirely plant-based, and it's all the better for it. If you're a veg-lover and a fan of Mexican flavours, this is the spot for you. When your tortilla's loaded with pastor-style mushrooms, pico de gallo and pineapple; you won't even notice the meat's gone.

  • At every turn, chef Dylan Cashman’s smart 20-seater is guided by provenance and zero waste. Whole beasts are used from nose to tail; fresh produce comes from the garden out back; and local winemakers are placed front and centre. Ask for the “secret” drinks menu – it’s got super rare French drops and cocktail specials.

  • Vacanza embodies the Italian “less is more” approach to pizza. There’s a neat list of pies, a calzone for good measure, plus a dedicated mozzarella bar brimming with imported Italian cheeses. Need we say more?

  • A low-down, boozy affair with Southern barbeque.

  • An ambitious yet down-to-earth set-menu restaurant from former Farmhouse and Dead Ringer chef Tristan Rosier.

  • This Surry Hills pub got a shake-up in 2020 – but it’s still one of Sydney’s best all-in-one wine bars, restaurants and boozers.

  • The pizza bases here are proved for four days so they’re light and easy to digest, then topped with only a couple of ingredients, including buffalo mozzarella imported from Italy.

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  • A pasta retailer turned restaurant.

  • Authentic Vietnamese street food and a long list of Asian beers make this mini-chain a winner.

  • Authentic Neapolitan street food in a bright, modern setting.

  • The super-popular “inauthentic Indian” restaurant from Melbourne and NYC serves up butter chicken without the butter.

  • This Crown Street eatery is a no-rules fusion joint serving spicy noodles and voluminous cocktails.

  • The Beresford is an ideal spot for many occasions.

  • Authentic Neapolitan pizza on Crown Street.

  • Sneakers and champers to go with your fried chicken.

  • A colourful vegan-friendly pasta and spritz bar.

  • Line up for luxurious, velvety ramen made with the help of science.

  • A Vietnamese institution in Surry Hills.

  • Some of the best light ramen in Sydney.

  • A colourful restaurant showing India’s whimsical side.

  • The popular food truck has a standalone store.

  • A cosy, izakaya-style Japanese bar diner with a downtown vibe.

  • Dumpling dinner with a happy ending.

  • An industrial-looking local with Thai-inspired brunch.

Cafes

  • Housed inside a breezy terrace, this cosy cafe serves single-origin coffees roasted in-house. The menu flaunts classics like buttermilk pancakes, and a za'taar brekkie flatbread that's become a crowd fave.

  • A space-themed cat cafe.

  • The Surry Hills sequel to the popular Botany bakery serves classic Turkish breakfasts like you'd find in Istanbul. Roll up for simit bagels stuffed with egg and sucuk (spicy sausage), classic Turkish breakfast plates and daily-baked sweets.

  • A Cali-inspired rooftop bakery from the teams behind Ester, Reuben Hills and Paramount House Hotel. Ascend for sourdough bread made with old-world wheat, hefty pies and pastries we can’t stop thinking about.

  • These days Bourke Street Bakery has outposts by the baker’s dozen. But this much-loved corner site is where it all started. Tip-top sourdough, award-winning pies and value-packed sandwiches are the main attractions.

  • Whether they’re baking bread or butchering steaks, the Porteno team does not muck around. Its humble little bakery nearly broke the internet with a gorgeous finger bun. But it’s no slouch in the sandwich department either.

  • A polished pastry shop that puts a fine-dining twist on classic bakery items. Think Wagyu and mushroom pies, and yuzu curd croissants. The star item – the Crown on 487 – is so labour-intensive only 15 are made each day.

  • Killer coffee from a pioneer in the city’s third wave coffee movement. The main event is where you can get a seasonal feed and all the details about your brew in one sitting. Hit the sideshow for a theatrical display of coffee gadgetry.

  • Set within the Paramount Building, this destination cafe has a menu to match the sophistication of its surroundings. Asian influences are woven throughout, and coffees from international guests are brewing at the filter bar.

  • Central and South American flavours power the menu at this cool cafe by one of the city's most respected names in coffee. The bonus of doing brunch here? Your coffee was roasted right upstairs by the best in the business.

  • A casual cafe spinoff of Korean favourite Soul Dining. Not only does it serve traditional dishes and cafe classics with a Korean twist, it’s also selling homewares and clothes by local Korean designers. Plus house-made tofu, Korean pickles and sauces to take home.

  • Kentaro is Oratnek spelled backwards – a nod to its sister venue in Redfern. You can get Oratnek’s signature katsu sando here (“worth the 15 minute wait”), but there’s also hard-to-find Japanese classics such as omurice. It’s restaurant-quality fare, set within an industrial fit-out.

  • Where everybody knows your name, and your coffee order.

  • A tiny vegan wholefood kitchen and bakery by a former Jamie's Italian chef. Rock up to the takeaway window for baked goods free from gluten and refined sugar – including avo toast on slices of sprouted quinoa loaf, bliss balls, banana bread and more.

  • The contender for Sydney's best macaron, where you can purchase the day’s technicolour creations along with cupcakes, cookies and croissants.

  • Innovative brunch dishes by an ex-fine-dining chef.

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  • Another winner from Bill Granger, the man who revolutionised Sydney's cafe scene.

  • A charming place to enjoy fresh local ingredients and alfresco dining on one of Sydney’s favourite streets.

  • Macedonian food, including burek made by a master.

  • A part-cafe and part-workshop for experts and budding barista amateurs.

  • Serious coffee in the backstreets.

  • A fast-food salad bar.

  • Good food, warm hearts and no frills.

  • Combining barbering and baristing.

  • Seriously good coffee.

  • A specialty espresso bar in the most unlikely of spaces.

  • A Hungarian cafe and bakery that warrants a few repeat visits.

  • Meadow is the perfect way to refuel at Redfern’s Prince Alfred Park Pool.

  • Youeni is now The Foundry, but is still serving up seasonal goodness.

  • Perhaps Sydney’s smallest cafe.

  • All decisions at The Reformatory have been made to emphasise its diverse coffee offering.

  • The fast lunchtime sandwich, perfected.

  • A quiet achiever at the foot of Surry Hills.

  • Down on Bourke Street, a batch is brewing and it’s from Bolivia … this week.

  • An extension of the popular Mona Vale cafe and bakery in the inner east.

  • Best for breakfast, with a tropical feel.

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  • A tiny, coffee-centric cafe in Surry Hills.

Bars

  • A sublime underground theatrette showing classic and new release films. Hit the bar for pre-cinema snacks, cocktails and live music by emerging Sydney acts on Friday and Saturday nights.

  • Porteno’s intimate next-door bar packs a punch in the wine department. If there’s no room at the long communal table, there are some secret seats in the wine room (and a blanket to keep you snug).

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  • Bar Copains is one of the best places in Sydney to drink wine at. At this romantic corner bar, two of the country’s best chefs are sharing "unicorns" from their own personal cellars, and elegant snacks to try them with.

  • This petite, 20-person wine bar embraces life’s simple pleasures: good company, sleek design and great wine. There’s a focus on lo-fi drops, Salt and Vinegar Martinis, charcuterie and excellent fried chicken.

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  • This moody double-decker spot has long been one of the best places to drink cocktails in Surry Hills. But it’s also one of the best places to dine – with a refined bistro menu spanning European classics and a cult Sydney burger.

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  • The Crix inspires devotion, and plenty of its hardcore followers would call it the very best pub in Sydney, no contest. The public bar and grungy little courtyard downstairs are classic, while Chez Crix upstairs dials in the French bistro vibe. Pool comps and jazz quartet jams by the fireplace are regular features here.

  • Inside a former storage space used by St Mary’s Cathedral is Sydney’s best (and only) dedicated rum distillery. Settle in for a tasting flight, and South American-inspired eats like tacos and croquetas.

  • A sexy wine bar and restaurant from the team behind Nomad. Enter via the back lane, take a seat on a caramel leather banquette, and order some of the best gamay Beaujolais has to offer, with lobster thermidor on baked tomato-saffron rice to match.

  • This Crown Street classic feels like a wine bar and a pub had a lovechild. It has all the energy of a good neighbourhood boozer, but with a menu that’s leagues ahead of the average bistro.

  • Ask anyone about the best spots for a drink in Surry Hills, and Forrester’s would have to be in the conversation. This 100-year-old pub is split into multiple distinct spaces – do afternoon pints in The Public Bar, a bottomless rosé lunch in the dining room, or trivia in the light-filled functions space upstairs.

  • Good times are guaranteed at this fun izakaya. Studio Ghibli films are projected on the wall, the staff are cool, and the bites are booze-friendly. Sit at the bar with a whisky highball and some chicken-thigh skewers for the win.

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  • The sister venue to Lennox Hastie’s Firedoor is a celebration of the vibrant pintxos bars of northern Spain. The menu offers Australian ingredients with Basque-inspired touches, a taste of Spain via imported jamon iberico, and a drinks list that’ll change the way you feel about sherry.

  • Opened by a legendary publican and former cabaret star, this iconic corner pub is a Sydney institution. The dimly-lit front bar – with its swirling mirror ball, comfy booths and Hollywood memorabilia – is one of the best spots around to chew your friend's ear off on a Saturday night.

  • A good-times bar devoted to tequila, mezcal and the Margarita. Don’t let the laid-back energy fool you – some of Sydney’s best bartenders cut their teeth here. Otherwise, the popcorn is free, the music is loud and the Margies are strong and smooth.

  • Party like a salaryman with the aid of karaoke, yakitori and plenty of saké.

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  • It hasn’t taken long for this back-street neighbourhood pub to attract the locals.

  • This Crown Street gin hub has a still making small-batch spirits just for Sydney, and a shop selling gin and gin-related goods. To find Eileen’s Bar, look out for the discreet doorway and ascend the staircase.

  • This huge two-storey pub – with a popular wraparound verandah and interior courtyard – is one of Surry Hill's original boozers. And after 150 years, you still can't do the Crown Street crawl without a trip to The Clock.

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  • Craft beer is the focus at this Surry Hills pub.

  • A spot for great value beers and pub feeds.

  • Craft beer is king at this petite Surry Hills boozer.

  • Late opening hours, gigs galore and sweet boozy ice cream spiders.

  • A bar serving French Mistelle cocktails, with a millinery workshop at the back.

  • Artist run venue with a focus on live music.

  • Excellent after work drink and nibbles that won't break the bank.

  • A grungy rock and roll bar where elegant cocktails are poured with precision.

  • A karaoke right of passage for Sydneysiders everywhere.

  • A comfy cocktail bar that nails drinks, music and service in equal measures.

  • Settle in for a long dinner, or eat a few snacks and dash. Both are possible at this comfortable wine bar.

  • Whisky appreciation and education in Surry Hills.

  • Romantic and inviting bar with exotic cocktails.

Shops

  • HAY Shop brings Danish design to Sydney.

  • Try on a hoodie by Perfect White Tee, a leather jacket by Austin’s Understated Leather, or a bohemian dress by Malibu’s Jen’s Pirate Booty in this beautifully renovated terrace.

  • An artisan butchery with a mini restaurant attached taking on the supermarkets by offering cut-to-order meat .

  • Part bookshop, part record store. It’s a must-visit for any music lover with enough books to rival their record collection. It’s a favourite among international touring artists too, with the odd legend sifting through the artfully curated shelves of books, DVDs and vinyl. Now with a second location in Barangaroo.

  • This charming book nook is all about quality over quantity. Sip wine and mull over the latest page-turner at one of its intimate, monthly book club meetings.

  • This alluring and mysterious emporium trades in antique books and curiosities from Australia’s pre-federation history. Its treasures span the entire second floor of a converted Surry Hills warehouse, and – if you’ve got an appointment – you can sit in its grand reading room and pore over immaculate books that predate the city itself.

  • Everything you need for your kitchen, and state-of-the art cooking-class facilities. Plus a cheese counter with local and international specialties.

  • Specialises in international basics for men and women.

  • Japanese and Scandinavian homewares, and pieces handmade by owner Tara Bennett.

  • A cheese lover’s paradise.

  • Art and fashion meets here with a Nordic influence and non-seasonal trends.

  • A charming little boutique.

  • Clothing for your person and things for your home in one place.

  • Cold-pressed juice bottled and sold fresh on the day.

  • It’s a one-stop-shop for cyclists and bike lovers.

  • Two Nomad alumni serving kombucha on tap, nitro coffee and nduja-packed croque monsieur.

  • A shop selling a novel dessert on Cleveland Street in Surry Hills.

  • One of the only dedicated men’s vintage clothing stores in Sydney.