13 iconic restaurants to visit in Sydney

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Sydney is cherished for its iconic Opera House, dazzling beaches, and top-tier restaurants where inventive global techniques meet fresh, seasonal produce.

In North Sydney, a Japanese barbecue joint responsible for introducing the city to yakiniku in 1993 still reigns supreme. Succulent Mexico-inspired delicacies are served at a charming Victorian terrace in Glebe. An acclaimed restaurant steered by a local hospitality legend in the Rocks delivers one of Australia’s most cutting-edge tasting menus.

Sydney’s exceptional restaurants are a mix of harbourfront beauties, neighbourhood escapes, and swank fine-dining stalwarts. Read on for a guide to the city’s 13 greatest places to book now.

Bennelong Restaurant and Bar (Sydney CBD)

A meal at Bennelong lets you feast inside the renowned Sydney Opera House, making it one of the country’s most sought-after restaurant reservations. Choose from a formal dining room, bar-style seats, or an exclusive space (for larger events) at this multi-level stunner. Australian produce and wine take centre stage on the three-course à la carte menu, designed by celebrated chef Peter Gilmore, and include John Dory smothered in a citrus emulsion and Sicilian-style three milk curd ravioli. Desserts feature remixes of traditional Aussie sweets such as a theatrical cherry jam Lamington with frozen coconut shavings in liquid nitrogen. The wine cellar is equally celebrated and received the Best Wine List award for NSW at Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards in 2022.

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Bistrot 916 (Potts Point)

A white plate with a roasted Jerusalem artichoke and a brown bowl beside from Bistro 916
Bistrot 916’s roasted Jerusalem artichoke with truffle. Credit: Bistrot 916

For French dining with all the chic trimmings, head to Bistrot 916. Hospitality vet Dan Pepperell, who previously dazzled Sydney with French fare at Restaurant Hubert and Italian masterpieces at Alberto’s Lounge, steers the Potts Point gem. On the menu, expect creative riffs on Parisian bistrot classics including silky tuna tartare, escargot with black pudding, and lamb’s brains, for the more adventurous. To drink, there’s a French-forward list of premium wines plus a full cocktail bar.

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Senpai Ramen (Chatswood)

This 20-seat neon-lit joint opened its doors in 2022 and offers a rare ramen omakase option. California-born chef Chase Kojima conceived a unique seven-course degustation menu that braids Japanese practices and Australian flavours. The innovative results include wagyu tartare toast and chawanmushi (dashi egg custard), simmered abalone, and the signature tonkotsu ramen, featuring a pork broth that’s boiled for a whopping 12 hours. Senpai Ramen is easily one of Sydney’s most hyped new restaurants, so book well in advance for a meal here. 

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Afternoon Tea at The Langham (Sydney CBD)

A three-tiered stand with high tea dishes including scones and cakes from The Langham
The Langham’s high tea menu offers sweet and savoury delights including scones, tarts, and prawn cocktails. Credit: The Langham

Channel a stately English parlour with a sophisticated high tea spread on the ground floor of the Langham hotel. Tourists and locals are equally lured by this timeless tradition. The elegant CBD hotel replicates an experience that’s offered at its flagship London location, complete with delicate finger sandwiches and warm buttermilk raisin scones. There are more than 20 teas to choose from, poured in fine china, plus bubbly add-ons such as mocktails, sparkling wine, and Champagne. 

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No 92 (Glebe)

A blue room with a cased opening that shows a brown bar behind at No 92
No 92 is a charming neighbourhood wine bar and restaurant in a restored terrace. Credit: No 92

This restored Victorian corner terrace was once the site of a private investigator’s office and a boot factory. Today, it’s a charming neighbourhood wine bar and restaurant dishing up top-notch Mexico-inspired delicacies by head chef Alejandro Huerta (whose resume includes stints in impressive establishments including Pujol in Mexico and Noma in Denmark). Diners come for No 92’s laidback lunch and dinner settings where they graze on duck al pastor tacos and kingfish tostada—flavourful preludes to memorable mains such as Mexican fried chicken with burnt habanero mayo. For the indecisive, there’s a six-course set menu and a bottomless Sunday brunch, enhanced by bellinis and wine. 

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Glass Brasserie – Hilton Sydney (CBD)

A lamb dish with beans, green persillade and a sauce in a yellow plate with a glass of red wine on a restaurant table.
Yarramundi lamb rump with cannellini beans, and olive persillade. Credit: Glass Brasserie

Acclaimed chef Luke Mangan gets many things right at this glamorous Sydney stalwart. But nothing stands out more than his seasonal degustation menu, which bucks fleeting culinary trends to focus on fresh, simple food instead. Kick off your modern Australian feast with kingfish sashimi and pan-roasted scallops in dashi butter, then finish with a liquorice meringue roll. Consider pairing your plates with a glass or bottle from Glass Brasserie’s climate-controlled cellars and 3,500-bottle wine wall. For front-row seats to the cooking action, book a seat at the marble chef’s table—it seats just 10. 

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Anason (Barangaroo)

A Turkish feast featuring Anason’s seafood and vegetable-driven mezze. Credit: Anason

A meal at Anason is a traditional Turkish affair with a parade of shared mezze plates and raki galore. Sydney’s iconic Barangaroo waterfront subs in for Istanbul’s renowned Karaköy pier. Chef Somar Sivrioglu’s ever-changing creations, which could include tender roasted cauliflower, smoked beetroot tartare, monkfish kebabs, and flaky baklava for dessert, are tributes to Istanbul’s meyhanes, or taverns. Pair your meal with an espresso martini, featuring triple-strained Turkish coffee, and you’ve got the necessary fuel for an epic night out. 

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Quay (The Rocks)

It’s hard to imagine a more breathtaking spot than the Quay, one of Australia’s most-awarded restaurants with unparalleled views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. The inimitable six- and eight-course tasting menus come courtesy of hospitality legend Peter Gilmore. Expect innovative Australian plates such as bone marrow noodles with mud crab and confit pig jowl with seaweed. Fittingly, the wine list champions local varietals though international bottles that make occasional cameos. 

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Alpha Restaurant (Sydney CBD)

For many locals, Alpha’s dill-forward spanakopita set the golden-brown standard for Greek food in Sydney. Other standout dishes on renowned chef Peter Conistis’s Mediterranean menu include eggplant scallop moussaka and an 11-hour slow-roasted lamb. The restaurant’s generous drinks selection fuses the best of Greek and Australian ingredients, best exemplified by the Ouzoretto, a blend of ouzo, amaretto, lime, pink grapefruit, and orgeat syrup. Enjoy it all in a multi-level space in the city’s Hellenic Club, decked with a cantina section, a marble-topped mezze bar, cafe, and outdoor dining space. 

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Rengaya – Yakiniku & Sushi (North Sydney)

Rengaya introduced Sydney to Japanese-style barbecue in 1993 and still rules the roost when it comes to yakiniku in Australia. Each table is equipped with a coal-fired grill where diners cook premium cuts of beef, ox tongue, and seafood before dipping them into sweet and umami-rich sauces. There are also deluxe sashimi plates, freshly shucked oysters, premium caviar, and wagyu sushi—and Rengaya’s home-matured rum to wash it all down with. 

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The Grounds of the City (Sydney CBD)

After opening in 2012, The Grounds of the City (the CBD outpost of an Alexandria favourite) became one of the city’s most popular brunch spots for its charming old-school service. But Sydneysiders also adore it for the Parisian bistro vibes, evident in an indulgent all-day menu. That includes fresh pastries and house-roasted espresso in the mornings and a lunch and dinner lineup featuring steak frites, filet mignon, and banoffee mousse. Take in the restaurant’s 1920s jazz soundtrack, best enjoyed with a negroni or a spicy watermelon margarita at the copper bar.

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OTTO (Woolloomooloo)

OTTO is a Sydney star for its soothing wharfside setting and elegant Italian dishes highlighting Australia’s finest seafood. A la carte offerings kick off with antipasti including beef tartare crostini and fresh Sydney rock oysters. All pasta is made fresh daily, such as Moreton Bay bug linguine and smoked duck ragu mafaldine. Carnivores, pescatarians, and vegans are all well taken care of thanks to larger mains by esteemed chef Richard Ptacnik (a MasterChef Australia alum). On sunny days, OTTO’s outdoor seats are prime Woolloomooloo real estate.

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Pellegrino 2000 (Surry Hills)

Beans and bottarga, focaccia e burro, and fritto misto with a glass of white wine at Pellegrino 2000
Start your meal with fresh focaccia and fritto misto. Credit: Pellegrino 2000

At first glance, Pellegrino 2000 seems like an unassuming neighbourhood trattoria. To enter, diners pass a neon light that leads to a wine cellar turned dining room. In addition to the unexpected interiors and warm service, there are other reasons why delicious.100 honoured it as the best NSW restaurant in 2022. The menu includes fluffy housemade focaccia slathered with decadent truffle butter and chef Dan Pepperell’s masterful Sydney-meets-Florence mains such as spanner crab spaghetti or prawn and brown butter ravioli. Whether you’re here for snacks and Sangiovese or a full-fledged Italian feast, a booking at this sought-after Surry Hills hotspot is practically mandatory.

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Melissa Woodley is a passionate food writer who is currently eating her way through Sydney and exploring as many new cuisines as possible. Follow her on Instagram @sporkdiaries

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