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The 15 Best Restaurants in Sydney for 2023

These are Sydney's must-visit venues for any discerning food aficionado.
By Ben Hansen
April 02, 2023
By Ben Hansen
April 02, 2023


These are Sydney's must-visit venues for any discerning food aficionado.

When it comes to restaurants, Sydney's not short on top-tier talent. We may be most famous for our beaches and our bridges, but food may just be what we do best. This food-obsessed city of ours has a swag of standout offerings to suit whatever niche cravings you've got going on. But there are some spots that simply reign supreme; places where the food packs a punch, the vibe is never not on point and you fall in love a little more each time you visit.

Here, we've rounded up our 15 picks for the cream of the crop — the best restaurants in Sydney. From new players reinventing Sydney's perspective on certain cuisine to longstanding spots that are just as exciting as the day they opened; these are the city's must-visit venues for any discerning food aficionado. Feast on.

  • 15
    Franca Brasserie

    Potts Point has seen many restaurants and bars come and go in its time, with upscale digs moving into sites previously home to the dives of The Cross’s colourful yesteryear. Franca arrived with the area’s move towards becoming more residential (and increasingly affluent). It’s one of the many elegant-yet-casual eateries (see: Cho Cho San, Ms.G’s and Ezra) that has sprung up in the area since its vast transformation — and certainly one of its best.

    The Macleay Street bistro takes cues from all corners of the Mediterranean, though it leans heavily on France. The menu features reinvented French classics, be it a niçoise salad with sashimi-style tuna or duck a l’Orange. Steak frites are a house specialty, of course, and you can finish your night with a Perisian touch thanks to Franca’s pillowy passionfruit soufflé. With such a strong dining scene in Potts Point and a wealth of French restaurants in Sydney, it’s tough to stand above the rest — but Franca shines through.

    Images: Jennifer Soo

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  • 14
    Baba's Place

    This is an actual restaurant in a warehouse. Where else is that happening in Sydney?” Baba’s Place co-owner Alexander Kelly queries. Following a series of pop-ups, Kelly and the Baba’s team found a permanent home in a red brick warehouse in Marrickville. The Sydney restaurant’s fit-out is designed to drop you straight into a family dinner at your Eastern European grandma’s house, illuminating the beauty of the suburban home with family photos, white frilly table cloths and 80s tableware. And, as with any meal around the family table, the dishes are all designed to be shared.

    The menu here pulls from Kelly and co-owner Jean-Paul El Tom’s southwest Sydney upbringing, from family meals to eating out in Burwood. You’ll find some of the best taramasalata toast going around and pan-fried rice noodles dressed in chickpea miso, tarator and garlic oil. Outside of your meal, the music and art are just as central to the restaurant. Head on the right night and you’ll find some of Sydney’s best DJs or keep your eye on the venue’s socials for its next weekend gallery or event series.

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  • 13
    best restaurants sydney cafe paci

    Cafe Paci, the highly lauded Darlinghurst pop-up, made its grand return in 2019. Award-winning Finnish chef Pasi Petänen (Quay, Four In Hand, Marque) opened the permanent iteration of the restaurant along one of Sydney’s busiest strips — Newtown’s King Street. While the original pop-up was set-menu only, this iteration of Cafe Paci is instead a la carte — which Petänen feels will create a more casual, everyday restaurant vibe, as opposed to one that’s just for special occasions.

    Stop in for a quick bar snack and cocktail combo, or enjoy oysters with your glass of wine. But, for the full experience, nab a seat in the dining room. Some of the original fan-favourite menu items are still here — like the house potato and molasses bread and the liquorice cake with carrot sorbet and yoghurt mousse. These are paired with fresh creations like potato dumplings with trout XO sauce and orange, chilli and olive oil-accompanied stracciatella — a clear Instagram favourite.

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  • 12
    ester best restaurants sydney

    A Chippendale mainstay, Ester pairs the best of Sydney’s dining scene with the laidback energy of its Chippo surrounds. The space is simple and sparse — done in concrete tones and darkish wood. It’s a (designer) vessel free of corny trends and all the tiring paraphernalia that comes with them, placing the food at the centre of your experience. Your first decision at Ester will be what wine to start your night with. The natural-leaning list presents a healthy array available by the glass or carafe. If you’re celebrating a special occasion or just in the mood to splurge, there are rare drops to be discovered from Ester’s cellar.

    The menu is driven (or fired) by a wood-burning oven which makes the house-made potato bread served with trout roe, dashi and kefir cream a solid place to start. There are oysters aplenty on the menu as well, making them another non-negotiable. Lastly, take your pick and pair your main with a smattering of sides from woodfired leek to a classic Ester salad, or, if you’re not one for decision-making, you can always put your trust in the chef and order the set menu which hits all of the Ester hallmarks.

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  • 11
    Bouillon L'Entrecôte

    In the six years since Brasserie L’Entrecôte opened in Pymble, there’s been a bit of a French boom in the Sydney restaurant scene. While many of these spots are bringing a flashy city flair to their take on French cuisine the longstanding spot — and its even more impressive sibling venue Bouillon L’Entrecôte — celebrate tradition, serving up classic dishes done incredibly well. On entry to Bouillon L’Entrecôte, you’ll head upstairs and discover the expansive dining room with a grand French fit-out. Luxurious detailing and large dining tables are complemented by a huge portrait of legendary French chef Paul Bocuse.

    When it comes to the food, the options are varied but not overwhelming. Kick things off with your choice of starters and a glass of kir royale from the ‘How To Be a Good French’ drinks menu and follow it up with the escargot bathing in a rich sauce or ultra-cheesy twice-baked soufflé. The house specialty is the 200-gram sirloin steak served with french fries, walnut green salad and the kitchen’s famous secret sauce. Owner Johan Giausseran, nor the chefs, will give up the secret to the sauce’s recipe, no matter how hard you might prod.

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  • 10

    Lilymu is the Parramatta Square outpost from the team behind Nour, Henrietta and AALIA. For their first Western Sydney restaurant, the team linked up ex-Mr Wong chef Brendan Fong for a contemporary take on Chinese and Southeast Asian dishes. As you’d expect from Fong, the dumplings are great. Tom yum prawn dumplings swimming in bright, refreshing soy, lime and chilli dressing should be the first thing you order as soon as you sit down.

    While you’re tackling the entrees, opt for the fried quail. This crispy golden bite-sized bird is bursting with enough flavour to put your favourite fried chicken joint to shame. Rounding out the selection of dishes you’ll be sorry if you miss are the pipis marinated in XO sauce and the mie goreng loaded with black garlic and bean sprouts. These four dishes alone are worth a trip to Parra, but the top-notch cocktails — try the sour plum negroni — and the always-friendly wait staff is a much-appreciated cherry (or sour plum) on top.

    Images: Nikki To

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  • 9
    best restaurants sydney - maiz space

    Rolling down King Street looking for somewhere to dine can be a daunting task, but Newtown’s Maiz is here to make that choice easier. Located in a historic 1830s building with a stunning openair courtyard, the restaurant offers central Mexican street food, affordable tostadas and specialty cocktails. Maiz started as a family-run food stall at the Summer Hill Flour Mill Markets before making the leap to a brick-and-mortar restaurant among the bustling atmosphere of south King in early 2021.

    Maiz employs a strict no-taco policy, drawing from more underappreciated elements of Mexican cusine. While the Sydney restaurant made its name for its sopes and its tortas — now only available for Sunday brunch — its standout dishes come in the form of its complex dinner options overflowing with flavour. Wild spanner crab molotes, tamales verdes and oxaca cheese tostadas are just a few of the offerings, accompanied by a variety of margaritas, and specialty cocktails incorporating wild fermented pulque (often referred to in Mexico as ‘the drink of the gods’).

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  • 8
    best restaurants sydney - chaco bar

    In one of Sydney’s main thoroughfares, where Oxford Street meets Crown amid a flurry of quick-fix fast-food, clubs, pubs and bottle shops, lives this surprisingly authentic Japanese experience. Chaco Ramen feels more intimate than small. The room is divided by a communal table which sits adjacent to an exposed kitchen gallery, where inside, the smells and sounds of meat against coals make for a promising start to the evening.

    The ramen at this beloved Crown Street location comes in six different variations. While the soy delivers a classic chashu pork ramen to the highest quality, the chilli coriander and yuzu scallop variations are must-trys. Sides include bone marrow curry, edamame, fish dumplings and karaage chicken wings, — and as with any good ramen joint, there’s a solid selection of sake, beers, shochu, wine and yuzu punch.

    Image: Letícia Almeida

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  • 7
    10 William St

    Filled to the brim with lively drinkers and diners, 10 William St seems more like a brand-new opening than an 11-year-old establishment. The good-looking Italian venue — an old converted shopfront just a few strides down from Oxford Street — has aged gracefully, from the walnut leather banquettes to its green laminate bar rimmed with golden rails.

    If you come to 10 William St, it’s pretty safe to assume you’re drinking. The wine list is chalked up on the blackboard and changes each month, but if you don’t know your palomino from your passerina, just ask the wait staff for a recommendation — we’re all friends here. A short menu of small plates could easily be mistaken for wine snacks, but really they deserve a lot more credit than that. Start with the focaccia, then follow up with a combo of polenta and Italian sausage. A glass of sangiovese demands to be accompanied with pasta and you’re going to be more than happy to comply. You’ll finish with a saucy grin and a stain on your shirt to remind you of good times.

    Image: Kitti Gould.

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  • 6

    At Bennelong, Peter Gilmore ditches the more extravagant elements of Quay and offers up brilliantly to-the-point dishes. Despite its unmatched panoramic views of Sydney Harbour, somehow the food is still the highlight. Nestled below the Sydney Opera House, this Sydney showstopper provides a few different experiences. Stop in for a tipple at The Bar, take a seat at The Counter for a more accessible pre-Opera House meal or go all out at The Restaurant.

    Those that leave their inhibitions at the door will be treated to a brilliant three-course meal, accompanied by intricately designed cocktails. Start your night with yuzu, fig, honey and lemon. That’s all packed into a cocktail called the Village Vanguard, combining these bold flavours with a pair of gins — one dry and one fruity. From there you’ll be presented with the likes of mud crab congee, shaved squid with house noodles and koji butter, and a Kurobuta pork rack. Fittingly, you can finish your night off with a stunning replica of the opera house in pavlova form, complete with meringue shard sails.

    Image: Destination NSW

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  • 5
    Restaurant Hubert

    Since it opened as the first full-service restaurant from the Swillhouse Group in 2016, Restaurant Hubert has built a reputation as a true gem of the Sydney restaurant landscape. It even has the Jack Harlow tick of approval. From the moment you open the door, this Bligh Street spot will hurtle you headfirst into a C.S. Lewis-style adventure, taking you from dreary city streets to the resplendent old-world opulence of post-war Paris. It’s like an adult’s version of Narnia, only this time there’s steak and wine.

    If you’re heading to Hubert, you’re in for some serious mood lighting and daily live jazz. Playing off this utterly romantic setting is an intricate menu of classic French brasserie dishes. The selections progress from lighter, entree-style dishes — like XO escargots— to heavy cream-laden mains. And, while Hubert is drenched in lavish luxury, it knows how to have a little fun with $13 cheeseburgers during happy hour and regular movie screenings in its theatre.

    Images: Bodhi Liggett. 

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  • 4
    Sean's Panaroma

    Sean’s is a true institution. A longstanding Sydney stalwart where everyone is welcome. Located on Campbell Parade overlooking the iconic Bondi Beach, this breezy eastern suburbs icon perfectly pairs a laidback, friendly atmosphere with plentiful dishes made from the freshest produce. Take a seat among the perfectly curated mishmash of wall art and take your pick from the day’s dishes — all laid out on the restaurant’s chalkboard.

    While the menu is reserved, there’s something for everyone here. Whether you’re on the hunt for a hearty serving of vegetables in form of the farm plate, a perfectly roasted chook or a spot-on kingfish tartare, Sean’s is a crowd-pleaser. Once you’ve wrapped up, your bill is hand-written and your leftovers are wrapped up in tinfoil, ready for you to relive your experience the next day.

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  • 3
    Lankan Filling Station

    After building a cult following for her show-stopping hoppers at Carriageworks Farmers Market, O Tama Carey flung open the doors to her first permanent restaurant, Lankan Filling Station, in 2018. A shrine to Sri Lankan cuisine, the East Sydney venue features a hands-on menu of hoppers, sambols and curries. The build-your-own style meal employs a check-box system and it takes all the restraint in the world not to go on a mad ticking spree.

    Start by ordering a few hoppers, which are bowl-shaped crepes, known for their soft, spongey centre and crisp lacy trim — and an optional fried egg in the centre. Next up, choose your sambol and pickles, then turn to Carey’s curries to round out your banquet. While hoppers do go exceptionally well with hops, there’s more to the drinks menu than just beer. If you’re looking to quench the heat of the chillies, try one of the custom-blended Sri Lankan tea. Otherwise, there’s plenty of natural, minimal intervention wines available (including sangiovese rosé on tap).

    Image: Nikki To

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  • 2
    Ragazzi Wine and Pasta

    City workers, theatre-goers and general pasta-lovers should all have this romantic Italian restaurant at the very top of their hit list. Ragazzi comes from the duo behind Love, Tilly Devine and Dear Sainte Éloise, bringing these venues’ passion for carbs and minimal-intervention wines to Angel Place. The 38-seat wine bar features textured concrete walls, leather banquette seating and a ten-seat, wraparound brass bar, serving up daily-changing wines by the glass, along with a whopping 250 by the bottle.

    Then there’s the pasta — possibly Sydney’s best. While you can expect the menu to be different every time you visit, some of the highlights you may run into include spaghetti cacio e pepe, mushroom and gorgonzola ravioli and spanner crab conchiglie. Can’t make a decision? The friendly staff and open-plan kitchen mean there’s always a helpful opinion around the corner. Just head in with an open mind and an empty stomach.

    Image: Nikki To for Buffet

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  • 1
    best restaurants sydney - saint peter

    Josh Niland is one of Sydney’s great culinary innovators. His nose-to-tail ethos around sustainable seafood has seen him named in the world’s top 100 best chefs, win the James Beard Book of the Year Award and be listed among the world’s 50 best next-generation hospitality leaders. Josh and his partner-in-crime Julie Niland’s sardine tin-sized venue Saint Peter is where it all began and should still be top of the list for any seafood lovers.

    Whether you get in to experience its original Paddington digs, or end up experiencing the restaurant after it relocates to The Grand National Hotel, you’re in for an experience like no other. The menu changes daily depending on what’s been trawled in from the ocean that morning, but if you manage to nab a highly sought-after spot at the Oxford Street diner, you can be sure you’ll be served some of the tastiest and most innovative takes on seafood you’re likely to come across.

    Images: Nikki To.

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Top image: Nikki To

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