The Best Seafood Restaurants in Sydney
Here's where to find Sydney's best seafood — across fine diners, local neighbourhood eateries and lavish omakase haunts.
October 24, 2023
THE BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANTS IN SYDNEY
Here's where to find Sydney's best seafood — across fine diners, local neighbourhood eateries and lavish omakase haunts.
The very best seafood restaurant in Sydney is hard to nail down. There are just so many standout spots to choose from. You've got intimate omakase experiences where chefs prepare all kinds of fresh seafood right at your table. There are Sydney fine diners that serve the most luxe lobsters with champagne or caviar bumps with ice-cold vodka shots. And local neighbourhood diners also offer up some of the best Sydney seafood in a laidback and homely setting.
Thankfully, we've eaten at all these kinds of places to create the ultimate list of the best seafood restaurants in Sydney. These joints give all the love to the freshly caught and ethically sourced seafood we are so lucky to have swimming around our shores and down our rivers. No matter which one you visit, you're guaranteed a fish feast made for a king.
Josh Niland has radically changed Sydney’s perception of seafood through his best-selling books and acclaimed restaurants like Saint Peter and Charcoal Fish. And Peterman, which opened in 2023, is yet another win for him and his partner in crime Julie Niland.
It brings the typical Niland passion and inventiveness to the North Shore in the form of a 60-seat restaurant and bar that (yeah, you guessed it) leans heavily on the fruits of the sea. Start off with simple raw bites before trying some of Niland’s more creative dishes made using lesser-known sea creatures. If ever there was a place to challenge your tastebuds, this is it.
Besuto is another exciting addition to Sydney’s quickly expanding repertoire of omakase restaurants — and it is probably our favourite of them all. The Circular Quay spot brings an intricate dining experience for each of the restaurant’s 12 guests (this place is tiny).
The menu combines traditional and inventive takes on Japanese cuisine, with some dishes coming and going daily while others remain consistent. Visitors can also expect sashimi and sushi curated each day based on what fish the team has chosen. It’s just about the best seafood restaurant in Sydney.
Image: Kitti Gould
Dot Lee and Jarrod Walsh have done it again. The crew behind Hartsyard now resides in Chippendale, taking over The Old Clare Hotel’s food and drink operations and impressing with an adjoining seafood restaurant and wine bar, Longshore. The team’s revamp is all about stunning produce (focusing on Sydney seafood) and top-notch wines.
Open for long business lunches or intimate dinners, the many dining options allow various ways to explore the seafood-forward eats. Take your pick from the five-course tasting menu, available with or without wine pairings; the experimental ten-course snack flight for a journey through the restaurant’s best mouthfuls; or your own choices from the a la carte offerings.
Image: Jason Loucas.
Located in the former Flying Fish site at the end of Jones Bay Wharf, and headed up by Executive Chef Danny Russo, Sala delivers fresh takes on Italian classics and plenty of seafood in a 160-seat space. “We wanted to call on nostalgic Italian flavours and give them a modern flair to offer a sophisticated yet playful experience to diners,” Russo says. And they’ve knocked this approach out of the park.
Using a far-reaching ingredients list, he and the team have created an impressive menu centred around new versions of Italian standards. Pair your Italian seafood eats with limoncello cocktails and vinos from the extensive wine list. Coming with a group? Sala also has one of the best private dining rooms in Sydney.
Mosman has welcomed Amalfi Coast-inspired gem St Siandra to The Spit’s waterfront, bringing with it a touch of coastal luxury and permanent vacation vibes. Tasteful golden-hued interiors, terracotta tiling and white marble bar give way to stunning beachfront views and a tantalising menu that promises a journey through the Mediterranean — all without the airfare.
The menu features fresh seafood, vibrant seasonal produce and classic Mediterranean flavours with a sprinkling of Middle Eastern spices. You can also sail your way through cocktails, each with nautical themes or named after local luxury yachts.
Image: Steve Woodburn
While Golden Century may have shut its doors, its legacy lives on through XOPP. Located in Darling Square’s Exchange Building, the expansive restaurant serves up a heap of Golden Century favourites, including the pipis in XO sauce, a dish so revered that even David Chang called it “the best dish in the world”.
But the brilliant seafood dishes don’t simply start and end there. Live lobsters and crabs can be cooked in several ways (marinated in a variety of sauces), abalone and oysters make a big appearance, and heaps of classic Cantonese seafood dishes are also available at XOPP. There’s so much on offer, you’ll have to come here a few times over.
Image: Steven Woodburn
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 Julie Niland’s sardine tin-sized venue Saint Peter, is where it all began and should still be at the top of the list for any seafood lover.
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 from the ocean that morning. Still, 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. It’s clear why Saint Peter is the best seafood restaurant in Sydney right now.
Images: Nikki To.
New restaurants love to shout about their ethical practices from the rooftop these days. A decade ago, this was less common. So in 2018, when sustainable seafood restaurant Love Fish popped up on the scene in Rozelle, it made quite a splash.
Led by Michelle Grand-Milkovic and Michael Milkovic, Love Fish set about proving that sustainability didn’t need to be adopted at the expense of innovation — and, in fact, it could do the opposite. Now located on the waterfront in Barangaroo, this ethos remains. And it continues to bash out some of Sydney’s best seafood dishes. Great care and attention are given to each bit of fish that crosses the pass.
Image: Nikki To.
There aren’t many restaurants in Sydney quite like Catalina. A waterside institution of almost three decades, this award-winning destination offers diners a heady combination of peerless harbour views and some of the city’s most impeccable service.
It runs with a perpetual buzz and lack of formality among the patrons, perhaps it’s the proximity to the water and the sea breeze that naturally lends itself to the sense of being on summer holiday all year round. Either head to the bar for cocktails or go all-out in the main dining room — wherever you’re seated, you’ll be presented with some of the best seafood in Sydney, from mud crab to caviar. And you’ll be enjoying it with some of the city’s finest waterside views.
Image: Steven Woodburn
The menu is made for sharing, and you can expect offerings like raw bluefin tuna with marinated trout roe and smoked sour cream on a fried bun and the epic live lobster cooked over charcoal with scallop XO sauce. On top of all that fish, you’ll find a good selection of meaty dishes and, as is always the case with the Bentley folk, no shortage of vegetarian deliciousness. Just about everyone is catered for at Cirrus.
An era of omakase has well and truly arrived in the Sydney CBD. From the picturesque Bay Nine in The Rocks to the tiny 12-seat Besuto at Quay Quarter, the luxuriously indulgent and precisely prepared multi-course experiences have well and truly entered the mainstream. Joining the suite of Japanese restaurants offering omakase in Sydney is Toko Restaurant.
You can try a whole host of traditional Japanese dishes here, but the sashimi omakase is the star of the show. Melts-on-the-tongue tuna, snapper and salmon are bound to make an appearance with whatever else is raw, in season and of the highest quality. The sushi menu also features some particularly luxurious nigiri — coming with caviar, truffles or foie gras.
Following the revamp of The Rover, the bar has emerged as a sophisticated Surry Hills dining and drink destination tucked behind the same green door at the end of Campbell Street. It may have shed its dive bar energy, but there are still hints of its Irish-themed past remaining with a plethora of whiskies on the drinks list, freshly shucked oysters and Irish coffee on the dessert menu.
For more refined dining, head upstairs to the seafood bistro. Here, you’ll find a daily rotation of crustaceans, a whole flathead served with lashings of garlic and clams, a fisherman’s pie with smoked trout and potato gratin and eel pate served with horseradish jelly and a glazed crumpet.
Image: Dominic Lonergan.
Surry Hills might not be the first place you expect to find an independent smokehouse that specialises in seafood, but By Kai is precisely that. This tiny hole-in-the-wall eatery located across the road from the Cricketers Arms Hotel is built around its in-house smoker, with every step taken to produce the highest quality smoked trout.
The fish is sourced from the Snowy Mountains and delivered in less than 24 hours. From there, they’re brined, filled with a sprig of rosemary and placed in the smoker where the magic happens, collecting flavour from the hickory pecan wood. The result is perfectly tender and smokey fish that’s used throughout the menu.
Chef Darren Robertson’s reputation precedes him — he spent time at the tremendously luxe Tetsuya’s, is one of the main minds and palates behind Australian restaurant group Three Blue Ducks and was a judge on My Kitchen Rules back in the day. The famed chef is also a founder of Rocker, one of the best seafood restaurants in Sydney.
The precise, seasonal menu is distinguished by regular specials and fresh ingredients. Start off with oysters and tuna tartare alongside a couple of cocktails before trying Queensland king prawns covered in confit garlic butter and pan-fried coral trout with charred seasonal green and sea herbs. Dishes are kept simple here, letting the top-quality produce shine.
Image: Katje Ford.
Unlike the other Sydney seafood restaurants on this list, there’s no menu at Bay Nine Omakase. ‘Omakase’ translates loosely to “I’ll leave it up to you” — and the chef you’ll be leaving your dinner to is Yul Kim.
He’s a master sushi chef who brings his natural talent, dedication to creativity and passion for the dining experience to the table. Grab a seat at one of a few tables or the cosy 10-seater counter where you sit around Kim while he prepares 11 courses of high-quality Japanese food. All you have to do is watch and eat. It’s dinner and theatre, all in one. The menu changes daily, depending on what’s in season and what fish is available at the city’s best seafood suppliers. Simply come here and trust Kim to know what he’s doing.
Image: Declan Blackall Photography
North Bondi Fish is a summertime must-visit — with million-dollar views, proximity to the waves and a ready-made crowd of surfed-out, ravenous diners. With Matt Moran at the helm, the famed eatery continues to draw diners with a vibrant menu, DJs and live music, and regular collaborations and takeovers.
Seafood (with a focus on fresh produce and local suppliers) is the star here, as the team focuses on quality produce transformed into light, accessible, uncomplicated meals and snacks — with fish cooked on an Inka Grill. Head in to find some of the best seafood in Sydney, with one of the city’s finest views.
Perched on absolute prime cliff frontage at Bondi’s southern end, the Icebergs Dining Room and Bar delivers five-star luxe for both your eyes and mouth. As you soak up those sweeping, multi-million dollar views and the newly renovated dining room, feast on the impressive menu, driven by fresh produce inspired by regional Italian cuisine.
Maurice Terzini has been the man in charge since 2002. He works closely with the head chefs to develop tasty dishes, championing locally caught seafood. Lacking the cash for a sit-down? Settle for a cocktail and snacks in the Icebergs Bar — enjoying those views without emptying your bank account.
Fine dining and laidback Northern Beaches energy collide at this charming Manly restaurant. Tactically accented by exposed brick walls, polished floorboards, candlelight and dark leather Chesterfields, the space is polished but still warm and homely. Emerging from the kitchen, you’ll find a seasonal menu that heroes top-quality seafood — almost every dish features some delicious sea creature.
While the offerings are always changing depending on what produce is available, expect a blend of the classic (kingfish ceviche, squid ink spaghetti and hibachi-grilled prawns) and the unexpected (Sri Lankan-inspired coconut prawn curry and yellowfin tuna empanadas). It’s a delight for all seafood lovers, just a stone’s throw from the beach.
Image: Lauren Vadnjal.
Sokyo is one of The Star’s most beloved eateries and one of the best seafood restaurants in Sydney. The experienced team brings impeccable Japanese cooking to a menu that celebrates Australian produce.
You can go a la carte and order rarities like Tassie sea urchin, South Australian kingfish and New Zealand red snapper or leave it up to the chefs by ordering the luxe omakase. This one-of-a-kind dining experience will see you try a whopping 23 dishes — mostly seafood — while sampling some sake and signature cocktails. Coming in at $300 per person, it’s probably best saved for a very special occasion.
Sean’s is a true institution. A long-standing 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 at this Sydney restaurant is reserved, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re hunting for a hearty serving of vegetables from the farm to 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.
Garfish is something of an institution to Crows Nest locals. Famed for its fresh seafood selection, great wine list and outstanding service, it’s a hard place to beat. The menu is ever-changing, depending on what comes in fresh from the boats, but you should expect to find its famed fish pie made with thick fillets of fresh snapper. It’s almost always on offer.
The wine list is also impressive, championing Australian drops from small producers. If it is too daunting for you, the staff know it well and will happily pair your seafood eats with the perfect vino.
When Golden Century closed down it left a yum cha-sized hole in the heart of Sydney — one that was only compounded by the loss of Marigold later that year. Thankfully, the old Golden Century space has not been renovated into a set of apartments or a high-end boutique, but instead has reemerged as Royal Palace Seafood Restaurant, an expansive 600-person Cantonese restaurant with dining until 3am, live seafood tanks and yum cha.
Living up to its name, seafood plays a pivotal role on the menu, with highlights including pipis in XO sauce, lobster and braised noodles, and Singapore chilli crab. There are also plenty of crowd-pleasing classics like Peking duck pancakes and mango pancakes to pair with the top-notch fruits of the sea.
Top Images: Sean’s.
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