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By Yelena Bidé
January 19, 2021
By Yelena Bidé
January 19, 2021


in partnership with

Our top picks to celebrate another lap around the sun.

Rounding up your mates to celebrate a birthday is meant to be something to look forward to all year, not an unnecessary source of stress and drama. But between conflicting schedules, dietary restrictions and different budgets, trying to pick the perfect place can be such a nightmare, that you'd be forgiven for just giving up and spending your birthday eating pizza on the couch. As understandable as this approach may be, it's also far from ideal. To make sure it doesn't happen, we've enlisted help from our mates at American Express to pick out some of the city's best places to celebrate your special day.

Some of our all-time Sydney favourites — that also happen to accept Amex — each of these eight spots has stellar food and drink offerings, enough space for larger groups and great atmosphere that doesn't translate into a budget-breaking bill, letting you tick off all the boxes with glorious ease. Picking any of these people-pleasers is a foolproof way to make sure that everyone — including yourself — will be heading home happy. Cheers to that.


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  • 8

    For an epically fun night out on the town, make a beeline for Ms.G’s. Housed in a narrow, four-storey building on Victoria Street, this hipster haunt is one of Sydney’s best bets for a memorable evening. The noise levels are as loud as the decor, with distressed walls plastered with graffiti and decidedly moody lighting. But the crazy fun vibe is not all this place has going for it — the inventive Asian fusion menu will satisfy all the cravings you didn’t even know you had. The $69 banquet menu lets you sample all of the smash hits, including the cheeseburger spring roll, soy-glazed chicken wings and the insanely decadent Stoner’s Delight Part 3 dessert. Grab a group, book a table and enjoy the ride.

  • 7

    There’s just so much to love about China Diner; from the killer yum cha offering to the extensive cocktail menu, this is the place to book for fuss-free, share-style modern Cantonese cuisine. Start with the incredible dumplings, five spice duck pancakes and a few crafty cocktails for the table, and let the night unfold from there. Pick between the front section, with its communal tables and wood booths, or the back, where you’ll get a more formal atmosphere, complete with white tablecloths and softer lighting. You can order three different banquets ($45–65) and add on an optional 90-minute beverage package for $35. Whatever you decide to do, China Diner is a decidedly glorious place to while away those precious birthday hours.

    Image: Dominic Loneragan.

  • 6

    This tiny osteria in Enmore dishes up what is quite possibly the neighbourhood’s best Italian food, and it does so in a notable Godfather-esque setting. Between the lace curtains on the front windows, menus pasted into vintage books and funny paintings on the walls, you’ll be forgiven for spending a good chunk of your night trying to take it all in. But don’t get too distracted from the food because it’s eccellente. We’re huge fans of the Tutto Bene five-course shared feast ($70), with optional matched wines for an extra $60.

    Image: Katje Ford.

  • 5

    This gorgeous little place operates as a cafe during the day, drawing in a loyal crowd of locals with its excellent food and chill vibes. Thursday to Saturday, though, it reopens during the evening hours for their highly lauded vegetarian dinner. If you’ve got plant-based diners in the crew, look no further — also take note that meat eaters will thoroughly enjoy this joint, too. Not only does its excellent degustation take you through the entire evening menu for $60, you can BYO wine for an extra $10 per bottle corkage. So, brush the dust off that fancy bottle of wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion and get ready to indulge in an incredible feast of homemade pasta, local Australian cheeses and dreamy desserts.

  • 4

    A few hours spent in this California-inspired Neutral Bay eatery will have you feeling like you’ve taken a mini-holiday to celebrate your birthday. The decidedly beachy vibes — a breezy paint job, tons of greenery and cheerful, coloured lighting — will transport you straight to the American West Coast. Nab a table outside (they’re large enough for a big group), and get your sunshine-drenched drink and dinner on. The tacos, pork belly sliders and prawn ceviche are particularly recommendable, as are the various margaritas. We’re also huge fans of the bottomless rosé lunch ($65) situation that’s on offer every Wednesday to Sunday afternoon. Just grab three friends to meet the four-person minimum, and enjoy two hours of free-flowing rosé.

  • 3

    Big Poppa’s is a solid favourite for three very good reasons: the cheese, the cocktails and the hip hop. If this glorious trifecta sounds like the perfect mix for your birthday bash, look no further than this buzzy Oxford Street locale. Downstairs is the cocktail bar with low lighting, leather booths and a vintage mosaic of Biggie Smalls. For something a bit fancier, head upstairs where there’s more of a classic ristorante vibe. Get in early with your booking though, as the place is always popular. That said, this one’s the perfect option for night owls — Big Poppa’s is open until 3am.

    Image: Kitti Gould

  • 2

    Bondi Hardware is the place to go for trendy, casual elegance; think warm candlelight dancing on exposed brick walls, recycled timber panels and wall-mounted tools that hark back to the venue’s history as a hardware store. The international tapas-style menu — featuring salads, pizzas and small plates — is perfect for sharing, and the wine and cocktail selection is expertly-curated. As the weather warms up, you can post up in the leafy courtyard, with its atmospheric lighting and ample people-watching opportunities. Bondi Hardware also earns major points for its attentive service — your birthday group will be well-taken care of even on the busiest nights.

  • 1

    Inspired by Middle Eastern street vendors and the splendour of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, this Glebe gem is our go-to for stellar contemporary Middle Eastern fare, like hummus with paprika burnt butter and some of the best pizza-style manoushe you’ll ever have. Seriously. You’ll also find arak (an aniseed spirit), affordable feasts (for $45 a person), and desserts like the dreamy almond milk pudding with pistachio praline. Set across two floors of exposed brick, peeling paint and antique chandeliers, this delightful joint blows all expectations out of the water. With its relatively small tables and stool seating, this is a good one if you’re going for a small birthday meal with the besties or significant other.


FYI, this story includes some affiliate links. These don’t influence any of our recommendations or content, but they may make us a small commission. For more info, see Concrete Playground’s editorial policy.

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