This is My Manly:

Concrete Playground’s Local Editor Shares Their Favourite Neighbourhood Gems

Alec Jones
May 03, 2024

Manly is the crowning jewel of Sydney's Northern Beaches. Here are my recommendations on where to eat on your next visit.

As Sydney suburbs go, Manly’s scenery, community spirit, amenities and ease of access all stack up to make it a must-visit destination. As Concrete Playground’s north-of-the-bridge editor, I have a lot of pride for everything on this side of Sydney. Here are some recommendations on where to grab a bite to eat on your next visit to the crown jewel of the Northern Beaches.

Top image: Alec Jones

Heart of the Action:

Whistler Street and The Corso

Any Manly adventure is likely to start on The Corso. Whether you’re driving or getting public transport, almost all arrival points are concentrated around here. This busy strip of shops stretches from Whistler Street and the Ferry Terminal on the harbour side to South Steyne Road and Manly Beach, essentially dividing the suburb in two.

There are loads of fantastic businesses worthy of your time along The Corso. First up: Berkelo, a bakery with four outposts across Sydney’s north, including this one on Whistler Street. You’ll find freshly baked bread and pastries, delicious pantry stockers like sourdough pasta, toasted muesli and jarred sauce, and one of my favourite baguette sandwiches in Sydney, a simple but delightful serve of ham and brie with pickles and mustard.

Another great morning spot is Ground Zero Cafe. This little cafe is super popular thanks to its uncomplicated yet delicious menu of hearty breakfast classics (think sizeable breakfast burritos and bacon and egg rolls served with a side of potato gems) and a range of freshly squeezed juices and 20+ picks of smoothies, popular among breakfast-going locals.

Around the corner is Manly Library and a condensed pocket of cafes and restaurants. While any choice in there is a great one, my pick is Jipang. Accessed through the southern arcade, this hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant has been dishing quality feeds since 1993 and is my favourite Japanese restaurant in Sydney.  The gyoza is unmatched, with a tangy flavour I’ve yet to find elsewhere; the rice bowls are unpretentious and generously portioned; and the rest of the menu is simple, authentic, affordable and bloody delicious.

A Slice of Seaside Paradise:

North Head, Shelly Beach and Fairy Bower

When following the roads uphill into Manly’s quiet ‘burbs, stick to Darley Road, as this takes you past The Roast Office. This is the most popular cafe on the hill, partially thanks to an interior that oozes character with its many knick-knacks. The menu is heartier than anything else around, from the delightfully indulgent hash brown stack (featuring bacon, a fried egg, cheese and avocado) to decadent pancakes with ice cream, banana, caramel sauce and icing sugar.

If you seek some time in nature, press on to where Darley Road becomes Bluefish Drive. Enjoy a scenic walk down to Shelly Beach, Manly’s pretty little sibling surrounded by bushland and home to a stunning aquatic reserve and The Boathouse. The Shelly Beach outpost of the leading restaurant group offers pristine beach views, a modern coastal menu and an outdoor seating that echoes an exotic tropical getaway.

Be sure to stroll the coastal walkway back to Manly, keeping your eyes peeled for seals, sharks and dolphins along the way. Once you’ve got apartments and a few shops to your left, you’re in Fairy Bower — home to another great spot, The Bower. Here, you’ll find a seasonally rotating menu offering all-day brekkie alongside Vietnamese rice noodle salads, Korean fried chicken and smoked trout paté.

Images: North Head wall (Alec Jones), Shelley Beach overhead (Fabio Santo via Unsplash), Fairy Bower Ocean Pool (Destination NSW), The Bower (Destination NSW)

A Night Out on the Beach:

North Steyne and Queenscliff

Back in the thick of things, Manly Beach also has one hell of a walking parade. Should you be walking north, once you hit North Steyne Surf Club, look left. That’s Kazzi Beach Greek Manly, a local institution of Greek food. Take a seat to enjoy a hearty Aegean feast of spit-roasted meats, chargrilled seafood and lush salads, or grab a quick souvlaki wrap to eat on the beach.

Where Manly becomes Queenscliff, there’s another beloved institute: The Salty Rooster. Every beach needs a great snack shack, and that’s exactly what you’ll find here. Family owned and operated since 2005, The Salty Rooster is all about chicken burgers (there are 18 options on the menu) paired with the simple joys of chips and soft drinks.

Closer to the middle of town is Pocket Pizza. This is unashamedly my favourite pizza restaurant in Sydney. The decor is traditional, but the menu offers contemporary spins on classic recipes, all of which are very good indeed. My pick is the Gordom Hamsey, a take on ham and pineapple that will turn pineapple-on-pizza naysayers into advocates.

Meanwhile, Sunset Sabi is one of the hottest spots in town, offering buzzing vibes with a top-notch menu of Japanese cuisine that varies from high-end sashimi and nigiri to extravagant cheeseburger gyoza and burgers. The cocktails are excellent as well, marking it as an ideal spot to enjoy later at night.

There’s so much to see and do in Manly, if I’m being honest it’s too much to cover in one day alone, so why not consider a night in some of the local accommodations too? From historic harbourside views to modern accommodations a stone’s throw from the beach, you can find plenty of spots to recharge between adventures.


For more information on what to find in Manly, visit the Hello Manly website

Images: Manly Beach (Alec Jones), Kazzi Beach Greek (supplied), Manly Lagoon (Alec Jones), Pocket Pizza, Sunset Sabi (both supplied).

Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x