A visit to beautiful Sydney is a feast for all five senses.
If it’s taste sensations you’re after, you have come to the right place. Sydney has a fabulous foodie scene, and a visit to any of the city’s distinctive culinary precincts will reveal no end of delicious delights. Seafood is a fixture on most menus (pay a visit to the bustling Sydney Fish Market during your stay), and the city’s diverse multicultural make-up delivers a wide variety of culinary styles.
Here are five top Sydney foodie precincts — all of which will give you a fabulous taste of life in the Harbour City.
Every capital city has one, but Sydney’s Chinatown is widely regarded as Australia’s best for its wide range of restaurants. Centred on pedestrianised Dixon Street in the Haymarket area (between Central Station and Darling Harbour), Chinatown was once the province of market gardeners. Today it’s an intensely urban precinct that’s home to a concentration of Asian-style food and shopping experiences. As the boundaries of what’s considered Chinatown expand ever outwards, so does the range of cuisines on offer, including Korean, Vietnamese and Malaysian. But the heart of the Chinatown dining experience is still Chinese food.
Choose the long-established Golden Century Seafood Restaurant (open till 4am) for a traditional and highly consistent Cantonese restaurant experience, or visit the Friday night Chinatown Markets to sample lots of styles of street food. Emperor’s Garden Cakes in Dixon Street is the ultimate, and very affordable, Chinese bakery.
Cabramatta is a poster-suburb for multicultural success and home to the best Vietnamese cuisine in Sydney. The food is so wonderful that the 50-minute train trip west from Central railway station is a small price to pay — especially given the incredible value to be found. There are so many good restaurants it’s hard to choose: just stroll down John Street or Cabramatta Road and see what takes your fancy. Eateries stand cheek to cheek, and chefs vie to produce the best noodles, beef pho, crispy chicken and sugar cane prawns. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on offer. Try Loving Hut and World Vegan.
On the other side of town, fresh seafood and ocean views rule. Currently, the most celebrated east-side eatery is the Icebergs Dining Room at Bondi Beach. Modern Italian cuisine, a seasonally changing menu and front-row seats overlooking Bondi Beach have created a winning combination. For a cheap-and cheerful version of this iconic Sydney experience, try the Bistro at the original Bondi Icebergs Club (named for its fanatical cohort of year-round swimmers). The seafood vibe rules at North Bondi Fish, where head chef Jesse McTavish serves up delectable daily specials in a stunning, absolute beachfront location.
When you get tired of all that fresh sea air, the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills presents just the right mix of urban grit and high culinary aspiration. Try Single-O and Le Monde for the best of café culture, The Dolphin for high-end pub dining, and Toko for Izakaya-style Japanese eating and drinking. Devonshire, Foveaux, Reservoir, Crown and Commonwealth Streets are all bursting with cafés and restaurants. Just wander up from Central railway station and explore.
With less emphasis on fine dining and a more alternative, student-orientated vibe, Newtown in Sydney’s inner west is another food hub characterised by diversity and great café options. Take the train from Central (just three stops) and wander along King Street to discover a United Nations of culinary choices. Try the ever-reliable Thai Pothong. Pizza is the cash-strapped student’s friend and Gigi Pizzeria gets great reviews. Vegans can feel the love at Lentil as Anything. After your meal, indulge in a gelato chaser (also vegan-friendly) from the wondrous Gelato Blue.
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of top Sydney foodie precincts? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Cover image: Chinatown, Sydney. Image courtesy of Destination NSW. Image: Daniel Boud
Roslyn Jolly is a freelance travel writer whose work has appeared in Luxury Travel, Get Up & Go, The Sunday Telegraph and The Australian. In her former career as an English Literature academic, she studied and taught the work of great travel writers, such as Henry James, Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson, and became fascinated by the history of travel and tourism. Two years at school in Wales and three years at university in England allowed Roslyn to travel extensively in Europe and North America, which she continues to do.