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May 2, 2019

Sydney recs

Here is a post that has been brewing in my mind for a few months! A list of my favourite places to eat and drink in the Sydney CBD, from morning until night.

Almost all of these places are within a ten-minute walk to one of the city train stations. There are definitely good places a bit further out, but I more often find myself in the CBD; possibly because my friends and I all commute from the suburbs so it's just easier to get to and leave from. For your convenience, I've also pinned them all on a Google map.

The dollar sign price guides are purely subjective and pretty much based on how worth it I think the place is. The plus sign means it's one of my super favourites. Places in each category are listed in no particular order.


Cook and Archie's / $$ / +
One of my favourite places for brunch, a little underrated in my opinion. It has a good variety of savoury dishes and amazing hotcakes. As pictured above, they once had a burrata and avocado on toast special and I think it literally took me to heaven. It's in Surry Hills, close to Central station.

Bills / $$$
Quite expensive and a little overrated but the full English breakfast isn't bad. There are various locations, Crown St in Surry Hills is the one I've been to most often but they're also in Bondi Beach.

Grounds of the City / $$$
I've actually yet to go to the Grounds of Alexandria for brunch but I've visited the City outpost in the Galeries a few times. Again, expensive for what it is but their breakfast burger is A+.

Haven / $$
Cafe that does Asian-fusion brunches, right by Central Station.

Devon Cafe / $$
Another place with Asian-fusion brunches, there's one in Surry Hills and another in Barangaroo which is less busy.

The Walrus / $$
Cute and bright cafe that does nice brunches, but closed on Sundays unfortunately.

Afternoon tea
Koko Black / $$ / +
This chocolate store on Pitt St has a cafe tucked underneath it which has the best iced and hot chocolate in town.

The Tea Cosy / $
A really cute tea and scones place in The Rocks. I haven't been in a while but keep meaning to go back.

QVB Tea Room / $$$
The only high tea place I've tried in Sydney - expensive, but reasonably priced for a high tea. The sandwiches and scones are okay but the little desserts they serve you are to die for.


Barrio Cellar / $$ / ++
A Mexican bar and restaurant down some stairs just off Martin Place. It's got a corporate crowd on weeknights and is quite empty on weekend evenings given its location, but it's some of my favourite food in Sydney. They do $3 Taco Tuesdays - the fish and mushroom ones are the best, and occasionally they have a fried feta cheese one which I dream about.

Down n Out / $
A very dependable burger place on Liverpool St when I don't want to walk too far or wait in a long line. There's an option to add a fried mozarella patty to your burgers - enough said. I haven't been since they moved to their new location though.

Betty's Burgers / $
Another good burger place in Darling Harbour, reminds me of Shake Shack. Limited seating so go in good weather when you can sit outside.

Bar Luca / $$ / +
Possibly my favourite burger in Sydney, and I can never say no to the poutine either. It's very popular, and there's always a bit of a wait to get seated. It's on Phillip St, almost at Circular Quay.

Mary's CQ / $$
A new outpost of Mary's in Newtown, which is a bar that does fried chicken and burgers. I definitely recommend the fried chicken burger, but if you're not a meat-eater, they have a full equivalent vegan menu as well!

Dainty Sichuan / $
If you like spicy soup noodles, this is the place. Get the one with the beef if you're not vegetarian, it's amazing. It's in World Square.

New Shanghai / $
Good place for Shanghainese food at the basement level of Westfield Sydney, next to Zara - get the pan fried pork buns and cold noodles with drunken chicken.

Bangbang Izakaya / $$
New Japanese Izakaya place on Steam Mill Lane near Chinatown. The gyoza and chicken kaarage are my go-tos.

Mamas New York Style / $
A Korean place on Pitt St with some of my favourite fried chicken.

Sparrow's Mill / $
A Korean restaurant with pretty good fried chicken (e.g. snow cheese covered chicken) and a kimchi pizza - basically a kimchi pancake topped with melted cheese. Amazing. There's two places, one on Liverpool St and another on Goulburn.

Gami Chicken and Beer / $
Another good place for Korean fried chicken, in Central Park.

Peppercorn / $$
There's loads of Thai places in the city and to be honest, I only ever get chicken Pad See Ew at Thai (I love it) which usually tastes similar wherever you go. They do it pretty well here. It's above a pub near the south end of World Square.

Whirly Bird / $$
Chicken - both rotisserie and fried - in a pub setting just across the Pyrmont Bridge.

Tapavino / $$
Great tapas place in the north end of the CBD on Bulletin Place. Although sometimes I wonder if all tapas tastes good cause you only get a tiny bit of each dish.

GPO Wine and Cheese / $$$
Expensive but worth it for a special occasion. Can't go past the cheese fondue. I would skip the mac'n'cheese, however, which was disappointing. It's in the GPO building on Martin Place.

Salt Meats Cheese / $$
Pretty good Italian - most importantly, they do all you can eat pizza on Monday nights. They're in the new Gateway building in Circular Quay as well as across from Broadway shopping centre.

Vapiano / $
Not life changing, but dependable reasonably priced pasta when you feel in need of it. Right behind the Apple store.

Fratelli Fresh / $$
A chain for Italian, more on the fancy end. There are a couple of locations - I've been to the Bridge St and Westfield ones. It's solid when you want pasta and a glass of wine with a nice place to sit.

Fratelli Famous / $
A Fratelli Fresh spinoff where you can customise your own woodfired pizza, it's quite good! There's one in World Square and one next to the Fratelli Fresh in Westfield.


The Choc Pot / $ / +
My go-to place for dessert. Awesome waffles. It's in Regent Place near George St Cinema.

Gelato Messina / $
Sydney's favourite gelato. They're everywhere now, but close to the city they're in the Star, Circular Quay and Surry Hills.

Anita's / $
Also have really solid gelato, I like their Kinder Bueno flavour. At the back of Central Park.

Max Brenner / $$
A lot of branches have shut down now but I believe they're still open in Westfield Sydney and Central Park. My favourite chocolate souffle, get it with ice cream.

Oliver Brown / $
A chocolate cafe with a good range of desserts, in World Square.

The Rocks Cafe / $
Open reasonably late, always has tempting cakes in the windows. Across the road from the back of the MCA.

Baxter Inn / $ / +
Crowded hidden whiskey bar in the CBD. It's always busy but the bartenders move fast. It's difficult to find if you're not taken there by someone who knows - find the appropriate alleyway via Google Maps, and the entrance is directly opposite the Duke of Clarence pub - down what looks like a set of fire stairs.

Frankie's Pizza / $ / +
One of my favourites! The front part looks like a pizza restaurant, the back room is a dive bar almost always with a band playing. There's another secret bar downstairs via a back door next the stage (I've not been in a while so not sure if that one's still there). Pizza's pretty good too.

Doorknock / $$$
Cocktail bar with good snacks on Pitt St. You go down this long corridor underground (feels like you're going to be murdered, which is always the sign of a good bar up ahead) and you knock on the door to be let in.

Bulletin Place / $$$ / +
A really lovely and cosy bar upstairs on the street it's named after. It's quite expensive but the cocktails are great and they do a good cheeseboard too. They do restrict the number of people who get in so there's always space to sit down.

Since I Left You / $$
A courtyard bar on Kent St, you have to keep an eye out for the sign. Nothing very special about the drinks but it's a nice place to sit.

El Camino / $ / +
A Tex-Mex restaurant in The Rocks. They do a lot of food but I've listed them under Drinks because we go for the $7 Happy Hour frozen margaritas. They are poison.

Soda Factory / $
It's been a while since I've been inside but it was one of my favourites during uni. They do good American junk food too. It's near the south end of Hyde Park.

Assembly Bar / $$
Cocktail bar downstairs in Regent Place. The attached restaurant does reasonable food.

Smoking Panda / $$$
Cocktail bar outfitted like a Chinese restaurant, right near the big Town Hall Woolies.

Bancho / $$$
Fancy Japanese cocktail bar in a Chinatown laneway.

After drinks

Hot Star / $ / +
Gigantic pieces of Taiwanese fried chicken. Good anytime of the day.

I'll probably update this list and the map periodically. If you live here or have visited and have any recommendations, leave them in the comments!

Last updated 25/5/19.

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