Whether you’re a foodie treating yourself to a culinary trip or you're just after a well-deserved holiday with a few delicious stops along the way, Sydney’s vibrant hospitality scene is bursting with fresh restaurants and new, imaginative dining experiences. From brunches and long lunches to fine dining and late-night biting, Sydney sure is a tasty place to check in and hole up for a while.
So, to help inspire and plan your weekend getaway, we’ve rounded up some of the best newly opened restaurants around the city, from waterfront spots on the picturesque Northern Beaches to acclaimed CBD eateries helmed by Michelin starred chefs. All just a quick flight away.
It’s time to reclaim your 2022 with a visit to Sydney and NSW to experience the most exciting line-up of summer foodie experiences.
After three years of construction and renovation, Sydney’s iconic Shell House is finally open to the public. The heritage-listed building was first built in 1938, today standing as a rare example of interwar commercial Palazzo architecture and home to four separate and equally impressive venues–offering the perfect date night all under one roof. Start on the ground floor Menzies Bar, a moody bistro doing $10 martinis and lobster rolls for a daily ‘Martini Hour’. Then head up to the ninth floor to Sky Bar to soak in the sunset and city views over caviar and champagne. Next is the Dining Room & Terrace, the heart and soul of the venue that boasts an impressive menu from culinary director Joel Bickford (Aria, Biota). Finally, head up to level 10 to the art-deco Clocktower Bar for a Negroni, sitting inside the soaring void of the 400-tonne stone clock tower above.
Just over the bridge in Lavender Bay is Sydney’s newest French bistro, boulangerie and traiteur (deli). Open for brekkie, lunch and dinner, Loulou is inspired by the great delis, bistros and bars of Europe and has your every Parisian desire covered. The boulangerie bakes four times a day to ensure your baguette is as fresh as can be, alongside to-die-for pastries. The traiteur offers French charcuterie, sausages, small goods, salads, terrine, parfait and even dishes like ratatouille to heat up at home. Finally, book yourself in at the bistro for some French classics from chef Billy Hannigan (Bistro Guillaume, The Ledbury London) like a classic steak frites au poivre vert, chicken liver parfait with warm brioche or steak tartare with potato crisp. Ask about the Loulou caviar service if you’re feeling extra boujee.
From the legendary team behind Sydney venues like Dear Sainte Éloise, Ragazzi and Fabbrica comes the recently opened La Salut, a Catalan-inspired wine bar housed inside the old sports bar of newly revived Norfolk House & Hotel. To no surprise, knowing this group, the 40-seat venue offers a knock-out wine list, with plenty of Spanish drops showcased. And with heavy Barcelona influence, the menu from executive chef Scott McComas-Williams features lots of seafood, with snacks and share plates. Think mussels with chips and hot sauce, different types of jamon and manchego, dry-aged rib eye served with capers and garum, and butifarra (Spanish sausage) with clams and beans.
Anyone fortunate enough to live in the upper reaches of Sydney’s Northern Beaches will gladly tell you the area is one of the country’s most beautiful and laid-back spots. That spirit is perfectly captured by casual Avalon Beach venue, Bar Elvina. A two-minute walk from the water’s edge, this light and summery wine bar focuses on seafood like BBQ kingfish fillet or Flinders Island scallops served in the shell with nori. Alongside a coastal-inspired wine list and a small but considered cocktail list that features refreshing concoctions like the “Lemon Balm Spritz” with lemon balm infused vodka, Lillet aperitif, bubbles and soda.
Bringing South-East Asian street food to the northern end of the Sydney CBD is MuMu, the latest venture from Merivale super chef Dan Hong. The venue is inspired by a 2019 trip through countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam taken by Merivale venue heads, including owner Justin Hemmes, Hong and MuMu head chef Oliver Hua. The Icy precinct venue is all about the shared experience of good times while eating, with dishes like Cambodian fried chicken, Vietnamese steak tartare and wok-fried king prawns with fish sauce and brown butter on the menu. Make sure you try the Yuzu Slushee made famous at Hong’s Ms G’s in Potts Point.
It doesn’t get much better than running a restaurant on the beautiful shores of Sydney’s Rose Bay. The Boat House boasts that exact perk, overlooking the harbour waters and offering the ideal spot to relax over a summer meal. Open from 7am – 3pm is The Kiosk, serving up relaxed breakfast and lunch bites like the crumbed dory burger, buttermilk scones or coconut hotcakes to go with a coffee or a daytime, post-swim margarita (why not?). Then you have the restaurant, filled with plants, light tones and sunshine, open for both lunch and dinner. The seafood-heavy menu features lobster linguine with pipis, chilli oil and caviar, a prawn cocktail and freshly shucked oysters served with your choice of raspberry and ginger dressing or apple and celery granita.
Lola’s Level 1
Joining the already amazing Bondi dining scene in late 2021, Lola’s Level 1 is a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant with a menu showcasing flavours from Italy, Spain and Greece. Not to mention the venue is located across the street from Australia’s most famous beach for some welcome seaside vibes. Sit in the dining room or outside on the elevated balcony space soaking up a fresh breeze. Order small and large plates like anchovies ‘Cantabric’ with piquillos Spanish peppers, semolina spaghettini with prawn, mussel and gremolata, or Jack’s Creek striploin served with chimichurri and baby heirloom pepper. Finish it off with a slice of Basque cake or skip dessert and focus on the refined list of signature cocktails, like #1 on the list, with tequila, coconut, habanero and kaffir lime.
Formerly housing French restaurant Guillaume and beloved Italian mainstay Darcy’s for nearly 40 years before that, the terrace house on the corner of Hargrave and Elizabeth Streets is now home to Ursula’s. The charming residential dual-level venue from head chef Phil Wood (Rockpool, Eleven Bridge) fast became one of the hottest Sydney restaurant openings in 2021. The menu and restaurant vibe feels like a love letter to modern Australian cuisine and hospitality more broadly. Think dishes like Moreton Bay bug pasta, beef carpaccio, snapper served with roasted almonds and Keen’s Curry vinaigrette, and wagyu beef chuck flap to pair with a wine list from master sommelier Sebastian Crowther.
Oncore by Clare Smyth
Before graciously choosing Sydney as the home of her newest fine-dining venture, Chef Clare Smyth became the first British woman to be awarded the prestigious honour of Three Michelin stars for her Notting Hill restaurant Core. Which makes Barangaroo restaurant Oncore by Clare Smyth a bit of a big deal. Looking over harbour views from 26 floors up, the Crown Tower restaurant offers patrons the gastronomical experience that made Smyth so successful in London, including her famed “Potato and Roe” dish, which pays homage to the chef’s farming childhood in Northern Ireland. Alongside a 3,000 strong wine cellar, you’ll also find plenty of flavours unique to the local Sydney area.
After the success of Avalon’s Alma, owners and Northern Beaches locals Jack Leary and executive chef Tim Christensen decided to bring their coastal Mexican restaurant vibes down the coastline to Freshwater and open St. Alma. The menu is inspired by the pair’s fact-finding expedition through Mexico’s east coast and southwest regions some years ago, where they collaborated with and learned from chefs along the way. You’ll find plenty of share plates like lightly cured prawns, served with chile de arbol, habanero, pickled onion, hazelnuts, cucumber and coriander or the agave short ribs with grilled cos lettuce, pickled Dutch carrots and handmade corn tortillas. You’ll, of course, be pairing that with something from St. Alma’s tequila/mezcal-focused cocktail list or beers from local craft breweries like Mona Vale’s Modus.
For more information on how to have a Feel New in Sydney, visit sydney.com.
Image credit: The Boathouse Rose Bay Instagram, Ursula's Instagram, Shell House Instagram