Sydney is undoubtedly the most beautiful city in Australia. Period. So, when the mercury starts rising, and the days start feeling a little bit longer (thank you daylight savings), we’re all about lapping up that sunshine in style and knocking back cold ones until the sun goes down.
Whether that be in a European-esque laneway, a rooftop patio, a waterfront restaurant, or a tiki hut courtyard in one of Sydney’s oldest pubs—it doesn’t matter where—just bring on the antipasto and alfresco vibes.
Read on for the best outdoor dining spots in Sydney.
Good for: share-style street food in a light-filled space
It doesn’t get any closer to an actual trip to California than Neutral Bay’s sunny haven SoCal. Bright, buzzing and bang-on with the decor, the rooftop terrace here is a vortex of good times. On the menu is fresh and modern Southern Californian share style street food, packed with Latin American spices alongside low ‘n’ slow-smoked meats, house-made sauces and freshly indulgent sides—which is just about as perfect as it gets. The lush garden and retractable roof mean the alfresco vibes are amped at all times. Order up as many tasty tacos as you can handle, fried smoked wings, tuna tostada, ceviche, a serving of tater tots and wash everything down with SoCal’s famed Tommy’s Margarita.
Bopp & Tone
Good for: sophisticated feasting
Bopp & Tone is another stellar outdoor dining affair from the legends at Applejack (also responsible for plating up the tasty tacos at SoCal above). A tribute to Applejack founders’ grandfathers, Keith "Bopp" Evans and Anthony "Tone" Adams, Bopp & Tone oozes a nostalgic and post-World War II aesthetic, incorporating a whole lot of greenery, darkness, and moody timber furnishings, complete with an alfresco dining terrace you need to hit this summer.
The Australian menu centres around honest and generous share food with Mediterranean influences, featuring dishes such as Australian king prawns, Wagyu flank steak, and slow-cooked lamb shoulder. If you’re out for drinks and nibbles, it’s also worth getting your outdoor dining on with the East 33 Sydney rock oysters (with verjus mignonette), salt cod fritters, and trust us when we say the lemon tart, with lavender ice cream, can’t be skipped.
Manly Skiff Club
Good for: special occasions with a harbour view
Nestled on the foreshore of Manly Cove, The Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club offers some pretty insane harbour views. This sailing club traces its beginning all the way back to the early 1920s but fear not, if you don’t know your port from your starboard, you can still dig into the glorious menu here. Naturally, there’s a dedicated raw bar, filled with Natural oysters, salmon ceviche and Yellowtail Kingfish—and you’re going to want to knock all of it back on the open-air deck. Alongside this, you can also lap up the rays and salty air with fresh seafood feasts (keep your eyes on the crab cakes), chicken parmis, pasta, burgers, and pizzas.
Bellevue Cottage By Antoine
Good for: Charming courtyard space
Some food was just mean to be consumed outside and, when it comes to French fare, nothing beats crunching your way through a croque madam at brunch or spooning down coq a vin at dinner in a leafy courtyard somewhat reminiscent of the French countryside. Bellevue Cottage By Antoine builds from Antoine Moscovitz’s French culinary heritage in a stunning heritage-listed building with almost as much charm as the Loire Valley itself. Moscovitz hails from Paris and his mega culinary background not only includes cooking under world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse but also being appointed private chef to the House of Roederer Cristal Champagne. This means you’re in for a pretty incredible menu. The kitchen is stocked with seasonal goods, an array of proteins are cured in-house, and dishes are made from scratch, which includes the pork and chicken liver terrine, the confit smoked pork belly, and the succulent braised beef cheeks.
The Balmain Hotel
Good for: casual outdoor dining
The Balmain Hotel might be Balmain’s second oldest pub (dating all the way back to before the turn of the 20th Century), but there’s nothing old or aged about this joint. In what is no exaggeration at all, walking through this venue feels like the first time Dorothy stepped into Oz, you couldn’t make the walls, floors, and decor more kaleidoscopic if you tried. In terms of outdoor dining, there are three main spaces you can get around. The first is the mezzanine area, located just out the back of the hotel and it fits around 10 - 40 people and sports a big Palm Springs vibe. The second is the garden wall courtyard, just a few steps away from the Bora Bora bar. Finally, the Tiki Huts area goes off the rear of the property and is loaded with picnic tables, turf, brollies, and festoon lights.
Good for: Vietnamese eats and a dog-friendly date-night
Compared to its sister venue, Hello Auntie 2.0 preaches a more bar-heavy vibe. Bringing a new-school vision of Vietnamese eats to the Haymarket hotspot, this beauty is not a copy and paste version of its Inner West original. Instead, you’ll find a sleeker look, that features a monochrome colour palette, mood lighting and wooden accents as dining tables pour out onto the footpath. All this makes for one hell of a place to shack up for a casual and cool date night or late-night cocktails. Centred right in the heart of Haymarket, there’s a sprawl of outdoor tables perfect for Hello Auntie’s bottomless brunch offering or date-night during the warmer months. The venue is also dog-friendly so you can bring your four-legged furry friend along too.
Good for: picture-perfect moments
Scoffing down mortadella, salami, prosciutto, creamy burrata and wood-fired bread in a casual Italian-style courtyard just makes a whole lot of sense to us. So it’s no surprise that Totti’s takes the cake when it comes to bearing an outdoor space that’s too good to pass up. Headed by Mike Eggert, Totti’s shines in many departments, from the antipasto spreads and the charcoal fish to the organic wines and Riot Spritz (it’s aperitivo hours at all hours of the day here). The courtyard sports extended patio vibes and is filled with olive trees, director’s chairs, and dappled sunlight.
Good for: euro vibes
The Rocks was the first area in Sydney to trial new alfresco dining spaces off the back of COVID-19—and you’ll now also find live music throughout George Street, First Fleet Park, Jack Mundey Place, Unwin’s Courtyard and Nurses Walk every Thursday through Sundays between 11am and 9pm. There are a plethora of venues down this way that now have extended outdoor spaces and if you haven't been here since BC (before COVID-19), you're in for a mega surprise. For laneway dining, hit up The Orient, Sergeant Lok, and The Mercantile. For epic beer gardens, rooftops and courtyards, head to The Doss House, Tap Rooms, The Australian Heritage Hotel, Fortune of War, and The Glenmore.
Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel
Good for: sashimi tasting plates and water views
The next best thing to climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge itself is setting yourself up at Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel at sunset and slinging back crisp glasses of rosé. Not much beats the blue and white parasols of this very iconic venue which bears a whole lot of morning mimosas, seafood platters and smashable breakfasts with a view. The Beach Club should be your place of calling, perfect for lazy lunches, afternoon cocktails, and after-dark parties.
Good For: long lunches, waterfront views and dog-friendly catch-ups
The Newport is a pretty flawless venue when it comes to its outdoor multi-dining spread, overlooking pretty Pittwater. There are several outdoor dining options to get around here, all equally amazing and delicious. The garden is fitted out with fire pits in winter, tables with views over the water and cabanas for the squad, you’re only mission is to decide on what your vibe is. The Arms Bar is your go-to for an alfresco Happy Hour, there’s also a Kiosk Cafe with breakfast goods and smoothies, Vinnie’s Pizza is pretty much the beating heart of the entire joint, and The Shack whips up greasy burgers, fish and chips, and salt and pepper calamari.
good for: sunset drinks
Opera Bar undoubtedly props itself up in Sydney’s prime location—right in front of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. At any time of day, you’ll be soaking up the sunshine, watching ferries glide in and out of the terminal, and even get to scope some cheeky scenes of North Sydney’s Luna Park. Everywhere you look is a photo opp. Real estate aside, here it’s all about freshness and seasonality, from Opera Bar’s spritz cocktails and crisp pale ales to its all-encompassing seafood menu. There’s an all-day menu with snack-sized dishes (because sometimes you just feel like a bowl of sweet potato wedges), pizza, sashimi plates and mains. While you can’t go wrong with pretty much anything on the menu, if you’re here with a group, go for the cold or hot seafood platters.
Now, check out the best rooftop bars in Sydney right now.
Image credit: The Rocks, SoCal, Bopp & Tone, Manly Skiff Club, Bellevue Cottage By Antoine, The Balmain Hotel, Hello Auntie, Totti’s, The Rocks, Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel, The Newport, Opera Bar