Aaah, Darling Harbour. The home of our beloved Sega World (RIP), paddle boats and those random bungee trampoline things for kids. It’s had a spruce up in recent years, and elevated its status from tacky-tourist-trap to actually-it’s-quite-a-good-place-to-hang-out.
If you’re hankering for a feed (or a cheeky tipple) in the area, here are our favourite restaurants in Darling Harbour.
Queensland expats gave a big cheer when Betty’s Burgers opened in the new ICC precinct in Darling Harbour. The banana-benders have a good thing going—they’ve got a tight burger menu (classic beef, crispy chicken, pork belly or crispy mushroom), fries and onion rings (right here, please and thank you), and some hella-good thickshakes and ‘concretes’ aka frozen custard desserts. Here, you can get a decent feed and still walk away with change from a twenty. PS, did we mention they’re licensed too?
Kazbah Darling Harbour
Sure, the original Kazbah in Balmain has its famous tagines, but does it have a stunning harbour view? The Darling Harbour outpost pairs 180-degree water views with delicious Moroccan, Middle Eastern and North African fare. If it’s too overwhelming to choose from their extensive a la carte menu of mezze, tagines and shish kebabs, feast like a queen from their banquet menus instead. Then, recline on their plump-as cushions and nurse your food baby (and psst, if you’re so inclined, they have a tobacco-free shisha menu as well). More Morocco, pls!
Cabana-na-na-na, make those bodies sing! The Port, which styles itself as a French coastal haven, sits on prime real estate along the harbour. Snag a plum spot on one of their harbourfront cabanas and drink in the view….with a drink in hand, of course. They’ve got eleven cocktails, twenty-eight wines and twenty beers on tap, and damn, they match up real good with their summery food menu. Think cold seafood platters, mezze plates and salt and pepper calamari. Bonus: their kitchen is open until 10pm.
Lal Qila Darling Harbour
Fans of the original Pakistani eatery in Surry Hills are in luck—the Lime Street Wharf outpost dishes up the OG menu, with some bonus dishes exclusive to the Darling Harbour sister restaurant. Dig into the chicken karahi, a fragrant curry cooked in a Pakistani cast-iron wok (also called a karahi), a handie, a creamy curry slow-cooked in a traditional clay pot, or the Pakistani favourite, rogani naan (a buttery, multi-layered naan sprinkled with sesame seeds). Bring eating pants.
There was much fanfare when Netflix food darling, David Chang, opened his first restaurant outside NYC in dear old Sydney in 2011. Since then, it’s collected its fair share of gastronomic awards, hats and stars, and has gone from strength to strength since Barbados-born Paul Carmichael took the reins of executive chef. Mark your pay-day in the calendar, because the legendary, Caribbean-influenced 14-course tasting menu sets you back $185 per head. But hey, there’s a reason that’s lauded as one of Sydney’s best foodie spots.
Steam Mill Lane
Ok, we’ve cheated here. Steam Mill Lane, located in Darling Square precinct, isn't a specific venue, but it is a delicious precinct. Teeeeechnically not 100% open yet, but that ain’t killing our vibe because there are more eateries opening every day (near enough) and it's set to be wide open by the end of May. They’ve attracted a promising line-up of eateries like Belles Hot Chicken (nom nom), Gyradiko (Greek wraps galore), Fishbowl (DIY sashimi bowls), 8bit (burgers) and Bang Bang, a Japanese whisky bar with a side order of karaoke (yaaaaass). Keep your eyes peeled, and your stomachs willing.
Got a hankering for Chinatown eats instead? Hit up our best-ofs here.
Betty's Burgers | Image credit: Caitlin Hicks