Our harbour city is blessed with some of the world’s best harbour and ocean views, so a bunch of breathtaking waterfront restaurants are basically a given.
From Italian spots with their own pontoons so you can pull up by water taxi to retro boozers overlooking the ocean, Sydney's waterfront restaurants can deliver for all occasions—and instantly add some wow factor to any meal.
These are the best waterfront restaurants in Sydney.
Now Open: Pier Bar
Sitting pretty on Sydney Harbour with a jaw-dropping view of the Bridge, Luna Park, and the historic finger wharves of Dawes Point, PIER BAR is a waterfront restaurant where you can marvel at the sheer beauty of this city.
To eat, snacks include freshly shucked oysters, mini tacos, cheese and charcuterie, and crispy lemon myrtle-dusted prawns. Larger plates look like pasta prima vera, a Wagyu ragu, and a Wagyu cheeseburger.
Drinks at PIER BAR are sunny, fruity, and fun (like the signature avocado mezcal margarita, made with avocado-washed mezcal, avocado syrup, agave, lime, and orange blossom), and the harbourside location means you can pull up to the pontoon on a private vessel or water taxi.
St Siandra brings a little of the Amalfi to the sparkly waters of Middle Harbour, complete with its own private beach set-up and a private beach and moorings so you can arrive by boat.
This waterfront restaurant dishes out local seafood with Mediterranean flair; think seven-spice Moreton Bay bugs, Pacific Oysters with ajo blanco, and Jack's Creek bone-in Wagyu striploin with butter-poached lobster tails.
The Boathouse CYCA
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia is now home to yet another waterfront restaurant by The Boathouse Group, known for its coastal chic interiors and fresh Mediterranean fare.
The Boathouse CYCA kicks things off with simple satisfying breakfasts, followed by a Mediterranean-influenced lunch and dinner menu, and signature cocktails perfect for enjoying as the sun sets over the boats bobbing on Rushcutters Bay.
Shout out to The Boathouse Group's other gorgeous waterfront restaurants in Balmoral, Shelly Beach, Patonga and Rose Bay, too.
The Surf Deck
Picture this: piña coladas by the beach with a second-to-none view of the sand and the sparkly waves. If this is what comes to mind for you when you think waterfront restaurant, Merivale's beach venue The Surf Deck needs to be on your radar. It's essentially an extension of The Collaroy—a slick Tiki-inspired spot complete with retro cocktails smack bang on the sand at Collaroy Beach.
The menu is a lineup of perfect beachside eating: Sydney Rock oysters with pineapple and pepper mignonette, yellowfin tuna tostadas, beer-battered fish and chips, pork belly tacos, and a selection of pizzas.
A multi-level space overlooking the idyllic Edwards Beach just north of Balmoral, Bathers Pavilion is an all-occasion waterfront venue.
In the elegant restaurant, it's European techniques and dishes with delicate Asian influences, like green asparagus tempura with hazelnut, chèvre and pine oil or pot-roasted Eastern rock lobster with aged koshihikari rice, sprouts and fermented chilli.
Elsewhere, there's the casual bistro space, long-term Thai pop-up Betel Leaf taking over the upstairs space and terrace, and promenade-side kiosk for post-beach snacks.
The waterfront views from Sean's are one thing, but the food here is also outstanding. Head chef and owner Sean Moran brings his produce from his 20-acre farm in the Blue Mountains to share amongst good company in the heart of the Eastern Beaches.
The menu is a three-course offering that changes every single day, and usually features plenty of seafood—which is exactly what you want when staring out into the endless blue.
With sweeping views over sparkly Rose Bay, Catalina is one of Sydney's longstanding "special occasion" venues—even Beyonce and Jay-Z paid a visit to this waterfront restaurant.
The minimalist interior and wrap-around balcony are complemented with pages of champagne and wine to pick from and a menu of soy-cured king salmon and crispy skin saltwater barramundi.
Keen to visit Catalina in the future? Purchase a gift voucher here.
Built into a stunning, sprawling weatherboard cottage on Freshwater Beach, Pilu is an absolute must for anyone wanting to experience the very best of Sydney's waterfront dining with a side of fresh, seaside air.
The menu is inspired by owner Giovanni Pilu's Italian home, Sardinia, but champions local produce. The hero of the menu has to be the crisp-skinned suckling pig for two with rosemary potatoes, but we're also very into the refined desserts.
Promenade is a sprawling waterfront spot built into the historic Bondi Pavilion. Complete with an ocean-facing verandah, a private dining grotto, and a sunny terrace bar called The Front Yard, the menu has been dreamt up to compliment the location.
The Front Yard Bar menu is packed with tasty snacks like prawns with Marie Rose sauce, topped flatbreads and fresh salads, while the dining room menu packs more substantial seafood dishes, pastas made at sister venue Grana, and wood-fired proteins.
To drink, go for the Sunnyboy Spritz for a smack of summertime nostalgia laced with strawberry, ginger, Aperol and white wine.
Tucked in the Northern Beaches is Bert’s Bar and Brasserie, a hidden branch of the Merivale empire that overlooks Pittwater. It’s part of the Newport Hotel, raised up on level one to give views of the sparkling surroundings with a rich, vintage-style dining room.
Diners at this high-end establishment can browse the iced-up fresh seafood bars and peer into the live lobster tanks before sitting down to a Mediterranean-inspired feast. It’s a steak tartare and squid ink pasta marinara kind of place, with an iconic cheese trolley to round off a gorgeous meal.
Icebergs Dining Room and Bar
Probably the most famous oceanfront restaurant in Sydney, Icebergs truly capitalises on the glory of Bondi Beach, perched on the cliff looking over the Pacific towards North Bondi.
Expect a luxe, modern Italian menu spanning antipasti, pasta, fish and meat mains and desserts, with a popular $220pp set menu ticking off favourite suspects. The tiny terrace bar is the best spot for ocean views with a signature cocktail, and serves more relaxed snacks.
St George Sailing Club
The St George Sailing Club has held its prime view of the sparkly Georges River for well over a century, and is one of the best spots for waterfront dining in Sydney, complete with a crisp coastal aesthetic with warm timber accents and outdoor space for days.
All your seaside favourites and then some are there for the taking; think freshly shucked oysters, chilled prawns with wasabi mayo, and beer-battered fish and chips, alongside a little Mediterranean influence with woodfired pizzas, prawn linguine, and barramundi with fregola and herb salad.
The Chowder Bay branch of the popular Ripples is situated on an old military mine factory built during the First World War. It’s a modern Australian fine dining affair with unparalleled views of the Eastern Suburbs from the leafy vantage point of Middle Head.
The menu at this waterfront restaurant spans the Mediterranean, with Middle Eastern, Greek and Italian elements. Bonus: you can BYO every day of the week for $15 a bottle.
One of Sydney's favourite Italian restaurants, Otto is perched on the Cowper Bay Wharf in Woolloomooloo, looking out to the water and navy boats.
This waterfront restaurant that's been kicking for over 20 years is all about simple and seasonal Italian dining, with an epic selection of snacks and starters, pretty pasta dishes, and premium Australian proteins. We suggest rounding up a group of eight or more so you can jump on the $145pp, four-course menu with bottomless drinks from $65pp.
Sails On Lavender Bay
If you’re looking to take in some of the most iconic views of the harbour and bridge, Sails on Lavender Bay is the place to do it. The large glass windows of this waterfront restaurant look out to Luna Park, through the Harbour Bridge, and beyond to the white domes of the Opera House.
The cuisine is modern French with a focus on seafood, and you can opt for a set menu from $155, with vegan and vegetarian diners looked after as well.
Ormeggio At The Spit
Italian food just tastes better with water views, and everything is a 10/10 at Alessandro Pavoni's Ormeggio at the Spit.
In the interest of sustainability, the menu at this waterfront restaurant is meat-free, instead plating up grilled octopus with piadina, hand-picked mud crab tartlets, and takes on puttanesca and carbonara pasta using premium Australian fish. The $135pp Chef's Picks menu is a great place to start if you want to sample the best.
The Pantry holds a sacred spot in the heart of Manly, having been the beach suburb’s dedicated beach house back in the '20s. In those days, the waterfront restaurant served as a tea house and change rooms before it was transformed into a kiosk.
Now, the entire space opens to the beach and churns out breakfast staples in the morning and wholesome, coastal fare for lunch and dinner.
Doyles On The Beach
The Doyle family have owned and operated this waterfront restaurant for the past 135-plus years and pride themselves on their fabled fresh seafood: “Most product is sourced daily and processed in our own facility at the Sydney Fish Market in Pyrmont,” Ben Doyle tells us.
Facing west, the restaurant is ideal for waterfront sunset dining which can be taken in either at the casual garden bar or the white linen-tableclothed restaurant.
It's all in the name with this stunning waterfront restaurant. Harbourfront at Campbells Cove is your go-to for unmistakable Sydney views and enormous seafood platters—the cold and raw platter is piled with Cloudy Bay clams, whole Moreton Bay bug, chilled king prawns, smoked salmon, pickled local octopus , half Western Australian lobster, scallop ceviche, mussels, and ocean trout and spanner crab rillettes.
There's also grilled seafood and steaks, loads of Sydney Rock oysters with various preparations, and signature cocktails and plenty of wine to toast to the sun setting on the Opera House sails.
Empire Lounge is on the site of the first spot you would step into when flying into our city from the on-water landing strip, and remains a gorgeous waterfront spot from which to watch the seaplanes come and go over brunch, lunch or dinner.
The a la carte menu covers raw seafood, tasty starters, mains and salads, and a couple of banquet options are available from $80pp for special-occasion dining as well.
Need more ideas? Here's our pick of the best restaurants in Sydney right now.
Image credit: Merivale, Merivale, Leigh Griffiths, Steven Woodburn, Sean's Panorama, Steven Woodburn, Empire Lounge, Pilu, Merivale, Icebergs, Jonah's, Ripples, Sails, Catalina, The Pantry