Restaurants

The Best Circular Quay Restaurants Right Now

By Georgia Condon

circular quay restaurants whalebridge sydney bar

Circular Quay is a place people often pass through—onto the ferry or train (from one of the world's most scenic stations) after work, into the Sydney Opera House, or over the Harbour Bridge bound elsewhere. But it's also one of the most beautiful parts of Sydney/Eora, and home to world-class restaurants to match.

These are Urban List's recommendations for the best Circular Quay restaurants right now.

Martinez

Quay Quarter Tower, 50 Bridge Street, Sydney CBD

circular quay restaurants martinez
Image credit: Martinez | Steven Woodburn

A slice of the South of France in the heart of Sydney, Martinez boasts a sizable open-air terrace bar with Harbour Bridge views and a pretty dining room splashed with pink decor and lush indoor plants.

The menu here spans the Mediterranean so there's a significant focus on seafood, with standouts like crumpets with poached spanner crab, caviar-topped fried quail, vibrant fruits de mer platters, and whole market fish.

Aria

1 Macquarie Street, Sydney CBD

circular quay restaurants aria
Image credit: Aria | Instagram

Consistently recognised as one of the best restaurants in Sydney and first opened back in 1999, Aria has pride of place on the eastern corner of Circular Quay.

Under the leadership of owners Matt Moran and Bruce Solomon, Aria head chef Tom Gorringe is crafting dishes that celebrate the finest Australian producers and growers, with an awarded wine program and formats including a set menu, four-course prix fixe menu, pre-theatre dining, and a weekday two-course lunch. Save this one for a special occasion, and prepare to be wowed by the food and Circular Quay views.

Bouillon L'Entrecôte

6 Loftus Street, Sydney CBD

circular quay restaurants bouillon lentrecote
Image credit: Bouillon l'Entrecôte | Instagram

Inspired by one particular Parisian steakhouse, Bouillon l'Entrecôte absolutely delivers on the hearty and satisfying French fare. Expect a banging steak frites (with a few select cuts), bubbling French onion soup, duck a l'orange and even escargot with a side of baguette and real deal French butter—this is one of our picks for Sydney's best French restaurants, after all.

If you're just after a snack, a dedicated bar menu has smaller bites perfect for accompanying a bottle of something from Bordeaux or Burgundy from the Circular Quay restaurant's sizable cellar.

Lana

Hinchcliff House, 5–7 Young Street, Sydney CBD

A modern Italian restaurant with the global influences we've come to expect in Sydney, Lana is the crowning jewel of multi-level hub Hinchcliff House.

Head to the top of the heritage-listed former wool store to discover a feminine space with pink furnishings, plenty of blooms, and a striking pink marble bar. At dinner there's a generous share-style set menus covering snacks, an entrée and main, and sides for under $100, or you can go a la carte at lunchtime.

Whalebridge

8–10 East Circular Quay, Sydney CBD

circular quay restaurants whalebridge
Image credit: Whalebridge | Instagram

Perched right on the waters of Circular Quay, Whalebridge is where you want to be for oysters, fresh French fare and million-dollar harbour views. In fact, Urban List thinks it's one of the best spots to dine outdoors in Sydney.

The bistro and bar serves approachable dishes like a lobster roll, moules frites, Parisian bistro-style burger, and comté souffle, or you can splash out with a seafood platter piled with a half-lobster, Sydney rock oysters, cooked prawns, scallop crudo, mignonnette and aioli. Just add champagne.

You might also like

Jacksons On George

176 George Street, Sydney

circular quay restaurants bistro george jacksons
Image credit: Bistro George | Tom Ferguson

You've got options at Jacksons on George: on the ground floor, a classic public bar. On the top, a rooftop bar with a jazzed-up pub menu. But for a Circular Quay restaurant pick, make your way to Bistro George, where the tablecloths are white—but not at the cost of personality and warmth. 

Here, Icebergs' Maurice Terzini and head chef Steven Sinclair's menu is splashed with European influences on simple, slightly nostalgic plates like clams Casino, wood-fired coral trout with limoncello beurre blanc, Berkshire pork ragu on busiate, and a range of both caviar and steaks.  Consider this a spot that has you covered for work lunches, boozy catch-ups with friends, and splashing out for special occasions. 

Pearl

Quay Quarter Tower, 50 Bridge Street, Sydney CBD

circular quay restaurants pearl
Image credit: Pearl | Instagram

Pearl is an elevated Circular Quay restaurant from the beloved Lotus Dining Group, taking their tried and true formula of Cantonese favourites and stepping things up a notch as far as ingredients and technique.

Taking inspiration from Hong Kong, the menu (spanning the three main elements of dim sum, barbeque and seafood) covers favourites like roast duck (which takes three days to prepare), char siu pork and live seafood alongside dim sum, soups, rice and noodles. A 200-strong wine list and signature cocktails round out the offering, and a 30-seat balcony offers the best Harbour Bridge views.

Sydney Place

180 George Street, Sydney CBD

Okay, this one's actually a precinct—but absolutely worth a visit, especially for quick and casual eats. Sydney Place is lined with some of Sydney's most iconic spots, like Kosta's Takeaway's beloved sandwiches, Malay Chinese's noodle soups, and Lode Pies' impossibly laminated viennoiserie.

Bennelong

Bennelong Point, Sydney CBD

circular quay restaurants bennelong
Image credit: Bennelong | Instagram

You'd be hard-pressed to find a restaurant in a more iconic structure than Bennelong, which is tucked into the main sail of the Sydney Opera House and overseen by noted executive chef Peter Gilmore.

On the far north-eastern edge of Circular Quay, this bucket-list restaurant serves two- or three-course set menus spinning premium Aussie produce into something as theatrical and considered as you'd expect on the nearby stages—see the signature Opera House pavlova dessert. If you haven't planned ahead and made a booking, try your luck nabbing a seat at the bar for a cocktail spotlighting boutique Australian distilleries.

Oborozuki

Level 3, 5/71 Macquarie Street, Sydney CBD

circular quay restaurants oborozuki japanese french
Image credit: Oborozuki | Instagram

Found in one of Sydney's most luxurious apartment buildings, Oborozuki is a multi-faceted Japanese-meets-French dining hotspot that's out to wow, with a fresh a la carte concept, high-end teppanyaki and kaiseki offerings, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows looking out to Circular Quay.

The blend of Japanese and French flavours and techniques are best experienced on the three- our four-course a la carte menu, with dishes like raw Abrolhos scallops with elderflower, lovage and sea grapes, grass-fed beef tartare with green almond, anchovy and sesame brioche, and Maremma duck with red cabbage, umeboshi-style plum and muntries.

Mary's

7 Macquarie Place, Sydney CBD

circular quay restaurants mary's
Image credit: Mary's | Website

We don't need to say much about Mary's, but we will say there are few things one of their juicy burgers can't fix. The Circular Quay burger spot sits atop sister venue Mary's Underground, so it's primely positioned for pre-gig or late-night eats when you find yourself in the CBD and in need of something a little dirty. We'd visit on a Thursday to make the most of $10 margaritas.

Besuto

6 Loftus Lane, Sydney CBD

Found above the Quay Quarter Lanes foodie precinct—and, we reckon, one of Sydney's best omakase experiences—Besuto offers Japanese tranquillity and escapism from the moment you breeze past its traditional bonsai garden and into your spot along the 12-seat counter.

Surrender to the 20-course seasonal omakase menu that guarantees an intimate and memorable Japanese meal, and kick on at nearby sister Bar Besuto if you find room for a nightcap.

Grana

Hinchcliff House, 5–7 Young Street, Sydney CBD

circular quay restaurants grana
Image credit: Grana | Instagram

The ground-floor sister to the aforementioned Lana, Grana is a mostly Italian Circular Quay restaurant that ticks off work-day lunches, sizable social spreads, and after-work drinks.

The name refers to "grain" in Italian and alludes to the on-site mill which is used to create Grana's pasta and breads with wheat sourced from small-scale NSW producers; order focaccia di recco layered with cheese, hand-folded and -filled ravioli with pumpkin and ricotta in burnt butter, pickled pumpkin and hazelnut, or opt for wood-grilled seafood or proteins.

Now check out

Main image credit: Whalebridge | Instagram

Urban List Best Of: has our highest stamp of approval—curated lists of the very best recommendations for you to eat, do, see, buy or book, carefully chosen by our Editors.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.