Restaurants

25 Of The Best Restaurants In The Sydney CBD Right Now

By Tim Piccione

sydney cbd best restaurants

There’s nothing quite like dining out in the city. Whether for a first date, an anniversary, a family lunch, or any old Tuesday night—the Sydney/Eora CBD offers up a long list of delicious restaurants

From fine dining on the shore of Sydney Harbour to cosy gems hidden in back streets, famous chefs, local secrets, and everything in between—the city covers a lot of ground and there's so much to discover. Here are Urban List's picks for the best restaurants in the Sydney CBD right now.

Brasserie 1930

2/4 Farrer Place, Sydney

best restaurants sydney - brasserie 1930Image credit: Brasserie 1930 | Instagram

Hidden within the luxurious Capella Sydney hotel, Brasserie 1930 is a polished addition to the Bentley Group's stable of Sydney restaurants. Like the hotel, the restaurant hits all the right notes of "quiet luxury". Think soaring grand ceilings, meticulously restored heritage features, and oysters, caviar, and raw Paradise prawns available for starters. 

The broader menu centres around a charcoal grill and traditional cooking methods like curing, smoking, fermenting, preserving, and pickling. The signature whole roasted duck, served to share as breast and duck neck sausages, with sides of roasted plum, fennel, spinach, and glazed eschalot, is one of the best dishes in Sydney right now. 

Clam Bar

44 Bridge Street, Sydney CBD

Clam Bar Sydney CBD Restaurant Dining Room
Image credit: Clam Bar | Jason Loucas

Taking inspiration from the iconic steakhouses of New York, Clam Bar has plenty of love for Aussie seafood and beef with some American grandiosity and flair, and comes to the former site of The Bridge Room from the trio behind pumping venues Pellegrino 2000 and Bistrot 916.

In its charming dining room fitted out with booth and table seating, Murano glass sconces, art deco chandeliers, and custom artworks, Clam Bar turns out premium cuts of meat and whole fish from a Josper oven, joined by a significant raw bar offering with various oyster treatments, prawn cocktails, and steak tartare with French fries. On the drinks menu, American classics take centre stage, with martinis and Manhattans in the mix alongside punchy Tiki creations, and a sizeable but approachable wine list packed with well-known producers.

Shell House Dining Room & Terrace

37 Margaret Street, Sydney CBD

restaurant interior
Image credit: Shell House | Instagram

The historic Shell boasts two epic bars, a dining room and a rooftop terrace. The restoration of the venue leans into the stunning building's Interwar commercial palazzo-style architecture with indoor and outdoor settings over 1,600 sqm of space. Sandwiched between two bars, Menzies Bar and Sky Bar, is Shell House Dining Room & Terrace—and it’s flawless.

Celebrating Shell House’s art deco heritage, the dining room is fitted out with curved material booths, cane chairs, rich timbers, an amber light-flecked ceiling, and beautifully tiled flooring. With floor-to-ceiling glass doors, the dining room flows out onto the sandstone terrace, which offers views across the CBD to boot. As for the food, expect refined, Mediterranean-leaning dishes that hero top-quality local produce. Book here.

The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar

66 King Street, Sydney CBD


Image credit: The Charles | Steven Woodburn

The Charles is an elegant, decadent affair complete with lashings of black marble, a wrap-around mezzanine, a sculptural staircase, and twinkling chandeliers. This multi-space dining affair features a Euro-style cafe, wine bar, and ultra-grand two-level brasserie all in one, built into the Art Deco ACA Building.

The brasserie has its own duck and poultry dry-age room and two flashy copper-plated duck presses, which form part of the theatre of its signature dish: canard à la presse (10-day whole dry-aged roasted and pressed Maremma duck) complete with tableside saucing and carving. Elsewhere on the menu is a Black Opal Wagyu rump cap MBS9+, there's a caviar service (of course), and snacks like a soft pretzel with freshly picked mud crab and fennel cream. 

On drinks is director of wine and sommelier Paolo Saccone (ex-mimi's, Flying Fish), who's dreamt up a list of 600+ wines from France and Australia, with a few other notable European regions in the mix too. 

The Gidley

Basement/161 King Street, Sydney CBD

best restaurants sydney cbd the gidley
Image credit: The Gidley | Instagram

The Gidley is a subterranean steak house from the Bistecca team, and it’s just as opulent in style and service—think herringbone floors, moody stone benches, olive green velvet banquettes and candlelight. There's also a private dining room with its own bar that seats up to 20. Here, Australia’s exceptional Riverine Black Angus rib-eye is the main event, and you can order it one of three ways: classic chargrilled over charcoal or ironbark, with the textural spinalis cut, or as prime rib roast.

Sauces include truffle, mushroom and burnt butter, green goddess and confit garlic mustard, and sides include broccolini and braised leek and three cheese truffle mac and cheese. Unlike Bistecca, The Gidley also does an American-style burger made from chuck and brisket, because, well, we love a good burger here in Sydney. To drink, expect an impressive selection of Australian and international styles and high-quality back vintages that hero sustainability and biodiversity. Book here.

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MuMu

330C George Street, Sydney CBD

Image credit: MuMu | Instagram

The atmosphere at Merivale's MuMu matches the menu perfectly: a vibrant lineup of flavour-packed South East Asian streetfood bangers from the legendary Dan Hong. The concept for MuMu was inspired by a trip across Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in 2019 and it's carried out in the kitchen by MuMu head chef Oliver Hua. 

To start, order sweet pork betel leaves, served with dried shrimp, macadamia, salted lime, finger lime, ginger, scud chilli, and lemongrass. And for something larger, try the signature grilled and glazed Angus short ribs, which are sous vide for 12 hours overnight before being chargrilled for plenty of smoky flavours, served with sambals, lettuce leaves, herbs, pickles and various sauces—go all in with your hands and DIY. We also love the nasi goreng made with spanner crab, cuttlefish, garlic crackers, and a classic fried egg. Book here

Besuto

6 Loftus Lane, Sydney CBD

best japanese restaurants sydney besuto cbd
Image credit: Besuto | Oba Yusuke

A 15-course omakase experience with just 12 seats available per session, Besuto serves up a glam Ginza-style treat from the moment you step past its mini Japanese garden and rice paper screen doors.

Naturally, the menu changes regularly but always offers the best produce available, so you can expect highlights like miso-marinated Glacier 51 toothfish, toro with N25 caviar, and delicate steamed egg custard served with uni, plus sushi and sashimi courses.

AALIA

25 Martin Place, Sydney CBD

restaurant interior
Image credit: AALIA | Supplied

You'll find AALIA within the stunning multimillion-dollar Martin Place transformation, neighbouring other newbies like Botswana Butchery and Cabana Bar. It's the newest restaurant from the ESCA Group, the team behind Nour in Surry Hills and Lilymu in Parramatta. The name AALIA loosely translates to elevated or exalted—meaning you can expect a heightened version of the polished, creative Arabic and Levantine-style food the group has become known for.

The menu follows a unique coastal theme—a lighter vibe, not typically associated with Middle Eastern fare. Highlights include the ballooned, house-made khorasan pita, Murray cod masgouf, lamb neck shawarma, and a Persian caviar service. Book here.

Restaurant Hubert

15 Bligh Street, Sydney CBD

sydney cbd restaurants hubert
Image credit: Restaurant Hubert | Instagram

From Swillhouse, the good folks responsible for Sydney spots like Baxter’s Inn, Shady Pines and Alberto’s Lounge, Restaurant Hubert is something out of a Parisian dream, with some modern twists thrown in the mix. The iconic underground jazz den offers maximum French vibes by candlelight, with enough cocktails and wines to turn any quiet weeknight into a major event.

For food, take a culinary tour of France with caviar, escargots XO, boudin noir, pâté en croute, and specialities like duck à l’orange and, our favourite, chicken fricassée. Hubert’s theatre is well known for hosting live music nights, as well as live theatre and movie showings. Perfect for a special date night. Book here.

Alberto’s Lounge

17–19 Alberta Street, Sydney CBD

restaurants sydney cbd alberto's lounge
Image credit: Alberto's Lounge | Instagram

Hidden away in the back streets of Sydney's CBD sits a cosy neighbourhood Italian restaurant. Walk through the Alberto’s Lounge long entrance and into some dim lighting, tight seating and retro Italian film posters and advertising-covered walls for some surprisingly laid-back vibes.

On the seasonal menu, you can expect a specially curated selection of cheeses (make sure you order whatever version of the burrata is on offer), charcuterie, pasta, sides and some deserts we highly recommend leaving room for. Contrary to the old adage of "don’t fill up on bread", we advise that you devour Alberto’s signature warm focaccia and olive oil. Book here.

Alpha

238 Castlereagh Street, Sydney CBD


Image credit: Alpha | Instagram

After a stunning multimillion-dollar glow-up, Greek fine diner Alpha made a stellar comeback under the guidance of executive chef Peter Conistis—hero dishes remained, like the scallop moussaka, slow-roasted lamb, and Alpha spanakopita.

The rest of the menu was reimagined with head chef James Roberts (China Doll, Est.) and an of-the-moment theatre-style kitchen complete with a fiery Josper oven for an aroma-inducing charcoal cooking experience. Book here.

Ragazzi

1 Angel Place, Sydney CBD


Image credit: Ragazzi | Nikki To

If you had to describe Ragazzi in three words: Italian, pasta and wine. Need we say more? So popular is chef Scott McComas-Williams’ hand-crafted pasta that it spawned Fabbrica, a takeaway shop and pasta emporium also in the CBD. The team behind Angel Place’s hot ticket 40-seat dining spot is also responsible for favourites like Dear Sainte Éloise and Love, Tilly Devine.

Whether you’re in for an after-work vino or a weekend lunch, expect a rotating sample menu showcasing the wonders of Italian flavours and pasta, in a fast-paced, vibey setting with a cracking playlist to boot. All this, alongside a 250-bottle wine list pays homage to classic and contemporary Italian winemaking. Book here.

6Head

7/27 Circular Quay W, The Rocks


Image credit: 6Head | Instagram

The name 6Head comes from the story of a six escaped Black Cape cattle that arrived with the First Fleet and were found 80 years later as a 100-strong herd. Executive chef Sean Hall’s menu focuses on six select cuts of meat: rump, rib-eye, T-bone, eye fillet, scotch fillet and sirloin.

Don’t expect stereotypical steakhouse offerings and vibes at this pasture-to-plate, sustainably focused restaurant; the menu also offers an abundance of seafood from tuna carpaccio to caviar and whole Sydney Rock lobster to seared king prawns XO. It also doesn’t hurt to have an absolutely bang-on waterfront view of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House to go with your meal. Book here.

Mr. Wong

3 Bridge Lane, Sydney CBD


Image credit: Mr Wong | Instagram

With chef Dan Hong at the helm and a fresh spin on Cantonese-style cuisine, Mr. Wong became an instant Sydney favourite and one of the shining stars in the Merivale universe of excellent restaurants. The 240-seat restaurant serves over 80 dishes across two levels, so you’re spoiled for choice with Hong’s diverse menu.

Pop through for a lunchtime dim sum menu that won’t break the bank or for the crowd favourite whole Chinese roasted duck. Otherwise, look for local produce like crispy fried Balmain bugs and rock lobster or Chinese classics like Kung Pao chicken. Book here.

Restaurant Leo

12 Angel Place, Sydney CBD

Restaurant Leo is a venture from the melding of minds from the twin powerhouses behind Newtown’s former Oscillate Wildly and LuMi. Tucked down Angel Place’s cobbled laneway in the CBD, it draws inspiration from both of these heritages while managing to be something entirely new.

Hyper-seasonal fare with Mediterranean leanings, it’s a slick wood-furnished endeavour that caters to the end of week-long lunch or knock-off-work Negroni, but pulls it all off with exceptional style and flair. Try the strozzapreti with pork ragu and broccolini or the spaghetti chitarra with pipis and bottarga. Book here.

Palazzo Salato

201/203 Clarence Street, Sydney CBD

best restaurants sydney - palazzo salatoImage credit: Palazzo Salato | Instagram

Housed with a heritage building in the CBD, Palazzo Salato is the Love Tilly Group's largest and most ambitious venue. After so much success with their pint-sized offerings like Ragazzi and Fabricca, here the team is finally able to stretch their legs, so to speak, taking their pasta to new heights thanks to a much larger kitchen space. 

Palazzo is inspired by Gramercy Tavern in NYC with a walk-in-only bar and a broader dining room. At the bar, you'll find Americanos and Nebbiolo poured alongside three of the four classic Roman pastas: carbonara, alla gricia, and cacio e pepe. In the dining room, expand your pasta knowledge with a spanner crab and ume butter-topped mafaldine, or scarpinocc pillows packed with pumpkin and ricotta.

Tetsuya’s

529 Kent Street, Sydney CBD

best japanese restaurants sydney tetsuya's
Image credit: Testuya's | Instagram

There are no two ways about it: Tetsuya’s is a Sydney institution. It’s been offering high-end Japanese food with a French twist for almost thirty five years, and is widely considered one of the best restaurants to ever grace Australia's culinary scene.

Since 2000, Tetsuya’s has sat in a refurbished heritage-listed site complete with a tranquil Japanese garden in the CBD, serving a unique degustation menu based around natural seasonal flavours for $240 per person. And once that famous confit of ocean trout hits your buds, you’ll understand why it’s worth every penny. Book here.

Editor's note: Tetsuya's will permanently relocate in July 2024. If you'd like to visit the current site, get in quick.

Aria

1 Macquarie Street, Sydney CBD


Image credit: Aria | Instagram

Aria's award-winning menu and breathtaking Circular Quay location have long been an attraction for discerning diners. Despite the views, it;ll be the food and wine at this renowned fine diner that will really hold your attention.

Owners Matt Moran and Bruce Solomon appointed Thomas Gorringe (Bentley Restaurant and Bar, The Gantry) as head chef in 2021 and he's carrying on the restaurant's legacy of stunning dishes made with fine produce from solely Australian suppliers, all paired with one of the country's most-awarded wine lists. Book here.

Long Chim

Corner Pitt Street and Angel Place, Sydney CBD

sydney cbd restaurants long chim
Image credit: Long Chim | Instagram

If Long Chim means to “come and try” in Thai—we’re constantly looking for ways to say “yes, please”. This is one of our favourite CBD restaurants for a serious smack of spice and easily some of the best Thai you'll try in Australia.

The modern Bangkok-inspired restaurant offers up your favourite curries, Thai snacks, and stir-fries but finessed in the way internationally acclaimed chef David Thompson has become so famous for. Think crispy prawn cakes, pad prik khing of chicken, pineapple curry of pork belly and soft-shell crab and lemongrass salad. Pair that with some delicious cocktails and good company for a great dining experience. Book here.

Bennelong

Bennelong Point, Sydney CBD


Image credit: Bennelong | Instagram

If you’re looking for a dining experience curated by one of the country’s best chefs inside one of Australia’s most iconic buildings, look no further than Bennelong. There’s nothing quite like dining inside the Sydney Opera House walls, especially if you're working your way through Peter Gilmore’s modern Australian menu, showcasing quality Aussie produce.

Book a seat at any of the three dining levels under the cathedral interior, overlooking Sydney Harbour—there’s no bad seat in the house. And keep your eye out for musical sessions with the changing "Bennelong Presents" series for some world-class serenading while you eat. A Sydney must-do. Book here.

Bentley Restaurant + Bar

27 O'Connell Street, Sydney CBD

sydney cbd restaurants bentley
Image credit: Bentley | Instagram

Bentley has existed in a few forms, but the awarded restaurant by chef Brent Savage and sommelier Nick Hildebrandt has proved its staying power for almost two decades.

The 80-seat Sydney CBD restaurant dishes up modern fine dining cuisine in various menus from a la carte to a more relaxed bar menu if you’re looking for a couple of (fancy) snacks and a glass of rare wine. As is often the case, it’s definitely worth getting around the tasting menu, which can also be offered as vegetarian. Book here.

Felix

2 Ash Street, Sydney CBD


Image credit: Felix | Website

From the Merivale family and set in the heart of the Ivy Precinct, Felix is pretty much the closest thing you can get to being in France without getting your passport out. Surrounded by shelves of wine and under the glow of French-imported chandeliers, you can select your meal from the iced-up fresh seafood bar that serves as the main attraction of the venue.

This is Merivale's take on French luxury and the menu ticks off extravagant dishes like whole rock lobster, côte de boeuf, and two kinds of caviar. Next door is Little Felix, a Parisian-style speakeasy specialising in roaring 20s-inspired cocktails and indulgences. Book here.

Quay

Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks


Image credit: Quay | Instagram

This list has established that any restaurant with a front-row view of Sydney Harbour gets a big ol’ tick from us. Especially if it has a menu inspired by chef Peter Gilmore. Enter Sydney fine-dining institution, Quay. Sit yourself down directly opposite aforementioned instution Bennelong and the Sydney Opera House and find a spot amongst the Australian landscape-inspired interior.

Whether you opt for the six- or the eight-course menu, with or without a sommelier-curated wine pairing, you can expect one hell of an experience. Book here.

Bistro Papillon

98 Clarence Street, Sydney CBD

When Bistro Papillon owners Ludo and Xavier met in the UK, they frequented a French bistro in Bath called Papillon. Coming to Australia, they opened their own restaurant under the same name in tribute to the place they loved and classic French cooking in general. “We've always kept things simple,” Ludo tells us. “Old recipes, our grandma’s recipes, but also French classics. That's our concept.”

With ingredients sourced from France and the markets and butchers of Sydney, the pair pride themselves on simple French classics like duck confit, beef bourguignon, and escargot (“some people just rave about it!”). It’s a hearty, warming place perfect for a winter feast. Book here

Keen for more of the city's best? Check out

Main image credit: The Charles | Steven Woodburn

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.

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