Lets be honest, relationships can be tough. One minute it’s all eye gazing, lingering kisses and late night phone calls just listening to each other breathe. The next it’s food stained joggers, untamed leg hair and bickering over which Netflix series to binge on first.
Time to get off the sofa and make the effort with a night at one of Sydney’s best date spots.
Nothing says romance quite like dimmed lighting, red wine and dishes made for two, all of which you’ll find at this intimate North Sydney corner bar. Snuggle up in a comfy nook and channel your inner oenophile as you deliberate over their vast pinot noir collection, then reconnect over wild mushroom arancini and a warm chocolate brownie with salted caramel gelato. If you can bear to share food this good, it must be love.
Best for: Cosy winter date nights
Blu Bar On 36
Taking glitz and glamour to a whole new level, Blu Bar on 36 never fails to impress. Floating high above the ground on (you guessed it) Level 36 of Sydney’s Shangri-La Hotel, turn up the heat on date night with The Tipsy Shark cocktail, a blend of Bacardi Fuego, crème de banana, coconut syrup, passionfruit puree, orange and pineapple juice with cream, mixed and muddled by some of city’s most highly skilled bartenders. With stunning views overlooking the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, you’ll be sure to fall in love all over again—with Sydney, if nothing else.
Best for: Make-up dates
With the ability to turn even the dullest of evenings into the most special of occasions, Restaurant Hubert is a must for anyone needing to inject some serious sparkle back into their relationship. Throw on your finest glad rags and make like Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn at this gorgeous 1930s style bar and eatery where old world glamour, fine cocktails and sumptuous fare are the order of the day. The restaurant doesn’t accept bookings for groups of less than six, so settle in at the bar first and prepare for a night neither of you will forget.
Best for: Dates to remember
The Italians know how to have a good time, and none more so than the folk down at Casoni. Known for its fresh, handmade pasta and weekly changing dishes, the upbeat eatery guarantees a fun date night experience with friendly service, funky tunes and a very wallet-friendly happy hour. The wine list is great, with a broad selection of both Italian and local offerings, but the real clincher has to be the Aperol Spritz and Negroni on tap. Another round please, camariere!
Best for: Fun, casual catch updates
Nomad’s share food is the way forward when it comes to date nights, and with dishes like smoked brisket enchilada, green tomato jam burrata and Kangaroo Island scallops, the only problem is knowing which to choose! Avoid the argument and order them all then turn your attention to their phenomenal wine list. More than just a restaurant, Nomad also operate one of Sydney’s few cellar doors and offer every wine on their list by the glass, meaning you can sample to your hearts content before picking your favourite to take home. Let the good times roll…
Best for: Lovers of fine food and wine
Tempted to cancel tonight’s plans after a tough day at work? Don’t. Instead, head to Da Orazio, tucked away on the lower level of Bondi’s lively Boheme development. A favourite amongst Bondi’s beautiful people, the contagious energy of this buzzing Italian eatery is bound to keep boring small talk at bay, and with delicious Neapolitan wood fired pizzas, Italian porchetta and classic desserts, dinner feels easy and uncomplicated. Add to that an exclusively Italian wine list that will push you pleasantly out of your comfort zone, and you’ll be glad you didn’t stay at home.
Best for: Pick-me-up midweek dates
Love, Tilly Devine
Named after one of Sydney’s most prolific brothel Madames, Love, Tilly Devine is the small bar with bucket loads of character. Hidden away on Crown Lane, the former bottleshop cellar is warm and welcoming with service to match, creating an idyllic bolthole away from the hustle and bustle of Darlinghurst. The bar is known for its extensive and far reaching wine selection, but their food menu also deserves a mention—think small dishes such as burnt onion, goat’s curd, salmoriglio and sunflower seeds and salt crust baked ocean trout with dill mayonnaise. With such a smorgasbord of delights to choose from, you’ll no doubt find yourself returning time and time again.
Best for: Escaping-it-all dates
10 William St
A favourite with locals and out-of-towners alike, you simply can’t go wrong with date night at Paddington staple 10 William St. Standing head and shoulders above many of Sydney’s ‘small bars’, the candle lit wine bar and restaurant is set within a renovated terrace house, and is known for its beautiful wines, delicious food and intimate, relaxed ambience. All the menus here are updated regularly and the staff are more than happy to walk you through the selections, meaning you can sit back and enjoy each other’s company without a care in the world.
Best for: Good times guaranteed dates
Part of The Star Casino complex, Sokyo is headed up by lauded Japanese chef Chase Kojima and does the prettiest sushi this side of Japan—what’s more, it tastes even better than it looks. The best way to enjoy the food here has to be with their Omakase Sushi dining experience. Translating literally to ‘leave it up to you’, resident sushi chef Sano-san will present you with the very finest of the days fresh offerings, with each dish more stunning than the next. Round it all off with sake, wines and cocktails to match and you’ve got yourself a date to remember.
Best for: Instagrammable dates
Opening to a blaze of media hype in 2013, Ester has proved it is no flash in the pan as it continues to pull in the crowds night after night four years on. Taking the stuffiness out of fine dining with innovative dishes such as blood sausage sangas and raw beef with fermented hot sauce and egg butter, dinner at Ester will impress without feeling pretentious. Don’t forget to save room for dessert—the burnt pav is defs our pick.
Best for: Fancy dates without the fuss
Buffalo Dining Club
Buffalo Dining Club in Darlinghurst is definitely a contender for the best Italian restaurant in Sydney. This cosy restaurant serves up classic, tasty Italian cuisine with some special twists thrown in for good measure - spaghetti served from a wheel of cheese, anyone? Don’t be put off by the wait to get inside, all we can say is it is soooooo worth it (and your date will be oh-so-impressed with your restaurant choice).
Best for: A date for pasta lovers
With a set menu that changes every few weeks, you’ll literally never be disappointed at Two Chaps. The menu boasts antipasti platters, homemade bread and pasta and out of this world desserts. You do need a reservation for this one, but it’s totally worth the planning. The restaurant is a super chilled, roller door kinda place, but serves impeccable food. Being BYO only, you and your date can grab some craft beers and vino from The Henderson around the corner – night sorted!
Best for: Super relaxed and comfortable dates
Dear St Elouise
This trendy little place offers over 300 different wines from all over the world, so if you and your date are wine lovers, you’ve just hit the jackpot. Food is on offer in case you get hungry and the menu changes daily so you'll only be eating the best of the best. Expect small plates designed for sharing and dishes like smoked mulloway with Jerusalem artichokes, octopus with buttermilk and burnt leek, and roast chicken with eggplant and salsa agresto for mains. Did we mention the kitchen stays open until 11.30pm?
Best for: Late night dates
Looking for more date spots in Sydney? Start with our Directory.
Blu Bar on 36 | Image credit: Natalia Horinkova