Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the path to true love is littered with first dates. Make yours one to remember at one of Sydney’s best first date spots. Whether you’re looking for something casual or something to impress, we’ve got you covered, so all you need to worry about is bringing your A-game.
A little bit French, a little bit Asian, this cute little wine and cocktail bar is tucked away within a row of terraced houses on the vibrant hub of Kensington Street. Make a beeline for the private table hidden away at the very back of the venue overlooking Spice Alley where it’s easy to imagine you’ve travelled far further than Sydney’s Chippendale, then get to know each other over quirky teapot cocktails made for two.
Best For: Intimate first dates in (not so) far-flung places
The Dolphin Hotel
From the outside, The Dolphin still looks very much like the unassuming local it has always been, but step inside and things tell a very different story. Following a takeover from the team behind Bondi Icebergs, the former watering hole has been transformed into a buzzing Italian eatery and bar that takes care of any awkward silences. Go halvies on a pizza and show off your skills with a game of pool, then get to know each other over a fine Italian wine or two.
Best For: House party vibe first dates
As the old saying goes, the best things come in small packages and never was this truer than at Owl House. The diminutive Darlinghurst wine bar makes for a great first date spot with romantic lighting, cosy individual tables and a global wine list that is bound to keep the conversation flowing. Head upstairs to the balcony for the best seat in the house, and settle in for the night over a delicious six-course degustation.
Best For: First dates that last all night
It’s all about the good vibes at Neutral Bay’s LA beach style bar, with an airy rooftop, tasty smokehouse menu and upbeat soundtrack providing the perfect setting for a heady dose of California Love. Lock in a lunchtime date to make the most of the sundrenched outdoor space and tuck into tacos, share plates and cocktails that will take you right through the day and into the night.
Best For: Laid back daytime first dates
Channeling vintage Miami and grand plantation architecture, Hacienda brings a slice of authentic Cuba to Sydney’s CBD. The gorgeous interiors and uninterrupted views across the harbour will blow you away, but what will really make this first date one to remember are the stand out cocktails (the Old Smoked Presidente is a must) and moreish food options. After all, anyone whose heart can’t be won over with buttermilk fried chicken and yuka fries really isn’t worth your while.
Best For: First dates for city lovers
If you’re looking to make a lasting impression on that first date, then there’s nothing quite like Newtown’s Continental Deli. The brainchild of the team behind Porteno and Bodega, these guys are all about cold cuts, fine wine and, err, canned goods. As strange a concept as it may seem, it really works, and if nothing else, the wooden shelves packed out with jars, bottles and tins that transport you back to another era will give you both plenty to talk about. Crack open a tinned martini and enjoy!
Best For: First dates you won’t forget
Buffalo Dining Club
Lets be honest—it doesn’t get much better than spaghetti served out of a cheese wheel, so if you want to reach your first date’s heart via their stomach, than Buffalo Dining Club has you covered. A celebration of all things cheese, the restaurant import fresh buffalo mozzarella all the way from Italy three times a week and serve it up in dishes so delicious they are guaranteed to make your heart melt. It’s a popular spot, so get down early to put your name on the list, then nip over the road and whet your appetite with a cocktail or two at the award winning Eau De Vie.
Best For: Foodie first dates
Not exactly your standard Chinese eatery, Master is the Asian restaurant doing things differently. The menu here is standout—think black pepper mud crab, scallop silk and Peking style pork jowl, whipped up by ex-Quay and Momofuku chefs and served by friendly and knowledgeable staff. Name checked by Noma’s Rene Redzepi as one of his favourite places to eat in Australia, you can rest assured this is one first date that won’t fail to impress.
Best For: First dates that are full of surprises
Taking the pressure off those awkward first date feels, Manly’s Chica Bonita is where to go when you just want to let your hair down and have some fun. The lively taqueria know all about great Mexican food, but the real winner here has to be their margaritas. Whether you like ‘em classic, tropical or shaken, these guys gotcha covered. Because as we all know, if all else fails; tequila.
Best For: Fun time first dates
If you're looking to impress, Bar Machiavelli is your place. With an stunning warehouse-like interior filled with attractive people, some of the best hand made pasta in town, and an impressive wine list, you can drink, eat and people watch to your heart's content. And, if conversation is lagging (although a couple of the tiramisu martinis should help with that), the projections on the wall should help to add to the conversation.
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Image credit: Hacienda