From fancy fine diners to hole-in-the-wall hangouts, Sydney’s restaurant repertoire is up there with some of the best. But with so many Chef Hats and dining haunts to choose from, it can be difficult to know which ones to nab a spot at and settle in for the night. So, to help, we asked some of Sydney’s top chefs to take a break from their busy kitchen schedules, to give the lowdown on their go-to food joints.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Hamish Ingham, Clayton Wells, Claire Van Vuuren, Nelly Robinson, Ben Greeno and Jesse McTavish, who are currently gearing up for this weekend’s Taste of Sydney Collection – an eclectic four-day food, culture and music-fest, showcasing some of the biggest food names in the business – to find out their favourite spots in the city for an indulgent bite. These are the chef-recommended restaurants in Sydney so worth booking a spot at.
Jesse McTavish, Head Chef at North Bondi Fish
Cory Campbell is one of my favourite chefs in Australia, simply because he can create understated brilliance. He creates dishes that translate as approachable and recognisable, while always making the produce the star. The fit out and ambience reflects Cory’s imaginative approach.
It’s a beautiful experience dining at Lumi. The detail and elegance of the dishes is so inspiring.
I love how small and intimate the space is. It’s a great mid-week spot and I crave the chicken skin yakitori weekly!
Ben Greeno, Executive Chef at Hotel Centennial
I love sitting outside with the family, such a great space. The wine list is incredible.
The most interesting cooking in Sydney – really clever food.
Although I work in the precinct, it’s a great place to go and catch up with friends and eat Danielle’s food – just a couple of dishes and some great wine.
Nelly Robinson, Owner and Head Chef at nel.
I love this place for many reasons. When I first arrived on Australian shores in 2010, I worked in the Opera House. To work in such an iconic venue was an absolute dream. Bennelong is without a doubt one of my favorite places to eat – a stunning restaurant in an incredible setting. From the food to the wine to the service, it’s first class. I love their red-claw yabby, lemon jam, cultured cream, buckwheat pikelets – the best.
My favourite food in the whole world is Indian, and in my opinion, this is the best Indian in Sydney by far. The flavours and the tastes hit you all over, and the view of the city while eating yummy food is perfect. I lived in Woolloomooloo when I first got here too, so I have many fond memories. The standout dish is the potato pancake served with lentil – WOW.
Cheese cheese cheese, wine and meat – what else could I ever want?! With amazing wine and cheeses from around the world, this place makes me so happy. I sit there with the misses and we chat for hours while eating plates of pure deliciousness – the chorizo and smoked cheese are the best.
Claire Van Vuuren, Co-owner and Head Chef at Bloodwood
The menu is a journey of spice and textures and takes me straight back to Sri Lanka. Perfect for a long lunch with some crisp white wine.
Chinese Dumpling Master
The grapes hang from the ceiling in this hole-in-the wall restaurant. The dumplings are amazing and so very cheap. You can also grab a delicious bottle of wine from P&V across the road and BYO. So, so good for a cheap night out.
Another tiny venue. The wait can be extremely long to get into this place, but certainly worth the wait – Chaco serves some of the best Ramen in Sydney. Perfect amounts of fat and flavour in the broth and a cosy and cute venue to sit in.
Clayton Wells, Head Chef at Automata
A new guy on the scene, but already a standout for me. Great pizzas and selection of small plates to share, teamed with genuinely warm service makes this a great addition to the Inner West dining scene.
This is just the place to go to have a good time, and a tight little menu offering great wines. Chef Enrico’s pastas are always on point.
Probably my favourite place in Sydney, and it is just around the corner from Automata and A1 Canteen. Consistent, delicious, inventive food, and a great wine list.