Whether you’re a long-time local or travelling in town for a while, there’s no denying that choosing a place to eat in Circular Quay or The Rocks can be somewhat overwhelming. With an eatery at every corner boasting incredible harbourside views, it’s really just a matter of which one should you try first (we’ll come back for the others!). From a fine dining institution housed in The Opera House, to a buzzy grillhouse nestled in The Rocks, these are the most talked-about tables in town.
With acclaimed and award-winning Australian chef, Peter Gilmore at the helm, you know you're in good hands at Bennelong. One of Sydney’s most sought-after food experiences, this decadent fine diner is set within the iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House, and the menu is aptly Australian. They offer a variety dining experiences, but whichever you choose, the pavlova is a must!
Bennelong Point Sydney Opera House
The swansong of Matt Moran and Bruce Solomon, this two-hatted restaurant delivers ‘haute cuisine’ with gastronomic artistry rarely matched in Australia. Just steps away from the Opera House, Head Chef Matt Moran is an advocate for local produce, which is obvious in every dish. Each plate comes full of flavour and impeccably presented, and the menu changes with the seasons.
1 Macquarie Street, Sydney
Set inside the heritage-listed InterContinental Hotel, the Meat & Wine Co’s décor is all dark woods, leather booths and cool African accents. As you can imagine, the menu is meat-heavy, with every kind of cut you could ewant, plus seafood and salads. Every weekday, happy hour runs from 4-6pm and draws in the corporate crowd for cocktails and tapas.
The Intercontinental Hotel, 12 Lobby/117 Macquarie Street, Sydney
If you're looking to treat yourself, book into The Gateway's Bekya. Savour the flavours of a Middle Eastern-style banquet and indulge in handmade Egyptian falafel, lamb skewers, flatbread and your choice of dessert (our fave-Roasted Pistachio and Vanilla Bean Ice-Cream). Our tip: pair your banquet with something from their solid range of wine, beer and cocktails.
Gateway, Circular Quay
Overlooking Circular Quay, Rookpool’s Bar Patron is the place to head when you're in the mood for tacos and tequila. The bar, which is fitted out like a retro hacienda, serves up familiar Mexican favourites with a touch of fine dining sophistication. The refined menu pairs perfectly with their top shelf liquor offering.
2 Phillip Street, Sydney
This rooftop restaurant is a Sydney institution, and for good reason: the glossy interiors, the panoramic harbour views and the fantastic food. Sitting above Sydney Customs House in Circular Quay, Cafe Sydney’s menu highlights locally-sourced seafood, and it’s delicious. Pair it with a cocktail, and you’ll be set.
Celebrating contemporary Australian cuisine, Mode Kitchen and Bar is an exquisite dining destination located in the hotel atrium of Four Seasons. The space exudes 1920s glamour, with decadent design details like velvet and marble, adding a touch of luxe to the whole experience. This renowned restaurant attracts foodies from around Sydney for their flavorsome and sophisticated menu – a huge drawcard being their impressive wood-fired grill. The Chef’s T-bone is a show-stopping option, or if you’re after something lighter, you can’t go wrong with the Hiramasa kingfish sashimi with saffron vinaigrette.
Four Seasons Hotel- 199 George Street, Sydney
Situated in one of the city’s most impressive locations, Quay teams incredible vistas with exceptional cuisine, for an entirely indulgent experience. Executive Chef Peter Gilmore’s nature-based menu has been the recipient of many accolades, and a quick Instagram trawl of the artistically plated dishes will give you a clear demonstration of why.
Overseas Passenger Terminal, Upper, The Rocks
In The Rocks, Saké attracts foodies from all over thanks to its washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) and mind-blowingly long sake list. It knows its clientele well, offering express lunches and bento box deals during the week, and a string of private dining rooms for those who want to feast with a more intimate group.
12 Argyle Street, The Rocks
Nestled along the cobblestoned Kendall Lane, Pony Lounge keeps it simple with woodfired meats, locally sourced seafood and small plates that let the fresh ingredients speak for themselves. If you’re just popping in for a drink, the restaurant has an outdoor bar with a boutique wine list and a huge range of whiskies.
Cnr Argyle Street and Kendall Lane, The Rocks
Perched on the 36th floor of the Shangri-La, Altitude has picture-perfect views over the harbour and a fine dining menu to match. The dishes are sophisticated and bursting with flavour and the wine list is long and illustrious. Our advice? Pop in for cocktail at Blu Bar on 36 pre- or post-dinner.
Shangri-La Hotel, 36, 176 Cumberland Street, Sydney