Sip quietly: A guide to Sydney's dining secrets
Revelers at Opera Bar in Sydney have one of the best views in the world. (Andrew Watson/LPI)
Sydney is a sparkling, sprawling city with jaw-dropping views and iconic sights you can spot a mile away.
But how do you navigate the city when your appetite's in the driver's seat? Hopefully these 10 dining recommendations will help:
Viva las vegan
Even the most committed carnivore will have to tip their hat to Bodhi once they have sampled the punchy flavours of this vegan yum cha menu, and the park-side location makes for a real feel-good experience. Sitting with a crisp glass of white and a serving of pumpkin and snow pea dumplings while the sun dapples through the trees is heaven.
Fed up of “foam” this and “sous vide” that? Hankering for some straight up '70s fare? Betty's Soup Kitchen will tick the boxes with packet-fresh fish fingers, mash and peas. Alternatively, the time-warping Oceanic Cafe (312 Elizabeth Street, 02-9211-1885) might be your answer. Run by an elderly mother-and-daughter team, the café has wooden booth seating, worn laminex and a menu of rissoles, lamb's fry and the like.
Bake, rattle 'n' roll
When you see the size of the Bourke Street Bakery compared to the size of the ever-present queue, it looks like a “how many clowns can you fit in a Volkswagen” kind of joke. But devotees wait patiently, using their time wisely to decide between the pork and fennel sausage rolls, the creme brulee tarts, the handsome loaves of sourdough or the buttery croissants that look like rolls of antique book pages.
Billy Kwong (Kylie Kwong's compact little restaurant) does not take bookings so you will have to queue with the best of them (it opens at 6 pm). But if you intend to go for the stylish yet traditional Chinese cuisine, try to wander past the restaurant during the day – you will see the chairs pushed against the walls and the tables all bunched together in the middle, heaving with the fresh produce that, with any luck, you will be dining on that night.
Sydney has a plethora of great pubs to suit all tastes, from fleapit to fabulous. A classic old-school pub with a country bent is the Erskineville Hotel (102 Erskineville Road; 02-9565-1608), also known as “the Erko”. It is unpretentious, with classic pub fare like steaks and schnitzels. (They just added a small tapas menu for the more gastronomically lily-livered.)
Food with a view
The views of that famous harbour are so distracting that you might not notice you are accidentally chewing on a napkin. But if you are looking for something to go with your compulsory champagne, Opera Bar's Mod Oz menu offers a broad range of share plates, pizzas, salads and more. If you are at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, make sure you stop for afternoon tea at the onsite cafe, with its surf-white fitout and expansive views over Woolloomooloo.
When the oyster is your world
Sydney is a harbour city, so there has to be some good stuff in the water, right? For proof, seafood fanatics should head to Sydney Fish Markets for some freshly shucked oysters, served with a wedge of lemon. Find a spot outside by the water and enjoy these little luxuries at market prices. If you cannot make it down there, saddle up at the Oyster Bar in David Jones' food hall instead.
Finding a good place to brunch in Sydney is like trying to find hay in a haystack. The difficulty comes in choosing. If you feel like a bowl of milky coffee and an omelette with a crusty baguette, Le Petit Creme (118 Darlinghurst Road, 02-9361-4738) is the place for you. If you are more into the Slow Food movement, the award-winning Danks Street Depot (the onsite cafe of 2 Danks Street, a collection of small art galleries) and its pickled sardines on sourdough might suit.
Feeling a little worse for wear? Head to the Annandale, one of Sydney's most enduring sticky-carpet live music venues, and take the edge off amongst like-minded sufferers with an afternoon of genius “pub cha” in the beer garden. A lazy afternoon filled with bamboo baskets of healing fried and steamed goodness might be just what you need.
In the midnight hour
What do you do when it is 1 am and you are itching for more than a geriatric hotdog from a 7-11? Would a couple of duck pancakes, all crispy skin and sticky-sweet hoisin, really hit the spot? Enter BBQ King, a frenetic Chinese restaurant that is mercifully open until 2 am. It is the perfect no-frills late-night Chinatown experience.