Nothing revs Anna Polyviou up like a free day to roam around Sydney’s eat streets. Here, the mohawked pastry and cookie dough queen, author and fan favourite from MasterChef Australia and Snackmasters, uncovers cool wine and pizza bars, the best Italian restaurant for date night and what you must try in the city’s most vibrant food neighbourhood.
The best breakfast place to start a day in Sydney is…
Loulou Bistro in Milsons Point. You’re sitting right near Sydney Harbour but when you’re on the terrace having flaky pastries from the boulangerie or the spanner crab omelette, the flavours are pure Paris. The duck and orange terrine from the traiteur, or deli, is also so delicious that it could keep me there people-watching and eating for hours. When I do leave I’ve usually got takeaway madeleines with me.
I’ll walk back to the city over the Sydney Harbour Bridge – I love the feeling of being up there above all the buzz with Sydney’s possibilities spread out before me.
Sydney’s most spectacular walk starts…
When you come off the bridge. Head for the heritage sandstone buildings of The Rocks, past the theatres and historic wooden warehouses of Walsh Bay to Barangaroo Reserve. This waterfront park is a gorgeous patch of nature right in the city and you’ll often find art installations or events to wander around.
I’ll keep going all the way along the foreshore and wind up at Champagne Bar at the Sofitel Darling Harbour. It’s up high – so cool, a bit New York – with an incredible view of the skyline and the Champagne list has my favourites: Ruinart, Pommery and Veuve.
The most exciting food neighbourhood is…
Newtown in the inner west gets all my senses firing. There are so many incredible things to eat, so many creatives and an easygoing, fun vibe. I’ll start on Australia Street at the cute Tokyo Lamington shop for coffee – the fairy bread and popcorn lamington is fluffy and satisfying. Then it’s across the road for Martinis in a can at Continental Delicatessen. The food’s amazing and the people are great – I’ll always order truffled salami and mortadella with brabander cheese.
Also on Australia Street, Westwood does proper woodfired pizza. The shopfront is under an old Peters Ice Cream sign so it’s the kind of place you’ve got to know is there. You sit around on milk crates eating elevated pizza like braised greens with reggiano and buffalo mozzarella and it’s magic. Be sure to order it with chilli oil.
You don’t need a plan. You can just wander around vintage boutiques, bookshops and record stores, and you’ll discover some of Sydney’s best food. I love a bakery and the institution known as Black Star Pastry is right on King Street’s shopping strip. A.P Town has just opened on a little corner on Bucknall Street – the baguettes! Mapo serves gelato made fresh daily from local ingredients – ice-cream is my weakness and this place does the best.
My favourite “special dinner” restaurant in all of Sydney right now is Pino’s Vino e Cucina in Alexandria, 10 minutes from King Street in an Uber. It’s all luscious Italian dishes such as strozzapreti pasta with mushrooms and porcini butter and candlelit tables with an authentic vibe.
Late at night I love…
The streets around Newtown are still alive at night. The Courthouse Hotel has a leafy garden and serves craft beers from Newtown brewery Young Henrys, and locals bring their dogs. If you’re up for a dance, The Imperial Erskineville is renowned for its bright, joyful drag shows that are so much fun. But for a lower-key late-night Margarita with sexy lighting, look behind the old-school butcher’s shop façade at 407 King Street to find Earl’s Juke Joint, a cool, walk-in cocktail and wine bar that plays vinyls until midnight.
Where to stay in Sydney
Travel Insider’s pick of new and indulgent digs in easy reach of Newtown:
Ace Hotel: The Sydney outpost of the Ace empire brings New York loft energy to Surry Hills with exposed brickwork, slick design and guitars that are hung on the walls of suites with big windows. The lobby and in-house eatery are a scene, regularly hosting local art installations and DJ sets.
Kimpton Margot: Art Deco meets ultra modern in the sexiest suites in the CBD. Luke’s Kitchen serves modern Australian cuisine to diners in velvet banquette booths. Parched? Make for connoisseur’s pleasure den Cellar by Luke and choose your tipple from among more than 130 different scotches and whiskeys.
Image credits: Damian Bennett (Anna Polyviou at Continental Deli), Destination NSW