Sydney is spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out, with a diverse range of delicious cuisines and dishes on offer. But some venues stand head and shoulders above the rest. To help you find the best restaurants, bars and cafes in the harbour city, we asked our favourite locasl to share their favourite haunts. This is your expert guide to where to eat in the Sydney CBD.
The Morrison Bar
and Oyster Room
Image credit above and top: Dominic Loneragan.
Perched on the corner of George and Grosvenor streets in the heart of Sydney CBD, this chic bar and brasserie is beloved by the city set. This popular spot is known for its generous supply of oysters – all sustainably sourced – and the menu showcases the signature stylings of culinary director and chef Sean Connolly.
When he isn’t on duty in the kitchen at The Morrison, chef Sean Connolly heads to Bistecca for a first-rate steak. “Bistecca is one of my favourite restaurants in the city; it’s a great place to hide away and enjoy an incredible, yet simple, steak. There’s only one cut on the menu, the bistecca alla Fiorentina, which you pair with a variety of sides and something from the cracking wine list. The T-bone is cooked over a charcoal fire and served medium-rare. The restaurant itself reminds me so much of being a young boy in Yorkshire, with its warm setting, roaring fire and dripping candles – although these candles are made from beef fat and taste great with a piece of focaccia.”
Old Mate’s Place
After finishing service, Bistecca’s general manager Mikey Hamilton makes his way to Old Mate’s Place, a favourite haunt of Sydney’s hospitality crowd. “Old Mate’s Place is relatively well- hidden and a must-visit if you’re looking for a late-night bar. There’s a great selection of gins, whiskys and bourbons – I’m a gin drinker and can’t go past the Martinis and Negronis. I love the style of the indoor section; it has a real den-like feel, with leather lounge booths, bookcases and an old fireplace. I like to find a cosy nook and order a cocktail from one of the clever bartenders.”
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Before starting work at Old Mate’s Place, co-owner Daniel Noble heads up King Street to Continental CBD for lunch. “This bistro/deli really speaks for itself – it launched off the back of their successful Newtown deli and the food is outstanding. Sometimes you’ll find places that have a convoluted offering and image – Continental doesn’t do that, the concept is so streamlined. For them, it’s about being selective and finding the best ways to execute everything they do. They always hire really good chefs and source the best produce so you know you’re paying for quality. It’s sort of a hidden gem as well, sitting on the other side of Elizabeth Street. Don’t pass up the meatball sub – it’s on point.”
When he wants a great coffee, Continental CBD’s general manager Mikey Nicolian walks through Martin Place to Regiment CBD. “The coffee at Regiment CBD on George Street is easily some of the best in the city. They take such care with everything they serve, from sourcing high-end tea blends to the gourmet fare you can pick up with your caffeine hit. If coffee isn’t your calling, they have berry kombucha on tap as well as cold-pressed juices and organic soft drinks. Being on such a busy thoroughfare makes it great for people watching, which you can do from the small pocket of outdoor seating or at the tables by the floor- to-ceiling windows.”
Though he owns his own café, Regiment CBD’s Zach Hiotis heads to Hills Bros (5 Martin Place; 02 8385 2556) for a creative spin on traditional favourites. “You can’t go past the culinary stylings of Hills Bros. Their type of service is quite like ours and they place special emphasis on serving up a different take on café fare – it’s definitely not your typical office foyer café. Hills Bros is a destination spot, one that sees people leave neighbouring buildings for a bite instead of staying in their own block. As well as Reuben Hills coffee, the menu features Latin American and Asian-influenced dishes – I especially love the brown rice congee with poached chicken, gingered carrot and bacon jam. If you’re in town on a Friday, make sure you stop by for a divine Shortstop doughnut.”