Our personal guide to the Sydney we all love.

Our Favourite Places in Our Favourite City.

A ‘Monday Morning Cooking Club’ insider’s guide.

We’re p.b. excited to share the things we love in the city we all love – Sydney. There’s lots of walking, eating and drinking to be done. The views are really spectacular and the food and wine you’ll find here is some of the best in the world.

As we all do live and work in the Eastern Suburbs, this list focuses on the city and our part of town. There is of course WAY more to see in the inner west as well as the northern suburbs and beaches. Our list focuses mainly on food, with a few touristy things thrown in.

BONDI

Everyone must do the Bondi to Tamarama (or to Bronte) cliff side walk (and back) then have breakfast at one of the hip cafes. Across the road from the North end of Bondi, you can’t go wrong at Porch (a really good coffee and the delicious green brekkie bowl!) or walk up to Hall Street and head to the iconic Bills for their famous ricotta hotcakes. A must! Across the road you’ll find Gertrude & Alice, a uniquely gorgeous cafe and bookstore.

Lunch or dinner at Sean’s Panaroma, one of Sydney’s most fabulous homey, casual and delicious restaurants. Chef Sean Moran is one of our favourites. It’s also open for breakfast Saturday and Sunday. Best if you book ahead for lunch (Thursday – Sunday) or dinner (every night this summer).  A must!

Icebergs restaurant at Bondi is also lovely with the perfect bar for cocktails and snacks, and the restaurant always has good food. Gorgeous view over Bondi. If you do the Bondi to Bronte walk you will walk right past it.

Must visit Iggy’s Bread in Bronte. Surely one of the best sourdough loaves/seeded breadsticks in the world. Find a store that sells Pepe Saya butter (there are many) and you have a match made in heaven. While you’re in the area, check out the Three Blue Ducks cafe for brekkie or lunch.

If you need a quick lunch and coffee, head to La Piadina (Glenayr Avenue) for one of their fab Italian flatbread sandwiches (go a #3 or #11). Also great is Lox Stock and Barrel (cnr Glenayr and Curlewis) for one of the MOST seriously delicious pastrami sandwiches around (on house-made rye that is just so SO good). Around the corner in Curlewis is ‘The Shop and Wine Bar‘, a tiny and super cute cafe with great coffee and food and wine all day. Just opened is Lox in a Box, a cute shopfront in Glenayr Ave selling really excellent bagels with salmon or salt beef, and a babka definitely worth grabbing.

For lunch or dinner, head to Ciccia Bella, a new local Bondi favourite with a truly interesting Italian menu and great vibe. Go there for chef Mitch Orr’s inventive and truly excellent pasta dishes.  

DOUBLE BAY

If you find yourself in Double Bay, it has some reasonably good offerings. Bibo Wine Bar is a swish grown up bar with a top class wine list and sommelier alongside. The Mediterranean snacks are great too. Little Jean is a nice, casual cafe/restaurant, perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And while you’re there, pop in to our favourite store – Mud Australia – to buy some of their must-have porcelain plates, platters, bowls and much much more. Our favourite at the moment? Their pebble bowls in a range of pretty pastels are absolutely gorgeous.

VAUCLUSE/WATSONS BAY (our part of town)

Spectacular, world-class, cliff-side walk from Christison Park (Vaucluse) to Camp Cove (Watsons Bay) via The Gap and then up and then up and around the South Head lighthouse, past Lady Jayne nude beach and the HMAS Watson Naval Base. An incredible and surprisingly not-t00-crowded part of Sydney. An absolute must.

Fabulous swimming at Camp Cove beach followed by a coffee and rugelach, or a fresh OJ and tuna salad, at the re-opened Camp Cove Kiosk (Omer’s).

If you’ve never been, it’s worth going to Doyles On the Beach just once for the fish and chips (and only the fish and chips) or next door to the Watsons Bay Hotel for a cold beach-side beer on a hot afternoon. Historic Dunbar House down the road makes a nice coffee. Their afternoon tea is quite nice, but we suggest other plans for lunch.

Grumpy Baker in Vaucluse (up past Christison Park) is a lovely spot for a coffee and and a pastry. Newly opened in Vaucluse (New South Head Rd) is Washoku, a local Japanese/Asian cafe that is doing a roaring trade at the moment (try the Salmon Crunch bowl).

Neilsen Park (on the Harbour side in Vaucluse) is also an excellent swimming spot, with the ‘hermitage’ walk also worth doing.

 

KINGS CROSS/DARLINGHURST/POTTS POINT

Potts Point (Macleay Street and side streets) is a nice place to see small boutiques and great restaurants.

The Apollo has excellent modern Greek food (can only book for 6 or more, otherwise walk ins only, and oh, the tarama and the lamb!) and Fratelli Paradiso for THE neighbourhood Italian (and the best spaghetti scampi).

Merivale’s Lotus has just re-opened – food is great, restaurant is noisy, sit outside if you can. Has a great bar as well.

Another newbie in the area, Franca Brasserie is also worth a visit, in the old Fratelli Fresh site.

Room 10 Espresso, Potts Point, for breakfast or lunch is a must. The BEST toasted brisket sandwich in Sydney, as well as a fabulous chickpea salad. And great coffee.

PADDINGTON/WOOLLAHRA

The whole of Queen Street, Woollahra is a lovely place to walk – from Ocean St all the way to Oxford St (the beginning of Paddington).

A beautiful place is Chiswick (Woollahra) – it’s perfect for lunch with a gorgeous garden setting and great food.

Start walking to the small shopping strip and you’ll pass Victor Churchill (must be the most glamorous butcher in the world), Bistro Moncur (see below), Simon Johnson (purveyor of fine food), Eighteen Ten (great gifts) and all the shops and small art galleries along the way. Bistro Moncur is still buzzing and consistently delicious for lunch or dinner – the twice baked french onion souffle, and the steak with cafe de paris butter are as fabulous as ever. Around the corner, The Centennial is worth a visit for the bar and the dining room. Around the corner in Oxford St, you’ll find Saint Peter, where Josh Niland is as committed to fish as you’d ever be and Fred’s, where Danielle Alvarez is cooking incredible food! We really love both and you’ll need to book ahead.

Along the way, off Oxford St, is Barbetta, doing a great Sunday brunch and a really fun pasta making class.

The shopping is fabulous once you get to William St, where you can stop at 10 William for a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine or head right up the end to Paddington Alimentari, a gorgeous Italian providore with excellent coffee and wonderful toasted sandwiches and salads. Back on Oxford St is the iconic Australian Dinosaur Design and if you’re looking for high end women’s fashion, check out Parlour X a few doors up.

If you keep walking to Glenmore Rd, you’ll find some excellent shops for men and women’s fashion. Australian labels Scanlan & Theodore, Jac and Jack and Lee Mathews are all in that area. 

 

CITY (CBD/CIRCULAR QUAY)

Bennelong (at the Opera house, Circular Quay) is just spectacular. The view is crazy, and the food is pretty amazing.

Equally spectacular view (from the opposite side of Circular Quay) and also the finest degustation meal in Sydney is at Quay – quite hard to secure a reservation, need to book ahead. 

Mr Wong for really excellent Asian food in a gorgeous setting. Can only make reservations for 6+ people, otherwise you have to line up. And that duck room!

Rockpool Bar and Grill (Hunter St) is a great restaurant from chef Neil Perry. He recently sold out to a corporate group and is no longer the owner but on our last visit it was as good as ever. 

Bistro Guillaume is a lovely and very stylish French bistro in the CBD – chef Guillaume Brahimi serves the best and original Paris mash and a souffle worth going back for. And the mille feuille is spectacular.

The Strand Arcade has some lovely shops – make sure you seek out Haighs Chocolates for their dark chocolate licorice bullets and scorched almonds, as well as spice shop Gewurzhaus.

Kitchen by Mike CBD is a very casual restaurant (choose from a display at the counter) with excellent food. 

For the best Sydney city has to offer in shopping, head to Westfield Shopping Centre, David Jones (department store), Pitt Street Mall and Castlereagh Street. 

OUT OF TOWN

Relatively new addition to the outer-Sydney scene is Bert’s at Newport. An absolutely GORGEOUS setting and fabulous menu. Splurge and take the Seaplane to Newport – it’s a spectacular way to travel.

 

TOURISTY STUFF

CIRCULAR QUAY

Walk to the end of George Street to the Rocks (starts at The Four Seasons) for the historic part of town.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is here as is the Overseas Passenger Terminal where many cruise ships dock.

Turn right at the start of The Rocks and you will be at Circular Quay which you can follow all the way to the Opera House. This is where you would catch a ferry if you want to visit the popular Tooronga Zoo or just to take a ferry ride across the harbour. You can take a ferry all the way to Watson’s Bay for that beautiful walk past The Gap, Camp Cove and South Head (the southern point of the entrance to Sydney Harbour). You can also walk all the way from South Head to Bondi Beach, mostly along the coast through Dover Heights (maybe an hour’s walk or more).

Back to Circular Quay, veering right at the Opera House will take you to the beautiful Botanical Gardens where you can stroll along the foreshore all the way around the water to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for the perfect view of Sydney Harbour. In late summer (end Jan/Feb), the St George Open Air Cinema is held here for about a month or so and it is magnificent. Opera Australia also put on one opera each year at the same place, some time in March/April.

If you turn right at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and walk for about 1 km you will reach the Art Gallery of NSW which is always worth a visit.You can have lunch there at Chiswick which is lovely, but you do need to book.

In Circular Quay, a lovely meal is at Aria, just before the Opera House. You can also have drinks and snacks at the Opera Bar (in the Opera House Concourse) with a view of Circular Quay and the Bridge.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Bridge climb is definitely worth doing. Need to book ahead.

Bennelong (mentioned above) is inside the Opera House which makes it perfect before, after or instead of the theatre, at the bar or in the restaurant. Really one of the best! 

Check out what’s on at the Opera House – may be a concert, theatre (Sydney Theatre Company), ballet (the Australian Ballet) or opera (Opera Australia).

BARANGAROO

Newly opened part of Sydney with lots of restaurants and a hotel/casino still under construction. Head to Belle’s Hot Chicken for your fried chicken cravings, Cirrus Dining (amazing seafood in a lovely restaurant but with no view) and Turkish Anason for the most delicious octopus we’ve had in a while (and with outside seating).

ART

Art Gallery of NSW (The Domain, just near the city)

Museum of Contemporary Art (Circular Quay)

White Rabbit – private museum with the best collection of Chinese contemporary art (Redfern)

MISCELLANOUS

Sydney Fish Markets (Pyrmont) is a world class fish market, worth visiting to shop or just look and eat.

Food markets – Eveleigh markets on a Saturday morning is fabulous – visit the Billy Kwong (Asian dishes, her famous wonton soup) stall.

CAFES:

Coffee is a national obsession in Australia, coming close behind football, cricket and rugby. Almost every area has good coffee if you know where to look for it. (The beanhunter app is a good helper in this regard.) Aussies also love going out for breakfast; brekkie bowls, or poached eggs, grilled mushrooms and bacon or sourdough toast with smashed avo are regulars.

As far as coffee goes, Campos, Allpress and Mecca deal with well trained baristas in consistently good cafes.

These cafes have notably good, or interesting coffee. Sometimes their food is also great but sometimes you just go there for the outstanding coffee. PS: The list is actually never ending – these are just a few.

In the city:

Cabarito Coffee, near the Opera House, gives a great brew with a very Surry Hills/inner city vibe. It is packed with suits and corporate types pretending they are not at work.

Gumption, Strand Arcade, is a city outpost of the award winning Alchemy Coffee.

Mecca Coffee, King St

Campos Coffee, on the Castlereagh side of the MLC Centre

Further afield:

Reuben Hills – Surry Hills, for excellent coffee and interesting South American food. Expect a hit of chili in every dish

Paramount Coffee Project, by the same owner as Reuben Hills, Surry Hills, is the original of the cafe now found at North Fairfax LAX

Single Origin – outstanding stalwart of single origin brewing, with inventive super fresh food. They are ridiculously passionate about their coffee and have shorter opening hours, so check before you go there.

Gypsy, Potts Point, a hole in the wall with outstanding coffee, super friendly service and simple fresh food

Room 10, Potts Point, won best new cafe the year it opened. Fabulous chickpea salad and the BEST toasted brisket sandwich in Sydney.

Bills, Sydney’s most famous cafe has great coffee and famous food. Their sweet corn fritters, ricotta hotcakes and scrambled eggs are written about all over the world. There are three outposts, the original is in Darlinghurst, then there’s Surry Hills and Bondi Beach.

Edition, Darlinghurst and Barangaroo, for Japanese Danish fusion food and good coffee. Also just opened in the City.

Porch, Bondi Beach, strong coffee and clean food in a hippy atmosphere. Think Venice Beach.

(This post was written by Lisa, Jacqui, Natanya and Merelyn and it represents their personal favourite places in Sydney)

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