Best of Sydney

Best Restaurants

Best Breakfast: Fratelli Paradiso *READER PICK*
Excellent coffee and great baked goods are two of the drawcards at this Best Breakfast winner. Your choices are loosely modern Italian, and the fashionable, funky crowd is often a part of the drawcard. However this was by no means a one-horse race. According to our readers, other top notch places for the most important meal of the day are Bills at Woollahra, Café Du Coeur in Ultimo, Milk & Two in Pyrmont, Jed’s Food Store in Bondi and Café Nest in Potts Point who we hear do an excellent breakfast of poached ginger pears and mascarpone on sour cherry toast. So now there’s no excuse not to get the best possible start to your day!
12-16 Challis Avenue, Potts Point (02) 9357 1744 JM

Best Lunch: Taste Newtown *READER PICK*
I’m very particular about where I get my chicken (ask my ever-suffering husband-to-be). I’ll travel a long way to get a bird that looks like a chicken and actually tastes like a chicken. So it’s not often you’ll find me patronising a chook shop. So, so when I say I go to Taste Newtown, I eat their chook and I like their chook, this is actually a BIG call. If you need reasons other than taste, I can also tell you the chooks are grain fed, chemical free and cage free, yep, happy chickens.
235 King Street, Newtown (02) 9519 7944 JM

Best Dinner: Glebe Point Diner *READER PICK*
I sheepishly admit, all I have wrapped my lips around is their honey and rosemary pannacotta, but even that was enough to make me absolutely concur with the voting. This place rocks, in a down-to-earth and overwhelmingly organic kind of way. The chef is Alex Kearns, and the word on the street is that he makes everything by hand. My mate John Newton over at Sydney Eats saw fit to give it a share of their biggest gong, the Bent Fork Award for 2008. He knows his stuff, so I’ll take his (and your) word for it.
407 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe (02) 9660 2646 JM

Best Modern Aussie: Café Sydney *READER PICK*
Café Sydney is the jewel in the crown of Sydney’s harbour view restaurants. Combining a funky international interior with picture post card views, it’s not hard to see why it was nominated by many as their favourite modern Australian restaurant. It’s the kind of place to bring interstate or international visitors to show off the best of Sydney ‘ and the food is good to boot. It’s a simple, unpretentious and produce-driven menu, all about showcasing Australia’s best ‘ although the best does come at a price.
5th Fl., Customs House, 31 Alfred St, Circular Quay (02) 9251 8683 JM

Best Food after 2am: Golden Century *READER PICK / EDITORIAL PICK*
While some of our readers head to Pancakes on the Rocks, most of you have heard the secret of Sydney’s best bites after the clock strikes 2am. Seven days a week from midday until a very respectable four in the morning, Golden Century can have you groaning with pleasure with dishes like their Pippies in XO sauce. This isn’t cheap neighbourhood Chinese, it is premium prices for a live-tank fresh seafood specialty Chinese restaurant’ and even though it’s a big restaurant, the wee hours can still attract a queue.
393-399 Sussex Street, Sydney (02) 9212 3901 JM

Tallying up the votes for Best Thai reminded me that Thai is still a formidable cuisine in Australia. For me, Rambutan was all about the bird – the signature Crispy Duck with Rambutan and Tamarind Sauce; and the exceptional Tea Smoked Quail. However my most memorable moment came from chef Mai Busyarat’s Southern Thai dessert – the heavenly soupy Bao Loy made from pandan leaf, taro, pumpkin and sweet coconut sugar. Don’t forget to check out the imaginative cocktails like the ‘Flaming Pina Colada’ in the funky downstairs bar. Doy Tao in Glebe deserves an honourable mention for the second highest number of votes.
96 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst (02) 9360 7772 JM

Best Laksa: Jimmy’s Recipe Malaysia *READER PICK*
Tucked away at the Pitt St entrance to Galeries Victoria, Jimmy’s Recipe is a Sydney institution. If it’s not the most authentic laksa ‘ they agree it has been toned down for local tastes ‘ it’s certainly the fastest (under a minute)! That’s what you want at lunchtime: fresh noodles, fragrant chicken stock, coconut, and just enough chilli and blachan (pungent shrimp paste) to get the eyes watering. Jimmy’s does other Malaysian specialities ‘ beef rending, gado gado, har mee and nasi lemak ‘ but the cheap and cheerful laksa is what keeps us all coming back. Many reader votes were also received for Malaya at the King St Wharf too!
The Galeries Victoria, Ground Floor, Shop RC16, 500 George St, Sydney (02) 9267 2288 LJ

Best Chinese: Blue Eye Dragon *READER PICK*
Some of Sydney’s best Chinese restaurants according to you all are Billy Kwong in Surry Hills, Lees Fortuna Court in Crows Nest plus Zilver, BBQ King and Golden Century (who won the Best Food After 2am category) in Haymarket. However your favourite Chinese/Taiwanese restaurant is Blue Eye Dragon. It’s fine dining leaning is reflected in the prices, but dishes like prawns with Jade’s bloody plum sauce and their plump pork dumplings with chives, ginger and shallot more than make up for it. The writing in my fortune cookie predicts that my own newly opened favourite, Chinese Herbal King in Ultimo, will be a firm contender next year.
Shop 2, 42 Harris Street, Pyrmont (02) 9518 9955 JM

Best Japanese: Azuma *EDITORIAL PICK*
This is the restaurant where Tetsuya Wakuda eats on his nights off. All of them. It’s true, I saw him there a couple of Mondays ago, sitting at the sushi bar, patting his belly with a look of serene contentment. This is serious Japanese for people who want the real deal, done well. Great wine list, discreet yet attentive service, the whole package in an incongruous location.
Level 1 Chifley Plaza, 2 Chifley Square, Sydney (02) 9222 9960 JM

Best Vietnamese: Summerrolls *READER PICK*
The hands-down winner of this category came about through a very loyal customer base! They literally showered us with votes, many arriving with comments, like this one from Catharyn: ‘My favourite lunch and great value too!’ Summerrolls are Australia’s first Vietnamese salad bar, and they serve up Vietnamese hawker and street food including rice paper rolls, pho noodle soups and my own favourite piece of Vietnamese-French fusion cuisine ‘ the Vietnamese Baguette (‘pork roll’). For a more upmarket Vietnamese restaurant that also scored well in the voting, check out Red Lantern in Surry Hills.
Shop 4, Foodbase on Park, 201 Elizabeth St, Sydney (02) 9283 7771 JM

Best Indian: Faheem Fast Food *EDITORIAL PICK*
Since we foolishly left off the category Best Indian, we’re giving you our editorial team’s suggestion for the best (bargain) Indian in Sydney. Despite our omission, we did get a number of votes rating the food at Indian Home Diner in Glebe (good on you guys) but when we like to eat, we go to Faheem’s. They’ve been serving up 100% Halal Pakistani and Indian food in Enmore for more than a decade. Tandoori chicken is the speciality, and they do a tasty fish tikka; but I can’t go past the dal makhani (black lentils with coriander and spices) and the aloo baigan (eggplant and potatoes). Don’t expect 5-stars – just fresh, vibrant flavours, good serves, and free rice with takeaways. Warning: food can sometimes be a little oily ‘ just soak it up with a garlic naan. Most dishes can be had for under $10, every day of the week, but you can’t bring alcohol.
196 Enmore Rd, Enmore (02) 9550 4850 LJ

Best Spanish: El Bulli *READER PICK*
The tapas obsession that has flooded Sydney in recent years is almost enough to turn people off Spanish restaurants. Fortunately, the authentic food dished up at El Bulli in Surry Hills keeps thoughts of abandonment away. The dishes are a very decent size for tapas, but if you’re like me and find sharing good food too difficult, you can enjoy a traditional paella or seafood casserole. Here is a place to sip on sangria, or order a cocktail from their extensive list, and taste your way through Spain. Open Tuesday to Friday for lunch, and seven nights a week. This place is always busy and doesn’t accept reservations, so be sure to get there early – although do we ever really need an excuse to linger a the bar’!
501 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills (02) 9319 5199 JR

Best Mexican: Mad Mex *READER PICK*
The lines are drawn. The city is divided. To the right there are the Mad Mex fans, like Daniel who says: ‘It’s awesome… affordable, tasty, great atmosphere and you can get a margarita to boot!’ To the left are the fans of Tomatillo (who include their local Kings Cross councilors); they go there for dishes like the excellent Chipotle Glazed Ribs. For a while it looked like a genuine Mexican stand-off, but in the end, there can only be one winner’ Mad Mex takes the crown, perhaps just because they have more types of tequila, and tables that allow you to drink them while the clubbers cruise by’
Shop 2, 241-247 Crown Street, Darlinghurst (02) 9331 2288 JM

Best South American: La Parrillada *READER PICK / EDITORIAL PICK*
You voted, we agree, but I’ll let my husband-to-be speak, because this really is a restaurant about men. He says: ‘I love animals. They taste great. This is a meat eater’s paradise on a budget. A seemingly endless selection of well-cooked dead things circulated between the tables until you groan in submission. The complimentary side salad and bits seem like an afterthought, and they really aren’t the point.’ No vegetarians allowed.
470 Parramatta Rd, Petersham (02) 9560 0943 JM

Best Greek: Nostos *READER PICK*
Nostos has all of the charms of a hardcore Greek restaurant experience like Steki Taverna in Newtown (which you also seemed to love) but locates it in a well laid out new premises. The live Rebetika (Greek blues) from the stage provides a perfectly atmospheric soundtrack for a menu that encompasses both the traditional and the modern. It’s somewhere where both the Greek community and lovers of Greek food and culture, unite to celebrate their passions. Servings are generous; staff are friendly – great for parties and groups.
121 Norton Street, Leichhardt (02) 9550 0144 JM

Best French: La Brasserie *EDITORIAL PICK* JM
While our readers prefer to dine at Tabou in Surry Hills and Apres in Potts Point, our cast and crew can be found propping up the bar at La Brasserie in East Sydney. While rampant alcoholism is rife at our workplace, we’re there for more than just the wine list. Somehow the food makes me feel at home, call it the bistro classics I always wished I had grown up with. I nearly weep over their sublime Entrecôte
with perfect little French fries, and if I get really drunk, I just want to listen to the quintessential host Philippe Valet talk in that edible accent. I’m waxing lyrical, but I even adore the font and layout of their menu. Sad.
118-126 Crown Street, Darlinghurst (02) 9358 1222 JM

Best Italian: Spigolo *READER PICK*
In a city like Sydney, where Italian eateries grace every corner, choosing the best local trattoria is like asking a chocoholic to make a choice at Max Brenner. That said, our readers soldiered through much gnocchi and gelato but were thrilled to stop at Spigolo Ristorante Trattoria and Pizzeria in East Sydney. Chef Pino (Giuseppe) Nocera delights in making antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci, but he specialises in homemade pasta. Don’t miss the homemade angel hair with prawns, bacon, shallots, and Napoli cream brandy sauce. Whether you’re after great live music on Friday and Saturday nights, or to chat with Pino about the splendours of Italy, Spigolo is great value for the whole family; but be sure to get there early as the secret has been leaked!
60 Riley St, East Sydney (02) 9356 3288 JR

Best African: Café Mint *EDITORIAL PICK*
With a menu that fuses Mediterranean, North African and Middle Eastern, how could you go wrong’ It’s this very fusion that has our editorial team choosing Café Mint as Best African. Darlinghurst lost a great local in ‘Fez’ a few years ago, but now chef/owner Hugh Foster is back at the helm and leaving no foodie unfilled. The sleek interior of Café Mint sets off stylishly simple modern food, and your only problem lies in making a choice. Whether you dream about the legendary breakfast couscous, or go all out at dinner with half a pan-roasted chicken on spinach and currant burghul, with chermoula pistachio butter, this place will excite and delight! Go and try the new autumn/winter menu before the blossoms bloom, but be sure to get there early and take cash as there are no reservations or credit card/EFTPOS facilities.
579 Crown Street, Surry Hills (02) 9319 0848 JR

Best Northern European: Na Zdrowie *READER PICK*
All hail the mighty potato. Not only does it make Vodka (which you can actually BYO here) but you’ll find the humble spud reborn in a bewildering variety of forms. Start with Pierogi filled with white cheese and potato; advance to a filling Placki, a potato pancake with mushroom sauce, or eat half a duck. Whatever you choose, the serving will be both generous and reasonably priced. The Polish waiters are hot in a central European ‘Waltons’ kind of way, and the vibe is unmistakably, well, Polish.
161 Glebe Point Road, Glebe (02) 9660 1242 JM

Best Vegetarian: Maya Sweets & Vegetarian *READER PICK/EDITORIAL PICK*
Our vegetarian readers can often be found at Govinda’s in Darlinghurst and Iku in Glebe, but according to them, Maya Sweets & Vegetarian never fails to deliver. While you may have to put up with occasional slow service and the blaring Bollywood clips, the bargain food is always worth the wait. I love the South Indian Thali with four curries, raita, pickle, rice, puris, pappadam and coconut desert. There are daily specials for under $10, but the best thing is the weekend chaat menu ‘ dals, salad, yoghurt, puris ‘ all ridiculously cheap. Wash them down with masala tea and grab a sweet gulab jamun for the road.
468-472 Cleveland St, Surry Hills (02) 9699 8663 LJ

Best Surf (Seafood): Sydney Fish Markets *READER PICK*
It seems that lots of our readers are very particular about where they eat their fish, so you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that many nominated businesses scored well in the reader votes. If you’re looking for some great seafood restaurants that our readers prefer, try Fish Face in Darlinghurst, Ravesi’s in Bondi, Jordons Seafood Restaurant in Darling Harbour and Catalina in Rose Bay. But if you want to get your fishes from the winner, get thee to the Sydney Fish Markets. If you find choice bewildering, head straight to the Christie’s outlet, they have yet to disappoint me!
Bank Street, Pyrmont (02) 9004 1100 JM

Best Turf (Steak): Kingsley’s Woolloomooloo *READER PICK*
‘I assume you’re a carnivore,’ George Clooney said to Catherine Zeta-Jones in Intolerable Cruelty. The patrons of Kingsley’s Steak and Crabhouse have answered ‘YES!’ Personally, I feel that nothing beats a night of water views, wine and wagyu, so I’m completely behind our reader choice of awarding Kingsley’s ‘Best Turf’. The ranch-style interior seems at odds with the sparkling water lapping metres away, but nothing is peculiar about this food. Enjoy a light starter of salt and pepper prawns to prepare yourself for premium quality beef, cooked to your liking and served with chips, baked potato or salad. Chef Lars Svensson also offers an extensive array of mains from the sea, some great Australian and New Zealand wines, and delicious weekly specials. They do group bookings and have a private dining room for functions and events. To really dine in style, why not arrive in a water taxi’
10/6 Cowper Wharf Rd, Woolloomooloo (1300) 546 475 JR

Best Bakery: Bourke Street Bakery *READER PICK / EDITORIAL PICK*
It was a tough competition for Sydney’s Best Bakery ‘ you all came up with some powerfully good suggestions! The three runners up all happen to be personal favourites of mine – Croissant D’Or in Potts Point, Infinity Sourdough Bakery in Darlinghurst, and Victoire in Balmain. But it is winner takes all, and apparently you find the lamb and harissa sausage rolls at Bourke Street Bakery as irresistible as I do! To get your tasty pastry treats you will have to battle occasionally terse service, and jostle for position in the inevitable queue with Surry Hills yuppies and dedicated foodies who travel from further afield, like me.
633 Bourke St, Surry Hills (02) 9699 1011 JM

Best Sweets: Adriano Zumbo *READER PICK*
All that springs to mind here is arranging cakes on the beautiful Madellen, our City Hub cover girl for May 2008. But then, I’ve got a dirty mind, and arranging those pretty little cakes over her rude bits could tempt a saint. You seem to love his sweet treats too, I wonder what you do with them’ Zumbo’s trendy store that’s little more than a hole-in-the-wall delivers a small but excellent range of pastry art, each presented on a golden board, complete with tab so you can take them out of the box without the need to lick your fingers, unless you slip of course. Yellow Bistro in Potts Point also rated highly, please leave a Bread and Butter pudding for me.
296 Darling Street, Balmain (02) 9810 7318 JM

Best Coffee: Fair Trade Coffee Company *READER PICK*
When you can combine one of life’s necessities with a sustainable future, you must be on to something right. Fair Trade Coffee Company in Glebe have brewed their way into our hearts (and habits!) For newcomers, take a bean out of the coffee connoisseurs guide and enjoy Sacred Grounds, a blend of beans from East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Peru. Open from 7am to 10pm, you’ll have no excuse to miss your daily beverage and, with every bean certified fair trade, you can finally have an addiction that benefits the greater good.
33 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe (02) 9660 0621 JR

Best Tea: The Tea Centre *READER PICK*
In our fast-paced lives most Australians had forgotten what a real cuppa was all about, being content with simply dunking a bag in boiling water. So you can imagine how thrilled Sydney tea drinkers were when Sharon Sansom and Joakim Torstensson opened the Tea Centre in 1993 to provide your daily dose of warmth. There are 180 varieties on offer with sumptuous cakes to have on the side; but it’s the personalised service and recommendations that form the reasons why this place is the saviour of the humble brew. With everything on offer at The Tea Centre being packed full of antioxidants, and preservative free, being healthy has never been so easy. As their motto goes: Good Tea, Good Health, Good Friends, Good Life!
The Glasshouse, 146 Pitt Street Mall (02) 9223 9909 JR

Best Café: Corelli’s *READER PICK*
This café is pure Newtown. Dine within green-brick walls and pass time observing the fascinating (and plentiful) passer-bys from your King Street vantage point. Corelli’s Café provides everything you want in a 17 hour a day menu: simple, tasty and overwhelmingly generous (we suggest you take a friend or wear loose fitting pants!). If you’re game, go for the breakfast tortilla, an Olympic start to the day served with mushrooms, eggs, bacon, spinach, guacamole, sour cream and delicious amounts of cheese. If you’re not up to the marathon don’t worry, this huge menu will be sure to have something that tickles your fancy. Corelli’s is amazing value for money, down to earth and full of little surprises with every cup of coffee. I’ll let you find out for yourself, but I hope you like your teddies tiny!
352 King St, Newtown (02) 9550 4080 JR