Sydney is a foodie’s dream. I know that this might surprise some travellers mainly because when one thinks of travel and food the first destinations that to come to mind are usually Paris and Rome but don’t let Sydney’s laid back beach culture throw you off the scent.
Sydney has some of the world’s top restaurants poised along the picturesque Sydney Harbour. The unique foodie culture often takes over the city in one of the many food (and wine) festivals happening throughout the year.
Sydney’s restaurants range from the exorbitant Michelin star to sidewalk noodle stands in Chinatown. The Sydney’s foodie culture is greatly influenced by the incredibly diverse immigrant population.
You will find authentic European influenced restaurants plus some of the best Asian you’ve ever tasted. The diverse foodie culture has also lead to many amazing fusion style restaurants with influences that will delight any self proclaimed food snob.
Sydney Restaurant Guide
Our Sydney Restaurant Guide includes high end restaurants that are worth the splurge (just be sure to make a reservation ahead of time), mid-range restaurants and pubs that won’t break the bank, and quick cheap eats good for popping into during an active day of sightseeing.
Good to Know
Before you delve in to the list of restaurants, there are a few things you need to be aware of when dining out in Sydney. First off Sydney restaurants tend to be more expensive than other cities, especially when compared to the States but also true even when compared to Melbourne. Items are a bit overpriced for what you get. For example, a glass (not even a whole can) of Coke will cost at least $3.50 and you can forget about getting a free refill. Granted that doesn’t seem like too much but after you add on any other extras you might have ordered with your meal, you might start to wonder if you really want that glass of Coke. If you do choose to have water instead be sure to specify that you are ok with tap water, that way you won’t get charged for some sparkling French mineral water that cost as much as your meal.
There are a few ways to cut the cost of your dining out expenses. The first is to search out BYO restaurants. Here is a list of some of my favourites. BYO stands for bring your own, referring to wine or beer in some cases. There is usually a “corkage” fee which seems ridiculous since majority of the wine bottles in Australia are twist off but it’s still less than choose a bottle off the wine list. Don’t worry if you show up empty handed as a bottle shop in Sydney is never far away. Just ask your server where the closest one is. Another benefit to BYO is that you can hang on to the cap and “re-cork” the bottle to take home with you, just be sure to let the waiter know.
Tipping in Australia
Before heading out to eat you should also know that Australians in general do not tip. If you’re from the States it might seem odd at first not to tip but know that wait staff make a decent wage in Australia. In fact they get pretty good benefits such as decent retirement packages. Now I’m not saying to never tip. Certainly tip if you have exceptional service but refrain from the 20% you might be inclined to tip back home. Instead, a good tip is 10%, but honestly most Australians will usually just round up the bill.
Service in Sydney Restaurants
Tipping might be a good custom to start to introduce to the Sydney dining scene as it is rare to get the same standard of service that one might find in the States, which is another point you should be aware of. Dining out in Sydney can often be a practice in patience though it does seem to be improving. What often happens is that you will be shown to your table, given menus then the waiter will disappear. It’s not like in the States where you are seated and after a few minutes a server will show up to take your drink orders. In Sydney it’s more common to place the drink and food order at the same time. Sometimes you may be seated without even being given menus. If this happens, give it a few minutes then flag someone down. You will most likely also need to flag someone down to get your bill as it is not custom for a table to be approached and asked if there is anything else to be ordered.
10% Service Fee for Weekends
In 2009 the long standing 10% weekend service fee was banned in Australia but unfortunately many restaurants have not reprinted their menus so the fine print still appears not just on the menu but may show up on your bill. If this happens politely inform the restaurant that the fee was banned May 2009 through an amendment to the Trade Practices Act. It could simply be that the restaurant still has some old menus in circulation. It’s a good idea to take note of any fine print stating there will be a service fee, especially during long holiday weekends such as Christmas and Easter when the service fee can was usually increased to 20%.