The City by the Sea

Where to Eat
Sydney restaurants
Midnight Godsent: Typical crowds outside Harry's Café de Wheels (Leanne Mitchell)
From the Top
There are many ways to rise into the sky in Sydney, from the $160 climb up the Harbour Bridge to ascending the Needle, the city's tallest building. But we suggest you save the cost of admission to the Needle and spend the money on a swank cocktail at the Orbit Lounge (264 George Street). Think Austin Powers goes Aussie, a 70s-style bar and restaurant on the 25th floor of the circular Australia Square building. The revolving restaurant may not be as tall as the Needle, but you do get 360-degree views of the entire city. Get there at sunset, toast a rose-tinted Opera House, and watch as the city lights up as you order your second drink.

If you're the type of traveler to dine on meat pies and $5 bowls of pho in order to have one decedent night out, then Icebergs (1 Notts Avenue; +61.2.9365.9000) may be the best place in Sydney to indulge yourself. The hip, high-class restaurant is perched atop the Bondi Baths on the southern edge of Bondi Beach, overlooking the expansive beach and the crashing surf of the Pacific. The food is contemporary chic (as you'd expect, most dishes involve seafood), the drinks are deftly poured, and the service is attentive without being intrusive.

Doyle's, a Sydney institution in Watson's Bay, is another high-end restaurant aptly famous for its lobster. But if you want a cheaper variety, head down to the water, where Doyle's offers respectable fish 'n' chips to go (or for "take away" in the local parlance). The views of Sydney Harbour, either from the inside or on the deck, are spectacular, and several other modestly priced fish 'n' chips shacks line the beach. Just be warned: if you opt for takeaway to eat by the beach, keep in mind that the seagulls are aggressive. We saw two birds work as a team against one unsuspecting woman. One distracted, while the other swooped in, snagged a chunk of fish, and flew away. Guard your food.

For an eclectic variety of ethnic food, bars, and shops, head into the inner west suburb of Newtown, a bustling melting pot of social and sexual subcultures on the southern border of the University of Sydney. King Street is the neighborhood's main strip and is filled with eclectic pubs, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, book stores, funky clothing shops, and loads more.

Surry Hills, a working-class neighborhood just south of Darlinghearst, is a maze of backstreets lined with pubs, bottle shops, convenience stores, and some of the best ethnic—mostly Lebanese—restaurants in the city. Fatima's (296 Cleveland Street) is typical of what you'll find: an expansive menu, good prices, a modest corking fee for pre-purchased bottles of wine, a friendly staff, and more food than you could possibly eat.

And then there's Harry's Café de Wheels, a must-experience spot that's kept both visitors and Sydneysiders well-fed since 1945, as evidenced by the aged, black-and-white photos of U.S. sailors chowing down on Harry's meat pies. The cart sits at the base of the pier in Wolloomooloo, and even though it's open for 18 hours, the biggest surge usually comes after the city pubs start closing—the wide variety of pies, topped off with peas and mashed potatoes, are ideal for staving off a hangover.

Nathan Borchelt is the lead editor for

Published: 13 Nov 2004 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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