10 Places to Eat in Sydney to Feel Like a Local
Updated: Aug 27, 2019
This 'data' was accumulated over a year of living in the Sydney area! So, hopefully you enjoy the restaurants that I enjoyed so regularly.... dig in!
1. Spice Alley
One of my favorite things about Sydney is how diverse the cuisine is. There are people from all around the world who have started restaurants - and I mean everywhere. Look no further than Spice Alley in downtown by the easily accessible, Central Station. This place has everything you could imagine: Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, and more. Be aware though, these restaurants only use card, yep, card NOT cash! You can exchange cash for a prepaid card while you're there, but much easier to make sure to tell your bank you're traveling!
Click here for more info: https://spicealley.com.au/
2. The Roast Office
My favorite little coffee shop. One of the most local joints you can find – no air conditioning, free water, and the baristas even know your order by heart. I came here almost every day I lived in Australia, and though I’m totally in love with coffee, it was actually for their food. After I left Australia, the one food that I found myself missing the most was banana bread. Just a classic slice of banana bread, a bit of butter, and a light dusting of powdered sugar with a latte is a classic brekkie that you just HAVE to try. The Roast Office is located in Manly on Darley Road heading up the hill towards the North Head Sanctuary (a perfect pit stop before you burn off all the calories you just ate). You can find banana bread at nearly every coffee shop around Sydney; I just happen to really love the vibe that The Roast Office puts off, and the fact that they also have phenomenal avocado toast.
3. O Bar
For a night out on the town, head to O Bar for drinks or a whole meal! The kicker with this restaurant is the view. Locals and tourists alike love Sydney's skyline, and you really can't enjoy a great skyline with just one window, so O Bar decided to bless all of us with a 360 degree view of everything going on around the city - that ROTATES. Stay up here, enjoying your bottle of champagne for about an hour and you'll get the whole view!
PS: Make reservations- it's a hot spot!
4. Havana Beach
Now this restaurant is a bit further out... It's actually located in Manly, which is just a short ferry ride north of Sydney out of Circular Quay. It's a perfect place to go after a day out at the beach, and while it's still on the beach, it's further away from where the tourists tend to gather. I love Havana Beach because you get delicious Cuban inspired food with a great atmosphere. Everyone here is so friendly and talkative, AND they have an absolute killer bar. If you like coconut, try their cojito (coconut mojito) - I still have dreams about this drink, it's that good. I would also tell you to get their layer dip as a hefty appetizer, because you just really need to experience it.
5. Sydney Fish Market
If you love seafood, this is the place for you. The Sydney Fish Market is one of the largest seafood markets in the world, and they have mastered everything to do with it. You can take tours of the fish market, and even attend a cooking class! It's not exactly glamorous, it's your typical fish market - smelly, crowded and hectic (but that's really part of the experience). So you probably guessed, yes it has become a bit more touristy, but I recommend you get there bright and early when all the fresh fish is there, grab some for yourself and cook it up on the barbie out on the beach for lunch! (Manly Beach's smaller sister Shelly Beach has barbecues and it is just a 5 minute walk from the Coles in downtown. Perfect to grab all your cooking supplies and go! You can also eat at the fish market as there are several restaurants, but they are fairly expensive because it is such a popular spot to eat because of the fresh seafood.
6. Rockpool Bar & Grill
Run by the massively successful Rockpool Dining Group, Rockpool Bar & Grill is an upscale modern Australian cuisine restaurant in the heart of Sydney's Central Business District (you'll hear this called the CBD all the time there) It really is your classic steakhouse. It's classy, pricey, and so worth the money. Also, if you're a fan of wine, they could arguably have the best wine list in Australia. That's up for debate, of course, but you could without a doubt spend months reading this wine list. Checkout their website, their wine list is so long they've literally made a downloadable PDF book version. Anyway, they've got everything from your staple fillet, to oysters, and even exotic salads. It's a perfect restaurant to feel the upscale glamor of Sydney.
PS: Definitely make reservations.
7. Max Brenner- Chocolate Bar
If you've seen one of these restaurants before, you may be thinking it isn't very Australian, and technically you're correct- it's Israeli. However, out of their 50 locations, 38 are in Australia, because apparently Australians are obsessed with chocolate. The thing I love about this chain is that they have fun with their craft. Every time, I have been there's always something outrageous going on whether it's a dozen chocolate shots with Pop Rocks to top, or a new chocolate covered pizza. My personal favorite is their fondue for two because you get fresh strawberries to dip, and it is the perfect amount of chocolate for two people.
Fika is also in Manly just a short walk away from the ferry terminal. It is a Swedish cafe named after their term meaning "to have a coffee", and it's an absolute must visit if you love a good chai latte. The reason I consider this a local place is because the Northern Beaches area of Sydney has an insanely high population of Scandinavians, so you frequently encounter foods that have clearly been brought from their culture. The restaurant itself is on a side street off the main shopping center called The Corso. It has a super friendly atmosphere, and a majority of the employees are either Swedish or of Swedish descent which I find super endearing. Besides their coffee being awesome, they have a number of brunch-like meals and snacks that are perfect to kick off another day of exploring. My personal favorite is their cinnamon buns and vanilla buns slightly heated up... doesn't get any better than that.
9. The Grounds of Alexandria
Probably the most photogenic of all of these restaurants, The Grounds of Alexandria feeds every Australian's desire to be an instagram model. It's an incredibly popular restaurant/ flower store/ petting zoo/ flea market (it's a very eccentric place). Most people go here for the atmosphere because it honestly almost feels like a Christmas market or even a Hollywood set. It's so perfectly decorated and there are little vendors everywhere selling pastries, fresh juices or maybe even jewelry. All of these stands depend on when you go so be sure to check out whats on that week, but really a visit is well worth it just to wander around the property! There are also a few different options for meals that are all delicious and equally adorable (breakfast, brunch, lunch are most appropriate).
10. El Camino Cantina
Also owned by the previously mentioned Rockpool dining group, El Camino Cantina is a Tex Mex inspired restaurant with locations in The Rocks, by the harbor bridge, as well as in the Manly Wharf. It is some of the best Australian-Mexican food you can find, and if you’re a margs and chips type of person, it should be a must-visit. The margaritas are absolutely too large, and we’re all about it. Locals often head here for a Friday night before they go out on the town, and also because it’s genuinely hard to find quality Mexican food in Australia (No offense to all the Guzman Y Gomez lovers)