ZAAFFRAN, Level 2, 345 Harbourside Shopping Centre.
The pick of Darling Harbour's eateries, this Indian restaurant is heaven for vegetarians.  The food goes beyond the standards, to offer eggplant and okra with coconut and tamarind.  Carnivores will be satisfied by an aromatic lamb shank stew, chicken biryani or the excellent tandoori prawns.  There are also god value set menus.
Tel:  92 - 11 - 89 - 00
Price Range:  $35 - $60

GOLDEN CENTURY, 393-399 Sussex Street.
The menu is huge, the staff are friendly and the selection of live seafood, including crab, abalone, lobster, parrot fish, barramundi and coral trout, is enormous.  But what is truly amazing about this restaurant is that its kitchen stays open until 4am.  It is not unusual to find the place full of other chefs relaxing after work.
Tel:  92 - 12 - 39 - 01
Price Range:  $60 - $85

JORDAN'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT, 197 Harbourside.
Jordan's Seafood Restaurant overlooks Darling Harbour and offers quality fresh seafood.  Sushi, sashimi, char-grilled baby octopus, salmon, deep-fried snapper and calamari are all available.  Splurging on a deluxe platter for two, you will be served a hot-and-cold selection of the market's best catch, including lobster.  Excellent cocktails.
Tel:  92 - 81 - 37 - 11
Price Range:  $60 - $85

KINGSLEY'S STEAKHOUSE, 17 Lime Street.
This is one of three restaurants of the same name in the CBD.  Each has a relaxed atmosphere and a bevy of good quality steaks to choose from, as well as a sprinkling of fish dishes and plenty of shellfish.  All three also offer a cheap  "biz"  lunch on weekdays.  The King Street Wharf venue has one extra:  fantastic views of Darling Harbour.
Tel:  92 - 79 - 25 - 25
Price Range:  $60 - $85

KOBE JONES, 29 Lime Street.
Decorated in stylish black and red, this modern Japanese restaurant avoids being too touristy, despite front-row views of Darling Harbour.  The large menu includes signature dishes such as a trio oyster shooters, each with a distinctive flavour, and seared smoked salmon marinated in green tea with wasabi mash and nori cream.  Great cocktails too.
Tel:  92 - 99 - 52 - 90
Price Range:  $60 - $85

MARIGOLD, Levels 4 & 5, 683-689 George Street.
A truly enormous restaurant, Marigold takes up two floors atop a shopping arcade.  Long considered Sydney's best yum cha, a meal of dumplings served with tea at lunchtime.  At dinner, groups of six or more can choose form banquet menus, which offer excellent value dishes such as king prawns with vegetables and crispy-skinned chicken.
Tel:  92 - 81 - 33 - 88
Price Range:  $60 - $85

NICK'S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT, The Promenade.
Nick's offers a menu full of crowd-pleasers and a fabulous spot to bask in Sydney's sunshine.  At night, Darling Harbour's lights sparkle on the water.  There is a cheap kids' menu of fish, calamari or chicken with chips, followed by vanilla ice cream.  Grownups might try char-grilled tuna or octopus, served with chips and salad.
Tel:  92 - 64 - 12 - 12
Price Range:  $60 - $85

COAST, 201 Sussex Street.
Eating fresh local seafood by the water is a quintessential Sydney experience.  Business lunches by cay and big groups at night pack this popular spot on the city side of Darling Harbour.  The Italian-leaning menu focuses on seafood, with live lobsters available from the tank and a selection of shellfish offered as anti-pasta.
Tel:  92 - 67 - 67 - 00
Price Range:  $85 - $110

BOTANIC GARDENS AND THE DOMAIN

PAVILION ON THE PARK, 1 Art Gallery Road.
Good versions of cafe standards including baguettes with Brie and quince paste or chicken, bacon and avocado, soups, salads and cakes.  There is also Shepherd's pie, pastas, plenty of yummy cakes and a comprehensive breakfast menu.  Outdoor tables look out over The Domain, where office workers play soccer at lunchtime.
Tel:  92 - 32 - 13 - 22
Price Range:  $35 - $60

BOTANIC GARDENS RESTAURANT, Royal Botanic Gardens.
Set among the lush greenery, this excellent value lunch venue opens on to a terrace, letting in the sounds of the gardens, even the squawks of the famous bats.  Serious gourmets might try the delicious grilled beef tenderloin with caramelized tomato tart.  Weekend brunch is lovely too, and there is a cafe next door.
Tel:  92 - 41 - 24 - 19
Price Range:  $60 - $85

THE ART GALLERY RESTAURANT, Art Gallery Road.
Open only for lunch daily and also for brunch on weekends, this restaurant provides a sophisticated place to discuss the latest exhibition.  The menu is small but should please most.  There is also a more casual cafe on the lower level, which is great for kids, offering little cardboard boxes with sandwiches, a drink and a chocolate.
Tel:  92 - 25 - 18 - 19
Price Range:  $60 - $85

KINGS CROSS AND DARLINGHURST

BILL AND TONI'S, 74 Stanley Street.
A Sydney stalwart loved for its strong coffee, old-fashioned feel and checked tablecloths.  Upstairs you will find basic but delicious home-style Italian fare, such as spaghetti Bolognese and bistecca, and fast, friendly service.  Afterwards, head downstairs for macchiato and gelato.  An excellent place to bring kids, with pinball and racing games.
Tel:  93 - 60 - 47 - 02
Price Range:  Under $35

GOVINDA'S, 112 Darlinghurst Road.
Dining at this Indian vegetarian restaurant means piling up a plate of delicious curries, breads and salads from the all-you-can-eat buffet.  Many of the dishes are Indian, but pastas and casseroles are available too.  For a little extra you can see a film in the upstairs movie room, and it is best to eat afterwards to avoid drifting off in the comfy couches.
Tel:  93 - 80 - 51 - 55
Price Range:  Under $35

DISHY, 68 Stanley Street.
Widely recommended as a great place to take children, this cafe is in the fun Stanley Street strip.  The kids' menu is reasonably priced and includes fish and chips, spaghetti Bolognese, chicken schnitzel, kids' brekkie and more.  There is plenty on the menu for mums and dads too, from cafe classics to Asian-fusion dishes.
Tel:  83 - 54 - 03 - 22
Price Range:  $35 - $60

FU MANCHU, 249 Victoria Street.
A small, hip Chinese noodle bar, serving Northern Chinese and Southeast Asian hawker-style, home-cooked dishes.  This is a fun place for a quick dinner at a communal table.  The menu offers fresh and tasty dumplings, soups and stir-fries.  Recently renovated it now features the Suzy Wong Banquet Rooms, which accepts credit cards.  Dinner only.
Tel:  93 - 60 - 94 - 24
Price Range:  $35 - $60

OH CALCUTTA, 251 Victoria Street.
Serving modern Indian food with remarkable complexity of flavour, this small, stylish restaurant manages to offer the cuisine of a fine diner at almost cafe prices.  The tasting menu is good value, allowing you to try three entrees and three mains, plus rice, accompaniments and bread.  There are also pre-theatre deals.  Booking is recommended.
Tel:  93 - 60 - 36 - 50
Price Range:  $35 - $60

BAYSWATER BRASSERIE, 32 Bayswater Road.
This veteran of Kings Cross is famous for its freshly shucked oysters and friendly service.  The modern Australian minu changes with the availability of the best produce, which may include blue swimmer crab lasagne with tomato beurre blanc or rhubarb creme brulee.  Everything is handmade here, such as bread, pasta, ice cream and pastries.
Tel:  93 - 57 - 21 - 77
Price Range:  $60 - $85

FISHFACE, 132 Darlinghurst Road.
In a tiny space which seats just 26, this restaurant offers the best value fish in town.  The beer-battered fish and hand-cut chips are famous, and there is also a sushi bar.  The menu is full of appealing choices, including the signature dish of blue-eye trevalla topped with thin rounds of potato shaped into scales.  No bookings after 7pm.
Tel:  93 - 32 - 48 - 03
Price Range:  $60 - $85

JIMMY LIKS, 188 Victoria Street.
The no-bookings policy at this buzzing, modern Asian joint means you can count on a lengthy wait for a seat at the communal table.  Those who stick it out, dine on Southeast Asian treats such as betel leaves with chicken and smoked eggplant and good-sized mains.  The adjoining bar offers 21 Asian-inspired and award-winning cocktails.
Tel:  83 - 54 - 14 - 00
Price Range:  $60 - $85

LOTUS, 22 Challis Avenue.
Chef Genevieve Copland has been behind many of Sydney's best restaurants, and here she cooks simple and hearty food.  The small blackboard menu might include roasted lamb rump with beans, tomatoes and olive sauce or warm salad of duck livers with globe artichoke, crispy bacon and walnuts.  A smart little bar is hidden out the back.
Tel:  93 - 26 - 90 - 00
Price Range:  $60 - $85

MAHJONG ROOM, 312 Crown Street.
This modern Chinese Restaurant, packed with a young crowd, is very different form the big Chinatown diners.  Dishes such as bang bang chicken with century eggs and stir-fried prawns and snow peas are served at mahjong tables in a series of small rooms.  Double the experience by sharing the reasonably priced dishes.
Tel:  93 - 61 - 39 - 85
Price Range:  $60 - $85

TILBURY HOTEL, 12-18 Nicholson Street.
The Tilbury Hotel was refurbished recently, resulting in its transformation into one of the trendiest pubs in Sydney.  The restaurant offers excellent Italian fare, and the daily menu might include gnocchi with chicken, sausage, barlotti beans and fennel.  Also has a cafe serving wraps, bagels and coffees.  Jazz on Sunday afternoons in the bar.
Tel:  93 - 68 - 10 - 41
Price Range:  $60 - $85

YELLOW BISTRO, 57 Macleay Street.
Van Gogh yellow walls make this, one of the most famous buildings in the Cross, stand out.  In the 1970's it was an artists' commune, which housed Brett Whiteley.  Today creative genius is obvious in the food.  The brunch menu is lovely but nothing beats the celebrated date tart created by pastry chef, Lorraine Godsmark.  It also has a food store.
Tel:  93 - 57 - 34 - 00
Price Range:  $60 - $85

MANTA, 6 Cowper Wharf Road.
in a great pairing, chef  Stefano Manfredi creates Italian flavours from Australian seafood.  Diners don bibs to devour lobster and mud crab cooked straight from the tank, or order the signature roasted Murray cod.  As many as five types of oyster may be available, including, in season, the superb native Angasis.  Fantastic Italian desserts too.
Tel:  93 - 32 - 38 - 22
Price Range:  $85 - $110

OTTO, 6 Cowper Wharf Road.
Otto is a  piece of Melbourne brought to Sydney's waterfront and is so appreciated that it often draws celebrities, from footballers to Kylie Minogue, to its dark and handsome surrounds.  Italian fare is jazzed up with local ingredients, such as fillet of Mandagery Creek venison with celeriac parsnip puree, pancetta, green beans and juniper jus.
Tel:  93 - 68 - 74 - 88
Price Range:  $85 - $110

PELLO, 71-73 Stanley Street.
This is a hip restaurant, with tables on the terrace or in a small courtyard, as well as in the dining room.  There is also a great little bar, where you can drink without dining  (rare in Sydney), London trained chef, Thomas Johns, uses the freshest ingredients to serve vegetables such as celeriac, salsify and Jerusalem artichoke in fabulous combinations.
Tel:  93 - 60 - 46 - 40
Price Range:  $85 - $110

PADDINGTON

PHAMISH, 354 Liverpool Street.
Its no-fuss attitude means Pharmish offers no wine, desserts, lunches, bookings or website.  Never mind, hordes of diners still flock here for the excellent, cheap food.  You can bring your own wine, devour the large servings of fresh and spicy modern Vietnamese food and then walk up the hill to Victoria Street for a mouth-cooling gelato.
Tel:  93 - 57 - 26 - 88
Price Range:  Under $35

PADDINGTON INN, 338 Oxford Street.
This perennially popular pub in the heart of the Paddington strip is especially busy on weekend afternoons, when hip locals meet over beers and tapas-style plates.  Pub classics such as bangers and mash and fish and chips are given a restaurant touch.  There are also plenty of lighter meals, such as salads and chicken on couscous.  Great for lunch.
Tel:  93 - 80 - 59 - 13
Price Range:  $35 - $60

BISTRO MOORE, 308 Moore Park Road.
Across the road from the Aussie Stadium and the Sydney Cricket Ground, this bistro serves excellent modern Italian food.  There are just four or five entrees, pastas, mains and desserts on the seasonal menu, but you will feel spoilt for choice because each dish is so appealing.  The pasta is handmade, the coffee spot on, and puddings delicious.
Tel:  93 - 61 - 63 - 15
Price Range:  $60 - $85

BUZO, 3 Jersey Road.
Buzo is another piece of evidence showing that bistro food is booming in Sydney.  Bookings are essential at this restaurant, just off Oxford Street.  Carnivores will delight in the meaty menu, offering roast lamb, char-grilled steak and even various offal dishes.  You will need to order some side dishes to accompany your main.
Tel:  93 - 28 - 16 - 00
Price Range:  $60 - $85

FOUR IN HAND, 105 Sutherland Street.
Acclaimed chef Mark Best owns the fine diner Marque, which consistently takes top honours in Sydney restaurant awards.  He oversees this pub dining room, inside Sutherland Hotel, allowing those on a budget to have a taste of his superb dishes.  These might include a tomato and goat's cheese souffle or brasserie classics such as boudin blanc.
Tel:  93 - 62 - 19 - 99
Price Range:  $60 - $85

LOCAL, 211 Glenmore Road.
This bar and restaurant is not called Local for nothing.  It is the kind of place everyone wants to live next door to, open daily for snacks, wine and coffee.  The please-everyone menu is designed so that most of the entrees can be eaten as main course and vice versa and offers dishes of  Spanish, Italian, French and Moroccan flavours.
Tel:  93 - 32 - 15 - 77
Price Range:  $60 - $85

BISTRO LULU, 257 Oxford Street.
Located in the heart of the Oxford Street shopping strip, this charming French-influenced, neo-bistro serves specialities including duck confit with aligot, caramelized pear and hazelnut salad and sirloin steak served with cafe de Paris butter and pommes frites.  Oysters can be dressed three ways, most impressively with a Bloody Mary granita.
Tel:  93 - 80 - 68 - 88
Price Range:  $85 - $110

BISTRO MONCUR, 116 Queen Street.
A stroll down Queen Street from the main strip, Bistro Moncur has been an eastern suburbs favourite for more than a decade.  The menu lists such French classics as sirloin cafe de Paris, French onion souffle gratin and pork sausages.  No bookings, so arrive early or to start with a drink in the bar, where top jazz bands play on Sunday evenings.
Tel:  93 - 63 - 25 - 19
Price Range:  $85 - $110

BUON RICORDO, 108 Boundary Street.
Ask a Sydney chef where he goes on nights off and the answer is likely to be this small restaurant.  The decor is old-fashioned and the food is often Old World.  So is the service, which sees the signature dish of fettuccine with Parmesan, cream and truffled egg tossed at table.  Dishes here are said to be better than at most places in Italy.
Tel:  93 - 60 - 67 - 29
Price Range:  Over $110

CLAUDE'S, 10 Oxford Street.
A Sydney icon for nearly thirty years, this intimate restaurant in a converted terrace house seats just 40 people.  In season, the set-price menu features fresh Tasmanian truffles.  Dishes sound simple on paper but are actually as close to works of art as food can get.  Bookings recommended.  Ring the doorbell when you arrive.
Tel:  93 - 31 - 23 - 25
Price Range:  Over $110

LUCIO'S, 47 Windsor Street.
Lucio's is right in the middle of the area of  Sydney's art galleries and the walls of the restaurant display a collection of contemporary Australian artists such as John Coburn, Gary Shead and Tim Storrier.  There is art on the plate too, the expertly cooked Italian food varies according to what is in season.
Tel:  93 - 80 - 59 - 96
Price Range:  Over $110

 

 

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