Edited by Emma White
More than just a city of iconic landmarks, glorious beaches and lush green parks, Sydney is a food-lovers paradise. From Michelin starred restaurants to rustic gastro pubs, unique fusion eateries to classic homey cafés, there is an endless supply of cool places to eat in Sydney. As a foodie myself, I’ve spent my 3 years as a Sydney local exploring the city’s vibrant food scene and discovering the best of Australian food culture and now I’m here to help you do the same! So if you want to know where to eat like a local in Sydney, follow my insider’s guide to the must eat foods in Sydney, where to eat locally as well as the best restaurants in Sydney.
Sydney’s close proximity to the ocean paired with its waterside lifestyle means that seafood is an essential part of Sydney’s food culture. From tender fillets of fresh fish, to plump crab, pink prawns (or shrimp) and silky rock oysters, Sydney has it all. And there’s nowhere better to get your fresh fish fix than at the renowned Sydney Fish Market. You’ll be amazed at the variety as well as the quality of fresh produce on offer here. Spend a morning wandering down the aisles lined with ice-covered counters displaying seafood of all different shapes, sizes and colours. Hand pick your the best looking oysters and sample them there and then with a squeeze of lemon, choose the juiciest crab and have it cooked right in front of you or ask the fishmongers to gather up a bunch of their best shrimp to take away (you’ll need these for another one of my Sydney foodie tips later on!). The creative and colourful sushi donuts at Fish Market Café are also not to be missed. The quality of the seafood at this market is unmatched elsewhere in the city and this is in fact where the top restaurants source most of their fish from. My top tip here would be to go early in the morning before the tour buses arrive for their lunch stop as it gets extremely busy and you may miss out on the best fish.
One of my favourite things to do in Sydney at the weekend is to visit a local farmers market and spend a couple of hours browsing the various fresh food stalls and street food pop-ups. This is a great place to go if you’re looking for delicious cheap eats in Sydney. The Carriage Works Farmers Market, open on Saturday mornings until 1pm, is one the biggest and best Sydney street food markets around. Get here early-ish to avoid the big crowds and grab a breakfast burger or fresh pastry to enjoy whilst you walk round. There are also a few really good night food markets in Sydney for those who consider themselves night owls rather than early risers. Check out Sydney’s Chinatown Night Market for an authentic taste of the far east.
Photo credit: www.gigipizzeria.com.au
Vegan pizza in Newtown
One of my favourite areas with cool places to eat in Syndey is Newtown. Home to Sydney’s hipsters and student crowds, Newtown is a diverse and vibrant inner Sydney neighbourhood which offers a dynamic, modern and multicultural dining scene. I’d say that this area really fits my aesthetic and so I spend a lot of my time here, seeing friends and enjoying the local food and drink culture. A particular restaurant that I visit often, and in my opinion one of the best restaurants in Sydney for pizza, is Gigi Pizzeria. As a vegan, I can say that it is truly a joy to live and eat in a city like Sydney, especially when there are such great vegan-friendly restaurants like this hidden gem. The restaurant’s rustic-chic interior reflects the local vibe and the menu offers traditional wood-fired pizzas with a multitude of different flavour combinations and topping variation to suit everyone’s tastes. They use top-quality, fresh ingredients which marry together perfectly on top of the beautifully crisp base. The pizzas are so good that even my non-vegan friends are happy to give up cheese and come here for dinner! They don’t take reservations so try to book a table, come early or be prepared to wait in line for a little while (I promise it’s worth waiting for).
Photo credit: neighbourhoodpaper.com
Craft beer at Young Henry’s
Another of my favourite places to eat (and drink) like a local in Sydney is Young Henry’s, a quirky brewery serving locally brewed craft beers alongside tasty treats chosen to perfectly complement your choice of brew. While it may not be the place to go to sample Sydney’s finest cuisine, the reason I’ve included it on my list of places to eat in Sydney like a local is because this humble brewery is home to one of the best and most authentic local experiences in town. Inside you’ll find an eclectic mix of people from all different walks of life, families with children, friends getting together to catch up on the latest gossip, co-workers winding down after a long day at the office and loyal regulars who’ve already sampled the entire selection of beers and picked their favourite long ago. Young Henry’s is even dog -friendly so you’re guaranteed to make a few furry friends too! The laid-back local atmosphere and inclusive nature of this brewery are why I love it and why you should come here to experience local life in Sydney and for a taste of Australian food culture. And for your first drink, order Young Henry’s signature beer, the Newtowner. It’s amazing! Tip: Opening hours are from 12pm-7pm only so make sure to squeeze in an afternoon ‘beer break’ during your day of sightseeing in Sydney.
Sydney locals are a pretty diverse and multicultural bunch. This means that our local food culture is also hugely varied with the best restaurants in Sydney serving all different types of food from all over the world. One of the most popular cuisine types in Sydney is Asian food, thanks to the city’s large Asian population. You really can’t come to Sydney and say you’ve sampled the local food if you have not eaten Asian food. One of the favourite restaurants among Sydney’s locals is Mr Wong, a grand restaurant serving modern Cantonese food. The vibe is quite jazzy, with atmospheric lighting and interesting knick knacks spread across the walls. This is the kind of place that everybody knows about, everybody loves, and everybody recommends to visitors looking to experience the best of Sydney’s dining scene. This is a super cool place to eat in Sydney and the food is so good that you’ll almost certainly be coming back for more before leaving! They serve classic dim sum, everybody’s favourite duck pancakes, a variety of tasty main dishes as well as a few family style platters designed for sharing. Some of the best dishes here include the dim sum, sweet and sour crispy pork hock and also the Peking duck pancakes. Why not give one (or all) of these a try?
Shrimp on the barbie
When it comes to outdoor grilling on the barbeque, Australians certainly live up to the well-known stereotype. Australia’s love affair with the outdoor grill is indeed an integral part of the Australian food culture as well as local culture in Sydney and is an activity that must not be missed if you truly seek to eat like a local during your visit to Sydney. While free open outdoor grills in public parks would often be considered a hazard in other parts of the world, in Sydney they are considered to be a basic amenity! During the warmer months you’ll find huge numbers of locals heading down to their nearest city park hoping to secure a free grill to cook their evening meal or weekend lunch, surrounded by friends and family and usually a few cold beers! Remember those shrimps from the Sydney Fish Market that I told you to save for later? Well here’s where they come in. Find a free grill at a park of your choice (Centennial Park is a popular spot), get your shrimp on the barbie, crack open a beer and relax as they sizzle away and the sun sets around you. Or why not find a group of friendly locals already occupying a grill and ask to join? Share stories, share food and enjoy the outdoors – now, is there an experience more authentically Aussie than that? I don’t think so!
Photo credit: grabyourfork.blogspot.com
Are you crazy for cronuts? Or maybe you’ve never heard of them? (If it’s the latter, have you been living under a rock!?) Either way, the sweet treat loved by locals and a must try food for visitors to Sydney are cronuts, a unique croissant-donut hybrid born in New York and taken in by Sydney locals and their welcoming (and hungry) mouths. Crisp on the outside, with flaky, buttery layers on the inside and a surprise filling waiting for you in the middle, this dreamy parcel of sweetness is like heaven on earth. By now your mouth is probably already watering and you’re waiting for me to hurry up and tell you where you can get your hands on (and teeth into) these tasty baked goods. While there are a number of cafés that serve these, the only one you should really consider is coffee-centric café and cronut institution – Brewtown Newtown. Freshly baked cronuts line the counters, filled with a myriad of flavours including cinnamon, chocolate custard, strawberry jam, French vanilla and many more. Sadly, these are not Sydney’s best kept secret, so you better race the locals to get there and get your spot in line before the cronuts all sell out!
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