Sydneysiders are brunch devotees. Sweet or savoury, with stellar coffee… Sydney’s cafes are an undeniable part of the city’s lifestyle. From the water’s edge to the suburbs, here's where to start the morning.
Just a short walk from the water, Darling Harbour’s most exciting foodie spot, Darling Square, has plenty to wake you up. Visit Edition Roasters for expertly brewed coffee and Japanese inspired breakfast, Dopa by Devon for decadent Shibuya toast and a matcha latte, or Auvers for French-Asian fusion food in an art-filled space. Across the harbour, head to Pyrmont to find Quick Brown Fox Eatery, a popular breakfast spot set in a heritage-listed, 1840s-built stone cottage serving up fried chicken waffles, levelled-up avocado toast and more. Down the water to Barangaroo, head to Wild Sage for a morning meal that’s as pretty as the harbour beside it.
Yum cha is a weekend tradition for many Sydneysiders, who come for carts filled with steaming dumplings, endless pots of tea and a spinning lazy Susan of delicious Cantonese delicacies. Try East Ocean Seafood Restaurant, Palace Chinese Restaurant and The Eight. A traditional Taiwanese breakfast can be found at Mother Chu’s off Dixon Street – order fresh soy milk, congee and crisp youtiao (fried dough sticks). Or visit Kowloon Cafe for a breakfast that will transport you to Hong Kong – complete with HK-style French toast, pineapple buns, curry fish balls and retro decor.
Sydney’s city centre is studded with early-morning gems, if you know where to look. Just a short walk from Chinatown, you’ll find Boon Cafe in the tiny precinct of Thaitown, offering a delicious mash-up of Thai snacks and Aussie brunch. Great coffee fuels the city’s office workers, and standouts include: Industry Beans, a laboratory-like cafe where the coffee is even infused into the food in dishes like a coffee-rubbed wagyu burger; Gumption by Café Alchemy for exceptional brews using beans from one of Sydney’s original speciality roasters; and hole-in-the-wall Diggy Doo’s for rotating single-origin roasts and next level service.
Want a snack on the go? Try Banksia Bakehouse for artful pastries, Lode at Circular Quay for some of Sydney’s favourite croissants, AP Place for stacked egg-and-cheese sandos and sesame bagels, or Gram Cafe for fluffy takeaway pancakes.
Cloud-like ricotta pancakes, loaded corn fritters, 'Australia's first’ avocado toast… these are the dishes that made Bills a tourist destination. There are outposts in Surry Hills, Double Bay and Bondi. Speaking of Bondi, there's no denying that Porch and Parlour has become an Eastern Suburbs brunch icon, drawing crowds to its sunny location on Ramsgate Avenue for more than 10 years. For a fancy way to start the day, head to Icebergs Dining Room and Bar on Sundays for brunch with the best views in the beachside suburb.
Get in line early for a seat at ever-popular Paramount Coffee Project, or try the Korean-inspired menu (including Korean fried chicken hot cakes, bibimbap bowls and kimchi avocado toast) at Soul Deli; both are in Surry Hills.
Inner West & Western Sydney
Of course, you can't talk about brunch in Sydney without mentioning The Grounds of Alexandria; the sprawling cafe, coffee roastery, florist, bakery, market and farm is an Instagrammer’s delight. Meanwhile, at in Marrickville, breakfast is inspired by Japan, with dishes like prawn and vegetable tempura with green tea soba noodles, and spicy cod roe melts. Line up for a stack of some of the city’s best pancakes at Happyfield in Haberfield. Further west, try the creative menu at Valet in Cabramatta (from taro milk tea Dutch pancakes to specials like a sticky rice and ice cream-filled croissant). In Penrith, Henri Marc does a modern Australian brunch with creations like banana and tahini porridge and decadent Cubano sandwiches with mojo pork, Swiss cheese, leg ham and pickles.
Across the bridge you’ll find endless options to start the day. Head to the pretty streets of Kirribilli, where Cool Mac offers Japanese breakfasts and innovative pastries by Darlinghurst bakery Tenacious Croissant, or try a waterfront brunch at Celsius Coffee. Bathers' Pavilion is an iconic dining spot right in front of Balmoral Beach, with traditional dishes like smashed avocado, eggs benedict or blueberry pancakes. Or opt for classic corn-and-zucchini fritters at The Bower Manly, while looking out over Cabbage Tree Bay.