Is there anything better than biting into a juicy piece of fish, accompanied by perfectly crispy, salty hot chips? As a meal, it’s an Aussie institution. Enjoy it in fancy restaurants or cheap-and-cheerful haunts across Sydney. And don't skip the tartare.
Where: Rose Bay
Chef Josh Niland is a bit of a legend in the Australian seafood world, having garnered acclaim at his other restaurants Saint Peter, Fish Butchery and Peterman. Everything on the menu is sustainably sourced and top quality, which makes for extremely memorable meals. While other outlets are more conducive to a long meal, Charcoal Fish is all about grab-and-go. Pick up grilled garfish with yogurt tartare and chips, or perhaps battered Bermagui pink ling and chips. If you want to up the ante, add on swordfish empanadas, yellowfin tuna cheeseburgers, grilled king ora salmon with chimichurri, or Jervis Bay barbecue mussels.
This place nails the brief – everything on the menu is super fresh, super crispy and super delicious. The beer-battered fish and chips never go out of style, and you can order it on its own or in a seafood basket with prawn cutlets and calamari rings. Because, why not? There’s also an extensive menu section dedicated to the day’s catch, whether that’s wild barramundi, WA whiting, swordfish fillets or deep sea ocean perch. If you’re feeling a little fancy, you can also peruse the ‘gourmet menu’ – think garlic prawn skewers, salmon fish cakes or New Zealand mussels.
Where: Paddington and Waterloo
Josh Niland’s other venture, Fish Butchery, only works with the finest seafood purveyors. And he lists them all on his menu, so you know what you’re getting, and you know that quality control is of the highest importance. While it’s takeaway only at Paddington, you can also dine in at Waterloo – across both outlets you can enjoy incredible charcoal-grilled Ulladulla blue mackerel with chips and lemon, crumbed blue-eye trevalla with tartare, salt-and-vinegar onion rings… and a handful of other items. The menu is tight, but the taste exceptional.
Not all fish-and-chip shops are by the sea – FICH is located in Sydney’s inner-west, but the offerings here couldn’t get any fresher. The space is split into two: on one side it’s the day’s catch and salads, advertised on a chalkboard and to-go. Perhaps a fried ling burger, or a salmon poke bowl. On the other side is the restaurant, where you’ll find more fancy – but still taking you back to beachside holidays – fare. Order beer-battered ling and calamari with perfectly salted chips, potato scallops, Hervey Bay scallop tostadas or loaded seafood platters. Bring your appetite.
There’s plenty of space to dine in at this Bondi restaurant. But you’re steps from one of the prettiest stretches of sand in Australia, so it would be a shame not to make the most of their excellent takeaway deals and grab something to go. There’s traditional battered fish and chips, or perhaps an elevated crumbed fish of the day with fresh herbs and tartare. You can also go next level with a barramundi burger topped with anchovies, slaw and fermented chillies, or opt for something healthy – like Sicilian crudo or tuna tartare.
Where: Sydney South
This popular place takes home awards for its fish and chips – for good reason. The menu is not only well-priced but also incredibly fresh, with everything caught daily before being delivered to your table. Or to your box, to take away, in which case you can choose from beer-battered New Zealand hake, calamari, fish schnitzel or grilled prawns to accompany your chips. If you want to ‘think outside the box’ (boom boom), then you can order New England-style lobster rolls, Thai fish cakes and chilli prawns.
Where: Watson’s Bay
There are few Sydney seafood restaurants as legendary as Doyle’s, smack bang on the sand at Watson’s Bay in the eastern suburbs. Arrive here by ferry from Circular Quay, then choose your dining option: the Garden Beach, or Doyle’s on the Beach. The former is casual, and a self-serve affair where you can enjoy fish-and-chips with views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The latter is more formal. But at both, you can order your catch of the day – whether whiting, barramundi, snapper or flathead – to be golden fried in beet batter and served with chips, a garden leaf salad and an epic chilli-plum sauce.
A group of waterside hospitality venues across Sydney. The Boathouse delivers some of the finest seafood dining in Australia. Perhaps the most iconic location is at Balmoral Beach in Sydney’s Northern Suburbs, but wherever you choose to dine you’re guaranteed seriously good fish and chips. It’s a staple. Other favourites include local oysters, a trout board, charred baby squid and grilled tiger prawns.
Where: Rushcutters Bay
Located within the Royal Australian Navy Sailing Association, The Navy Bear is smack bang on the water with views of the Harbour Bridge and bobbing yachts. It’s only open for breakfast and lunch, and if you come for the latter, there are only a handful of items on the menu. But boy, does the order of fish and chips rock your world – it’s sustainably caught, skin-on, and served with homemade tartare. Heaven. In other news, there are also delish fish tacos, vegetable poke bowls and chicken burgers. But go for the fish and chips.
If dreamy locations are your thing, then you’ve come to the right place. Fish Face enjoys a prime position just steps from the harbour. And its menu reflects its location. The traditional fish and chips enjoy a pride of place on the menu. It’s that good. But then you can supplement your order with seafood chowder, fish curry, snapper-and-prawn pie, half-shell scallops, tuna crudo… this place is heaven for seafood lovers.
Where: Surry Hills
This award-winning seafood restaurant is tiny, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in flavour and personality. A go-to is the flathead with chips and garden salad. Most people leave it at that. But if you need to branch out, choose from barramundi with gnocchi, monkfish with avocado salsa, glorious fish pie or, perhaps, a more-ish seafood soup. Fish not your thing? There are scallops, oysters, prawns and calamari, prepared in various ways.
Serving up ocean-fresh fish just steps from the waves for almost 20 years, this establishment is a Bondi favourite. The vibe is as relaxed as the menu: think tempura-battered New Zealand hoki with the crispiest chips you’ll ever taste. Or barramundi grilled with a Cajun sauce. There are also fish tacos and burgers, as well as loaded sharing boxes – perfect if you’re heading to Bondi Beach for a picnic. Don’t forget to pick up half-a-dozen oysters.
Where: Crow’s Nest
The quality of the seafood here is hard to beat, but the atmosphere is just how we like it: pared back, and chilled out. The fish and chips is the stuff you will talk about long after you return home, the hake perfectly battered and deep fried, and served with thick-cut chips and tartare. Order it alongside a salmon-and-hake pie, Sicilian fish stew, sardine sliders and prawns in garlic butter. Another highlight is the seafood cooked over coals: order salmon, barramundi, tuna and more.