This inner-city precinct is home to dozens upon dozens of stunningly good eateries, from fine-dining delights to cheap-and-cheerful bites from all over the world.
Sitting just south of the city, and traditionally the home of the rag trade, Surry Hills has morphed into a dining precinct without equal in the past decade. And it’s not just the sheer number of eateries – there are very few cuisines that aren’t being dished up in the 25sq km that comprise this inner-city hub, and at prices that are generally very affordable (with a few exceptions).
You might have to reach a little deeper into your pockets at Firedoor, where chef Lennox Hastie indulges his love for cooking with, in and on fire; and Nomad, acclaimed for its modern Mediterranean flavours – don’t miss the zucchini flowers with truffle honey and pecorino, and the raw hiramasa kingfish.
The Porteño brand continues to expand; its Holt Street empire now includes not just the ever-fabulous and charcoal-fuelled Porteño, but also Italian hotspot Bastardo (the corn agnolotti with brown butter and sage is to-die-for), not-terribly-humble Humble bakery, and Wyno x Bodega wine and tapas bar.
After a taste of Australia? Arthur's ethos is all about simple, ingredient-forward cooking in an intimate 40-seat space. The always popular Dolphin Hotel’s Dining Room offers award-winning modern Australian. Bill's has become a household name thanks to its beloved classic Aussie breakfasts (think scrambled eggs and avocado on toast). Meanwhile at The Blue Door, executive chef Dylan Cashman only serves dishes based on what’s available from his personal network of local producers to create a sustainable all-NSW food menu.
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In the same neighbourhood, not far from Central Station, you’ll also find good Italian at good prices at Mark + Vinny’s; clean Japanese flavours – and page after page of sake offerings – at Izakaya Fujiyama; and, a little further up Devonshire Street, mod-Korean at Soul Dining and fresh-as-fresh fish at corner-store stalwart Mohr Fish.
That brings us close to Crown Street, home to an endless chain of restaurants, cafes and pubs. It’s hard to think of a cuisine that’s not represented on this long food-flooded strip: there’s reimagined Lebanese at Nour (think charcoal Moreton Bay bug with zhug butter and malawach bread), cheap-but-highly-chompable pizza at Vacanza, Tuscan-inspired share plates at Giuls, creative vegan and vegetarian at Yulli's, modern Indian at Masala Theory, and chicken charcoaled the Middle Eastern way at Henrietta.
But wait, there’s more. Chin Chin’s South-East Asian flavours still draw huge crowds to a cavernous (and noisy) warehouse space on Commonwealth Street. Japanese-Peruvian fusion can be found at the innovative Nikkei Bar and Restaurant. At The Excelsior on Foveaux Street (part of the Merivale kingdom), El Loco serves up Mexican and margaritas at very affordable prices, and new-kid-on-the-block Shaffa brings Middle Eastern moreishness to a cool atrium space on Albion Street.
Finally, there’s vegan Mexican at Bad Hombres (baja jackfruit-stuffed taco, anyone?), scrumptious share plates and organic/biodynamic wines at Poly (in the equally hip Paramount House Hotel), and “inauthentic Indian” at the lush pink-and-blue-hued Don’t Tell Aunty on Bourke Street. All fabulously good reasons why you should head to the Hills.