Sydney's top outdoor cafes
Discover the best Sydney cafes with outdoor seating for you (and the rest of your brunch crew) to tick off when the sun is shining.
The Grounds of Alexandria
Great for: When you need a cafe with space for the kids to let out their inner animal.
The Grounds of Alexandria describes itself as a "cafe, restaurant & bar, garden, bakery and patisserie, coffee roastery, animal farm, florist, markets and more." We couldn't have said it better ourselves; it truly is a one-stop shop.
This multi-faceted, refurbished industrial space has become a favourite for brunchers and lunchers of all ages. Come for a takeaway brekkie and let the kids roam around The Grounds Garden, which features fresh flowers and live farm animals. For those after a more adult experience, you can sit outside for lunch or dinner at The Potting Shed. It's like a giant version of your friend's swanky back patio in the best possible way, complete with plenty of plants and comfy wooden benches.
For similar vibes north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, check out The Greens in North Sydney, which has a huge patio space and plenty of green for littlies and bigs to enjoy. And if you're in the city and hop off at Town Hall Station to head to work, you can walk across George Street and grab a cup of coffee (without the farm animals) and a pastry at The Grounds of the City.
Location: The Rocks
Great for: A coffee with a splash of culture and one of the best views in Sydney.
At the MCA Cafe on the MCA Terrace of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, you don't have to pretend to understand anything about art. No need to furrow your brow with your hands on your chin while wondering if you've faked it long enough to move on. Instead, you'll get a view you'll be more than happy to soak in.
Located on one of the museum's roofs, the gorgeous views of Sydney Harbour, including the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, alone make this one of the best outdoor cafes in Sydney. As you can imagine, it's a stunning backdrop for a coffee or tea and something sweet.
Best for: Fuelling up after a visit to the park.
Got little ones in tow? Look no further. This parkside cafe – aptly named Outfield – makes the perfect breakfast stop after an hour or two kicking the footy or pushing the kids on the swing. Feeling like an extension of a friend’s backyard, there is no limit to the outdoor seating: simply borrow a blanket and get settled on your own patch of grass among the locals.
The menu is picnic-appropriate (in fact, the cafe does takeaway picnic hampers if you’re interested) with items such as smoked salmon bagels with lemon myrtle caper labneh, bacon and egg rolls with hash browns and onion jam, and mushroom toasties with pepita butter.
The Flying Bear
Great for: Delicious dishes on the dock with wonderful views to match.
The Flying Bear in Kirribilli sits a bit hidden on the wharf at the Sydney Flying Squadron. As if that doesn't sound cool enough on its own, this waterside location will have you eating with views out over the wonderfully named Careening Cove.
Tasty brekkie bites include muffins, breads, granola and standard sides, while for lunch you can choose from sandwiches, salads and more. But don't leave until you've had some fries. Whether you get them on the side with a wagyu beef burger or your fish and chips or add them to another meal, they're a must.
Three Blue Ducks
Great for: Those fuelled by friends, family and sustainable food.
What makes Three Blue Ducks one of Sydney's best outdoor cafes is that it feels like a little oasis tucked into the industrial backstreets of Rosebery. Of course, the natural, local produce doesn’t hurt either – especially when the Argentinian grill in the garden gets fired up.
Built on strong foundations of mateship and ethical food, the menu is constantly rotating to make use of what's fresh and in season, from green bowls brimming with kale, avocado, nori and edamame to indulgent bacon and egg rolls slathered in smoked paprika aioli. But some things, like the incredible flavours and laid-back vibes, are always on offer.
Location: Dee Why
Great for: A massive menu of goodies made with care throughout the Northern Beaches.
With a focus on honest food and friendly service, the crew at Northern Beaches staple Girdlers wants to make your brunch experience less a transaction and more an interaction. You'll find much of the classic Sydney beachside cafe health fare, including smoothie bowls and fresh juices and plenty of veggie options cooked with locally sourced produce.
Most of the huge menu is gluten-, dairy- and refined sugar-free so you don't have to guess what icky extras are hiding in your dish. Don't be afraid to go for it with one of the signature sweet (including caramel dreaming, butter sugar lemon) or savoury (veggie patch, salmon) crepes that set this menu apart from some of its contemporaries.
In all, there are four locations spread throughout the Northern Beaches (Dee Why, Avalon, Manly and Warringah Mall). The first one is the pick of the bunch, located across the street from the wonderful Dee Why Beach.
Best for: An indulgent brunch listening to the lapping waves of the ocean.
Next Door has been such a hit with locals since opening its doors back in 2016, that it has to launch a dinner menu alongside its popular breakfast creations for its adoring fans. Oh, and did we mention that the cafe neighbours the pretty North Cronulla Beach?
Head chef follows the philosophy that you should only serve what you love to make to your friend, and the menu certainly reflects this mantra. From ‘eggs your way’ and avocado on toast to more multicultural plates such as nasi goreng, jalapeno corn fritters and miso cabbage with king brown mushrooms, sesame cashew cream and pumpkin seed dukkah, it’s impossible to order wrong.
Great for: People watching while enjoying the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street.
Nestled on the corner of the iconic Taylor Square and Oxford Street, Cafe Freda’s offers outdoor seating aplenty out the front of the new eatery – and sitting streetside here, one could easily imagine themselves to be kicking back with a coffee in the likes of Berlin or Amsterdam.
Chef Xinyi Lim is running the kitchen, creating a small, ever-changing menu focused on locally sourced, seasonal produce. Depending on the day, plates could range from organic sourdough with XO shiitake butter to tostadas topped with smoked mussels, aioli and Aleppo.