Two things Sydneysiders love are good food and striking views. Combine them together and you’ve got an unforgettable experience. Wherever you are in the city, Sydney doesn’t stop with delivering a striking landscape for restaurants.
At Whalebridge, diners aren’t just looking at the view – they’re part of it. Taking over the site of the much-loved Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, Whalebridge is entirely al fresco with tables lining the edge of the water at Circular Quay. It’s a classic French bistro serving up dishes like bouillabaisse, lobster thermidor, moules mariniere and steak frites, plus oysters are still on the menu. With a chilled glass of champagne on a sunny day, there’s no better place to be.
Set on the rooftop of the historic Customs House building in Circular Quay, a 180-degree panorama of Sydney Harbour unfurls in front of diners at Cafe Sydney. And don’t let the name fool you – this is no cafe. Instead, you can expect an effortlessly stylish dining room, attentive service and a menu that heroes Australian ingredients like Moreton Bay bugs, Queensland prawns, Humpty Doo barramundi and Sydney rock oysters.
At Bennelong, you get the chance to be inside one icon while looking out upon another. Tucked under the famous sails of the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is framed by the unique wooden beams that support the huge windows. On the plate, chef Peter Gilmore creates delicately beautiful dishes inspired by his conversations with Australia’s most passionate producers.
The dining room at Quay has a postcard-perfect view of the Sydney Opera House, directly across the water. Chef Peter Gilmore is in the kitchen here, the mastermind behind the Insta-worthy pretty white coral dessert. Be warned though, if there’s a cruise ship docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, you’ll be looking into the cabins rather than at the sails.
Spread over levels four and five of Millers Point, Henry Deane exudes modern sophistication with uninterrupted Sydney Harbour views, plush comfy seating, copper decals and marbled surfaces. Enjoy a relaxed lunch or dinner with a menu designed to be shared and relished alongside the seamless aquatic backdrop. Visit at night for a cocktail lounge with drinks and the glimmer of city lights reflecting off the water.in
The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf
Somewhat of a local's secret, The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf is precisely that: a destination for pre-theatre dining at the end of Wharf 4/5 at Dawes Point. Boasting some of the best harbour views in Sydney (and an outdoor balcony perfect for soaking them up), you don't need to be attending a show to drop in for lunch, dinner, drinks or bar bites.
Right in the heart of Mosman, you’ll find The Fernery, a luxurious green rooftop oasis. Lush hanging plants and ferns effortlessly combine with 360-degree views of Sydney Harbour, North Head and the CBD skyline. This verdant space and landscape inspire the modern Australian food and drinks menu, utilising ingredients right from the kitchen garden and local produce.
Take in stunning Bathers’ Pavilion. Serving seasonal, modern European cuisine, they’ve got you covered for all occasions from coastal fine dining in the restaurant to chilled all-day dining in the bistro. Enjoy crystal water views filtering through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and open kitchen and dining areas. Soak it all in with their 350-strong wine list, or head upstairs to Betel Leaf for bright nautical style, Thai flavours and panoramic beach views.at the elegantly relaxed
Cottage Point Inn
A true destination dining experience, Cottage Point Inn is hidden away on a quiet bend of the Hawkesbury in the . It’s around an hour’s drive from the city, but it’s much more fun to arrive by boat or take a scenic seaplane flight. The open-air dining room looks out over the calm water, surrounded by lush bushland and a few boats bobbing at anchor. On the plate, it’s a five- or eight-course degustation that changes seasonally, but always has a strong seafood focus.
Perched on a clifftop above the spectacular coastline of Whale Beach, Jonah’s is a fine dining restaurant serving modern Australian cuisine with an Italian twist. Take a seat in the dining room by the floor-to-ceiling windows, or on the terrace to feel the gentle ocean breeze. If you feel like sampling a few vintages from the award-winning 1,600-bottle wine list, there are also 11 gorgeous hotel rooms to check-in to and an infinity pool where the views are pinch-me good.
Ormeggio at The Spit
With a seafood menu (no red meat is served here), crisp Italian wines and a gelato bar – paired with those knockout views of Middle Harbour and the boats bobbing in the D’Albora Marina from the dining room – nowhere in Sydney feels quite as 'Italian Riviera' as this waterside institution by chef-restaurateur Alessandro Pavoni. You'd be forgiven for thinking you are dining on the cliffside of Cinque Terre.
Pilu at Freshwater
Nestled on the gorgeous Freshwater Beach, the two-hatted fine-dining restaurant Pilu at Freshwater encapsulates the essence of Sydney's Northern Beaches. Acclaimed celebrity chef Giovanni Pilu dishes up a NSW produce-inspired Sardinian menu, best enjoyed in the unmatched surroundings of this beautiful Hamptons-inspired beach house during a long lunch or refined dinner. Pick a sunny day to make the most of your visit.
This heritage-listed 100-year-old guesthouse and restaurant in Palm Beach is all about location, location, location. Northern Beaches locals have been meeting and dining here for decades, thanks to the peaceful water views over Pittwater. Stop in for a seafood-heavy long lunch, and be sure to check out the flatbread list. Yes, you read that right: there is a whole list devoted to it, with items ranging from classics like tomato, mozzarella and basil to lobster with béchamel or broccoli with mustard.
Standing tall at the northern edge of the beach, Coogee Pavilion is three levels of dining, drinking and dancing. On the middle level, Mimi’s is an oasis of luxury, complete with tableside bumps of caviar and truffles shaved over anything you like. The views are just as delicious, the rolling waves of Coogee Beach framed by huge arched windows and blush pink walls.
Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel
Dominating the tiny cove of Watsons Bay, this sprawling pub, restaurant and hotel is the ultimate summer playground. With its distinctive blue and white striped umbrellas stepping neatly down to crystal-clear water, huge palm trees and a storybook wharf, you might think you’re at a yacht club in Greece or Italy instead of Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The menu has a Mediterranean feel as well, with antipasti and pasta alongside seafood platters and buckets of fresh prawns.
Icebergs Dining Room and Bar
A go-to for locals and visitors alike, sitting on the cliffs of iconic Bondi Beach, Icebergs still delivers the ultimate waterside dining experience. Modern Italian cuisine pairs perfectly with a breezy seaside atmosphere. With a seasonally changing menu, expect the freshest produce, divine seafood and a taste of native Australia within an intimate setting in the Dining Room. Head to the Bar for a more relaxed atmosphere; elegance continues here with the blend of sweeping views of Bondi and classic Italian style.
Situated along the curving edge of Rose Bay, Catalina serves up a striking waterfront fine dining experience. Executive Chef Mark Axisa and Head Chef Alan O’Keeffe pioneer a bright menu of modern and classic dishes, which stars some of the finest seafood including fresh poached Australian marron, a popular entree. Savour this with a fine drop from the wine list, frequently voted Australia’s best. Wine and dine in a tranquil ambience as you watch ferries and seaplanes pass by, and if you’re lucky, be delighted by the sight of a seal or dolphin.
Sean’s Panaroma is one of the celebrated restaurants in Sydney. Not only because it’s a Michelin star-winning fine diner or at the cutting edge of the industry, but also due to its prime real estate: overlooking the golden sands and lapping waves of Bondi Beach. The restaurant is led by Sean Moran, a renowned chef with a Blue Mountains farm that supplies fresh produce to the venue, so expect a daily set menu of fresh, seasonal plates.
The Boatshed La Perouse
With a dining room that extends out over the sand of Frenchman’s Bay, you can’t get much more waterfront than The Boatshed. The atmosphere is casual, coastal chic, but you won’t get any strange looks if you arrive with sandy feet. Drop in for a bacon and egg roll or ricotta pancakes after an early morning swim or settle in for a long lunch over a heaving seafood platter, lobster mornay or barbecued prawns.
Sealevel Restaurant & Bar
Seafood lovers are drawn to Sealevel Restaurant & Bar in Cronulla for the sights, sounds and flavours. The constantly evolving seafood-based modern Australian menu also takes influence from France and Italy. The circular, smooth design allows for coastline views from every angle of blissful Cronulla Beach.
Located directly off the sand on the south end of Cronulla Beach, this waterfront spot offers a seafood-driven menu all day from Thursday to Sunday, and breakfast and lunch from Monday to Wednesday. Top picks include a brioche prawn roll, a barramundi burger and a whole snapper served with burnt butter and caper berries, but everything from small bites to larger plates are perfect for a post-swim refuel, and the venue is more than welcoming of sandy toes.
Blackfish Cafe & Grill
Established in 1895, Como Pleasure Grounds is a popular park on the edge of the Georges River with swimming baths, playgrounds, bike tracks and walking trails. In the centre is Blackfish Cafe & Grill, a casual dining spot with panoramic views of the river and surrounding bushland. Open every day for breakfast and lunch, it’s both kid and dog friendly, making for a picturesque rest stop when exploring the grounds.
Nick & Nora’s
Step inside a world of glitz and glam at Nick & Nora’s. This cocktail and champagne bar takes you back to the golden era of the 1920s accompanied by dazzling city skyline views on the 26th floor of the V by Crown building in Parramatta. The bar honours the detective novel, The Thin Man, and emulates its exclusive parties, champagne towers and lush cocktails. Enjoy the glamour and view with a selection of world-class caviar, artisanal cheeses and other delicious morsels from their canape-style menu.
Set inside an immaculately restored 1880s stone building on the East Balmain waterfront, The Fenwick offers a unique view of the ‘back side’ of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s open for lunch and dinner every day, with breakfast served on the weekends, offering a rustic Italian menu that includes housemade pasta and lots of seafood. But it’s hard to go past the whole lamb shoulder, a house specialty, with a red wine reduction and garlic and rosemary potatoes.