The 10 Best Outdoor Cafes in Sydney
For some, cafes are a place to grab a latte and read a book or the newspaper (remember the newspaper?). For others, they are weekend staples for big group gatherings, places to spend large chunks of Saturdays and Sundays with coffees in hand and smashed avo, acai bowls and bacon and egg rolls dotting the table. Whatever your preference, finding a quality outdoor cafe in Sydney can be like unearthing treasure. Delicious, scenic treasure. And what's better than treasure? Lots of treasure, especially when the lines for a table get too long.
We've been doing some hunting, and have made a list of some of Sydney's best cafes with outdoor seating for you (and maybe the rest of your brunch crew) to cross off in the coming weeks and months.
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 & patisserie, coffee roastery, animal farm, florist, markets and more." We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
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.
Wild Pear Café
Great for: A calming cafe experience away from the hustle and bustle of the city
Wild Pear Cafe doesn't scream Look at me! Or try too hard to cater to brunch-mad crowds of 20- and 30-somethings. But this outdoor spot's popularity is evident by the masses of people who come out to Dural from all over Sydney to check out what all the fuss is about.
While there is indoor seating, it's the covered deck (complete with heating for chilly winter mornings) that's the real treat. Grab a seat and sip a coffee while overlooking the lush nursery on the grounds. Or really dig into the menu of brunch staples full of ingredients from local producers. Make sure to leave room for a famous rosewater milkshake, and don't forget to make a booking.
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.
The Flying Bear
Great for: Delicious dishes on the dock with wonderful views to match
Spun off from Elizabeth Bay's bird & bear, 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 fueled by friends, family and sustainable food
What makes Three Blue Ducks one of Sydney's best outdoor cafes is that it takes full advantage of its natural surroundings. Natural, local produce combined with the natural atmosphere of nearby Bronte Beach combine to make this a must-visit for any fan of al fresco eating.
Built on strong foundations of mateship and ethical food, the menu is constantly rotating to make use of what's fresh and in season. But some things, like the incredible flavours and laid back beachy vibes, are always on offer.
With a sister location in Rosebery (as well as Brisbane and Byron Bay), you don't have to trek to the Eastern Suburbs to enjoy amazing food. But if you want a true taste of one of the best outdoor cafes in Sydney, you'd be wise to make the original space in Bronte your next stop.
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. Note that the Warringah Mall location doesn't have the great outdoor seating of the others.
Bourke Street Bakery / Black Star Pastry / Sweet Belem / The Flour Shop
Locations: Various locations throughout Sydney
Great for: Making your own outdoor cafe experience with some of the best coffee and baked goods in Sydney
OK, so this might be cheating a bit, as not all of these have their own outdoor seating or the tableside service that many would consider necessary to be deemed a cafe. But there are few better outdoor eating experiences, especially for breakfast, brunch or lunch, in Sydney than grabbing some of the finest baked goods in the city and heading to a nearby park.
The legend of Bourke Street Bakery's amazing coffee and delicious baked goods has steadily grown since opening its doors in Surry Hills. It has become so big that even the sunny shores of Australia couldn't contain it, with a location in New York City opening in 2019. For those on home soil, there are now 12 locations around Sydney (Alexandria, Balmain, Banksmeadow, Barangaroo, Kirrawee, Marrickville, Neutral Bay, Newtown, North Sydney, Parramatta, Surry Hills, Potts Point), most of which have at least a few outdoor tables and stools.
Another tasty pastry stop with Inner West routes, Sweet Belem Cake Boutique will quickly take you from Petersham to Portugal via your taste buds. Known for its amazing Portuguese tarts (as well as an array of other awesome goodies), this spot is one of the jewels of Sydney's Little Portugal.
Black Star Pastry rocketed to fame for its uber-Instagrammable Strawberry Watermelon Cake, of which more than 1 million slices are sold each year. Head to the Roseberry location to watch the cake-making wizards in action, or visit the Newtown, Sydney CBD and Moore Park outposts.
And finally, though The Flour Shop is one of the newest kids on the block, it's already reached the lofty status of the other bakeries on this list. After several high-profile (and deserving) write-ups from some of Sydney's most revered foodies, this Turramurra treat factory has absolutely exploded in popularity. The long line is absolutely worth the wait, and while there's no seating, a park just out the back will give you a bit of space to enjoy your Jerusalem bagels, samosas, croissants and whatever other weekly wonders the team is whipping up.