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Danielle Alvarez’s Favourite Places to Eat and Drink in Sydney

Danielle Alvarez best restaurants Sydney

Danielle Alvarez says one thing Sydney’s dining scene has a great culture of young chefs doing cool things. They’re independent, creating delicious meals and being really bold.

“And then you have this great mix of other international cultures,” she says. “I’ve had probably some of the best Thai, Chinese, Lebanese food of my life in Sydney — and a lot of it is quite affordable and not too far from the city centre.”

In Sydney, you can get every type of cuisine you want, says Alvarez, former head chef of hatted restaurant Fred’s and current culinary director of Opera House’s events venues. She’s seen the dining scene change drastically in the last decade, with two major changes standing out: a rise in bakeries across the city and the introduction of European wine bar culture.

“I think something else in Sydney is that every restaurant that opens these days has the most beautiful, incredible fit-out,” Alvarez says. “It’s like Sydney won’t accept anything else.”

Ahead, Alvarez shares some of her favourite spots in Sydney to try that wine bar culture, and where else she eats and drinks. From a restaurant she arrives at as soon they open their doors for dinner because they don’t take reservations, to a fine dining venue she’s been to too many times to count, these is Alvarez’s edit of the best restaurants and bars in Sydney.

Café Paci

Among the wine bars in Sydney, Alvarez says Café Paci on King Street in Newtown is her favourite. She recommends going for lunch or dinner. The venue serves its take on Modern Australian alongside an extensive wine, beer and cocktail list.

“The menu changes all the time and I’ve yet to taste anything I didn’t like there,” Alvarez says. “I would probably always order some of Paci’s bread because it’s just amazing. He puts this sweet glaze on the outside. It’s incredible.”

Alvarez also recommends ordering the fish crudo, and, if it’s on the menu in summer, a “sensational” corn-filled pasta with fermented chilli.

10 William Street

Another of Alvarez’s favourite Sydney wine bars is 10 William Street in Paddington, where she goes for late dinners and always orders the pretzel.

“I think it’s the only thing that’s been on the menu for as long as they’ve been open,” she says. “But then I go for pasta and I might finish with a steak, if I I want that.”

Ante

Though Ante, also on King Street in Newtown, isn’t exactly a wine bar – it’s a sake bar – Alvarez says it also has a similar feel. Ante doesn’t take reservations so Alvarez says she likes to arrive just as they open to guarantee a table.

“Jemma [Whiteman]’s food is amazing and the way her partner Matt [Young runs the floor,” she says. “And all the beautiful, amazing, artisanal sakes. It’s just a totally unique experience.”

Sean’s

Alvarez says her all-time favourite Sydney restaurant, in general, is Sean’s in Bondi. Opened in 1993, the restaurant along Campbell Parade, serves a set three-course menu for lunches and dinners. Alvarez says she’s dined there too many times to count.

“The thing I love about Sean’s is that he focuses on the produce and where things come from,” she says. “The menu changes all the time. I’ve probably never had the same thing there twice. The roast chicken is always on the menu, but he [Sean Moran] does variations on it.”

She recommends you start with the bread before mains, and to save room for dessert. As for when to go, she says it’s best to be there for lunch, so you can appreciate the décor and views of Bondi in daylight.

“After lunch, I move outside and sit on the sidewalk,” she says. “[I stay] until they kick me out, I just don’t want to leave. It combines Sydney culture, the beaches – you couldn’t put that restaurant anywhere else.”

Fratelli Paradiso

Also on Alvarez’s Sydney restaurant circuit is Fratelli Paradiso off Macleay Street in Potts Point, which she says serves some of the freshest, lightest Italian food she’s ever had.

“Trish [Greentree, head chef] is such a beautiful cook,” Alvarez says. “I’ve been to Fratelli over the years, like hundreds of times, and I feel like recently, her food is just really banging. The pastas. She uses a lot of vegetables coming from small farms around Sydney.”

Baba’s Place

Next up on Alvarez’s Sydney restaurant hit list is Marrickville eatery Baba’s Place, which she calls “funky, but so clever”.

“I think JP [Jean-Paul El Tom] is such a clever chef,” she says. “He’s melding suburban cultures of Sydney. You might have a dish that could have Chinese influences, Lebanese influences — whatever. And the inside décor is just wild.”

Set in a warehouse, the restaurant feels like you’re in a grandmother’s home, she says, with antique furniture and plastic overtop tablecloths.

Marrickville Pork Roll

A casual eatery favourite of Alvarez’s, which she says is shared by many other Sydney foodies, is Marrickville Pork Roll. The takeaway and dine-in Vietnamese venue has three locations in Sydney and, Alvarez says, is where you’ll find some of the best pork rolls in Sydney.

“I like to get the crispy pork belly pork roll,” she says. “It’s so incredibly delicious. And there’s always a queue right around the block.”

Lankan Filling Station

Another casual eatery on Alvarez’s radar is Lankan Filling Station, with food inspired by traditional Sri Lankan flavours, but through an Australian lens.

“O Tama Carey is the chef-owner of that restaurant,” she says. “I always get the hot-buttered cuttlefish and the pan rolls — those you have to get. But really everything she does. The hoppers, the sambas, sometimes she’ll do biryani. It’s fun, it’s lively.”

Alvarez has been for both lunch and dinner, but prefers the vibe at dinner, with the venue beautifully lit.

Lucky Kwong

Finally, the last casual eatery Alvarez recommends is Lucky Kwong on Locomotive Street in Eveleigh, which she recommends visiting for lunch.

“Kylie [Kwong] does this incredible fusion of native Australian cuisine with her Chinese heritage cooking,” she says. “My favourite is the deep-fried eggs with homemade chilli sauce. She also does this tuna tartare with fresh pancakes that are to die for. It’s only available for lunch, Mondays to Fridays, but it’s excellent and good value.”

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