Where To Find The Best Restaurants In Sydney’s CBD

Babylon Rooftop Sydney dishes
Photo by Steven Woodburn

Wander into any suburb in Sydney and you will find a ritzy institution, a hole in the wall slinging Vietnamese street food, and inner-city boltholes dishing up their takes on Italian, Asian-fusion, and Middle Eastern fare. 

Wander the streets of the CBD and you’ll find just that and more, including subterranean French restaurants, a rooftop mezze mecca, and dinner with views of the Harbour Bridge, Barangaroo, and the CBD.

MORE: The 20 Best Sydney Restaurants In Sydney Right Now

Whether you’re looking for after-work bites and a glass of vino, or pre-theatre dinner, here are our top picks of the best restaurants in Sydney’s CBD.

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best restaurants sydney cbd
Photo: Cash Only Diner

Cash Only Diner

Wandering in off the street, you wouldn’t expect the elegant, slightly retro vintage sun-filled restaurant to be a Vietnamese restaurant. Yet it is—a good one at that. Perched above Burrow Bar’s new location on Clarence Street, Cash Only is owner Chau Tran’s love letter to her mum. Tran brings the authentic flavours of Hue, a regional area in Vietnam to Sydney. You won’t find pho or banh mi, instead, expect a refreshing take on spring rolls stuffed with prawn and minced pork, wrapped in a crispy shell and served with nuoc cham for dipping. The star of the show is Com Hen, which is a baby clam rice with broth poured over it. You will also find a caramelised and braised clay pot fish dish, and a Vietnamese take on a pork terrine. As for the drinks, expect a mangroni, which is a delicious mango negroni and plenty of other creative cocktails and a good selection of wines and beer to pair.

best restaurants sydney cbd
Photo: If and When

Chi Chi

Hiding inside the Grosvenor Place building is Chi Chi, a new Pan-Asian bar and restaurant bringing the flavours of Asia to local workers. In the morning, you can get a caffeine fix, and during the day, you can lounge around for a long lunch in the intimate 60-seater venue. In the evening, go for an after-work drink or meet friends for dinner. The cocktails are unexpected and fantastically executed. The use of homemade syrups makes all the difference. While the cocktail menu definitely requires attention, it’s the food we’re most excited about. Think pork belly bao buns, curly fries dusted in seaweed salt and a beef short rib massaman curry as good as the ones you can find in Malaysia.

best sydney restaurants cbd
Photo: Corso Brio

Corso Brio

Barangaroo’s newest dining experience brings a touch of Italian elegance to the precinct. Corso Brio showcases a modern Italian menu and a world-class wine list. The 120-seat restaurant is open six days a week for lunch and dinner and features an a la carte and set menu as well as a selection of antipasti to share. The menu features dishes such as beef carpaccio, New Zealand scampi, Margra lamb shoulder, and Italian meringue and limoncello sponge. You will also find handmade pasta including venison ragu, risotto, tagliatelle, and more.

Quay restaurant Sydney view
Photo: @quayrestaurant


Circular Quay
Quay set the bar for fine dining in Sydney and still remains one of the city’s most celebrated restaurants. Helmed by renowned chef, Peter Gilmore, the waterside restaurant sits in the Overseas Passenger Terminal, commanding views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. There is an eight-course menu available for lunch or dinner and includes highlights such as the poached marron, smoked eel cream, southern squid swimming in chicken broth and Maremma duck served with preserved Morello cherries. Desserts are works of art, just order the white coral to see why.

Restaurant Hubert escargot
Photo: @restauranthubert

Restaurant Hubert

Blight Street
Hidden behind a grand wooden door is a set of old rickety wooden stairs that lead to Sydney’s most revered French dining haunts, Restaurant Hubert. Although there’s more to this place than meets the eye. Its speak-easy vibes are in perfect tune with its Jazz and live music scene, including a tattered grand piano and the deep leather red booths. In terms of food, expect French fare, from caviar service to cheddar souffle, and wagyu tartare. Hubert is great for after-work drinks and dinner, or is popular among the pre-theatre dinner crowd, as the theatres are nearby.

Mr. Wong Sydney restaurant dishes
Photo: @mr.wongsydney

Mr. Wong

Bridge Lane
Mr. Wong is the ultimate destination for Cantonese cuisine. Spread across two levels, you will find a funky interior, followed by over 80 dishes to choose from. There are areas where you can enjoy an intimate dinner, with dim lighting, jazz music, and your won little nook to settle into. As for the rest of the restaurant, it’s fairly open, and meals here are a big affair. There is a $100 minimum spend per person, and tables are booked out weeks in advance, most of the time. On the menu, expect to find mud crab and rock lobster, a selection of dumplings, kung pao chicken, and Singapore noodles with pork and prawn. 

Aria Sydney autumn dish
Photo: @ariarestaurant


Macquarie Street
This unrivalled harbourfront restaurant is a Sydney institution from Matt Moran and Bruce Solomon, dishing up modern Australian cuisine, focused on local produce. Aria commands views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, making it the ideal restaurant for special occasions, after work drinks, romantic date nights, and more. The tasting menu changes seasonally, but expect to taste innovative dishes using what’s available at the time including yellowfin tuna, roast squab, and Borrowdale pork. There is also an a la carte option, featuring dishes such as wagyu short rib, black currant souffle, and steamed Murray cod. While you’re here, don’t forget to order a wine from the list, it has won several awards.

Ragazzi Wine and Pasta dishes
Photo: @ragazziwinepasta

Ragazzi Wine and Pasta

Angel Place
When it comes to pasta, you can’t go past Ragazzi Wine and Pasta. Here, there is a 38-seat wine bar in an industrial setting with textured concrete walls, leather banquette seats, and a wraparound brass bar stocked to the brim with wines. Alongside natural wines, expect to indulge in seriously good pasta dishes, from Cacio e Pepe to mezzelune of beef short rib. You can always let the chef decide if you can’t.

MORE: The Best Cheap Eats In Sydney

Cafe Sydney raw kingfish
Photo: @cafesydney

Cafe Sydney

Customs House
Located on the rooftop of the Customs House are Cafe Sydney, another dining institution with spectacular harbour views, an outdoor terrace, cocktail lounge, and delicious food. The a la carte menu highlights the best of Australian produce including grilled prawn and salt cod croquette, black Angus beef carpaccio, crustacean platter, and Humpty Doo barramundi for main. The award-winning wine list proudly showcases Australian tipples, but also has a few international favourites, particularly in the champagne region. Stop by after work, or enjoy a long lunch with friends on the weekend, Cafe Sydney is ideal on any day of the week.

Bea Restaurant at Barangaroo House
Photo: @barangaroohouse

Bea Restaurant

Bea in Barangaroo is popular among the corporate crowd, but in the afternoon, it’s also a prime meet-up spot, whether it’s friends or a first date. The dishes here are simple but elevated with woodfire grills and a heavy hand. The grilled eggplant with enoki mushrooms and sea succulents is a must. The duck is a crowd-favourite, and the Kingfish Crudo is a great way to start a meal. Because Bea is sandwiched between two bars, it’s a great place to enjoy dinner then go upstairs to Smoke Bar for crafty cocktails. Although, Bea has their own list of simple, classic cocktails.

Matteo Downtown interior
Photo Courtesy Of Matteo Downtown

Matteo Downtown

Bond St
For a taste of Italy, head to Matteo Downtown, which recently reopened in March. The new menu features snacks and pizzas inspired by Chef Orazios travels as a young child in Italy. Snacks include Fremantle octopus and porchetta skewers with romesco sauce and a classic beef tartare sandwich or substantial dishes include pasta Fresca with braised veal and Taluca Park egg yolk. Sip on a Sorbellini, a modern take on an Aperol spritz using passionfruit sorbet, or scroll through the Negroni menu, with five different variations highlighting the history and evolution of the Italian classic.

Woodcut Barangaroo food
Photo: @woodcutrestaurant


Since opening Barangaroo’s Crown Sydney, people have been flocking to the waterside destination, hoping to get a taste of the good life. From world-class restaurants to luxe accommodation, Crown Sydney is definitely an attraction. One of its most popular restaurants is Woodcut, a restaurant that focuses on cooking with wood, charcoal, and steam. The idea here is to order meat or fish and then pair it with sides to share. On the wood grill, you will find a lamb rack and a 1kg T-bone, and on the ash grill, expect wagyu beef skewers, pork belly skewers, and shiitake mushrooms with shisho.

Babylon Rooftop Sydney dishes
Photo by Steven Woodburn

Babylon Rooftop

Pitt Street
Whether you’re looking for a good watering hole for after-work drinks or a meal to share, Babylon Rooftop is always packed with city dwellers indulging in middle eastern fare and vino. Located in the heart of the city, Babylon offers Levant cuisine, also known as the food you would find in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Isreal, including flatbread with za’atar, grilled lambs tongue, whole wood-fired chicken, and slow-cooked lamb shoulder.

Crafted by Matt Moran interior
Photo: @craftedbymattmoran

Crafted By Matt Moran

Art Gallery of NSW
Crafted By Matt Moran sits prettily inside the Art Gallery Of NSW, commanding views over Finger Wharf and Potts Point. They’re open for lunch, serving wholesome Australian flavours including kingfish Crudo, potato gnocchi, roast pork cutlet, and a blueberry and almond crostata for dessert. They’re also open for brunch, serving a menu of classics such as avocado on sourdough and corn fritters to crab sliders and autumn fruit bowl.

MORE: Matt Moran Dishes On His Favourite Sydney Spots

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