9 Restaurants and Bars in Sydney That Will Transport You to Europe

european restaurants and bars sydney

A new wave of European-style restaurants has graced Sydney with Basque-inspired wine bars, Parisian ‘cave à vins,’ and moody Italian trattorias. Why? We’re not sure, but we don’t care because flights to Europe are sky-high right now, so we’re escaping into a Spanish wine bar sampling tapas and wines until we forget we’re not strolling the cobblestone streets of San Sebastian.

If you’d like to join, simply stroll up to any of these restaurants and bars and enjoy the journey.

european bars and restaurants sydney
Photo: Deux Frères

Deux Frères

If you’ve ever been to San Sebastian, you would be familiar with pintxos — the small bite-sized snacks, usually served on bread. They’re often accompanied by a pitcher of sangria or glass of vermut. Turns out you can get the same experience in Sydney, thanks to the city’s first dedicated Basque pintxos bar, buried in the Quay Quarter Lanes, with a sunny terrace and cosy indoor seating too. The menu is filled with pintxos and tapas, ranging from tinned fish to tomatoes stuffed with goat’s cheese and sprinkled with olive crumb. For something more substantial, they have bigger plates. The squid is a must-try for seafood lovers. Something to drink? They have cocktails and spins on classics, like the Bilbao negroni; there are some French and Spanish beers hovering around, and of course, the classic housemade sangria — available in white or red. If you want to channel the Basque way, order a vermut from the long list of red or white. You can also order wines by the glass or bottle, hailing from Basque country and some from France.

european restaurants and bars sydney
Photo: @gildas_surryhills


Surry Hills
Step into Gildas and immediately be transported to San Sebastian, where Lennox Hastie spent time in the foothills of the Basque country. The dim lighting and warm rustic atmosphere will keep you cosy all night. The menu is a homage to pintxo, a San Sebastian delicacy made of three simple ingredients: guindilla pepper, an olive, and an anchovy. The best part, diners can expect the same exceptional food quality you would find at Firedoor, but with a much smaller price tag.

european restaurants and bars sydney
Photo: Natasha Bazika


North Sydney
The idea of dining in North Sydney has changed, thanks to a tasteful new restaurant and bar. Rafi is a multidimensional venue, offering a semi-alfresco glass house named The Arbor which wraps around an outdoor tree-lined terrace, with a European ambience. Inside, fresh pastels, marble mosaics, terracotta tiles, and patterned tones of mustard, pull from every corner of the Mediterranean, from Morocco to Cyprus. The menu is Australian, using local ingredients touched by fire, or simply dressed in ponzu sauce or bathing in miso butter. The bar menu plays with Native Australian ingredients and wines. Everything here is fresh and light and will transport you straight to the Mediterranean.

european restaurants and bars sydney
Photo: Steven Woodburn

Lil Sis

Missing the ‘cave a’ vins’ of Paris? Lil Sis is a new late-night wine bar and shop inspired by the drinking dens in Paris, except this one has a DJ spinning French-inspired lounge disco tunes and it’s open until 2 am. Enter the cosy neighbourhood wine shop via the terraces on Abercrombie Street and either pick up a bottle to take away or pull up a chair at the communal tasting table and start sipping. Keen to settle in? Head upstairs to the moodily lit wine bar and get comfortable in a booth or grab a seat at the bar. Order the jaffles for a late-night snack, or graze on local cheese and cured meats. 

european restaurants and bars sydney

Pellegrino 2000

Surry Hills
This hole-in-the-wall Italian joint is the perfect place to indulge in a big bowl of saucy prawn ravioli swimming in rich brown butter and sage sauce and sip Italian drops. Inside, the walls are adorned with packets of pasta, vintage photos, and exposed brick walls on the footpath with limited seating. Downstairs, retreat to the wine cellar for a romantic atmosphere with dim lighting. In a few seconds, you will forget you’re in Sydney.

european restaurants and bars sydney
Photo: Kitti Gould

Bar Lucia

Potts Point
Find yourself in Madrid, when you stumble into the new wine bar and restaurant, Bar Lucia. Mimicking the elegant architecture from the streets of Madrid, expect an opulent interior, romantically strewn blooms, candelabras and art. The wine list leans more toward Australian drops than Spanish, but the food menu is all tapas. Key menu highlights include Jamon Iberico Bellota Puro, and roast sea scallops on the half shell with saffron butter. The cocktails are a favourite. Try Lucia’s Cheesecake, a liquid version of Lucia’s favourite dessert. 

european restaurants and bars sydney
Photo: @barlasalut

La Salut

In Redfern, a taste of Barcelona awaits. Enter through the pink doors to find a wine shop on the right and an intimate wine bar on the left. Inside, arches, neutral colours, and natural lighting keep things light, modern, and simple. The menu follows a similar philosophy focusing on Catalonian flavours designed to share. Think plates of shaved Jamon Serrano, salmon belly pincho topped with salsa verde, and grilled artichoke with anchovy aioli. The wine menu spans 200 bottles, spotlighting groundbreaking and contemporary winemakers in Barcelona. There’s a deep well of vermouth to explore. 

european restaurants and bars sydney
Photo: @paskivineriapopolare

Paski Vineria Popolare

Paski is another bottle shop, restaurant-hybrid, modelled after the enotecas of Italy. Downstairs, you will find a casual bar and bottle shop, where you can pick up quality drops from Italy, and drink it at the restaurant for a small corkage fee. You can also BYO. Upstairs, sink into banquet seating, surrounded by exposed brick walls and religious cartoon-style art. The restaurant serves an extensive range of handmade pasta dishes and seafood.

european restaurants and bars sydney
Photo: @parlarpottspoint


Potts Point
Located next to Franca in the heart of Potts Point, the 55-seat Parlar (to speak in Catalan) is an ode to Becher’s love for Barcelona and the French coastline. From the design to the food and drink menus, Parlar is heavily influenced by a combination of Catalan and Mediterranean culture and cooking. The wine list is a postcard to the Mediterranean, focusing heavily on the varieties that dot the sun-baked shoreline from Spain, to the tip of the Italian boot.

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