In this bustling city, where sun-kissed shores meet cosmopolitan charm, romantic allure takes shape in bars and restaurants that could grace the pages of Architectural Digest. These dining establishments extend their appeal beyond gastronomic experiences, offering spaces adorned with pastel hues and sustainable materials, booths and dining rooms that encourage connection and intimacy.
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, seeking a quiet escape with your significant other, or simply indulging in a romantic evening, here are Sydney’s most romantic restaurants.
Rafi’s playful spirit and maximalist blend of materials and colour combination is the perfect backdrop for a first date when you want to keep it casual and fun. There’s no pressure here. The menu is packed with Mediterranean flavours and dishes designed to share, including crispy eggplant and king prawns with chilli miso butter. However, if we may suggest one dish, it’s the South Coast tuna with tomato, tahini, and fragrant chilli oil. You won’t regret it.
Looking for somewhere moody with good wine and shareable plates? Head to Gildas. This moody Basque-inspired wine bar has a feminine touch with warm interiors. Whether you’re snuggled in a banquet seat or stooped at the bar, you’re guaranteed romance here, complete with slices of Jamon Iberico and Spanish wines.
Tucked away in an inner-city laneway is Beau, a small, narrow wine bar. With most tables set for two, this venue is primed for a romantic rendezvous after work. The menu is rich with small share plates, such as a mafaldine pasta with shiitake XO and a seared beef tartare served on a crispy golden hash brown. The cocktail list is long; the wine list is longer.
Less moody and more ‘wow factor,’ Kiln will impress your date with its uniquely Australian colour palette and hyperlocal menu, highlighting seasonal produce. Pull up a funky chair at the bar or settle into a comfy banquet seat with skyline views. Ideal for day or night, Kiln is the ideal first date and date night destination.
If you really need to impress, slink away for Euro-glam at The Charles. The building’s heritage is perfect for channelling France’s grand brasseries, though the decor has a contemporary touch. There are several seating options, including a private banquet seat for two and longer tables and booths for double dates. Either way, the dining room is chic, whether you’re meeting someone for brunch or a steak dinner. There’s a roving dessert trolley, too, because nothing screams romance more than sharing a sweet dessert.
Italians are romance experts, even more so than the French. At Bar Morris, love is in the air. Nestle into a booth for some privacy, or pull out an armchair and peruse the menu of Italian classics. Sip on Negronis or go straight to a bottle from Piedmont. Don’t worry too much about it being a hotel lobby bar. It looks nothing like one, and let’s face it, hotel bars are the original dating destination.
Hubert is as iconic as it gets. Nestled in the heart of the city, slink downstairs and be transported to 1930s Paris with its charming ambience and legendary French cuisine. The dim lighting, live music, and underground setting are primed for intimate dining moments. Indulge in their classic French dishes like escargots de Bourgogne, coq au vin, and perfectly prepared steak frites.
Another French restaurant serving a romantic setting is Loulou in Milsons Point. At night, the lights are dimmed, the music is soft, and the couples are cosy in banquet seats. Head chef Ned Parker, with experience at Michelin-starred establishments, crafts a menu brimming with unapologetically French dishes. The John Dory is a must-try dish. It comes bathed in a champagne sauce.
Poetica is a sophisticated and relaxed bar and grill in North Sydney from the team behind Loulou. Natural light floods the dining room with four intimate outdoor terraces, making it an ideal destination for a romantic summer evening. On the menu, expect Sydney rock oysters with melted beef fat dripped from a red-hot cast-iron cone, resulting in a delightful combination of nduja and guindilla pepper. To start your culinary journey, pair the oysters with crispy focaccia di recco while perusing the rest of the menu.
Need a fancy dinner? Ora in Waterloo is a moody, dim-lit industrial-style restaurant serving Japanese cuisine from a sushi counter or cosy lounge. ORA’s restaurant blends a sushi menu with dishes drawn from across the Japanese spectrum using only the ingredients. The menu includes the freshest sushi and raw bar, braised and steamed dishes from the kitchen, as well as seafood, meat and vegetables cooked on the charcoal grill.
Opulent, elegant and exuding the old-world charm of a clandestine speakeasy, red velvet booths, chandeliers and vintage furniture offer an enchanting ambience. Cardea sets the stage for romantic moments where laughter fills the air, secrets are whispered, and memories are forged. The bar menu is the focus and is filled with everything from wine to signature cocktails. The bar snacks are well worth your time. The half-moon dumplings, tuna carpaccio, and potato mille-feuille topped with caviar and Wagyu are crowd-favourites.