While beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, there’s no doubt Sydney is home to some of the most resplendent restaurants in Australia. With striking design, sophisticated cuisine and intimate vibes, these design-forward dining spots are perfect for the aesthetic-obsessed. You’ll find restaurants overlooking the ocean, perched near the harbour, with Instagram-worthy retro vibes and knockout locations overlooking the city skyline. The food and wine list are pretty stellar too. From an underground French bistro to a plush and moody beachside eatery, here are some of Sydney’s prettiest restaurants you should book for an unforgettable evening.
1. Restaurant Hubert
With live jazz every day of the week, a spiral staircase that leads to a moodily lit dining room, red velvet curtains and French food extraordinaire, dining at Restaurant Hubert is an experience for the books. The atmosphere will throw you back to a Casablancaesque era with old-school romantic vibes taking centrestage. Three bars, a large dining room, romantic private dining rooms, a 100-seat theatre and an art-house cinema make up the sprawling space. Hubert is also famous for its steak and wine.
The menu is a reflection of the restaurant’s love for all things Paris with highlights like the Gnocchi Parisienne with pan fried choux pastry, Porcini, asparagus and parmesan, lush Mushroom au Poivre with confit field mushroom and peppercorn sauce, beef tartare and more. You’ll want to book in advance if you want to secure a spot. Head here to make a reservation.
You’ll probably have to do some budgeting for a night out at Bennelong but the food, location and overall visually satisfying experience are worth it. Housed inside the Sydney Opera House, the luxe dining spot comes with striking floor-to-ceiling harbour views, fine Australian cuisine, a top-notch wine list featuring 200 Australian labels and impeccable service.
On the menu, you’ll find true blue Aussie items like sausage rolls, toasties and Sydney rock oysters along with Sashimi scallops, Mud crab congee chawanmushi and more. Dining at Bennelong comes with a significant dose of chutzpah so reserve this one for a special occasion; the Bennelong Bar is also perfect for a pre-opera cocktail. Make a booking here.
3. Shell House Dining Room & Terrace
Spread over three levels, the Shell House blends elegance with approachability and each level packs a punch. The ground floor is home to a fancy bar and bistro, Menzies Bar with marble floors and European charm and the top floor is where you’ll find Sky Bar with a generous bird’s eye view of the Sydney skyline. The one you want to look out for is the stunning Shell House Dining Room & Terrace on the second floor with lush Art Deco interiors, a dining room with cosy curved booths and tiled flooring.
Sit back and enjoy the light flooding in through its floor-to-ceiling glass doors that offer all the views. The Mediterranean-style menu includes a selection of seafood from Australia and New Zealand, old and new wines from around the world and carefully sourced produce. Book a spot here.
A classic on the restaurant scene, if you’re looking for a quintessential Sydney dining experience, Aria should be high up on your list. Dinner for two will cost you somewhere around $1000 but in exchange, you’ll be treated to an elegant dining experience you won’t soon be forgetting. Its most prominent feature is its jaw-dropping views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the shells of the Sydney Opera House.
The seasonal menu is eclectic and supports Australia’s finest suppliers with executive chef Tom Gorringe at the helm. Aria’s earned its spot as one of Sydney’s finest restaurants, so much so that Gordon Ramsay is bringing his eponymous restaurant here for a three-day residency.
Make a reservation here.
Located in the Coogee Pavilion, Mimi’s goes big on display and extravagance. There’s a theatrical open kitchen, marble benches, giant windows overlooking the ocean, floral displays, art deco details and pleasing pastel colours rounding out the interiors. It’s all super Instagrammable. Sydneysiders love a good coastal location but you’ll have to shell out a significant amount to dine at this elegant spot.
The eclectic menu offerings include a live seafood menu with mud crab, chilled sea urchin, oysters and lobster. Plus if you’re feeling extra boujee, you can get caviar brought to your table on a trolley. There’s also smoked eel vol au vent, octopus tentacle in fermented chilli and black garlic and grilled lobster with hand-cut noodles. It’s a seafood lovers’ paradise and the stunning ocean views are all part of the show. Make a booking here.
This elegant Middle Eastern restaurant is a relatively new opening in the city but it’s been making waves. Aiming to bring the forgotten ingredients from the Middle East and North Africa to the forefront, Aalia offers a luxe dining experience in the heart of the city. The 150-seat venue comes with a touch of theatrics and panache, combining modern design with traditional Arabic elements.
The ambitious restaurant offering from the team behind Nour will take you on a trip to the Middle East with its vibrant menu. There’s waraq simsim which is sea urchin on a sesame leaf with cumin spiced rice, rock oysters, lamb neck shawarma, quail skewers and more. There’s also a Persian caviar service with each dish made to represent a particular region or era of Arabian culture. Book a table here.
If you love good design to go with your food, Kiln is the spot to go to. Offering sweeping views of downtown Sydney, Kiln is situated 18 stories above Surry Hills with linen adorning its walls, neutral and earthy tones, retractable ceilings and glass walls. The mix-and-match space allows diners to choose from sofas, chairs and barstools in front of an open kitchen and woodfired oven.
To complement its vibey space, the restaurant brings contemporary Australian cuisine along with what it offerings it describes as “Italian-ish” with a nod to Japan and Southeast Asia. There’s market fish crudo with blood lime ponzu and scallion oil, wagyu tartare with smoked mayo, handpicked capers and grilled coral trout with smoked bone sauce. Leave some room for dessert; there’s chocolate sorbet with coconut granita and corn ice cream with popcorn and salted caramel on the menu.
Tetusya’s has earned wide acclaim for its degustation menu both in Sydney and globally. Its Japanese dishes reimagined with classical French techniques are further complemented by the vibrant space in which this stalwart of the restaurant scene is housed. The peaceful art-filled restaurant comes with a zen Japanese water garden, a display of modern art and a Japanese-styled building. Tetsuya’s serves up a degustation menu, based on the Japanese philosophy of using natural seasonal flavours headed by chef Tetsuya Wakuda.
The Kent Street site is closing its doors this August 2023 with the venue on the lookout for a new site in town. Don’t miss out and book a spot here.
Lana is the fine dining offering at the Hinchcliff House mega-venue located inside a heritage wool store in Circular Quay with a view of Customs House to boot. With a lively atmosphere and lovely pink aesthetics with a touch of whimsy, it’s easily one of Sydney’s prettiest restaurants. The menu focuses on seafood and seasonal dishes with highlights including whole-crab fritti served with pepperberry, spring bay mussel catalana with a yuzu kosho mayonnaise and tomato salsa and a special menu offering dubbed the “Play List” – with a number of snackable bites along with playful cocktails.
The decor is super chic and if you have an inclination towards pink places, you’ll want to visit this slick spot asap. Plan your next date night or candlelit catch-up with the crew and don’t forget to snap a selfie.
Check out their full menu here.
Nostalgic and timeless, Misfits’ interiors are chock full of classic elements reminiscent of the 70s. The stylish spot serves up hearty dishes from burgers and pasta to meaty fare along with cocktails and a stacked wine list. The vibe is retro with paisley-printed chairs, gold brass tables and plush velvet stools. You’ll also find a secret room on site that comes with a bookshelf as a door.
Get more info here.