8 Must-Visit Themed Restaurants in Sydney
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Most of cities we deal with at CityXplora have a clearly defined culinary culture, for example, Munich has its Bavarian eateries, and Barcelona is one of the best places in Spain to enjoy paella outside Valencia. But as a fairly young, cosmopolitan metropolis Sydney's conventions are naturally a little more eclectic. So when our community looks for ideas on where to eat in such places one of the biggest issues that crop up is deciding which slant to take. What flavours and styles should we hone in on? What price range?
Our solution was to focus on establishments which best represent the vast and varied nature of the Sydney food scene. That is, who has taken a great theme, refined it, and turned it a much-loved haunt for locals and tourists alike? After sending out a stack of emails and taking to Twitter and Google+ we gathered together a selection of restaurants that every hungry visitor should check out at least once. Want to savour the flavours of Asia? Eat one of Australia's national symbols? Or immerse yourself in 1950s Americana? Read on.
1) Doughbox Diner (137 Enmore Road, Enmore NSW 2042):
Our first suggestion came from the foodies at 'Sydney's Best Cafes' via Twitter @sydneycafes. Though we wouldn't say it's within walking distance of the CBD it is a place well worth visiting if you love your classic US diners. Doughbox Diner proudly embodies all the kitsch and culture of one of America's most recognisable (and easily parodied) decades. With its beautifully kitted-out interior and charmingly decorated frontage Doughbox Diner will surround you in the sights, sounds and mannerisms of a US that saw the likes of Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean become the icons they are today.
Though you might be expecting typical American fare such as burgers and fries the Doughbox does away with this in favour of something unique. They specialise in savoury crepe cones, a treat devised by co-owner George during his time in Athens. Try their number 1 best-selling variety, the 'Avacado Bite', stuffed with chicken, bacon, mushrooms, spring onion, tomato, avocado, sour cream and cheese! We also like the look of their 'Inferno' crepe, featuring jalapeños and garlic, and the 'Cheesy Chorizo'.
As for desert, the crepe cones come in a variety of sweet flavours. You can even ask for it to be topped-off with lashings of whipped cream. Very indulgent we think, just don't forget that cherry on top! Note that the crepes haven't displaced everything in the diner, there's still a host of thick and creamy milkshakes.
2) Hinky Dinks (185 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst NSW 2010):
The ever helpful Like A Local Guide put us in touch with digital project manager and content creator Toby Leon (@Toby_Leon), whose first suggestion was Hinky Dinks, a little bar with an exquisitely polished American theme in the suburb of Darlinghurst. Whereas the Doughbox Diner is more black leather jackets and Chuck Berry, Hinky Dinks conjures up (in our opinion) snappy suits and Miles Davis. It's a place where you can escape the trappings of daily life or just chill out amidst retro vibes after a long day exploring the sights of Sydney.
Modelled after a classic 1950s tiki bar, Hinky Dinks boasts a black and white checkered floor, red vintage bar stools and moody, leather-clad drinking booths. Owners Jeremy Shipley and Dan Knight strive to offer food and cocktails that epitomise the spirit of the era, a time of stellar economic growth, cultural liberalism and general post-war optimism. Enjoy punchy concoctions such as the Lady of Love, Hinky Fizz and the Sophomore Slump. To sate your appetite Hinky Dinks' chefs can whip up a mean cheeseburger, pulled pork taco, Dinky dog and much more. Check out some of the photos on the right provided courtesy of Dan to get a feel for the atmosphere that awaits.
You can read what Toby himself had to say about Hinky Dinks here.
3) Mr. Wong (3 Bridge Lane, Sydney NSW 2000):
Our next eatery pulls us back to modern times and into Sydney's Central Business District. Toby's second suggestion is a place he recommends if you have a few pretty pennies to spare on one of the capital's classiest dining experiences. Cantonese dishes and traditional Chinese decor from the colonial period come together in one fantastic space. Try a delight from either their lunch & dinner menu or a hearty group dish from the banquet menu. There's also a huge selection of wines and cocktails on offer.
4) Pancakes On The Rocks (4 Hickson Road, The Rocks NSW 2000):
Now this turned out to be a popular one. Pancakes On The Rocks derives one half its name from its location, The Rocks locality just south of Dawes Point. The other half comes from its famous menu, a delectable tome of sweet and savoury pancakes. Established in the 1960s after its founders took an inspirational road trip across America it's now arguably the best place in the state capital to this popular and versatile dish. For breakfast you can order everything from a simple 'Pancake Egg N' Hash' to a full and satisfying 'Aussie Sunrise'. During the rest of the day the pancakes and crepes come with accompaniments as diverse as Thai Chicken and Potato Au Gratin.
If you or another person in your group isn't so keen on pancakes then there's also a stack of gourmet pizzas, grilled goodies and salads to choose from. Pancakes On The Rocks was suggested by long-time globetrotter and blogger Adam via Twitter @travelsofadam. Check out his blog for stories and tips relating to other worldwide destinations, from the nations of the Levant to South-East Asia.
5) El loco (64 Foveaux Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010):
Love Mexican food in an authentic Mexican atmosphere? There's no going wrong with the compact and quirky El Loco on Foveaux Street. Bring along the friends and family and dig into a cheesy Chorizo Quesadilla or one of their signature tortillas. El loco's second selling point is its drinks. Ever tried a fruity tequila slushie or a Jalapeno Margarita? Personally I haven't because I can't stand tequila, but what I would get right into is one of their numerous Mexican beers.
El Loco was suggested by Sydney food blogger Olivia via twitter @madameinsydney.
6) Wolfie's Bar and Grill (27 Circular Quay West, The Rocks NSW 2000):
When I first decided to write this blog piece Wolfie's Bar and Grill was the sort of restaurant I had in mind, the kind of atmosphere and menu I'd seek out if I were visiting Sydney. Located on the western end of Sydney Cove next to Circular Quay Wolfie's epitomises modern Australian cuisine. In addition to dishes from all around the world they serve up fresh fish straight from the local markets and their grill even includes kangaroo loin fillet with crocodile tail medallions. Come on, you know that's something you need to try at least once.
Whatever you choose to snack on know that you can do so in one of the state capital's most beautiful locations. Each of the rooms inside the main building sport bare sandstone brick walls, exposed wooden beams and hardwood floors, elements that harken back to its days as a storehouse. Alternatively you can sit outside on the waterfront terrace, a beautifully lit and sheltered area that lies within view of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Wolfie's Bar and Grill was the first suggestion we received from Justin Maynard, Tourism Co-ordinator for the Sydney and Bondi Explorer Bus Tour.
7) Doyles on the Beach (11 Marine Parade, Watsons Bay NSW 2030):
Justin's second recommendation takes us to the pristine beaches of Watson's Bay. Doyles have a number of restaurants in and around the CBD but this one in the eastern suburbs is particularly renowned for its captivating views of Sydney Harbour, tables on the sand, and historical significance. What's so historical about it? According to Doyles' site it was first purpose-built seafood restaurant in Australia, having been opened in 1885. Five generations later and Doyles on the Beach is still a family owned and operated business. Expect top quality, excellent service, and an attention to detail that can only be achieved through more than a century's worth of passion and experience.
Doyles' manager Karen was kind enough to provide, along with the pictures on the right, a few words about what it is that makes Doyles restaurant a stand out place: "Doyles is a family owned now 5th generation seafood restaurant which has amazing panoramic views across Sydney harbour, we pride ourselves on serving fresh seafood which is delivered daily from the Sydney fish markets".
8) 360 Bar & Dining (Level 4, 100 Market St, Sydney NSW 2000):
Justin's last recommendation leaves us on a literal high point, way above the building tops of the CBD. The 360 Bar & Dining is a revolving establishment located on the upper levels of Sydney Tower. It's divided into two parts, the bar and restaurant, both of which exude a classy ambience with their golden lighting, mahogany panelling and cream surfaces. Every hour or so they complete a full revolution, meaning that as you enjoy your meal you can look out across the darked cityscape and admire one of Sydney's most spectacular views. Dinner is served from 17:30-19:00 each day of the week.