The 10 Best Restaurants In Sydney CBD Right Now
— Updated on 18 August 2023

The 10 Best Restaurants In Sydney CBD Right Now

— Updated on 18 August 2023
Chris Singh
WORDS BY
Chris Singh

The heart of the city boasts some of Sydney’s best restaurants. And while Surry Hills, Potts Point, Darlinghurst and Paddington each have a fair share of the city’s finest eateries, you’ll never want for good options in the Sydney CBD.

While we’re keeping track of the hottest openings with our round-up of the best new restaurants in Sydney, we thought it’d be nice for readers to have a quick, concise list of the 10 best restaurants in Sydney CBD. Nothing more, nothing less.



Good Restaurants In Sydney CBD

Clam Bar

Clam Bar Is Sydney's Ritzy New Homage To The Great American Steakhouse
Address: 44 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: (02) 9016 1590
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday (12 PM – 3 PM, 5 PM – 10:30 PM)
clambarsydney.com

Coming from the same crew behind Pellegrino 2000 and Bistrot 916, Clam Bar doesn’t exactly fill a void in Sydney. There’s been no need for another big New York-inspired steak house, especially given the popularity of destinations like The Gidley and Bistecca. Yet, Clam Bar has entered to immediate, and well-deserved, acclaim.

Not only is it currently the hottest restaurant in town but it’s really nailed a lot of these dishes that are liberally lifted from Big Apple favourites like oysters Rockefeller and the classic American steakhouse burger.

Having recently dined at the genuine article in New York, I didn’t feel Clam Bar reminded me of the power-moves-only spots you’d find in Manhattan. To me, it feels like a ‘New York’ aesthetic these days just means dim lighting and well-placed artworks. The flavours, however, were exactly what I wanted.

The customary anchovy toast dish is Sydney’s proverbial flogged-to-death horse right now — still, the kitchen here does it very well. The cheese and bacon burger really is as good as you’ve heard. And do pay attention to the Raw Bar with options like an eye-opening snapper ceviche and classic seafood tower. Of course, the New York Strip needs to be on the table somewhere, and it won’t be so bad if your mate is keen on sharing some of his 1kg porterhouse.


AALIA

aalia prawns
Address: Shop 7-8/25 Martin Pl, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: (02) 9182 5880
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday (12 PM – 10 PM); Saturday (5:30 PM – 10 PM)
aaliarestaurant.com

Two years on and AALIA is still my favourite restaurant in Sydney. The coastal Middle Eastern brief that Paul Farag was given has coaxed the best from the chef and his team. Much like the team’s other restaurant, Nour, AALIA offers an inventive and unexpected take on flavours found across countries like Lebanon and Iraq.

Plus, you’re tucked away from Martin Place, so if you work in the area you might be able to sneak in a marginally longer lunch before you and your team have to be in the office.

As for what to order, get the almond-crumbed John Dory, don’t miss the cuttlefish with ummak huiryya (a kind of Tunisian carrot salad) and make sure you’ve got a bowl of those beautiful Heirloom vegetables with labneh in the mix.


Gowings Bar & Grill

The 10 Best Restaurants In Sydney CBD Right Now
Address: 1/49 Market St, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: (02) 8262 0064
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Wednesday (6 PM – 10 PM); Thursday (12 PM – 3 PM); Friday (12 PM – 3 PM, 6 PM – 10 PM); Saturday (6 PM – 10 PM)
gowingsbarandgrill.com.au

A stylish ode to New York City’s Little Italy. Gowings Bar & Grill had a complete menu refresh just a few years ago when chef Sean Connolly came on board; leading the QT Hotel restaurant into new territory with theatrical tableside crowd pleasers like on-the-bone rib eye and a mighty 1.5kg T-bone from Riverine.

Yet, the pasta has always been my favourite here and I’d easily set Gowings amongst the best Italian restaurants that Sydney has to offer. The menu changes regularly but make sure to pick out whatever tortellini is on offer and if you see the mafaldi with octopus ragu, do yourself a favour and don’t skip it.


Palazzo Salato

Palazzo Salato in Sydney
Address: 201 Clarence Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: (02) 9044 2556
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday (12 PM – 12 AM); Saturday (3 PM – 12 AM)
palazzosalato.com

The same crew behind Love, Tilly Devine and Dear, Saint Eloise have gone bigger with Palazzo Salato. Taking over a former beer hall in the CBD, the grand space has been transformed into what many describe as a bigger and even better version of Sydney’s beloved pasta and wine bar Ragazzi.

Those robust, hearty Roman-style pasta dishes are the obvious orders here so make sure you grab a mix of favourites and daily specials for the table. The 120-seater does seafood just as well, so make sure to take a run at Palazzo’s blue-eye trevalla with Brussels sprouts and ice plant. One of the better new Sydney CBD restaurants to open this year.


Bentley Restaurant + Bar

Address: 27 O’Connell St, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: (02) 8214 0505
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Wednesday (5 PM – 12 AM); Thursday – Friday (12 PM – 3 PM, 5 PM – 12 AM); Saturday (6 PM – 12 AM)
bentleyrestaurantgroup.com.au

Oft referenced as one of the best restaurants Sydney has (period), this gem from Chef Brent Savage and Sommelier Nick Hildebrandt retains top marks across the board. Everything from the louche, sophisticated ambience to the energetic, ever-changing menu is routinely perfect, elevated by service that is second to none. Especially in Sydney, where truly great service can have a transporting effect — and put you in mind of Europe.

More than a few of the Boss Hunting team state this as their very favourite restaurant in Sydney. It’s definitely up there for me, and it says a lot that it’s still been raking in praise since first opening in 2006.


Restaurant Hubert

A group of people sitting at a table in a restaurant
Address: 15 Bligh St, Sydney
Contact: (02) 9232 0881
Opening Hours: Monday – Wednesday (5 PM – 12 AM); Thursday (12 PM – 12 AM); Friday – Saturday (12 PM – 12: 30 AM)
swillhouse.com

It might seem like the standard choice for a splashy night out in Sydney but Restaurant Hubert deserves kudos for its longevity. I remember distinctly when Swillhouse opened this monstrously popular old-world French restaurant back in 2016.

The expensive time capsule interior is buried underground, affording a grandiose vision down a winding staircase that descends from street level. I still get that feeling of a bygone era splash over me every time I enter, and the fact that after all these years Hubert is still considered the best means quite a lot.

Get whatever gratin is on the menu first and foremost, and then spread your palate from seafood entrees to meaty mains. Or if you don’t have a reservation, veer right when you get down those stairs and you’ll find yourself in the walk-in-only Pincer Bar: the perfect spot for a hearty burger filled with dry-aged beef, gruyere, dill pickle and sauce Hubert.


The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar

A plate of food on a table
Address: 66 King St, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: (02) 9145 8066
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday (12 PM – 12 AM)
thecharles.sydney

Like many in Sydney, I’ve started to grow cynical about those big, ostentatious dining rooms that open around Sydney’s financial district. And while I also don’t think Sydney needs another expensive French restaurant, it’s hard to deny how solid an offering The Charles Grand Brasserie & Bar presents.

While I’m not quite a fan of their splashy subterranean bar, the impressive dining room frames an invariably delicious parade of classic French favourites. Get the duck. Of course. The $168 signature whole dry aged Aylesbury canard à la presse is served with orchid fruits and radicchio. But you’ll also want the oxtail agnolotti, steak and anchovy tartare and the sea urchin with waffles, brown butter and whipped roe.


Besuto

The omakase dining experience at Besuto is a great addition to Quay Quarters in Circular Quay.
Address: 6 Loftus Lane, Sydney NSW 2000
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday (12:30 PM – 11:30 PM)
besutosydney.com

Sydney’s love for a high-quality omakase menu has only gotten stronger over the years. The problem is, it’s also gotten more expensive and much harder to book into the best. That’s why having more pop up is always a good thing, doubly so when they are as good as Besuto.

Joel Best’s restaurant is part of the still-fresh Quarter Lanes precinct down at Circular Quay, serving only a few guests at a time who all huddle around a traditional counter while chefs prepare multi-course feasts from the day’s best produce. The food here is mostly traditional but you’ll get the occasional modern flourish.

It’s also worth browsing the premium sake collection. Some of the best sake I’ve had in Sydney was at Besuto so it’s money well spent if you can pry yourself away from the bar’s extensive Japanese whisky collection.

For tourists especially, it’s a great addition to the otherwise lacklustre dining scene along Sydney Harbour — only recently improved with Besuto and nearby venues like Hinchcliff House.


Long Chim

A group of people sitting at a table with a plate of food
Address: Colonial Mutual Life Building, Angel Pl, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: (02) 9223 7999
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday (12 PM – 3 PM, 5 PM – 10 PM)
longchimsydney.com

While Sydney has a solid grip on casual Thai food, it’s always worth taking it up a level when it comes to those special occasions. You’ll find Long Chim within the Angel Place precinct just off Pitt Street. Although you can also access the area from George Street via the alleyways.

Either way you choose to get here, you’re sitting in one of the most energetic dining rooms in Sydney, popping with colour and just the right amount of light. Be forewarned when it comes to spice levels; this isn’t for those who like things mild. Yet, each dish hums with the perfect amount of chilli to help add a bit of life to already vibrant dishes like prawn and coconut betel leaves, grilled beef salad and eggplant with minced pork and prawn.


Restaurant Leo

Address: 1/2-12 Angel Pl, Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: (02) 9235 3383
Opening Hours: Wednesday (5:30 PM – 9 PM); Thursday (12 PM – 3 PM, 5:30 PM – 9 PM); Friday (12 PM – 3 PM, 7:30 PM – 9 PM); Saturday (5:30 PM – 9:30 PM)
Instagram

After seriously impressing me with their concept restaurant at The Star, Ele, I wasn’t surprised when I liked chefs Federico Zanellato and Karl Firla’s next venture, Restaurant Leo just as much.

While I found the whole roaming eatery concept at Ele a touch overbaked, Restaurant Leo is a straight-laced, Italian laneway eatery which does the classics very, very well.

It feels like a small, casual eatery but that atmosphere just makes for bigger flavours. From beautiful King George whiting with salsa verde to cuttlefish risotto, these are minimal dishes with strong seasonal produce. In the kitchen, restraint is just as important as anything else, and it shows in abundance here.

Don’t just save this one for a special occasion.


How Boss Hunting Chose The Top Ten Sydney CBD Restaurants

I’ve personally always been satisfied with each of these spots and would not hesitate to recommend them to mates or visitors. And that’s pretty much my only metric for inclusion here.

I’ve had a good time, eaten some great food and probably drank some even better wine on multiple occasions at each of the above. And if me, or one of my colleagues in the Boss Hunting office, would happily go back and happily pay, then it has been listed.

Only restaurants we have been to multiple times have been included. Just because it’s not on this list, that does not it isn’t worth booking: simply that we’ve been insufficient times and don’t yet feel confident enough to include it in our top ten.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best Italian restaurant in the CBD right now?

The best Italian restaurant in Sydney CBD right now is Palazzo Salato, but you also have a solid option nearby with Restaurant Leo.

Where is good for steak in Sydney CBD?

Right now, if you’re in the city and you want a good steak head on over to Clam Bar, Restaurant Hubert or Gowings Bar & Grill.

What is the best French restaurant in Sydney CBD?

The best French restaurant in Sydney CBD is Restaurant Hubert.

Chris Singh
WORDS by
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.

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