14 Sydney Restaurants for Your Summer Dining Bucket List


Australians lay claim to a lot of wonderful creations, from pavlova and lamingtons to Chiko rolls, sausage sangers, weetbix and meat pies. Our attachment to these classics suggests that it's the simpler things that take our fancy and that Aussies love foods that reflect our laid back lifestyle.

Think of your favourite Aussie foods and you'll no doubt be taken back to prawns on the beach, backyard barbecues and layers of soft meringue, cream and fruit by the pool. Think of steak sandwiches, fresh salads, mango salsa, grilled fish and pine lime splice. Notice a recurring theme yet? Our favourite foods are best enjoyed in summer.

Yep, Aussies love summer. No matter how many times we complain it's "too hot", "too humid" and the grass is "too dry", most Aussies agree that summer is a lot of fun. Especially when you put food at the heart of it.

To put food at the heart of summer, you must make time to plan for it. Arrange picnics of yummy salads and simple Vegemite sandwiches. Get up early and head to the fish markets for fresh fish and juicy prawns. Invite the friends over for regular "bring a plate" barbecues. And most importantly, make sure to visit some of the best summertime restaurants and cafes in Sydney. These restaurants combine the best of summer produce with a vibrant summer atmosphere and they all just happen to be participating restaurants of Good Food Gift Card. Lucky enough to have a card to spend this summer? Here's where to head.

1. Aubergine


Located on The Strand of Dee Why Beach, Aubergine Sydney offers a harmonious blend of European and Mediterranean cuisines complemented with carefully selected Australian, New Zealand and imported wines. The smart casual ambience provides a relaxing setting for any occasion and views of the beach can be enjoyed from almost every table. Famous for generous servings and their homemade mouthwatering sauces, Aubergine is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

2. Bennelong


If celebrating the culturally significant is your idea of summer, then dining at Bennelong is a must. Bennelong serves to celebrate the Sydney Opera House and its extraordinary architecture while showcasing the very best of Australian food and wine. From the rich truffle country in the west, triangulating through tropical Queensland and all the way down to cool-climate Tasmania, Bennelong's menu is a reflection of modern Australian food in one of the country's most famous landmarks.

3. Berowra Waters Inn


Set in bushland on the beautiful Hawkesbury River, the Berowra Waters Inn is only accessible by seaplane, boat or a short ferry trip. As a destination restaurant, it encourages you to take your time in enjoying both the delicious food and beautiful river views. The menu is designed as a series of degustation or tasting dishes, allowing you to leisurely graze your way through a story of flavours. Be sure to take a secluded stroll following lunch, or before dinner, to make the most of this spectacular location.

4. Kobe Jones


Kobe Jones Sydney is a Japanese dining experience like never before. Combining attentive service, stylish interiors, stunning harbour views and the freshest ingredients, it adds a Californian surprise to bring the simplicity and beauty of Japanese cooking and meld it with nuances of exciting western flavours. In fact, even the name blends the two – Kobe is an ancient Japanese fishing village and well known Japanese beef, while Jones is a typical Western name. Kobe Jones is all about exciting flavours and adventure – who doesn't love this winning summer combo?

5. bills


bills offers three locations across Sydney: Bondi Beach, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. While Bondi Beach was only opened two years ago, bills and Bondi go together like surfers and boardshorts, it's a favourite place among locals to hang in the summer months. Reflecting the spirit of Australia, bills is laid-back, easy-going, sunny and generous. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner you can enjoy amazing grains and salads, sticky pork belly plates and good ol' Aussie burgers. There's even a fried chicken roll with red eye mayo, cabbage tamari slaw and pickled cucumber!

6. Blackbird


Blackbird celebrates everything Australian and its iconic Darling Harbour location sits right in the heart of trendy Cockle Bay Wharf. Offering an in-house mixologist that's quite frankly amazing, Blackbird serves some of the best cocktails in Sydney. As well as Bella Vita and Blue Bird cocktails, diners can enjoy views of the Harbour, excellent service and modern Australian fare. Why not try the chargrilled kangaroo served rare with truffle mash potato and Jack Daniels sauce?

7. Cafe Birkenhead


Overlooking the water at Drummoyne, Cafe Birkenhead is a bustling cafe with a picturesque backdrop. Open early in the morning, until late afternoon, it provides five star service for a truly pleasurable dining experience. Nothing is too much trouble and you're encouraged to relax and take in the views. There's also free parking available for the first three hours, meaning there really is no need to rush off.

8. Bondi's Best


Bondi's Best is sustainably caught and passionately prepared seafood in one of three great Sydney locations. The newest of the bunch is located in Bondi's Hall Street and offers interiors designed by Sydney's Tom Mark Henry, considered one of Australia's contemporary experts. Head Chef Phillip Davenport has put together a fresh, modern menu to complement the design, a wonderful counterpoint to Hiro's fresh sushi. There is also a fantastic takeaway menu.

9. Catalina Rose Bay


Open for lunch seven days a week and dinner Monday to Saturday, Catalina offers one of the most stunning lunch settings in the country. Owners Michael and Judy McMahon have established a dedication to excellence in restaurants, with children James and Katie bringing a youthful energy to the well-loved restaurant. Catalina serves as the ultimate afternoon destination in summer and is transformed every Sunday into the city's best Sunday sesh, courtesy of Sydney's top DJs. Listen to some beats, enjoy a few cocktails and marvel at the very yummy Sunday bar menu.

10. Icebergs


Icebergs Dining Room and Bar is made up of a team of passionate, gifted and hard working hospitality professionals that love nothing better than to bring food into the heart of summer fun. The team go to great lengths to offer something special to every diner, so whether you're after a casual bite or a three course meal, you'll walk away smiling. The kitchen proudly works with the best produce Australia has to offer and the Bar combines handcrafted food, drinks and music in an informal and comfortable atmosphere that's perfect for summer. But let's face it – Iceberg's is all about the breathtaking views over Bondi.

11. Quay


In the dress circle of the Harbour lies one of Australia's finest restaurants Quay, home to internationally renowned Chef Peter Gilmore. Offering sweeping views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from every table, the food and views are equally awe-inspiring giving good reason to the fact that it's held three chef hats for 14 consecutive years, and was named Sydney Morning Herald 2017 Good Food Guide's Restaurant of the Year. If summer for you is about texture, purity of flavour, and balance, then this extraordinary harbour setting is a must tick.

12. Opera Bar


You cannot possibly go through summer in Sydney without a visit to the Opera Bar, one of Sydney's most iconic venues. Situated right by the water's edge and at the foot of the Opera House steps, Opera Bar is often described as the World's Best Beer Garden. Whether it's breakfast, a lazy lunch, a pre-show dinner date or simply a few cocktails, the Opera Bar is the ultimate summer haunt. The menu is curated by renowned Chef Matt Moran and offers a wide range of options. If you can tear yourself away from the magnificent Harbour views, there's also a Raw Bar where you can enjoy watching chefs shuck oysters and a Meat and Cheese Room to indulge in locally sourced cheeses and meats. The kitchen is open from 9am to midnight too, meaning there's plenty of time to enjoy this spectacular spot.

13. The Bridge Room


2016's Restaurant of the Year, The Bridge Room, is housed on the ground level of a low-rise 1930's, heritage listed building just moments from Circular Quay. The 66-seater dining room was designed by Nick Tobias and features an open kitchen with custom built charcoal grill, handmade ceramics designed by Chef Ross Lusted, solid oak tables and iconic Deer Chairs. Lusted's menu evolves constantly and a clever interplay of vivid flavours and textures, combined with his unique cooking style that's been influenced by travels through Asia and Europe. A great venue for lunch, you can enjoy three exquisite courses for $110.

14. Sake Restaurant and Bar The Rocks


For light and delicious meals to enjoy in the summertime, Sydney's Sake Restaurant and Bar in The Rocks is perfect. Sake has been awarded a Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Chef's Hat for six consecutive years in a row now, a testament to the innovate and unique flavours created by the passionate team. Whether you're entertaining a group, or looking for a smaller, private dining experience, Sake caters for all needs with its four private dining spaces, communal banquet dining area, traditional Japanese sunken tables and sushi bar.

Try some out this summer

With all these amazing restaurants on offer, the only thing to figure out now is where to start!

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Mireille Kilgour

Mireille Kilgour

Mireille Kilgour has been an entrepreneur for 35 years in the hospitality sector. French born, she has been an accomplished business owner and operator for a number of Sydney venues. Leading the industry with high profile institutions such as Lamrock Café Bondi, she has endless passion for the industry, and now has the pleasure of supporting restaurants to fill their tables with the new Good Food Gift Card program.