Your Perth and Sydney Recs

[image via Wexas Travel]

You guys: I just had a moment where I glanced at my calendar and saw that two weeks from tomorrow, I’m flying to Australia. I mentioned this to you before but the trip seemed so far away when I wrote that; and now the trip is right there on the horizon and I can hardly believe it. Which is why I’m posting this post now: I want your Australia recs! Almost always when I travel I ask my readers for places to go and eat, and almost always your suggestions are the best. So have at it, readers: I’ll be in Perth for a week (much of that trip is already planned, but I should have some down time) and then I have three days in Sydney. What should I do? Where should I go? And, of course, most importantly: what should I eat? Thanks, and if you’re Australian and you’re reading this…say hi if you see me on the street in TWO WEEKS!

32 thoughts on “Your Perth and Sydney Recs”

  1. For Perth, I would say go around Freo. There is a weekend market, cappucino stretch, the beach, Little Creatures (beer) but please don’t go Cicerello for fish and chips.

    1. I completely second this – I lived in Australia for seven months back in 2003 and had NO money, but when I really needed a treat, it was off to Bill’s cafe (although he just calls it “bills”). The ricotta hotcakes and coconut bread are so so delicious, and the vibe is pleasant and relaxed.

      Even if you only have three days, the cliff walk between Coogee and Bondi is still a must. And if you want to get blackout drunk with a bunch of Americans at 6pm, The Beach Palace Hotel on Coogee Beach is the place to do it! (I was in college. Don’t judge. Maybe just go to A Fish Called Coogee for some seafood instead). Also, it’s touristy, but the Bridge Climb is unforgettable.

      1. Bahahaha the Palace is fun even if you don’t remember much the next day!! I have a friend who currently bartends there. The cliff walk is amazing as well. When I was there last 2008 there was a notable lack of pickles that made me so sad. Every time we have visitors from Oz I make a batch so they know what a good pickle tastes like. They only think of the limp ones from McD’s. I love it there anyway.

  2. We stayed at the shangri la hotel in Sydney and ate in the restaurant at the top. the food was great but the view of the harbor and the opera house stole the show. The wine list was out of this world. I would also recommend the bridge climb at dusk to see the setting sun.

  3. Second the Bill’s recommendation in Sydney. Love the Sydney Seafood Market for a class, a meal or a stroll. Fine dining recs in Sydney (may be dated, was last there in 2008): Rockpool & Tetsuyas.

    Bondi to Coogee beach/cliff walk in Sydney is gorgeous. Take a ferry around the harbor too.

    Also second the Perth recommendation to go to Fremantle. The jail is an interesting visit and Little Creatures brewery is great.

  4. In Perth, Opus restaurant, Jackson’s and Co-op Dining all do super amazing degustation if you’re looking for something fancy. I also love Ace Pizza which has just opened recently. Don’t let the name fool you – they serve all types of yummy food! Besides that, Cottesloe beach is pretty beautiful to visit! I’d also recommend visiting Fremantle as someone else mentioned (or as we call it, Freo!)

  5. I’ve had the pleasure of living in both cities, though now I’m in Brisbane.

    In Perth, definitely go visit Fremantle, though I’m a little out of touch with what’s good over that way. For breakfast, try Toastface Grillah just so you can tell people that you ate at a place called that… and I’d recommend Greenhouse as well.

    In Sydney, I think Newtown is worth a morning or afternoon trip to get a sense of Australia’s cafe culture. Foodwise you really can’t go wrong with anywhere in Surry Hills. There’s a Momofuku restaurant in Sydney but good luck getting a reservation there. You should try Adriano Zumbo’s macarons (hyped as hell but still very good). The Asian food in Australia is very good so you should try some places like Miss Chu, Xage, Toko. There’s an Ippudo ramen in Sydney if you haven’t had it before, it stacks up favourably to the ones I ate at in Fukuoka. For fancier meals, everyone will tell you to go to Rockpool, and it is very good, but I would take you to Deck – lovely food and a beautiful view.

    Final tip – drink lots of coffee from everywhere. You will be hard pressed to find a bad cup.

    1. For Sydney, I totally agree with the Xage recommendation! It’s not expensive and so delicious. I also rate Muum Maam, 121 BC and Movida, which are also in Surry Hills. Gelato Messina is incredible gelato and Fish Face, in nearby Darlinghurst, has awesome fish and chips.

      I second the Bondi-Bronte (or go to the next beach – Coogee) walk. There’s an amazing cafe in Bronte called Three Blue Ducks too. Get a ferry somewhere, walk through the Botanic Gardens for a great view of the harbour and visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Strand is a beautiful shopping arcade with two great restaurants in the top – Pendalino in particular is beautiful. Also, it’s worth wandering through Paddington and Wollahra – there are great shops, beautiful terrace lined streets and some cuts pubs and bars (10 William Street is my favourite and there’s a bills in Wollahra too).

  6. Quay in Sydney.. but also, what about Melbourne? I know there’s lots of great food in AU but Melbourne is the food epicenter of Australia – impossible to go all that way and miss that!

  7. Cornersmith (Marrickville) for breakfast/brunch (pick up some pickles too)
    Ryo’s (Crows Nest) for the best ramen in Sydney.
    Chur Burger (Surry Hills) for a casual bite.
    Kitchen by Mike (Alexandria) for breakfast/brunch. Menu changes daily.
    Mecca (King St, CBD) for a coffee or two.
    Mr Wongs (CBD) dumplings/Chinese cuisine. Awarded best new restaurant.
    The Fish Shop & Ms Gs (Potts Point) casual lunch/dinners. Great for sharing
    Zumbo (Various locations) for something sweet
    Golden Century (Haymarket/Pyrmont) the rude service comes as a shock for some, but the food makes up for it.

  8. If you are going to be in Newtown (Sydney), then Bloodwood on King street is very good with an extensive wine menu. Nearby in Glebe, there is Atelier on Glebe Pt Rd, this requires reservations and is meant to be excellent (I haven’t been there).
    My two favourite pizza places in Sydney are also in Surry Hills: Luccio’s and Vacanza.

    Enjoy this splendid city.

  9. i lived in sydney’s suburbs for 5 months — i hope you love it as much as i did!

    the northern beaches get all the hype, but the eastern ones are my favorite. if you’re willing to venture into the suburbs (its painless, i promise) — get a meal at ‘a fish called coogee.’ trust me, you will not regret it!

  10. There is so much great food in Sydney! Thai – home and house are great, Chinese – golden century, Italian – Dolcissimo or La Disfida in Haberfield which is 10 minutes from the city and which has an amazing cannoli place in the daytime called Pasticceria Papa or Fratelli Fresh nearer the city, Japanese – Toko, Portuguese – Silva’s for chicken and then Sweet Belem for custard tarts in Petersham also 10 mins from the city. Do not miss the Sydney Fish Market for fresh oysters, sashimi and prawns – the quality is superb. Excellent farmers markets at Eveleigh on Saturdays. That walk from Coogee to Bondi is spectacular as is one from The Spit to Manly (second is trickier to get to but also less crowded on a beautiful day). My favourite ice cream in the world is at gelato messina. Plus if you are there in Oct look out for pop up events as part of good food month.

  11. No Melbourne – shame!

    Definitely Gelato Messina and the Bourke St bakery in Surrey hills (particularly the finger creme brulee tart and pork and fennel sausage rolls). I’d also try Reuben Hills and Movida

    1. I agree! These are my recs for Sydney:
      Bourke St Bakery in Surrey Hills for amazing pastries, sausage rolls, the rosemary potato bread (surely you can eat a late night snack of bread in your hotel room?) & they have great coffee. I’d also recommend Neil Perry’s Rockpool restaurant- make sure you go the original location (there are a few different locations of Rockpool restaurants) because the architecture of the building is amazing and adds to the experience!
      Taroonga zoo is a must, not for the food but for the zoo experience.
      If you want a beautiful lunch with a fantastic view of the beach, there’s Bather’s pavilion at Balmoral beach. the food is amazing, and the view/location is stunning! you can see the view on their website easily.

  12. 3 days in Sydney isn’t very much at all! Definitely do Bills on Crown st in Surry Hills, sunset drinks at altitude- the bar in the shangri la hotel, drinks at Opera Bar during the day at the opera house. The Bondi to Coogee walk is great but you may only have time to go Bondi to bronte- it’s a good taster! Definitely go to Taronga Zoo as well! If you can, try to go to Quay, Aria and/or Cafe Sydney- the foood and the views are well worth it! Also get the ferry out to Watsons Bay for fish and chips and also an amazing view! Unfortunately in three days you may not get to do too much more!!! Enjoy and we’ll look out for you here in Sydders!

  13. Do the walk from Coogee to Bondi and get lunch or dinner at A Fish Called Coogee — amazing fresh fish right by the beach. I lived there 7 years ago and I still dream about that place. Grab a drink at the Coogee Bay Hotel too.

  14. For your time in Perth:

    If you have some time for dinner and want some great roast duck, go to Chins noodle house –

    Ramen at Fremantle is the place to go (fridays only) – but Nao is pretty good as well –

    For Italian, Il Lido is great (plus it’s by the beach)

    And if you have the cravings for some chocolate, who can resist San Churros?

    Have a great trip down under!

    *PS: if you have a sandwich press, I challenge you to cook an entire day’s worth of meals on it (but not toasted sandwiches!)

  15. Not sure of Perth but Sydney ……Bloodwood (Newtown), Golden Century (Chinatown) – try the XO Pippies. Bondi Italian food or Icebergs (Bondi) for the views, Toko & Sake for Japanese. MsG (Potts Point) is fun.
    Bars – Gazebo Wine Bar (Surry hills), Earl Duke Joint (Newtown), Palmer and Co (City).
    Pubs – Courthouse (Newtown) – great beer garden, Glenmore (Rocks) – roof top bar. Harts Pub (Rocks) – Great craft beers.

  16. Ah so many place I could name in Sydney but here are a few of my favourites from the last little while.
    Single origin roasters, Surry Hills right near central(weekdays only)
    Marlow’s Way, Circular Quay (weekdays only but open nights)

    Fancy Dinner:
    Chiswick, Woolarah, Mod Oz
    Bushari, Potts Point, Japanese
    Black by Ezard, The Star, Pyrmont, Steak and others but seriously the steak
    Spice Temple, CBD, Chinese (mainly Northern)

    Cheap and casual:
    Malaysian Food House, Hunter Connection, CBD (weekday lunch only)
    Happy Chef, Sussex Centre Food Court, Chinatown (my go to laksa for years)

    Casual but not quite as cheap:
    La Boheme Restaurant, Glebe, Czech and Eastern European also great European Beer (I’m a little biased because I used to work here but it’s fantastic and I’ve never had anything but compliments from the many people I’ve taken here)

    I would also strongly recommend Gelato Messina, hands down the best gelato in Sydney and seriously outstrips most gelato places I went to in Italy.

  17. In Sydney I would definitely recommend the Fish Market as the number one thing to do there – amazing quality and if you get the chance you can do a tour of the auction in the early morning. Apparently it is second only to Tokyo fish market.

    I would also second Tetsuya’s – while it isn’t talked about in the same way any more, he’s the grand-daddy of high quality restaurants in Australia and the restaurant is beautifully designed.

    Also the Quay restaurant is meant to superb – never got the opportunity to eat there but a couple of friend of mine here in Ireland spent time working there and their accounts made me very upset about it missing it.

  18. Perth.

    For coffee. There are two excellent places for that. One is in Freemantle markets called Black Cherry (next to food section, opposite hotdog stand). The second is Standing Room in the CBD (Piccadilly arcade). They do guest roasts as well as their own. Generally if you see 5 Senses coffee you will have a decent one.

    As for food. It depends how much free time you have unplanned and where are you staying. Try Spanish tapas place called Rustico Tapas bar ( A bit of a drive but worth it plus it is next to the ocean. Also nobody has mentioned Hippo Creek (in is in Hillarys and Subiaco). The steaks are AMAZING. A great place where to have drinks (next to the river) is Raffles (a bar, restaurant and a hotel). Great food, great drinks and great location. Enough said! :) And if you decide go there a 5 min walk further is a place called Thai Corner Restaurant. The food is really good and for a great price too. Have won couple of local awards. I think more popular with locals.

    Someone recommended San Churros. It is very average. Don’t waste your time. and DON’T get their coffee. It is undrinkable. For GOOD chocolate you have to go Claremount (good shopping area). It is called Koko Black.

    And last tip. While you are in Freemantle try Kakula Sisters. It is the place to go for a foodie to stock up your pantry of spices, nuts, beans, flour etc. Everything you would need!

    Enjoy the Perth and the weather (the best part of the city).

  19. Well, there are a lot of Sydney recs here, but I live in Perth and I say you must go and do the degustation at Restaurant Amuse (if possible – it’s heavily booked) ( – there’s a strong emphasis on excellent, locally-sourced produce. Not cheap but super-awesome. Check out the Urbanspoon Perth page – most of the “Perth’s most popular” places on there are there for good reason. If you have time during the week, you really have to visit some wineries in the Swan Valley (~1hr drive from central Perth) or the Margaret River region (3-4 hrs drive) – seriously, you cannot fly all this way and then miss out on one of the best bits of WA. The Smiths Beach Resort in Yallingup has a Lamont’s ( which is very lovely. Ahhh I could go on…

  20. Sydney
    Ms G’s, Potts Point, casual/hipster asian small plates and cocktails
    Bourke St Bakery, Surry Hills, Second the advice regarding Ginger cream brulee tart and pork & Fennel sausage roll
    Est at the Establishment Hotel, CBD, Refined flavoursome fine dining
    Spice Temple, CDB, Awesome northern chinese by Neil Perry of Rockpool fame
    Kepos St kitchen, Redfern, Brilliant coffee and middle eastern slanted cafe food
    Alpha, CBD, Brilliant new Greek restaurant by a restauranteur who has been around in other successful places for ages

    Really, there are too many awesome places and never enough time, but these are worth the trip!

  21. The Water Is Smiling

    In Sydney…DO go on the bridge walk to the top. DO go on the tour of the Sydney Opera House. Both really fun/interesting. In Perth, visit the Margaret River wineries…especially liked Moss Wood and Leeuwin.

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