Originally opened in a former Surry Hills pub space in 2006 by chef Brent Savage and sommelier Nick Hildebrandt, Bentley moved into its Radisson Blu Hotel location on charming O'Connell Street in the CBD in 2013. Since their early days, the pair have established the two-hatted restaurant as one of Sydney’s best and have earned a few awards along the way. The 80-seat restaurant dishes up modern fine dining cuisine in various menus from a la carte to a more relaxed bar menu if you’re looking for a couple of (fancy) snacks and a glass of rare wine. As is often the case, it’s definitely worth getting around the tasting menu, which can also be offered as vegetarian.
Here are 16 of the best restaurants in the Sydney CBD.
Aria's award-winning menu and breathtaking Circular Quay location have long been an attraction for discerning diners. Despite the view over Circular Quay, the Opera House forecourt, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge too, it will be the food and wine at this renowned fine diner that will really hold your attention.
Owners Matt Moran and Bruce Solomon appointed Thomas Gorringe (Bentley Restaurant and Bar, The Gantry) as head chef in 2021 and he looks set to carry on the restaurant's legacy of stunning dishes made with fine produce from only Australian suppliers. Menu highlights include glazed Maremma duck, salsify, nectarines, and chicory; torched bonito with Tasmanian wasabi, green strawberries, and kombu; and Moreton Bay bug with tamarind XO. All this is paired with one of the country's most-awarded wine lists.
Originally opening in Rozelle in 1989 and relocating to the CBD in 2000, Tetsuya's from acclaimed chef Tetsuya Wakadu OAM has long been known as one of Sydney’s best and most respected restaurants. The Kent Street eatery fuses a Japanese food philosophy with classic French training to offer one of the most celebrated degustation menus in town—choose between five or eight courses. In our mind, there’s no going past the restaurant’s signature dish: the confit of ocean trout.
From Swillhouse, the good folks responsible for Sydney spots like Baxter’s Inn, Shady Pines and Alberto’s Lounge, Restaurant Hubert is something out of a Parisian dream, with some modern twists thrown in the mix. The iconic underground jazz den offers maximum French vibes by candlelight, with enough cocktails and wines to turn any quiet weeknight into a major event. For food, take a culinary tour of France with caviar, escargots XO, boudin noir, pâté en croute, and specialities like duck à l’orange and, our favourite, chicken fricassée. Hubert’s theatre is well known for hosting live music nights, as well as live theatre and movie showings. Perfect for a special date night.
First opening a Newtown location in 2015, Continental Deli offers a beloved neighbourhood hang with an authentic European deli, bar and bistro experience. Three years later, the love was shared as the legends behind Porteño and Bodega opened up a second location on Phillip Street in the CBD. There, you can expect Continental’s famous tinned cocktails (the “Martinny” is our fave), their house canned seafood range, and an outstanding menu featuring pasta, sandwiches, charcuterie and plenty of Mediterranean-inspired mains.
But the CBD’s still at the heart of food in Melbourne. Some of these places are iconic and have been serving great office lunches or special dinners for years. Others are newer, with inventive menus designed by exciting young chefs earning their stripes. All of the places in this guide continue to set the tone for how Melbourne eats. And thanks to the insane amount of competition, many of these venues are far more reasonably priced than you would expect.
It’s easy to overlook Melbourne’s city centre when trying to decide where to eat. These days you’re likely to find yourself around the corner from several terrific local restaurants, wherever you live.
There’s a lot of choice here. If you’re looking for something more specific, try one of the pages below.