The Sydney Layover: Where To Eat

I recently went to Sydney for a weekend and, in the 36 hours that I had there I was determined to tick some boxes on my “Sydney where to eat and drink” list that had been accumulating since my last visit. I managed to visit a few of the places that I wanted to, went to a few that weren’t on the list and, as is the case with these things, ended up with a few additions to my list for next time.

This list is by no means extensive – indeed some of my favourites from previous visits aren’t on here, however if you’ve only got a day or 2 in Sydney and are looking for somewhere to start, this list won’t lead you astray. If you’re in Sydney and looking for something to eat, check out my post “The Sydney Layover: Places To Drink“.

Mary’s

sydney where to eat review

STI clinic, Masonic Hall, Greek club, pool hall. The building that houses Mary’s has had quite a few incarnations over the years but today the unsigned, unadvertised spot in Newtown houses one of Sydney’s most popular bars. My friends and I arrived about 10 minutes before opening on a Sunday afternoon and went for a short walk – when we came back  15 minutes later, the place was already full and a short while later there were lines. What’s everyone going to this dark, loud venue for? The answer is burgers.

My friends and I ordered a Mary burger each, which is considered by many to be one of the best burgers in Sydney. It contains a thin beef patty (a mixture of brisket, chuck and rump, smoked in house), pickles, cheddar, tomato, lettuce and a “special sauce” in between two extremely soft buns. I like a soft burger bun however I thought the buns here were too soft and compressible but regardless, the burger was very tasty. A plate of crumbly, moist fried chicken to share amongst the table complimented things perfectly.

The drinks list is impressive, especially on the wine and cocktail front. Twists such as pickled onion, crispy bacon and melted Kraft cheese atop the Bloody Mary are par for the course here. Service was fast and attentive, but did tend toward the “too cool for school” end of the spectrum.

Mary’s

6 Mary Street
Newtown
New South Wales 2042
Australia

Telephone:   n/a
Email:            n/a
Website:        n/a

Open
Mon – Fri:   4:00pm to 12:00am
Sat:               12:00pm to 12:00am
Sun:              12:00pm to 10:00pm

Mary's on Urbanspoon

Black Star Pastry

sydney where to eat review

Black Star Pastry have a lot of great looking pastries and cakes in their store, but the reason that I came here, and the creation they are most famous for is the Strawberry Watermelon Cake With  Rose Scented Cream. I can safely say that this is one creation that absolutely lived up to the hype. The crispy layers combine with the light cream and actual fresh watermelon and strawberries to create an amazing flavour and texture sensation. Everything is perfectly proportioned and the cake isn’t the slightest bit heavy.

As I said before, there’s a lot that looks, and I assume is, very good at Black Star but if you haven’t been before, there’s only one thing to go for. The coffee is decent too.

Black Star Pastry

277 Australia Street
Newtown
New South Wales 2042
Australia

Telephone:   (02) 9557 8656
Email:            [email protected]
Website:        http://blackstarpastry.com.au/

Open
Mon – Sun:    7:00am to 5:00pm

Black Star Pastry on Urbanspoon

Brewtown Newtown

sydney where to eat review

We only stopped by micro roaster/cafe/bar/shop Brewtown Newtown for some coffee and their famous cronuts however I really want to come back for a proper meal as the menu looked very enticing – think classic breakfast and lunch items with a twist here and there. Back to the cronuts, I’m still not a huge fan of them in general as I find them to be too oily, however my two friends who do enjoy cronuts were very happy with their choices.

Brewtown Newtown

6-8 O’Connell Street
Newtown
New South Wales 2042
Australia

Telephone:   (02) 8001 1001
Email:            [email protected]
Website:        http://www.brewtownnewtown.com/

Open
Mon – Sun:   8:00am to 4:00pm

Brewtown Newtown on Urbanspoon

Hartsyard

I didn’t get around to visiting Hartsyard on this trip however it would be remiss of me to discuss the Newtown venues above without making a mention of it.

The fried chicken, oyster po’boys and smoked beef short-ribs along with the cocktails are all supposed to be excellent at Hartsyard, with a menu that’s been described as fine dining meets diner with a good dose of fun thrown in. I know I’ll be getting myself there the next time I’m in town and would love to know what you think if you’ve been.

Hartsyard

33 Enmore Road
Newtown
New South Wales 2042
Australia

Telephone:   (02) 8068 1473
Email:            [email protected]
Website:        http://hartsyard.com.au/

Open
Wed – Sun:   5:30pm to late

Hartsyard on Urbanspoon

Reuben Hills

sydney where to eat review

Reuben Hills is a cafe and roastery in Surry Hills that really takes its coffee seriously. Just about every kind of brewing method imaginable is on offer here, with a vast array of coffee equipment set up to do its thing. I really like the focus on each bean that’s on offer – the coffee is served with a card that tells you a little about the grower and the origin of the bean.

The food is influenced by the travels that the owners have been on and includes the usual brunch items along with creations inspired by Central and South America. I was a big fan of the blueberry sago with tapioca pearls, banana, agave syrup, almond milk & cacao nibs. It was sweet, refreshing and had a lot going on texturally. The “Really f**king great fried chicken” (their words not mine) was pretty good, but I’ve had better.

Oh and as a bonus, the music is aweseome (assuming you’re a fan of 1990s R&B and Hip-Hop)

Reuben Hills

61 Albion Street
Surry Hills
New South Wales 2010
Australia

Telephone:   (02) 9211 5556
Email:            [email protected]
Website:        http://reubenhills.com.au/

Open
Mon – Sat:   7:00am to 4:00pm
Sun :   7:30am to 4:00pm

Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon

Mille Vini

Mille Vini is an Italian wine bar and eatery located just a few doors up from the more well known Messina in Surry Hills. Rustic Italian food with a Sicilian touch and lots of share plates combined with a very impressive wine list. The wine list includes many varietals that aren’t commonly seen in Australia and, as a bonus, there are a few interesting Italian craft beers that aren’t often seen in Australia too.

Mille Vini

397 Crown Street
Surry Hills
New South Wales 2010
Australia

Telephone:   (02) 9357 3366
Email:            [email protected]
Website:        http://www.millevini.com.au/

Open
Sun – Thu:   5:00pm to 10:00pm
Fri – Sat :   5:00am to 12:00pm
Lunch – Mon – Sun: 12:00pm to 3:00pm

Mille Vini on Urbanspoon

Nomad

sydney where to eat review
Nomad is a restaurant that was on my Sydney list ever since I started reading about it when it opened late last year. It takes the “house made” philosophy to another level with as much as possible being made on site and the results are great. Head chef Nathan Sasi resigned a few days after I had my meal at Nomad (keep your eyes our for his upcoming CBD venture) however I’m sure that owners Rebecca Littlemore and Al Yazbek will waste no time in finding an equally qualified replacement.

You can read my full review of Nomad here.

Nomad

16 Foster Street
Surry Hills
New South Wales 2010
Australia

Telephone: (02) 9280 3395
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://restaurantnomad.com.au/

Open
Dinner: Mon – Sat: 6:00pm to 12:00am
Lunch: Tue – Sat: 12:00pm to 2:30am

John Smith Cafe

sydney where to eat review

John Smith is an unassuming cafe on the border of Waterloo and Alexandria. The name might be unassuming too, however the coffee is anything but. The guys here are serious about their coffee, which uses Rebel Roasters beans for all of the single origins and blends. The grinders are calibrated each morning and the result of all of this is some seriously good coffee – if you’re unsure what to order the guys are more than happy to talk through the beans and brewing methods and there’s even a tasting plate on the menu that gives you mini versions of 4 different types of coffees.

On the food side, there are pastries by Brewtown Newtown and a range of usual cafe menu items with a twist here and there. The cooked food was ok, but it’s really all about the coffee.

John Smith Cafe

1 John Street
Waterloo
New South Wales 2017
Australia

Telephone:   0422 855 811
Email:            n/a
Website:        https://www.facebook.com/johnsmithcafe

Open
Mon – Fri:   6:30am to 4:00pm
Sat – Sun :   7:00am to 5:00pm

John Smith Cafe on Urbanspoon

Bourke Street Bakery

sydney where to eat review

Bourke Street Bakery might be a chain these days however their pastries, cakes and bread are still excellent. I tried a few things when I visited the original Bourke Street location in Surry Hills, with my favourite being the cherry and fennel sourdough. I bought a loaf back to Melbourne with me and toasted with a generous spread of butter it really tasted quite amazing.

Bourke Street Bakery

633 Bourke Street
Surry Hills
New South Wales 2010
Australia

Telephone:   (02) 9699 1011
Email:           [email protected]
Website:        http://www.bourkestreetbakery.com.au/

Open
Mon – Fri:   7:00am to 6:00pm
Sat – Sun:   7:00am to 5:00pm

Bourke Street Bakery on Urbanspoon

Adriano Zumbo Pâtissier

sydney where to eat review

Adriano Zumbo needs no introduction, and his concept store at The Star is the best place to take a look at his creations. Are these the best cakes and pastries in Sydney? No, but they are by no means bad and it’s worth a visit if nothing more than to admire the displays, and grab a concept creation that isn’t yet available at the other stores.

Adriano Zumbo Pâtissier

Shop 1 Cafe Court, The Star
80 Pyrmont Street
Pyrmont
New South Wales 2009
Australia

Telephone:   1800 858 611
Email:           n/a
Website:        http://adrianozumbo.com/

Open
Mon:   11:00am to 10:00pm
Tue – Thu:   11:00am to 11:00pm
Fri – Sat:   11:00am to 12:00pm
Sun:   11:00am to 9:00pm

Adriano Zumbo Pâtissier on Urbanspoon

Deus Cafe

Deus Cafe is a great cafe that’s attached to a motorcycle shop and is themed accordingly. The service when I visited was less attentive than I’d expect from this sort of venue however the coffee and food was top notch. I was a big fan of the salmon, which was one of many brunch options on the menu, which doesn’t stray to far from simple items that allow the quality ingredients to shine.

Deus Cafe

98 Parramatta Road
Camperdown
New South Wales 2050
Australia

Telephone:   (02) 9519 3669
Email:           [email protected]
Website:        http://www.deuscafe.com.au/

Open
Mon – Sat:   7:30am to 5:00pm
Sun:   8:30am to 4:00pm

Deus Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Paul
Paul
Paul founded The City Lane back in 2009 as a place to share photos of his travels around Europe with friends and family. The City Lane might have changed quite a lot since those early days but one thing that’s remained constant is Paul’s passion for food, travel and culture, and a desire to photograph and write about his experiences. Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. Paul is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast that may or may not actually be about beer.

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