5 Sydney drinking holes raising the bar for food

Continental Deli martinny martinis in a row

A guide to the bars in Sydney serving good food alongside their cocktails

It seems that fine dining in Sydney has exited stage left and arriving right on time in its place is the bar-restaurant hybrid - where ‘all in one’ experiences reign supreme. Well honed bar owners are bringing their innovative and experimental attitudes to the food scene in truckloads and we couldn’t be happier about it. Here’s 5 bars in Sydney that aren’t afraid to play around with the ‘dining’ rulebook.

Big Poppa’s

Bucket loads of fine cheese and Biggie Smalls, name a better pair, we dare you. This Oxford St offering on the Surry Hills side of town is led by hospitality vets Jared Merlino and Lewis Jaffrey, who have come together to bring you Italian inspired delights with hard to beat tunes. The menu is small and considered, with Handcut Pappardelle and Pork & veal polpette as some of the faves. The cheese menu is a destination on its very own. Of course, it goes without saying that these guys more than over-deliver on the cocktails.

96 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Henry Deane by Hotel Palisade

While the top floor of Hotel Palisade boasts some of the best views in Sydney, equally as pleasing and innovative is the menu. Prep yourself for a sensory overload because former head chef of Mr. Wong, Brendan Fong, has consulted on the latest menu showing through in fresh Asian flavours with a hint of Lebanese influence amidst a strong lean on seafood. From King Prawns with Yuzu Kosho, to smokey eel croquette and over to Lamb cutlets with a mediterranean sauce, there’s a lot to love here beyond just the atmosphere.  

35 Bettington St, Millers Point NSW 2000  

Continental Deli

It would be rude of us not to mention Continental Deli when we’re talking big flavours and relatively small bars. Presented to you by Elvis Abrahanowicz and Joe Valore from Bodega and Porteno, Continental Deli in Newtown is a ‘pickers’ dream where cold cuts, cheese and canned goods set the scene. Our preference is to sit at the bar and spread the net wide with a range of almost 20 tinned fish and a generous assortment of charcuterie and cheese. For the larger appetites there’s a mediterranean style bistro menu or you can simply dive into a Ham, cheese & pickle sandwich, because what more do you need?

For those who aren’t anywhere near Newtown, good news. Continental CBD is now open in the heart of legal land, opposite the Supreme Court NSW.

210 Australia Street, Newtown, 02 8624 3131

167, Phillip St, Sydney CBD

The Unicorn

When a ‘ratbag crew of mates’ from Mary’s, Young Henry’s and Porteno get together to open a pub it’s guaranteed you’re probably going to be spending a fair chunk of your time and salary there. Bringing their usual mix of casual attitudes and spontaneity into Paddington, the Unicorn has proven a new home to many, and not just for the good times and late nights. While the menu reads a bit like that of a 1995 Saturday sports canteen without the Pluto Pup, the flavour, quality produce and creativity is what you came for. Wrap your mitts around a Vilis Meat Pie, Chiko Roll or simply hit up a ‘Fancy Steak’ if you’re looking to treat yourself. The trifle and chocolate lamington for those with a sweet tooth don’t go astray either.

106 Oxford Street, Paddington, 02 9360 3554

Chester White Cured Diner

A diner style bar with an Italian inspired menu - you couldn’t get two great juxtapositions, but boy does it work. Run by two gentleman, Nick and Stu, Chester White’s packs a punch when it comes to their food offering. With an Aperol Spritz in hand, you’ll be inclined to dabble in any one of their charcuterie plates and shouldn’t leave without doing so. And their Vitello Tonnato - 16 hour slow roasted brisket - is first to go, so get in while you can. But of course, the absolute highlight is the truffle pasta served out of a Sardinian truffled Pecorino cheese wheel. An experience not to miss.

3 Orwell St, Potts Point NSW 2011