Our ‘Best of’ for 2021 part 1 – restaurants, casual dining and bars

This has taken a long time to produce, we look back on where we’ve been and summarise each to provide a snapshot to you all. Remember we all have different palates and needs, so what is our favourite may not necessarily be yours, but we hope we give you some ideas of where to try.

When compiling a list of the best places to eat and drink in 2021, it’s certainly an interesting blog to write. I was pregnant half of the year, meaning lots of my favourite things I was unable to eat; soft cheeses, deli meats and alcohol. But Kurt got all the good stuff and whilst I was restricted in some areas, I also had some mighty fine mocktails and expanded my mind to try new things. Then, the other half of the year we were pretty much in lockdown. So, a lot of our favourites are pre-August or in that gap between prolonged lockdown and the rise of Omicron. Let’s hope 2022 makes dining out a lot easier!

We take our hats off to a number of places, which will be mentioned below, with links to the blog for further details.

Restaurant Dining 

Three Ronin in Chippendale is a bar and restaurant serving one of our all-time favourite drinks – the ‘Honey and Spice’, with honey chai infused whisky, manuka honey, egg whites and home-made falernum. Food wise, it has a Japanese influence and we loved their Kingfish, Wagyu rib finger and Wagyu rump cap.

Bennelong is always on our best of list. The three-course menu, designed by Chef Peter Gilmore sees Modern Australian food prepared to a high quality, with the standout dish on our visit being the Tasmanian rock lobster. Situated in the Opera House with views of the iconic Harbour Bridge, it is the perfect setting. This year, it was even more special, as we had the pleasure of listening to Jazz music on a Sunday for “Live at Bennelong”.

Bart Jnr in Redfern has great food and cocktails and you can dine inside or alfresco. Foccacia, small lobster rolls, pastas and one of our all time favourite dishes can be found here, the charred ocean trout skewers.

Woodcut is an expansive restaurant in Sydney’s Crown complex focusing on Australian produce and proteins that has been cooked using different cooking methods; steam, fire, smoke and ice (for the raw selection). Their black garlic bread and hot marron is our pick of the bunch, and meat is obviously a must order.

We also loved Rocker in Bondi for their amazing bottomless brunch. It’s a bright open space, with nice greenery, friendly and efficient staff. The local burrata, roast chicken and crispy potatoes are so good. The inclusion of drinks especially cocktails is awesome and they do very good mocktails too.

Above Par is an amazing middle eastern restaurant in the Sydney CBD. The boutique space has great food designed to share, and we thought every dish we tried was unreal. The menu had more we look forward to trying when we return. Puffy breads, grilled calamari, roasted cauliflower and shish skewers are amongst the food offerings there. The drinks list is also extremely extensive.

Casual Dining 

Rita’s Bar and Kitchen is inside the Cat and Fiddle Hotel, Balmain. A great place for upscale food and bistro classics. The innovative dishes here are far higher quality than you’ll ordinarily see in a pub. We loved the stunning Western Australian Octopus Carpaccio and Balmain Bug.

Suzuya is another place that makes our list each year. The Japanese food here is huge on size, low on price.We recommend trying their sashimi salad, a huge plate full of cabbage, carrot, seaweed and topped with super fresh sashimi. Their agedashi tofu is also the best we’ve tried.

Tradewinds is a new addition for us, recommended to us from plenty of locals. The vibe is friendly, environment is casual and comfortable and the ribs here are out of this world good.

Lucio in Darlinghurst (and another venue in Zetland) serves up authentic Napoletana pizza and pasta. Our favourite here was the Orecchiette al Pesto.

Bellbird dining (inside the Casula Powerhouse) has also made our list for a couple of years now. They have their own garden, meaning each dish incorporates super fresh ingredients and their menu is seasonal depending on what is growing. We have continued to visit this year and it remains a favourite for us.The chefs show great technique and care in their preparations.

Charcoal Fish is a fish and chip shop which has been brought to us by Josh Niland of Saint Peter. The shop is highlighting one of Australia’s great fish, the Murray cod. This is sold as fried fish, grilled, they even sell grilled cod wings and yellowfin tuna cheeseburgers. Although pricy, we find the fish to be a favourite of ours, it is tender and flaky and is cooked well over the grill. The grilled piece was incredible, soft and juicy with a light crispy skin.

Cheap eats

Honest Indian in Bella Vista we loved for its vegetarian Indian street food with the likes of pani puri, cheese bhaji pavand bhel. All very tasty, served in a bright and colourful space.

Charcoal Kingdom is a stalwart for us, with its Lebanese charcoal chicken freshly cooked to perfection, well-seasoned chips, and pickles, garlic sauce and pita.

Time for Thai, with its extensive menu, we love their Thai food, especially their fried chicken with spicy sauce (ask for the special) and the BBQ meats. Service is also fast here.


Khoi is a recent find for us in Marrickville. The food here is cheap, but also at generous serves. We recommend the pork chop and broken rice at $13.


Dean and Nancy was on our must visit list from the day we saw it advertised. Unfortunately, due to pregnancy and later lockdown, it took us a while to get there. We made our visit just a few weeks ago and we believe this is probably the best bar we’ve been to in Australia. On the 22nd floor of the Adina hotel, this place is high class, where customers sit in booths overlooking the city below. The ambience is amazing, with a piano occupying the centre, a jazz singer and even bar staff tinkering to the tunes with their bottles. Brought to us from the Maybe Sammy team, the cocktails are just as good.

Maybe Sammy is an award-winning cocktail bar in The Rocks. The coffee cocktails are a highlight and many have a theatrical component, all of a high calibre. We guarantee you’ll have a good time here.

Re is a sustainable, ‘no-waste’ or “regenerative” cocktail bar in the South Everleigh Precinct with great drinks such as highballs/spritzers, classics, signature and “re-search” options. The space is super cool and a top place to visit.

Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon – cafes, coffee and more

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