15 of the best foods and drinks experiences in Sydney & New South Wales, by chef Matt Moran

1: Golden Century Seafood Restaurant, Sydney

This is a place that probably any Sydney chef would recommend. There is a legion of hungry guests every night, and many of them are cooks, but the tables turn like clockwork.

It’s been around for over 35 years so it’s kind of an institution. It’s open until 4am and the bigger your group the better. It’s just more fun that way. Get the pees, XO sauce, and fried noodles, as well as the crispy chicken or the fried duck, though the options are endless.

2: Opera Bar, Sydney

Locals and travelers drink outside the Opera Bar (Opera Bar)

This is one of my places in Sydney. But it honestly has to be the best place in Sydney, right on the water with the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House in full view.

While it’s often busy it’s such a friendly place and there’s always a great atmosphere down there. I wanted to create a place for everyone. There is a mixed crowd of all ages and backgrounds, locals and tourists.

3: cylinder, Sydney

Fresh coffee beans (Dreamstime)

I get up at 5 a.m. every day to exercise. Before I go to work, I definitely need my morning coffee: a ¾ flat white. I can’t start my day without him.

Although it’s a small place, not much more than a hole in the wall, I think Top Hat makes one of the best coffees in Sydney.

4: The Wild Rover, Sydney

Glasses of whiskey (Dreamstime)

It’s pretty rare these days as my schedule is so busy, but I was at the Wild Rover in Surry Hills the other day and loved it.

I love my whiskey and they have a great selection. It’s also a relaxed and chill place, not that crowded which I like.

5: Huxton’s, Sydney

This is a great local cafe in Bronte, a suburb of Sydney Beach, and it’s relatively new. It opened just before Christmas last year.

I go here often for breakfast. The food is always fresh and tasty. Their dishes are beautifully presented too. Sydney food bloggers often take pictures.

6: ARIA, Sydney

Matt Moran at work in ARIA’s kitchen (ARIA)

I have to step back from the casual atmosphere and mention ARIA, my gourmet restaurant on Circular Quay.

I may sound biased, but I don’t think anyone could argue with me that it’s in one of the best locations in Sydney, right next to the Opera House and overlooking the harbor. We change the menu every season and showcase great Australian products.

7:10 William, Sydney

It’s the perfect restaurant for Italian food and a good glass of wine. It’s a tiny place on an old Victorian terrace on one of Sydney’s prettiest streets.

The food is exceptional and the wine list is even better and huge. It’s always busy, but there is a reason for it. So go there early to get a table. Finishing with a Negroni is a must.

8: North Bondi Fish, Sydney

Interior of North Bondi Fish (North Bondi Fish)

No trip to Sydney is complete, especially for beginners, without a trip to Bondi Beach. Icebergs on one end of the beach and North Bondi Fish that I own on the other end are the two places to enjoy great food with a view.

Icebergs is perfect for a finer dining experience and North Bondi Fish is great for drinks and a more casual bite. The atmosphere, especially on a summer weekend, is great and the view overlooks the entire beach. Then, take a stroll and grab some Gelato Messina ice cream.

9: Muse, Pokolbin

Shrimp dish at Muse (Destination NSW)

I visited them Hunter Valley, The famous wine region of New South Wales, with friends a few weeks ago and had lunch here. I’ve been before and always come back when I’m in the region.

They serve seasonal, delicious food from Chef Troy Rhoades-Brown. My smoked Spanish mackerel, apple, cucumber and wasabi starter was one of the best I’ve had in a while.

10: Racine in La Colline, Orange

Woman dining in Racine Restaurant (Destination NSW)

This is one of the most respected restaurants in Orange. It’s not far from my family farm so I’ve been here a couple of times.

Shaun Arantz, the owner and chef, is a great cook. The food is refined and delicious. The restaurant is located in beautiful surroundings, surrounded by a vineyard. Shaun’s wife Willa is also an exceptional baker and runs the local bakery in town. I highly recommend it too.

11: Farmer’s Market, Orange

Fresh fruit at the Orange Farmers’ Market (Destination NSW)

For me this is one of the best farmers markets in the country. This region has very different seasons and the result is top quality products that are truly accessible.

There is a large selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables, spices such as jam, honey, jellies and chutneys, verjus and olive oil, and a large selection of local meats. The region is also known for its truffles and many local winemakers are also in the markets.

12: Biota Dining, Bowral

Couple dine in the biota (Destination NSW)

This is a very modern, rural restaurant in the southern highlands that sources its products on its own premises. The surrounding area is picturesque and it’s a pretty big place. There are lots of nooks and crannies, sofas, a bar and a large outdoor area with a fire to sit by and enjoy a glass of wine.

The last time I ate here I had the suckling pig. If you ever pay a visit and it’s on the menu, I highly recommend you order it.

13: The farm in Byron Bay

Bartender on the farm (Destination NSW)

This is a low key, huge venue on the outskirts of Byron Bay. Some of my friends own it, but I assure you I don’t recommend it just because they’re friends.

It’s a great family friendly place with good, relaxed and tasty food. If your in the Byron area I recommend stopping by for lunch.

14: Fleet, Brunswick Heads

Fleet is a tiny, brilliant, and relatively new restaurant in Brunswick Heads in northern New South Wales. The menu really depends on what is on offer at the local farmers’ markets, which I absolutely admire.

I love a menu that is guided by seasonality and local products. It also has an interesting wine list, mostly organically grown and by the glass.

15: Tonic, Millthorpe

Entry to Tonic (Destination NSW)

Chef Tony Worland is a great guy. He worked for me for about five years, and so did Gordon Ramsay.

He focuses on local ingredients. Well worth taking your time for a long long lunch while in the area.

Matt Moran is an Australian chef, television personality and restaurateur. His restaurants in Sydney include the Waterfront Opera Bar, ARIA Sydney, the seafood-focused North Bondi Fish, and CHISWICK in the New South Wales Art Gallery.

Matt has also served on the International Culinary Panel at Singapore Airlines He has been helping to create the airline’s on-board menus for 14 years.

This article was supported by Destination NSW (www.sydney.com) and Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com) but it’s impartial and independent, just like all Wanderlust editorials.

Main picture: Matt Moran (ARIA)

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