Take it Slow: Where to Find the Best Lunch in Sydney

Lunch doesn’t have to be the most boring of the meal. For some, lunch conjures up images of a sad salad between meetings, a soggy sambo or something rushed and bland. So in a bid to change our minds on the contentious issue of the midday meal, we decided to hunt down where to experience the best lunch in Sydney. The result? Well, let’s just say we’re now long lunch converts. Don’t tell our boss.

One of the most picturesque cities in the world, Sydney is well-versed in the art of the long lunch. It’s all about indulging in fresh, creative dishes with your best mates and a spectacular view of Bondi, Sydney Harbour or any of the spectacular beaches, reserves and cliffs. And midday wine, obviously.

Sydney’s great lunch spots are extensive to say the least. We actually had quite a tricky time narrowing this list down to just ten restaurants. But here we are. The selection is varied but each place has an excellent vibe, food and drink offering and location.

Move over brunch and dinner, and make room for a lunchtime success story…

The 11 Best Lunch Restaurants in Sydney

1. Shuk

Shuk just gets us. Offering Instagrammable food, delicious drinks and a relaxed vibe, each Shuk venue makes for the perfect long lunch any day of the week. Specialising in Israeli and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, the dishes are fresh, flavourful and creative. With branches in Bondi, Elizabeth Bay and Chatswood, you can get your Shuk fix anywhere, anytime (within opening hours). For lunch, you can choose from the all-day and lunch sections of the menu which feature dishes like green shakshuka, beef kofta with salatim and pan-roasted barramundi. Cocktails and wine are also most definitely available.

Must-try: Jerusalem Spices Chicken Skewers with coleslaw, harissa, yoghurt, tahini, pickles and flatbread.

2 Mitchell Street, North BondiShop R03, 260 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood61-69 Roslyn Gardens, Elizabeth Bay, Sydney 2011

2. Machiavelli Ristorante Italiano

No list about the best places for lunch in Sydney would be complete without the legendary Machiavelli Ristorante Italiano. Specialising in traditional Italian cuisine since 1988, this spot is all about quality food and wine. With a focus on Neapolitan cuisine specifically, you’ll find a delightful array of dishes that are perfect for trying over lunch. It’s also located in the heart of the Sydney CBD on Clarence Street which is ideal for extended work lunches or a break mid-shop.

Must-try: Linguine vongole with white wine & cherry tomato sauce topped with fresh parsley.

123 Clarence Street, Sydney CBD

3. Salt Meats Cheese – Circular Quay

With a prime position in Circular Quay, this branch of Salts Meats Cheese combines a stellar view of the Sydney Harbour and delicious food. Contemporary Italian cuisine is the name of the game at this Sydneyside favourite, and most of it is designed to be shared. So when thinking of lunch plans, we recommend heading here with friends who don’t mind sharing. Besides, this way you get to try a bit of everything. Also, definitely check out their banger lunch deal which gets you pizza, pasta or a main with wine, beer or a softy for only 25 big ones. Bloody great stuff, friends.

Must-try: Lamb pappardelle cooked with slow-cooked ragù, Sangiovese & pecorino Toscano.

L201 Alfred St, Sydney CBD

4. Cafe Morso

Situated on the historic Jones Wharf in Pyrmont, Cafe Morso is a fab idea for a long lunch. With sweeping views across the harbour to East Balmain and North Sydney, you’ll love dining at this industrial-chic venue. What could be better than dining al fresco and enjoying the fresh sea breeze as you feast on locally-sourced produce and perhaps indulge in an Aperol Spritz or two? For us, this is what lunchin’ is all about. They also offer a selection of cold-pressed juices, smoothies, excellent coffee and other delicious bits and pieces, meaning it’ll suit all your friends down to a tee.

Must-try: Beechwood-smoked barramundi with cocktail potatoes, confit tomatoes, kale & quinoa salad with lemon and parsley dressing.

108/26-32 Pirrama Rd, Jones Bay Wharf, Pyrmont

5. Shirt Bar Barangaroo

It’s all about local, ethical, organic and sustainable produce at Shirt Bar Barangaroo. And we are here for it. Designed with a ‘feel good’ philosophy that’s about making you and the team feel guilt-free when it comes to dining, the menu curated by David Koorey will delight your senses in every way. The same goes for the drinks, too. For lunch you can expect dishes to share, salads, pasta, charcuterie platters and mains such as schnitzel, brisket and fish. Delicious, stylish and conscious, Shirt Bar Barangaroo is without a doubt one of the city’s best lunch eateries.

Must-try: Chicken Schnitzel with jus and shoestring fries

Shop 7a/100 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo South

6. Chiosco by Ormeggio

An Italian trattoria by the sea, Chiosco is a stunning spot located directly next to its sister-restaurant Ormeggio at The Spit. Enjoy lunch with a view of Middle Harbour and relax on the deck while indulging in delicious food and catching up with friends and family. Expect to find antipasto, pasta, classic Italian mains and a sharing feast option that’s a great choice for groups. This is the perfect choice when you want something casual but with fine dining food. Does it get any better? Nope!

Must-try: Oysters to start. Always.

The Jetty, D’albora Marinas, Spit Road, Mosman

7. Greek at The Belvedere

Filling the entire first floor of The Belvedere with the aroma of warm pita bread and fresh Mediterranean flavours, here’s a top Greek restaurant that knows how to do a leisurely lunch. The Greek Belvedere’s lavish dining room combined with modern dishes will most certainly take you to Santorini on your midday break. Unwind with your friends and family over an elegant menu of Greek classics, abundant in kalamata olives, charred octopus, lamb shoulder, whipped feta and more. If you find yourself here on the weekend, allow us to direct your attention to the top notch wine list and cocktails.

Must-try: Saganaki Kefalograviera with grapes, pistachio dust and honey dressing.

482 Kent Streets, Sydney CBD

8. Baby Coffee Co

Not just a hot spot for boozy brunch in Sydney, long lunches don’t get much better than at Baby Coffee. The ridiculously pretty setting is complete with pastel and plush furnishings, neon signs that make millennials go crazy and a very cute dog-friendly courtyard. Open every day in Waterloo, don’t be surprised if it becomes your daily spot. The menu is Australian through and through, with trendy food combinations presented in a drop dead gorgeous fashion. Brunch shouldn’t get to take all the fun for itself, so make sure you take advantage of the bottomless mimosa, prosecco, bloody marys, espresso martinis… You get the idea.

Must-try: Truffle mushroom linguine made with fresh egg linguine, four mushroom cream sauce and truffle oil.

810 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo

9. North Bondi Fish

This restaurant boldly claims there’s nothing better than fish (agreed) and we’re gonna up it and say there’s nothing better than fish for lunch. Owned by celebrity chef Matt Moran, the team at North Bondi Fish specialise in serving super fresh produce straight from Australian and New Zealand waters. Nestled right next to the golden sands of Bondi Beach, the restaurant is constantly hubbub with locals after quality food – and unbeatable ocean views. Feast from the a la carte menu or, if you’re a group of five or more, opt for the set menu to share. Go on and pop a bottle of bubbles to make it an extra special occasion.

Must-try: Nothin’ But Fun Share Menu complete with tuna tartare, fish tacos, roasted cauliflower, turmeric fish curry, barramundi, salads, chips and burnt mandarin pavlova to finish it off. Exquisite.

120 Ramsgate Ave, North Bondi

10. Café Paci

While this restaurant and wine bar is open all week long for dinner, the team offers a novelty long lunch every Saturday. Café Paci is a popular King Street restaurant, for very good reason. The interior is industrial with a contemporary rounded bar running down the length of the space and refreshing pops of blue colour. There’s a different lunch offering each Saturday, but you can definitely expect a gourmet and often nostalgic invention that heroes produce from the region with a French twist. Wine lists are always an important part of the lunch experience, and we’re happy to confirm that Cafe Paci’s has a very interesting international selection, featuring wild fermented varieties, orange wines and magnums for those wanting to go big.

Must-try: The lunch menu is constantly changing, however past dishes have included roasted dry aged duck with salted kumquats and rye taco with grilled tongue, sauerkraut and horseradish.

131 King Street, Newtown

11. Zahli

A Middle Eastern restaurant like no other, Zahli is all about bringing authentic Lebanese flavours to the front and centre of Sydney’s food scene. Housed in a light and bright dining space in Surry Hills, the restaurant is adorned in elegant marble surfaces, mosaic tiles and beautifully detailed dishware. The menu screams lunch, with a banquet of bold and flavour-packed hot and cold mezza to graze on, fresh seafood and tender mains. Don’t forget to end your dining experience with a traditional cup of Arabic coffee.

Must-try: Lahem Mishwee – tender lamb marinated in mixed spices and served with grilled tomato, onion, chilli bread, hummus and garlic dip.

529 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills