Surry Hills is Sydney’s premier dining district, so choosing the suburb’s top 10 restaurants is a bit like selecting the Beatles’ 10 best songs, or Brazil’s 10 finest footballers, or Germany’s 10 most charming Christmas markets — almost impossible. But here’s our selection of the finest eateries in Sydney’s restaurant capital.
Chin Chin has arguably been Melbourne’s most successful restaurant since it opened in Flinders Lane in 2011 — and in October 2017, owner Chris Lucas added a hotly anticipated Sydney location to Surry Hills’ iconic Griffiths Tea building. Ever since, queues have snaked up Commonwealth St for a taste of spectacular Southeast Asian fare and clever cocktails in a trendy industrial space, at surprisingly affordable prices for such quality food.
The long tables that fill this converted warehouse invite diners to eat together, and Longrain’s Asian-inspired menu is also designed for sharing. The dishes embrace the soul of Southeast Asian cooking — the harmony between hot, sour, salty and sweet — with carefully selected wine and cocktails to complement every bite. Bookings are limited and walk-ins are welcome — after all, it’s easy to squeeze onto one of those shared tables.
Nomad’s vision is to bring the atmosphere of a country cellar door to a repurposed warehouse in bustling Surry Hills, with a mile-long wine list of Australian-made drops and a large open central kitchen and bar. The kitchen has a huge focus on sustainability, sourcing ethical ingredients from likeminded producers and growers, with plenty of dishes made in-house — a full-time baker prepares fresh breads every day, a variety of cheeses are made in-house, and there’s even Nomad’s own charcuterie hanging in the restaurant.
Toko isn’t your average restaurant – it gives patrons a taste of an informal Japanese-style ‘izakaya’ dining experience surrounded by a thoroughly contemporary setting with a buzzing bar attached. This chic Crown St institution serves slurp-worthy ramen as well as small plates designed for sharing and knocking back with a drink, with casual vibes that invite diners to linger for hours.
The brainchild of high-profile celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge, 4Fourteen is one of Surry Hills’ trendiest eateries, with exposed brick walls, a quirky collection of artworks, and floor-to-ceiling windows opening up onto busy Fitzroy St. The 4Fourteen kitchen serves bistro-style cuisine with a head-to-tail philosophy, plating up hearty dishes that are packed with flavour.
Porteño is one of Sydney’s finest steakhouses, bringing a traditional Argentine Parilla (barbecue) and Asado (fire pit) to the streets of Surry Hills. This authentic Argentine grill sparked Sydney’s obsession with Latin American cuisine after it opened in 2010, with its mouth-watering cuts of beef, lengthy South American wine list, and array of authentic Argentine specialties, such as house-made morcilla (blood sausage) and flan for desert.
When it opened in February 2017, Masala Theory turned a rustic Crown St terrace into one of Surry Hills’ hippest new restaurants, aiming to show off the young and playful side of Indian cuisine. The “neo-Indian dining experience” is just as loud on the walls — we’re talking neon lights, quirky pop art and vibrant murals — as it is on the plate, with an inventive menu of gobsmacking dishes like mint lamb sliders and spicy surprise ‘curry bombs’, washed down with the signature lavender lassi (yoghurt drink).
This stylish Surry Hills eatery serves fried chicken… but not like Colonel Sanders used to do it. Pass through the glass wall of luxury sneakers and bottles of high-end champagne into a lively dining room blaring hip hop and filled with the aroma of spicy fried chicken, which come in four levels of heat: naked, O.G., fire and hot AF. Grab some creamy coleslaw, salty chips and one of their fruit-flavoured alcoholic slushies to wash it down with.
Cleveland St is loaded with quality Middle Eastern restaurants, but Fatima’s might well be the pick of the bunch. This late-night favourite serves some of Sydney’s best kebabs, tabbouleh, lamb-cabbage rolls and bowls of hummus from both the takeaway shop as well as the atmospheric dining room tucked away behind it, serving generous Lebanese banquets to the cosy cushioned tables until 3am seven nights a week. You’ll even enjoy a belly-dancing routine if you’re lucky.
This Cleveland St institution proves that you don’t need meat to cook up finger-licking Vietnamese fare. Nourishing Quarter serves healthy vegetarian and vegan dishes that put a meat-free spin on the Viet classics — generous pho and noodle salads, for instance — as well as plenty of tapas plates with a distinct South American influence, such as quinoa rice papers rolls. And the restaurant’s camp, kitschy decor only adds to its charm.