Sydney bars and restaurants that are designed to shine

Bold interiors offer a taste of the city

Sydney’s known as The Harbour City and is famed for its gleaming waterside architecture, including the sail-like silhouette of its iconic Opera House and the green arches of its bridge. The capital of New South Wales is also home to a sophisticated restaurant and bar scene that offers flavours from around the globe, from classic Italian trattorias and to neon-lit Japanese noodle bars – designed by a cache of local studios and practices.

Our Australian Social Media Editor Kylie McDowell has curated some of her favourite spots in the city where you can enjoy a dose of design with your dessert, or grab a drink in beautiful surroundings, as lockdown restrictions in Sydney ease.

Archie Rose Distillery

Photograph: courtesy ACME

This Sydney distillery is an intimate spot to sit and sip a gin, thanks to its low lighting and barrel-shaped booths. It’s located inside a renovated warehouse in the city, and its bar is designed so people can peep over to view the copper stills behind, where the gin-making takes place. Tasting flights are on offer, but guests can also join a full distillery tour or sign up for a blending class.
85 Dunning Ave, Rosebery NSW 2018

Edition Coffee Roasters

Photography: Prue Ruscoe

Uneven plaster and weathered timber beams lend this coffee roastery a moody rustic look that, according to the owner, references an ‘old world, traditional Japanese vibe’. The colour palette is as dark as the coffee, with walls daubed in charcoal paint and accompanied by black furniture and tableware.
60 Darling Dr, Haymarket NSW 2000

Babylon

Sydney’s latest rooftop restaurant is inspired by the ruins of Babylon
Photography: Christopher Frederick Jones

Ancient Babylon is revived across this sprawling Middle Eastern-inspired eatery, located on the top floor of Sydney’s Westfield shopping centre. It’s designed by Australian practice Hogg & Lamb, and replete stone columns, arches, draped curtains and natural hues that restaurant’s historic namesake. Any garden wouldn’t be complete without plants though – they dot the entrance and bar area of the dining spot, and drip from its ceiling.
Level 7/188 Pitt St, Sydney NSW 2000

Chica Bonita

Photography: Toby Peet

A palette of burnt orange and sunshine yellow brings the warmth in at Chica Bonita, which has interiors designed by Studio Gram. There’s texture everywhere, from the original parquet flooring – protected under the building’s heritage listing– to the rough-plastered walls and the velvet banquettes.
156 Clarence St, Sydney NSW 2000

CicciaBella

Photography: Vaida Savickaite

Plates of antipasti and seasonal pasta are served up in the semi-industrial, broody interiors of Ciccia Bella. On first glance, the concrete floors and counters, and corrugated ceilings, lend the space an industrial feel, but look closer and there’s quirks to be found, including tie-dye hangings and love messages written in the fresh cement.
75-79 Hall St, Bondi Beach NSW 2026

Charlie Parker’s

Photography: courtesy ACME

Charlie Parker’s is a basement cocktail den that hones a ‘lived-in’ look thanks to its scattered rugs, dark wood accents and pools of light cast by fringed lamps. Worn leather banquettes line up next to exposed brickwork, and there’s a fireplace nook to curl up by and enjoy a fermented banana cocktail and a plate of charcuterie and pickles.
Basement/380 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 2021

Wagaya

Photography: Andrew Worssam & Jayden Huang

Guests to Wagaya slurp their raman in a neon-lit ‘tunnel’ designed to recall the cherry blossom-covered streets of Japan during the hanami season. Span Design created the space, contrasting cobalt blue tiles with pastel pink walls. The kitchen is wrapped in perforated wood, to help the aroma of cooking food waft out and into the restaurant.
Shop 8, 92 Parramatta Road, Lidcome, NSW 2141

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