Surry Hills has long been a Sydney dining mecca, buzzing every night of the week with food and wine lovers. With new openings keeping the suburb fresh and vibrant, the only problem is choosing between dozens of excellent options. Here are four of the best spots around.
You’ll smell this Surry Hills institution before you see it, with the zesty aromas of the South East Asian cuisine wafting down the street and making your mouth water as you walk inside. Grab a drink in the Longrain bar (the famous Ping Pong lemon, lychee, and passion fruit cocktail is always a great idea), then move into the expansive dining room and find a spot at one of the communal tables for the main event. Start with the famous smoked river trout betel leaves with grated fresh green papaya, chilli, and fresh mint, then move on to a collection of dishes to share, including the whole crispy fried market fish with tamarind, chilli, and lime, or the caramelised pork hock with five spice and chilli vinegar.
You’ll leave this restaurant feeling not just content, but also really, really good about yourself, since the entire profits go to not-for-profit organisations (Folonomo is short for ‘For Love Not Money’). The pared back Surry Hills space, with its bare brick walls, sleek bar, and outdoor courtyard, will draw you in, but it’s the healthy, nutritious food that will keep you there all night. Think chicken cooked slowly in white wine, served with house-made Tunisian-style harissa, fresh coriander, and hazelnuts, or cauliflower rice tossed with shredded silver beet, cucumber, mint, sesame, and toasted tamari pepitas. Drink a glass of the delicious kombucha, or trot to the bottle shop down the road with your 15 percent discount voucher to grab a bottle of wine (the alcohol licence is on its way).
At Dragoncello, every meal is an innovative one. Grab a spot on the Chesterfield-style leather banquette seating lining the pop art-covered wall in the rustic downstairs bar, and sip on a cocktail or craft beer. When hunger strikes, head upstairs to the spacious dining room, where you can choose between a la carte, full, or half degustation menus. The team in the kitchen sources seasonal produce from three gardens, and you’ll taste the freshness as you dig into upscale dishes like frozen chicken liver pate with chamomile jelly, or more traditional nosh like pan-fried mackerel with smoked garlic, confit potato, and preserved lemon dressing.
You’ll no doubt be distracted by watching the chefs work their magic in the on-show kitchen, but that’s not all this hip industrialised space, with its exposed ceilings and poured concrete floors, has to offer. Don’t delay ordering at Nomad, because deliciousness like Devils on Horseback (fresh dates wrapped in pancetta), house-made halloumi, Arabic-style beef tartare, and excellent homemade cheeses—as well as the various vinegars and pickles you’ll spy dotted around the place—are all there waiting for you. As are tasty cocktails like the Trinidad Sour, made with bitters, whiskey, sweet syrup, and lemon juice, and an extensive selection of great Australian wines, with every single wine available by the glass. Bottoms up!