An impressive list of restaurateurs has made Southbank’s fare synonymous with high quality dining, and our introduction of Downstairs Bistro & Lounge is no exception. Words by Ryan Auberson-Walsh
Sitting proudly along Balmain’s blossoming tree-lined streets are a generous number of dining spots pouring some of Sydney’s best coffee, and plating up tender treats for their patrons.
Many among them are already local institutions, but we think it’s time the word got out for people far and wide to swing on by, enjoy a cuppa and chow down for breakfast, lunch, dinner or any naughty snacking in between. We’ve done the intense work (if you call eating your way through two suburbs a life-ruiner), and come up with our favourite dining order – but that doesn’t mean you can’t commit to a future return for any other mealtime munching. Words by Ryan Auberson-Walsh
We have finally tracked down a Sydney brunch spot worth taking your mother-in-law to. A round of applause to Copo Cafe & Diner in Drummoyne. Words by Ryan Auberson-Walsh
Let’s be honest, one of the most stressful parts of ordering a meal is the ever present “food regret”. You think you’re choosing the right dish and when everyone gets served, you get that sinking feeling. Thankfully, you can avoid this dining disaster by visiting Mexicano, another addition to Neutral Bay’s restaurant scene that encourages groups to share and try each dish. Problem solved.
New digs in Neutral Bay for Mexicano
Even though it’s tucked between the slew of new small bars in Waters Rd, you’ll be able to spot Mexicano straight away with the huge skull that marks the spot. Step inside, and you’ll be welcomed by long community style share tables with mural style art splattered across them. Sharing is the aim of the game so the best way to start is with a plate of fries with Valentine sauce. Next for appetisers? Anything with chipotle mayo.
These hand cut fries are made daily in Mexicano’s signature potato press
As you move to main course, your food regret anxiety might begin to kick in. But don’t worry. The best way to play it is to order a round of tacos and quesadillas for the table. If you’ve got a vegetarian in the group, the triple cheese quesadillas are the way to go. For the carnivores amongst you, it’s certainly worth ordering the slow cooked beef brisket tacos with Mexican slaw. Throw in some fish tacos for good measure and everybody will be happy.
The only time you might want to keep a course to yourself is dessert. The team at Mexicano have put together a dessert menu that goes from the humble ice-cream sandwich to salted caramel and ancho chilli chocolate truffles (there’s four to a serve but maybe you should keep that information to yourself).
Mexicano may be the new kid on the block but the locals are already flooding to get their fix.
2a Waters Rd, Neutral Bay
Tues-Sat from 6pm
Weekend bookings essential
It might be brutal on the body, the words agony and excruciating no understatement, but carving up rural dirt roads on a well-used mountain bike pedals a rather unexpected turn of events into action. Words by Ryan Auberson-Walsh
Sydney locals will tell you that spending a day and a night out in the city is not a cheap task. It’s time to plan your summer days around a few Sydney secrets that will keep your friends happy and your wallet full.
Amidst the jumble of cafes and bookstores on Glebe Point Rd you can find the Glebe markets, the perfect place to start your day with a search amongst the bric-a-brac and some seriously yummy food. The stalls are spread over the local public school and guide you on a windy path through handmade jewellery, second hand clothes and original artworks. You can grab a Turkish coffee or homemade lemonade to tide your over until you have picked through the trinkets and clothes, all to the soundtrack of the live bands that set up their instruments in the far corner of the school. It’s the vibe of the place that makes a day at the markets a relaxing start to the weekend.
Soaking up the sun with some live tunes is the best way to enjoy a tasty market lunch.
After you’ve scored a few good finds, it’s best to sprawl out on the grass with a spot of lunch. The yard stick of good market food seems to be the good old Gozleme, which is freshly rolled and fried in record time by the seamless crew behind the stall. If you’re in the mood for something a little lighter to munch on in the sunshine, the salads with vegie balls are a market favourite. This is part one to your cheap and cheerful day in Sydney. It’s best to take your time and enjoy the ambience before moving onto phase two.
As afternoon sets in and the tired stall owners pack away their colourful wares, the next step is an evening drink in the beer garden at the Australian Youth Hotel. The dappled sunlight serves as some cooling relief on a warm day. Sharing a bottle of rose is surprisingly cheap but if you’re more of a beer drinker, there are plenty of on tap ales and lagers to choose from. You can settle in here all afternoon is you want but by dinner time you might want to save a little cash and head out for a cheap feast.
Soy braised eggplant is a Cho favourite (Source)
When you’ve spent your day idly wandering from one place to the next, you’ll definitely be woken up with a trip down the road to the outskirts of China Town. Appearances can certainly be deceptive when you’re choosing a place to grab some dumplings with friends but don’t be fooled. The only way you will be able to tell how good Cho Dumpling King is from the outside, is by the line that snakes out the door. While you queue up, send a friend to the bottle shop for some wine and beers before you get ushered over to a group table. It’s best to come prepared with some meals in mind as the service is quick. The soft and sticky fried eggplant is always a hit (especially to soak up some of that afternoon drinking) and obviously a generous few rounds of different dumplings are in order. You’ll be shocked to find that this variable feast will barely cost you more than $10 and it’s some of the best Chinese food Sydney has to offer.
So there you have it. A few new knick knacks to add to your collection, a great summertime pub and deliciously cheap meal to round it all off. Sydney’s perfect day, for a perfect price.
One of the joys of the warmer months is the humble picnic. But picnics aren’t so humble anymore. Enter the two English foodies who have formed the Sydney Picnic Company, with a gourmet basket for each and every occasion.
Simon and Natalie Thomas were just a pair of newlyweds on their Sydney honeymoon when they fell in love with the spectacular picnic spots that Sydney has to offer. Now, twelve years later, they have taken the picnic basket far beyond a roast chicken and a couple of dinner rolls.
The couple offer fresh, seasonal hampers filled with everything you need for the perfect picnic. Their most popular hamper, the Sydney Picnic, comes with Australian king prawns tossed in Sichuan salt and pepper. Open the lid a little wider and you’ll discover free range roast chicken on a bed of fregola tossed with lemon and toasted pepitas. Each basket has a little twist and Natalie and Simon have just introduced their Spring Picnic which offers a jumble of salads and hearty mains, paired with double cream French brie (they love to use Aussie produce, but Natalie lives by French cheese) and a blueberry compote with crushed salted shortbread with vanilla cream.
Packed to perfection. These hampers aren’t missing a single thing.
This is a truly different way to dine. What once was a favourite with couples celebrating anniversaries and birthdays, has now become a popular treat for hen’s nights, baby showers and even weddings. Simon and Natalie are constantly tailoring each basket to reflect every occasion, offering delicious additions like an extra cheese course or a vegetarian and gluten free option.
A sneak-peek of Simon and Natalie’s basket for an al fresco wedding reception.
So maybe it’s time to head outside and choose a spot on the grass without the fuss of packing your own basket. Sit back, relax and let the Sydney Picnic Company take care of everything.
Contact Natalie on 0420 943 670
Bookings should be made 48 hours in advance