It’s been a long year and summer has never been more welcome. With that in mind, settle into a well-deserved Sydney summer by shucking off everything but your swimwear. Grab a pile of good books, a decent sized hat, and enjoy some of the city’s most convivial waterside dining, whether you’re river-bound or beachside. On a boat and unwilling to get off? There are options for that, too – the most you need to do is sail by and drop an anchor. Secured a brilliant beach pozzie and can’t move position to grab lunch? We’ve got you. Drink deep, snack hard and cool off.

The Boathouse

You’ve been for a bodysurf, finished the latest Trent Dalton and you’re ready to hang your fins up for the day in favour of a crisp rosé, a seafood platter and a bucket of prawns. The Boathouse Group, with venues in Patonga, Palm Beach, Shelly Beach and Balmoral Beach, delivers on slow-casual good times for the unhurried and unshod. 

Bathers Kiosk

Bathers Pavilion, Balmoral Beach’s much-loved destination restaurant, also boasts a kiosk for food fans who don’t want to leave their patch of sand to grab lunch. Order takeaway fish and chips, coffee and pastries and settle under that beach umbrella. Alternately, throw on an oversized linen shirt and book in for chef Ty Bellingham’s Chiang Mai duck at Betel Leaf @ Bathers.  

Clareville Kiosk

Find the sweet weatherboard cottage restaurant right across the road from the beach serving an approachable menu with just the right amount of whimsy. This is one of the few places in Sydney serving a roolio troolio ’80s prawn cocktail, complete with marie rose sauce (mayonnaise, worcestershire, tomato and lemon). Elsewhere on the three-course set menu, there’s a chocolate Tim Tam brownie with vanilla ice-cream. BYO sun-ripe skin and salty hair.

Coogee Pavilion.

Coogee Pavilion. Photo: Steven Siewert

Coogee Pavilion

Bought by the Merivale Group a few years back, Coogee Pav has become a beachside fixture serving a killer margherita pizza in the main bar downstairs, tapas and sherry in middle bar Una Mas and a mud crab to be reckoned with in top-level fine diner Mimi’s. Don’t let the crowds of highly groomed diners set the tone – it’s way cooler to dress down and spend big. 

Coogee Wine Room

The soul of a European bar in the heart of a beachside suburb, boasting ex-Est. sommelier Bhatia Dheeraj, a 26-page wine list filled with heavy-hitters, and chef Sandro Di Marino’s menu of smart snacks such as char-grilled octopus with lentils and Olasagasti Cantabrian anchovies with chickpea bread. Best for cooling off in the summer evenings once the heat of the day breaks.


The wonderful thing about Maurice Terzini’s fine diner, perched on the cliff looking over the cool expanse of Bondi Beach, is you can actually see the linen-clad waiters moving around the restaurant while you’re swimming in the sea. While you’re bobbing about, have a think about your lunch plans. Gnaw on a salt cod cruller, then hook into a dry-aged lamb chop with something from Gabrielle Webster’s excellent wine list on your lips and a day of leisure in your limbs.


This is one of those big-ticket waterside restaurants you’ll actually want to change out of your beach clothes for. Start with Gibsons on the clifftop lawn looking out over Whale Beach, then head inside for arguably one of the most exhaustive wine lists in the country and a menu of breezy contemporary Italian food. And if you really want to give it a nudge, book into the onsite accommodation and forget the rest of the world exists. 


Mosman Rowers Club.

Mosman Rowers Club. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Mosman Rowers

The recently renovated Mosman Rowers, sitting pretty on the harbour, “welcomes wet bums, sandy feet and paws”. Take it from sea to seat with a Bloody Mary, some finger-scorching salt and pepper squid and a bucket of prawns, just as nature intended. They even do a full breakfast menu for early-risers including a properly excellent bacon and egg roll. 

Newport Arms

The Northern Beaches’ answer to Coogee Pavilion, there are more choices than you can throw a pair of boat shoes at here when it comes to dining options, from wood-fired pizza to a seafood market featuring scallop carpaccio and fresh prawns by the bucket. If you’re looking to throw it all on black, Bert’s Brasserie offers plush comfort and big ticket dining options. Any which way the chips fall (and yes, there are those too), there are cold beers to be enjoyed in the enormous beer garden. 

A room with a view at North Bondi Fish.

A room with a view at North Bondi Fish.

North Bondi Fish

If ever there was a place to eat fish and chips by the beach while also drinking a seaside martini while still in your sandy wet togs, this is it. There’s a daily sashimi menu, fish tacos to snack on, and for something slightly more substantial, strozzapreti and slipper crab pasta. Given it’s North Bondi, and summer, bookings are highly recommended but even if you take a chance with a walk-in, you can still grab a drink while you wait. 

Ormeggio at the Spit

Head to chef Alessandro Pavoni’s reimagined modern Italian restaurant perched on the Mosman Spit, where seafood rules and waterside tables are prime real estate. The trick here is to head later in the afternoon to catch the last of the summer rays over your Tasmanian yellowfin crudo and steamed Queensland mud crab. Don’t miss the whole wheat sourdough – this is possibly the best restaurant-made bread in the city. 


A salty little Bondi wine bar for salty sea dogs. Go large on snacks from the hibachi grill or hit the focaccia and cured meats section as hard as you please. Larger dishes such as tripoline with pork shoulder ragu and green olives are just the ticket after a hard day of bodysurfing, and there’s nothing like the revivifying power of a pisco sour to bring your palate back if you swallowed more salt water than you’d care to admit. 

Pilu Baretto

Chef Mitch Orr is on the pans at this casual offshoot of Freshwater Beach’s Sardinian fine diner, Pilu. Here you’ll find his signature non-prescriptive take on old Italian favourites such as zucchini flowers, here served with Sichuan-style strange flavour sauce, hash browns smothered in melted taleggio, and Jatz with salami. Visit in the evening for sunset granita and barbecued octopus. 

Queen Chow

Fun and ease are the names of the game here at this Manly Wharf Cantonese diner. Take a walk over to the beach, tackle the surf then land here for dumplings, Tsing Taos and pipis stir-fried with XO sauce. They also do an excellent old-school sweet-and-sour pork and if you’ve travelled over by ferry, you can watch yet another one pass you by as you settle into your seat instead of heading home. 

Sean's Panaroma in Bondi Beach.

Sean’s Panaroma in Bondi Beach. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Sean’s Panaroma​

Never doubt the everlasting, always amazing power of the long lunch at this Bondi perennial. Nowhere is quite as open to bare feet, sea-fresh bodies and a healthy appetite. A concise menu of produce-driven dishes might include nettle pasta, a hefty corn-fed roast chook, and the signature farm plate, packed with plenty of ingredients from his Blue Mountains property. Don’t miss the baked custard if it happens to be on. Soul-stirring. 

Totti’s, Bondi

You could pretty easily just order some puffy, wood-fired bread, all scorched and chewy, with a table-load of antipasti (very good prosciutto, gooey burrata, fiery ‘nduja, a slice of perfectly ripe rockmelon) but that’d mean missing out on the pasta. Twists of casarecce through spicy sugo with curls of prawns and a last-minute fling of mint. Or chubby rigatoni with a tender blonde pork ragu. And of course, there’s the Neapolitan ice-cream sandwich for dessert. All this out the back of a pub on Bondi road. Pretty wonderful for locals and visitors alike. 

Whale Beach Deli

All-day brunch, nowhere to be and a pile of unread New Yorkers from April? Hello, summer. Settle in with a smoked salmon croissant, or maybe a grilled squid salad and a cold pressed juice and relax in their sun-dappled courtyard. 

Watsons Bay Hotel Beach Club

Long summer days, balmy summer nights, a menu of approachable, family-friendly dishes (fish burgers, buckets of prawns, fresh pasta, tiramisu) and $14 tequila slushies – what more do you want in a Sydney summer? Just add bobbing boats, and spritzes on ice. If you’re not keen on dining in, they’ll set you up with a picnic pack, and if you’re sea-bound, they’ll even offer on-boat catering. Drop an anchor and hook in.