Sydney Neighborhoods with good restaurants that cater to locals
I'm moving to Sydney in a couple months for work and have never been there. I'm trying to get a flavor of the different neighborhoods based on the restaurants. I don't have much info yet, not even where the office will be located so I'm pretty open, but would like to keep the commute as short as possible to the CBD (my assumption on where the office will be). I'm looking for a fun vibe with a good population in their 20-30s. Good chef-owned restaurants that care about the quality of the ingredients. Don't need anything crazy, just good chefs that love to cook. Any suggestiong are greatly appreciated.
It is a tricky question to answer because Sydney has a number of CBD's. The true CDB is where you find the Finance industry, across the Bridge in North Sydney and up the Pacific Highway you find IT etc. and then further out in Rhodes the companies that have cut costs and moved HQ's out of the centre. Each of these offers quite a different set of commuting options (some areas don't have trains), and related dining, and most inner suburbs have good food.
In the Eastern suburbs you have a mix of old money and new money mixed up with the Gay centre. So some good old restaurants as well as funky new openings. Lots of great quality and lots of variety, areas to look at include Potts Point, Darlinghurst, Surrey Hills, Paddington, and a bit further out Bondi Beach (although the commute here is lengthy). The inner west has traditionally been a cheaper option and has some "fun vibe" areas, Newtown and Glebe are close to Sydney Uni and have a reasonable selection of good value restaurants, and the Balmain (tricky commute) is young professionals with some nice restaurants but maybe lacks "edge". Leichhardt and Haberfield are the old centres of the Italian community and have great food. To the North the food options are fewer, with Crows Nest and St Leonards being best (lots of good Indian and Asian food), other Northern Suburbs get a bit "family" so the volume of good restaurants falls; but that said you are never far from good food in Sydney. If you want to live centrally the area around Haymarket and Broadway has a lot of great Asian restaurants and lots of new units. South of the city (on the way to the Airport) there is a lot of new development and some good food shopping, but seems a bit of a restaurant desert at the moment.
To sum up, I think the inner west or inner east are the best areas for great restaurants both are OK for the central CBD but the commute gets a bit trickier if you are over the bridge. Get a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, either the book or the Iphone app. This is the definitive guide to good food in town, to can augment that with Gourmet Traveller and Cheap Eats guides but the SMH GFG has 400+ of the best places to eat ranging from cheap and cheerful to the best fine diners, and they use a fairly accurate rating scale (not perfect but better than most).
Have fun, and welcome to Sydney.
Thanks for the suggestions. Sounds like I'll need to wait to hear where the office is before settling on a location.
I'm also glad to see you're in Sydney. You helped me make some great restaurant decisions on my first trip to Paris this past spring. Hopefully I'll be able to take your advice on the Sydney dining scene.