Single diner in Sydney
I'm an Denverite that's recently moved to Adelaide for work. I am going on my first trip to Sydney at the end of June and planning out some options for eating. I was a huge foodie in Denver, and am a little sad in Adelaide so far.
I will be in Sydney for 3 days staying in Pyrmont. I would like to have to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and maybe a bar or two options. I'll be on public transport or walking (don't mind walking 30+min). My current plans include a rugby game on Sunday afternoon, a tour of the Opera house, and maybe Harbor Bridge. I'll eat about anything (except organ meat), and I've read other Sydney threads, but would like to find some places that I won't stick out/bother staff as a single diner, bonus if it's a social enough place I can chat with others.
I eat out alone on business trips to Perth & Canberra and nobody bats an eyelid. Without knowing your budget or preferences, there are so many places in Sydney it would be exhausting to list them all for you. However, Cafe Morso is a good breakfast option in Pyrmont
So is Pen
I always found Adelaide to be a foodie heaven with good well priced food. Hopefully, you have tuned into the local scene with the smaller, newer places getting the buzz.
Two, bar seating places are Rockpool (very high end) andRockpool Bar & Grill, the first let's you book the bar, the second you just squeeze in. Sake in the Rocks also has good bar seating. The Cafe Sopra restaurants have bar seating (various locations) and they do good food in a very casual atmosphere. If you want great Thai places like Longrain, Chaat Thai and Spice I am, will be OK solo although you can't book.
Most other places with bars don't serve at the bar so you need to book a table. Breakfast and lunch are casual, lots of great breakfast options in suburbs like Surry Hills. Potts Point, or up on Oxford Strret near Woolhara (good trendy shops and a clothes market on Saturday). Pyrmont and Darling Harbour have one or two OK spots but it would be better to get out and about to other suburbs.
I'm working on Adelaide spots, just trying to find my way through the schnitzel! I am also still suffering from being spoiled in Denver/price shock.
Thanks for the options so far. I would love one nice dinner (read expensive) with the other meals more about fun location/good vibe with solid food. I don't have a huge appetite, so small plates, tapas style tend to do really well with me so that I can try 2-4 things rather than 1 main. My favorite foods normally are ethiopian, indian, mexican, thai, vietnemese...but I"m always up for trying new things.
During my visit to Sydney, in Feb. 2011, I dined solo at The Terrace, Woollahra Hotel/Moncur. The service was attentive and well paced. Food was lovely. None of my selections are on the current on-line menu. I was seated at a good-for-me table, next to a group which whom I exchanged menu thoughts. The floor manager/maitre d' was keen to assist with wine pairings when I asked.
High priced by Denver standards, but certainly reasonable for refined casual dining in Sydney.
If you are staying in Pyrmont, you will be close to the Fish Markets, and that's a good lunch spot if you like seafood. Some of the stalls are heavy on the fried food, but you can get a wonderful selection of oysters, sashimi/sushi, and there's one place that will cook your fish selection to order.
For single person dining, I second PhilD's recommendation for Spice I Am in Surry Hills (or their sister restaurant House, down the street), or there's a couple of spots in "Thaitown", Chat Thai or Thanon Khao San on Pitt Street, for good Thai. You might also consider Malaysian, either at Mamak, or there is Kopitiam in Ultimo, which borders on Pyrmont and would be a short walk from your hotel.
A fun place that I like that is also on the cheap end of the spectrum and well-suited to single diners because of the crazy crowded seating is Menya Oiden (537 George St, inside the little shopping centre). This is a Japanese kushiage place where you get in line to order a bowl of udon or rice/yakitori, and then there is a cafeteria-style--but very fresh-- selection of breaded and fried meats and veggies to add to your bowl. It's cheap as chips, and really delicious. Pay at the counter and jostle for a seat at the communal tables. They have a sister restaurant next door, Menya Mappen, which is the same deal, but more focus on noodles. Pro tip: get the onsen egg with your bowl.
Reasonably close to Circular Quay is Malay Chinese, 50-58 Hunter Street, which is ideal for the single diner-- again with the crowded shared seating-- and one of the better places for laksa. If you are an American new to Australia, and especially Sydney, you must try laksa. However, they are only open during the day on Saturday (close at 5:00), closed on Sunday, and lunch-7:30pm on weekdays.
For Indian, I really like the southern Indian thalis and dosas at Maya Indian Sweets in Surry Hills (on Cleveland, near the corner of Crown St.). (No alcohol served, however.) Barebones cafeteria style eating, but extremely good.
Crown St. in Surry Hills is a good strip for cafes restaurants, if you are looking for breakfast/brunch. It might be challenging to get a table for one, but you'd be sure to find something eventually. Bill's is kind of a favourite for the ricotta pancakes. You could also try Bourke St. Bakery nearby.
Lastly, this may seem less chow-y, but there is a pie stand in Pyrmont/Ultimo next to the Powerhouse Museum called Hannah's. They're really good pies, and if you're still experimenting with the whole "Australian food" experience, it's a good example of its species.
Here are a few places I like to eat when solo dining, atmosphere plays into it a lot for me, as I like to be able to either people watch or watch the drama of the restaurant.
If you are at the Opera House, Opera Bar and Opera Kitchen are pretty good choices, Opera Kitchen is really like an upscale food court with a few different choices, and Opera Bar (in the same location) is great for a drink on a sunny afternoon.
In the Darlinghurst/Surry HIlls area there are tons of choices really. For a bit more expensive but still casual option there is Fish Face on Darlinghurst road, they have some bar seating and a lot of small tables, I really enjoy the food thre too. ( There aren't as many places to sit at a bar to eat in Sydney as there are in the states)
Miss Chu is a pretty quick and easy rice paper roll otption, and pretty affordable. There are a few locations now, Darlighurst, Bondi, CBD and Opera Kitchen.
A couple of cafes that I like are FourAteFive on Crown street and Bills (the original on Liverpool has a large communal table) people have mixed feelings on Bill's but overall I like it and it is worth a visit at some point.
Crown St. , Stanley St and Victoria st (The side away from King's Cross) all have a bunch of restaurants if you just want to browse around.
In Pyrmont, there is a small cafe called Kibo on Harris St, good coffee. A good pub with decent food in my opinon is Gallon (also on Harris St.) I work in the area but don't really spend time for dinners. It is so close to the CBD though you will have plenty of choices. I don't love the fish market as I find it all a bit overwhelming, but it is fun and worth a visit if you haven't been.