Cuisine: Spanish

Celebrity chef duo, Spaniard Miguel Maestre and Frenchman Manu Feildel, have taken over this now Spanish-focused tapas restaurant. Share plates are $18 (two or three plus the paella $35 are enough for two), though if your budget and belly allow, graze all night. Miguel’s stint at El Bulli shows in the chunky, nutty rabbit terrine, flamenco eggs and pigs’ trotters: rich cylinders of salty farce balanced with a bite of shredded celeriac and apple. When the paella comes, coiffed with crustaceans, fence forks with your opponent for the crispy grains on the pan base. Finish with fingers of crispy, soft-
centred, chocolate-dipped churros $15. A small wine list offers drops from France, Spain and down the road, with good to exquisite ones by the glass. 

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Cuisine: Spanish,Greek

Is the exposed air-con and plumbing décor of this new Greek restaurant a comment on the homeland’s austerity measures? Or, like the big square mezes bar, a show of confidence? If Jonathan Barthelemess (ex Manly Pavilion) and his brigade keep pumping out food this good, it’s not misplaced. Everything was as good Greek should be: great ingredients, mega flavours. The pot of (undyed) mullet roe taramasalata $12 with warm, herbed flat-bread was the best this side of Piraeus. The pig’s tail salad with walnuts, sorrel, currants, pomegranate and farro $16 gets our vote for best new Sydney dish. And cinnamon donuts stuffed with rosewater jelly and napped in chocolate sauce $12 was a triumph. The Full Greek $55 just tips our $$ price point but looks well worth it. Co-owner Sam Christie has put together a great wine list.

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Cuisine: Spanish,Greek,Thai

“Inside wall Paris, outside wall peasant” is how owner Kham describes Arun Thai’s popular yet well-preserved Royal Thai cuisine. Kham and his chef brigade of 20 years believe in serving only the very best ingredients, fit for a king. Silk-covered teak chairs, Persian rugs and white linen tablecloths depict a time of the Chakri dynasty in all its grandeur. A green papaya salad $16.50 fragrant with lime and hot chilli kickstarts the feast and, if it’s on, follow with a slow-cooked lamb shank curry $25.50, sweetly spiced with cardamom and cinnamon. There’s a reason why the crispy soy duck with spicy sauce $24.50 is their signature dish and why Kham himself is just as popular as the food.

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Cuisine: Spanish,Greek,Thai,Yum Cha

The humble dumpling ... so popular are these perfect little flavour-filled parcels in Sydney, an entire restaurant chain has been designed around them. With locations also in Surry Hills, Newtown and Balmain, this chilled-out Potts Point eatery, tucked away in a quiet alley, has a beer garden atmosphere outside and feeling of retro Shanghai within. Our favourites here were the pork and prawn dumplings $9.50 (for five) with skin as tender and juicy as the moist fillings, and the xiao long bao $9.50 (for five) for the satisfying explosion of warm soup. The set menus $20/$27.50 offer dumplings aplenty and a chance to try other tantalising dishes such as Peking duck pancake. Grab a bench outside to watch the crowds on the nearby main drag while you enjoy your bite-sized pods of dumpling nirvana. 

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Cuisine: Spanish,Greek,Thai,Yum Cha,Vietnamese

It’s not often you come across an owner as gracious as Mai Tran. With Tetsuya himself a regular diner, Mai manages to keep her prices the same as when they first opened (despite recent renovations). But that’s Mai for you. She also caters to whatever food allergies and dietary requirements you may have — nice, isn’t she? She’ll keep you smiling with her food, too. Start with Peking duck pancakes (skin and breast), cucumber, shallots and homemade hoisin sauce $7.95. You’ll see why other chefs frequent the place with lip-smacking offerings like spicy softshell crab $19.95 and, if it’s on, pork belly $7.95/$15.95 marinated in honey, cinnamon and five spice, its single layer of fat grilled to crackling perfection.

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Cuisine: Spanish,Greek,Thai,Yum Cha,Vietnamese,Italian

This Sydney trendies’ hangout at the backpacker end of Potts Point is themed Americana, as the name suggests. Seemingly without any explanation there is nothing American on the modern Italian menu. Nor are the wines delivered via illicit means ... though, you never know, being so close to the Cross. Arancini $10 are topped with a knock-your-socks-off smoky tomato sauce. Tender baby calamari $17 is standard bar fare these days but here the texture is spot-on. The cheese board $18 (small) stays loyal to Italy, featuring pecorino, taleggio and gorgonzola. The nosh, however, plays second fiddle to the extensive wine list. A 2009 Franz Haas ‘Kris’ Pinot Grigio, $11 a glass, is an easygoing match for the nibbles and the unhurried activity of seeing and being seen. Note: no bookings.

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Cuisine: Spanish,Greek,Thai,Yum Cha,Vietnamese,Italian,Czech

Inspired by central Europe with its wood panelling, flags decorating the facade and casual vibe, this friendly diner is focused on hearty, authentic Czech and Slovak food that’s kind to your wallet. Individual menus for beer (including five Czech varieties), food, wine and, would you believe, absinthe set the scene for a night of merriment. Entrees might include smoked sausages $9.80, duck liver pâté with plum and port sauce, or the chef’s crispy platter of cauliflower, mushrooms and brie with tartare and cranberry sauce, both $12.50. Rich, slow-cooked stews and roasts to warm the cockles of your heart dominate the mains, such as half a slow-roasted free-range roast duck with tangy sauerkraut, red cabbage and mixed dumplings $23. A variety of traditional strudels and sweet dumplings, such as strawberry (about $9) come in huge servings. Now, for that absinthe ...

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Cuisine: Spanish,Greek,Thai,Yum Cha,Vietnamese,Italian,Czech,Indian

India Down Under has turned 21 and we know why it has stood the test of time: prompt, friendly service and chefs who will gladly make or tweak dishes to keep customers satisfied. The wide selection of north Indian, vegetarian or tandoor delicacies will appeal to both Indian cuisine novices and those who know their stuff. Signature must-try dishes are the succulent and tender goat curry, slow cooked on the bone in ginger, garlic and spices $22.90, or the lamb bhoona $20.90 cooked in the pan with spices, garlic, ginger and coconut. Beef nilgiri, made with coriander, mint, cashews and spinach $17.90, is another standout. Charming and elegant arched windows with traditional decor enhance this spacious, tucked-away treat in a quiet corner of Potts Point.

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Cuisine: Spanish,Greek,Thai,Yum Cha,Vietnamese,Italian,Czech,Indian,Modern Asian

Enter Ms G’s, the newest gourmet outfit by restaurateur Justin Hemmes, and you’ll become cool by osmosis. The neon-pink signage, huge open doors, retro black-and-white tiles, graffiti-covered wall and nautical rope scattered across the space invite you to leave traditional tastes behind. Grab some Asian-inspired dishes and mix up the culinary thrills. We loved sea scallops, coriander, celery and miso-ranch dressing $16 and crispy spiced tofu and steamed eggplant $22. Grilled king prawns $30, served naked with a ramekin of lime and chilli relish, were stunning in their simplicity. The service is attentive but get in early and fend off the eager hipsters if you don’t want to be plonked on a communal table — individual tables overlooking the courtyard make for a more personal experience.

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Cuisine: Spanish,Greek,Thai,Yum Cha,Vietnamese,Italian,Czech,Indian,Modern Asian,Czech

This gorgeously rustic bar and restaurant is a little piece of Prague in Kings Cross, tucked inside a cosily converted terrace with sandstone walls, old fireplaces and bar benches made from recycled wooden beer kegs. Jan Koller’s robust central European food is hugely flavoursome in portions that will intimidate even the heartiest of eaters. Start with a traditional goulash $11.90 or salmon carpaccio with dill, parmesan, olive oil and a sprinkling of vodka $11.90. Golden roasted duck $25.90 is served on a mountain of potato dumplings, red cabbage and sauerkraut. A meat platter for two $49.50 includes duck, pork knuckle and marinated pork ribs. Wash it all down with one of the genuine Bohemian beers on tap or a digestion-friendly pear brandy $6.90.

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