George St takes city's dining crown off Surry Hills

Culinary hotspot: George Street Sydney.
Culinary hotspot: George Street Sydney. Photo: Supplied

Where is Sydney's hottest, most happening eat street? If you thought Crown Street, Surry Hills, think again. The city's George Street takes the crown as Sydney's star culinary strip. And the CBD is our dining epicentre.

Twenty years ago, even if you worked on George Street you would not think of eating there, says chief reviewer of The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, Terry Durack.

But the traffic-choked stretch from Circular Quay to Haymarket now has more than 20 listed restaurants tucked along and around it (10 with a George Street address). Crown Street, which for many years has grabbed much of the attention for being Sydney's hippest dining destination, has six places listed in the 2014 Good Food Guide.

There are 24 restaurants in Surry Hills that are good enough to qualify for the guide (restaurants must score over 12 out of 20 to make it into the book), with five new entrants this year.

The city is jammed with 56 guide-worthy restaurants, with 10 openings in the past year, including Mr Wong, Ananas, Cafe Nice and China Lane, and more will come in the next six months. The city has undergone a food and drink-fuelled renaissance, says guide editor Joanna Savill. ''People never used to think 'Oh, I'll head to the city for a great night out','' Savill says.

"Even until only a couple of years ago, if you wanted a fun night out, you would head to Surry Hills. But the life, the buzz, the activity and the great food seem to be heading to the city."

China Lane opened just off George St, in Angel Place.
China Lane opened just off George St, in Angel Place. Photo: Sahlan Hayes

Justin Hemmes, Merivale chief executive, says the city was once not considered a night dining destination at all. ''But now it is. This is a huge change. There is such an influx of places opening, it is very exciting,'' says Hemmes, who opened one of the first high-profile venues on George Street, Establishment, in 2000.

The city also has the greatest concentration of two- and three-hatted restaurants (those which score 16 and over). Only 23 restaurants out of 600 reviews rate two or three hats and 10 of these are in the city.

But the key to the city's boom-town style transformation is the mix of establishments that have opened - the great bar/restaurants such as Tapavino, 2014 Best Bar with Food winner, and funky bars around Bulletin Place and the casual eateries hidden in laneways off George Street.

Potts Point and Kings Cross combine to take the guide's nod as Sydney's next hottest eat beat, with newcomers The Bourbon, Farmhouse, Monopole and soon another from the Monopole crew, Yellow, spicing up the already thriving area.

Alexandria and Rosebery have also had a huge amount of action in the past few years, says Durack. Surry Hills had five openings this year including MoVida, Baccomatto Osteria, Mexico Food & Liquor and Bishop Sessa.