Cafe Sopra, Waterloo
Fratelli Fresh's Cafe Sopra manages to be both a beloved old-faithful and a fun, vibrant venue. Its enormous blackboard menu of fresh and feisty Italian dishes never fails to excite.
Best new restaurant
Green Peppercorn, Fairfield
Fairfield has hit the jackpot with this schmick Thai-Lao restaurant and bar. The decor - complete with a shiny tuk-tuk - packs almost as much punch as the food, which ranges from fiery papaya salad to sweet pandan brulee.
Marrickville Pork Roll, Marrickville
Vietnamese pork rolls are well known for their big flavour and small price, and we reckon this banh mi bolt-hole serves up Sydney's best. A crusty roll, packed full, for $4? It's hole-in-the-wall heaven.
Under $30 hall of fame
El Jannah, Granville
Granville's legendary Lebanese chicken shop joins fellow stalwart Faheem Fast Food, Enmore, in our hall of fame. Its roast chooks and fluffy garlic dip attract queues for a reason.
The Grounds of Alexandria, Alexandria
This ambitious cafe has a reputation for insanely long queues, but starting the day with coffee, roasted on site, and brekkie offers such as soft-boiled eggs rolled in crispy quinoa is worth the wait.
Best sweet spot
Black Star Pastry, Newtown
Black Star Pastry gets a Big Gold Star for their phenomenal strawberry, watermelon and rose cream cake. And their eclairs. And their bread-and-butter pudding. Oh, ok, we confess - we love it all.
Best vegetarian feed
Bread & Circus, Alexandria
The name fits at this lovable wholefoods canteen (give the people food and fun and they'll be content). On the menu: brilliant brekkies, sensational salads, DIY sandwich boxes and more.
Via Napoli, Lane Cove
The prospect of pizza by the metre wouldn't be nearly as exciting if we weren't talking Via Napoli pizza. The puffy-crusted, thin-based beauties here are so good, you can never have too much.
Din Tai Fung, Sydney
Ok, so 'xiao long bao' are buns by name, not dumplings, but Din Tai Fung's lovely loose parcels filled with pork and hot broth, are addictively delicious, and guaranteed to hit the spot when a 'dumpling' craving strikes.
Sustainable practice champ
This super-popular, community-minded cafe is commendably devoted to local and sustainable produce - including honey from beehives on the roof, and fruit and vegies from their besotted customers.
The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Under $30 will be sold for $5 with the paper this Saturday. It's also available in bookshops and at The Sydney Morning Herald online shop (smhshop.com.au) for $10.