Throughout the Guide we scatter our popular top 10 lists … 10 of what we believe are the best places to, say, slurp on great noodles or drink in harbour views. We thought you would be keen to know the places we think offer great value for money. Here they are, with a peek at a few other categories thrown in for good measure.
10 William St Paddington
This teensy hideaway does good bar-meets-restaurant dishes, such as the McMario sausage muffin or a $20 orecchiette. Plundering the wine list, however, might tip the balance.
The Animal Newtown
Living up to its name, this above-the-pub diner does bargain roasts - from pig to garlic goat and Sunday roasts with the lot. As for the spit-roasted biodynamic suckling lamb …
The Carrington Surry Hills
Behind the heaving front bar, the fit-out's mock Spanish but with real-deal food. Tapas-y croquetasx and meatballs segue into dishes such as coffeed beef cheeks with carrot puree.
Cipro Pizza al Taglio Alexandria
A wedge of Cipro pizza is a glorious thing. But there's more: maybe polenta with artichokes and broad beans, or a rich, beany osso buco. Prices small. Feel-good factor big.
The Devonshire Surry Hills
The elegance of Jeremy Bentley's contemporary cooking is all the more admirable on Fridays, when a fine three-course lunch costs just $35.
Jugemu & Shimbashi Restaurant Neutral Bay
The handmade soba (buckwheat noodles) are obligatory. So is a teppanyaki-grilled okonomiyaki - a student-y, cabbage-y Japanese pancake. An oldie but a goodie.
It would be easy to order every burger style here - try to resist. Then there's Mary's fried chicken with monster mash 'n' gravy. And a glass from the champagne list, of course.
Mexico Food & Liquor Surry Hills
The Mexican wave isn't receding any time soon. Not with colourful taquerias like this one, with quality tacos, feisty quesadillas, citrussy ceviches and a tide of tequila.
Sefa Kitchen Bondi
Modern mezze meets Bondi cool. Grab a group for hummus with bastourma; spiced cauli with home-made labna; sticky beef short ribs with eggplant; and an even stickier booza (Lebanese ice-cream).
The Union Penrith
Sneak in down a hidden lane to sample Ross Dobson's Mediterranean-inspired small plates - most about $12-$15. Stars include empanadas and a plate of local Montecatini salumi.
Berowra Waters Inn Berowra Waters
An architectural icon in sandstone and glass perches cliffside among the gumtrees, the grey-green waters of the secret river (the Hawkesbury) below. Fine modern food keeps the legend alive.
Bird & Bear Boathouse Elizabeth Bay
Sitting on this idyllic pier surrounded by bobbing boats and sipping a Vittoria organic caffe latte is one of the natural perks that come with living in Sydney.
Blackwattle Cafe Glebe
When you think of harbour views, you don't usually think of the view over Blackwattle Bay and the Anzac Bridge, as seen from this cottagey cafe.
The Boathouse Balmoral Beach
It's like having your very own beachhouse right on the water, complete with fresh-air breakfasts, fish and chips and a mighty steak sandwich.
Cafe Sydney Cirular Quay
From the rooftop terrace you get a bird's-eye view of the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and Circular Quay … with a whip-smart menu to suit all comers.
Caffe Moretti Leichhardt
An oldie but a goodie in the midst of Leichhardt Italiana. Slender bases, clean toppings, good flavours. Go the jema - tomato, mozz, chorizo and cime di rapa.
Cipro Pizza al Taglio Alexandria
Fat, fluffy, gooey Roman-style pizza by the slice is the new raison d'etre for born-again pizzaiolo Khan Danis, pastry queen-turned-gelato queen Catherine Adams and their former Rockpool/Spice Temple posse.
Gigi Pizzeria Newtown
Some of the best in the town slides onto the bare wooden tables at this big, loud, concrete-y corner pizzeria. Neapolitan pizza lore is adhered to in the raised crust and the trad toppings.
La Disfida Haberfield
Decades doing the wood-fired thing is a pretty good record. The beautiful Barletta (tomato, mozz, prosciutto, basil) is still on the menu. So is the fresh tomato crudaiola.
Lucio Pizzeria Darlinghurst
We love Lucio's little Neapolitan piazza feel, the commitment to la vera pizza napoletana (lovely blistering bottoms, raised crusts) and sitting outside. Ah, bravo, Lucio.
The Bathers' Pavilion Balmoral Beach
A delicate and dedicated menu of creative vegetarian dishes reflects Bathers' long fascination with non-meat options. The combinations are as pretty as the views.
Billy Kwong Surry Hills
Saltbush meets tatsoi in a savoury Chinese cake, while warrigal greens spark up silverbeet dumplings. Kylie Kwong's focus on native ingredients colours her cooking. The veg tasting menu includes wild weeds.
Bread & Circus Alexandria
Circus soups, salad plates and sandwich boxes provide a full introduction to the vegetables of the season. Vego heaven, pure and simple.
Foveaux Restaurant and Bar Surry Hills
Carnivores might just be converted by Darrell Felstead's meat-free line-up. It starts with a witty take on nachos, and runs to chickpea cavatelli with beetroot, asparagus and mushroom.
Gastro Park Kings Cross
The playground adventure that is Gastro Park includes a wild romp through the vegetable world, including the signature liquid butternut pumpkin gnocchi with shimeji and consomme.
The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2014 will be available for $10 with the Herald tomorrow, from participating newsagents and Coles, Woolworths and 7-Eleven stores, while stocks last.