Pig at The Spit
Where Pilu at Freshwater displays the polished finery and slick service of a twin-toqued eatery, out the front of the beachside restaurant chef Giovanni Pilu expresses his more rustic Italian roots at Pilu's spinoff kiosk. Slow-roasted suckling pig is pulled off the bone, mixed with finely sliced fennel, apple, aioli and mustard seeds, then packaged up in Sonoma country white sourdough. Pilu suggests a light toasting in the sandwich press, and you'd be wise to listen. The cost: $14.50. Views of spectacular Freshwater Beach: free. The Kiosk, end of Moore Road, Freshwater.
Cones by the beach
Sydney's gelato expertise has risen dramatically in recent years. Excellent gelaterias now dot the city, but Pompei's gets the nod for its heady summer tandem of great artisan gelato by Sydney's most famous beach. A stroll on the Bondi beachfront with a scoop of its finest is more easily negotiated now Pompei's has a street-front gelato counter, negating the need for takeaway customers to traipse through the restaurant. Pompei's shirks those nasty gelato-making short cuts, and the fruit in it is fresher than a southerly buster – try the white peach or Sicilian blood orange. Pompei's, 125-130 Roscoe Street, Bondi Beach, 9365 1233.
Sydney's summer action isn't all to be had with sand between your toes. Retreat to the shades of the city, home to laneway gentrification and the rebirth of the small bar, and choose your tonic. If you had to pick just one new bar to try this summer, foxtrot your way to Palmer & Co. Bar tsar Justin Hemmes has a knack for picking a trend, and Palmer & Co's Prohibition-era speakeasy vibe is on the money. Waitresses look straight from the wardrobe department of Boardwalk Empire, cocktails include names such as Fire and Brimstone, and the menu has chopped liver with pickles and egg or matzo ball soup. Palmer & Co, Abercrombie Lane, city, 9240 3172.
The backstreets of Bronte used to have all the food pedigree of a Ukranian border town. That has changed in recent years, and most of the new action in the 'hood is away from the beach. Three Blue Ducks is a hot cafe by day and slick diner by night, and just a couple of doors along Iggy's produces bread worth a considerable detour. The queues are long and Iggy's regularly sells out early. Also check out the new Adriano Zumbo store just a few blocks away while you're at it, then shed any added kilojoules and take the coastal walk to Bondi. Iggy's, 145D Macpherson Street, Bronte, 9369 1650. Adriano Zumbo, 24 Arden Street, Waverley, 9810 7318.
The restaurant with more near-death experiences than James Bond is back after it closed briefly this year, following a promising spell under chef Dietmar Sawyere. Berowra Waters Inn is a special restaurant in a special location. The baton has been handed to a younger generation to rebirth this restaurant stalwart: Brian Geraghty, a chef with London's Pied a Terre on his CV. If you want to do Berowra Waters like a visiting celebrity, fly in by seaplane. Dusthole Point, Berowra Waters, 9456 1027.
Milk bar burger
If you want the deluxe version of a Sydney burger, you'll sit at the bar at Rockpool Bar & Grill on Hunter Street in the city and tuck into the wagyu and gruyere creation, but if it is the call of the honest milk-bar burger you yearn, the siren on the slopes of Sylvania is Paul's Famous Hamburgers. On the southern side of busy Tom Ugly's Bridge, Paul's has been pumping out burgers for more than 50 years. Its menu poses several philosophical burger challenges. To beetroot or not to beetroot, that is the question. 12 Princess Highway, Sylvania, 9522 5632.
Big night out
You've never stuck a spoon into Quay's snow egg dessert, made famous on MasterChef? Curious why Quay is Australia's top-ranked eatery in the prestigious World's 50 Best Restaurants list, landing at No. 29? A trip to Quay is a special experience, granted one you'll need to stockpile money from Santa to enjoy. But the cocktail of great food, excellent wines and stunning Sydney Harbour views rarely come together as they do at Quay. Upper level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, 9251 5600.
Palm Beach without the price tag
For all its multimillion-dollar houses and celebrity summer visitors, one of Palm Beach's best-kept secrets is more modest in nature. Locals flock to the Boathouse Palm Beach, a casual eatery where the coffee is reliably good and the breakfast simple and clever. Lunch doesn't try to reach for the gastronomic stars, either, relying on good produce and a clever cafe brief. Governor Phillip Park, Palm Beach, 9974 3868.
MoVida, the award-winning Melbourne tapas restaurant, toyed with a Sydney opening in recent years, threatening to land at Potts Point before finally finding a site in restaurant postcode 2010. Securing a table can be harder than landing a date with a supermodel, but you can always try for a seat at the bar. Try the anchovy with smoked tomato sorbet and the smoked eel and horseradish croquettes. 50 Holt Street, Surry Hills, 8964 7642.
Shop and chop
It sounds like an experience you would have at the gym, but do not fear, the stretch classes at Salt Meats Cheese in Alexandria involve a ball of cheese and almost no exertion on your behalf. Mozzarella is pulled and stretched into shape without you having to so much as lift a tired calf. The demonstrations are just one of the attractions at this cool shop, next door to the Grounds, where you can grab inexpensive imported food from Italy. There's a new eat-in meat room complete with 100 legs of hanging jamon, cured meats to take away, with a bar fashioned from slabs of Himalayan salt. 41 Bourke Road, Alexandria, 9690 2406.