Slick and shiny: Join the communal table at a Tavola, Bondi. Photo: Fiona Morris
Bondi or 'Boondi' is an Aboriginal word meaning ''the noise of water breaking over rocks''. It's Australia's most iconic strip of sand and sea and has even been recognised by the Heritage Council for its role in developing this sunburnt country's beach culture. But beyond the turquoise waters and curl of white sand littered with backpackers there is now an abundance of new bars, cafes and restaurants that further justify a jaunt to the area.
As well as the much-loved, scene-stealing stalwarts such as Icebergs Dining Room & Bar and Sean's Panaroma, Bondi is strewn with an exciting array of mid-level restaurants and delightfully scruffy small bars that are helping to redefine the culinary landscape.
The revamped Pavilion helped push this metamorphosis, as the Bucket List became the place to be to share a bucket of prawns and a cold beer while overlooking an impossibly glossy expanse of sea.
Have a gander at Bondi's Neighbourhood. Photo: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is also great nosh to be scoffed at PaperPlanes, Pompei's, Bondi Hardware, Potato Ghetto, Lox Stock & Barrel, and Gidget Chu, to name but a few.
Following are a few more reasons eager gourmands should catch the 380 bus from Bondi Junction to the beach and back.
Mr Moustache Bistrot & Cantina
Cosy and comfortable: Spring St Social bar and restaurant. Photo: Marco Del Grande
Exhibit A in the continued ascension of Bondi as a dining destination is this toolshed-sized nook that is, like a true Mexican cantina, open all day. Running the show is Bildo Saravia and his wife, Regina Bueno Ros, two Mexican imports who say they want to give food-obsessed locals a fix of ''food from the streets''. The decor is decidedly split: while the art deco dining room is a dig at ex-dictator Porfirio Diaz's obsession with all things French, the sunny kitchen honours the humble roots of Mexican street food. Wrestle with one of ex-Rojo Rocket chef Pablo Galindo's mighty signature dishes such as the torta ahogada ($12), a drunken slider soaked in a chilli and tomato sauce, and let bartender and mescal scholar Brett Harris pour you a few shots of Nuestra Soledad ($10 a glass).
69-71 Hall Street, Bondi, (02) 9300 8892, mr-moustache.com.au
Hot spot: Regina Bueno Ros and Bildo Saravia in their Mr Moustache Bistrot & Cantina. Photo: Fiona Morris
The Bondi spin-off to the popular Darlinghurst eatery is polished, shiny and beautiful, very much like the street life outside. As effortlessly nonchalant as the handsome, swarthy wait staff seem, they outdo each other in their efforts to be smiling and industrious. If you're part of the lunchtime crowd, you should clamour for ringside seats at the communal table to watch Eugenio Maiale's team prepare the real speciality of the house: pappardelle con ragu di manzo e rafano ($24). It's his greatest creation on what is an accomplished menu, with the fat ribbons of fresh-rolled eggy pasta dabbed with spoonfuls of rich, dense beef ragu that will wallop you with flavour. There's nothing standard-issue about the wine list either: it's a cracking representation of Italian varietals. Salut!
73-75 Hall Street, Bondi Beach, (02) 9130 1246, atavola.com.au
This convivial local is mobbed with a rabble of lads who look like urban roustabouts corralling raucous groups of pretty women. Bartender Simon McGoram (ex- Porteno) helps orchestrate this communal vibe by inviting guests in to ''have a gander and stay for a glass''. Located on the former Bondi FM site, the pared-back bar is decked out with repurposed fence palings, industrial lamps, retro armchairs and beer crates. As well as the share-house party lounge-room vibe, you can plunk at the bar and enjoy a pulled pork jaffle with macaroni and cheese ($10) while inhaling the Neighbourhood Hooch (house-blended blackstrap rum and fresh pineapple juice ($12).
143 Curlewis Street, Bondi, (02) 9365 2872, neighbourhoodbondi.com.au
Spring St Social
Spring St Social looks like a cross between an opium den and an old-school apothecary, a nod to owner Peter Wright's former career as a pharmacist. Velvet chairs, oversized lampshades, smoky mirrors and outrageously cosy nooks result in a very sexy space. Expect a bit of alchemy from barkeep Marty Morrice as he whips you up a panacea Chase the Dragon ($17) cocktail, which features apple-pie-infused Bulleit Rye Whiskey. As well as peddling fabulous liquid ''pharmaceuticals'' (aka snake oils), the dinky underground bar serves a beautifully conceived lobster macaroni with chorizo and sun-dried tomatoes ($28), which is made to share. Switch off your smartphone and head into the adjoining Jam Gallery: a pokie-free space dedicated to live music, art and creativity.
Underground, 110 Spring Street, Bondi, (02) 9389 2485, facebook.com/SpringStreetSocial
Food-obsessed Sydneysiders must turn their backon the beach to discover hot spots such as the Corner House, Panama House and the Stuffed Beaver Dining Parlour. Travel a few blocks up Bondi Road and you will also discover Fat Rupert's, named after owner Aaron Pearce's chubby canine. Here, Canadian-born brothers Ignatius, Eli and Luke Challenger make food for people who like to roll up their sleeves and dig in. Try the Mini Yeezy Burgers, a house-made ground beef patty slathered with chipotle aioli on a brioche bun ($17) and wash it down with a Bloody Mary featuring bacon-infused vodka finished with Worcester and tobasco ($16). Yewwww!
249 Bondi Road, Bondi (02) 9130 1033, fatruperts.com.au
Hot off the press: As well as attracting A Tavola, Gelato Messina, Sensory Lab (St Ali's first Sydney coffee shop), Mr Moustache, Ribs & Burgers and Harris Farm Markets, Hall Street's new Hub development, located on the previous site of the Hakoah Club, underneath Adina Hotels, has lured Icebergs' Maurice Terzini with Da Orazio Pizza and Porchetta (pegged for January) and China Diner (set to open in March).