If anyone has nailed the feel of what it's like to holiday in Italy and break (exceptional, puffy, woodfired) bread among friends, it's this gorgeous Bondi restaurant. Here the hordes gather under gnarled olive trees and swipe that bread through buratta and 'nduja and pass plates of hand-cut pasta around between sips of light, fresh summery drops. Totally essential.
283 Bondi Road, Bondi, 02 9114 7371, merivale.com/venues/tottis
Diners can sit outside on the terrace overlooking the beach at Betel Leaf @ Bather's. Photo: Nikki To
Betel Leaf @ Bather's
Ty Bellingham (ex-Sailors Thai) joining Bathers' was something of a coup for the Balmoral institution, who've flipped the first floor into an extended pop-up with seating flowing out onto the terrace overlooking the water. If there's a better position to share plates of pad kra pao or betel leaves topped with smoked trout, roe and caramelised peanuts, we haven't found it.
Bathers' Pavilion, 4 The Esplanade, Balmoral, 02 9969 5050, batherspavilion.com.au
A swish refurbishment of this northern beaches hotel has turned a standby into a destination. There's a breezy, surf-culture aesthetic running through the multi-storey venue, with a drinks list styled to suit the coast and plenty of spots outside to enjoy luxe potato scallops or rotisserie chicken with friends. Step inside to Balsa, too, for a more refined dining experience.
29 Moore Road, Freshwater, 02 9905 3434, harbordhotel.com.au
Enjoy T-bones on the terrace at Glorietta in North Sydney. Photo: Supplied
Not only does big, beautiful, airy eatery in North Sydney bring a slice of la dolce vita to the city's north side, it does it in serious style. Seats inside take advantage of soaring ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows, but a spot on the terrace is the pick to share T-bones, nicely charred pizzas and aperitivo to your heart's content. Oh, and with gelato from Mapo, you know you've struck gold.
Upper ground floor, 100 Mount Street, North Sydney, 02 9167 7499, glorietta.com.au
Maccheroncini pasta with lobster at Restaurant Leo. Photo: James Brickwood
What is it about Italians and eating outdoors? Ash Street has long been renowned for its al fresco seating (spy Felix and Ash St Cellar nearby), but Restaurant Leo does it the way they do in the mother country. Nab a spot here and clothed tables quickly fill up with outstanding crudo, bucatini and panna cotta from Karl Firla and Federico Zanellato's kitchen, bolstered by drinks from a stellar list. Andiamo.
Shop 1, 2-12 Angel Place, Sydney, 02 9235 3383, restaurantleo.com
A former Apollo chef, a sunny outlook, a drinks list geared toward refreshment and food made to share. If there's a script for outdoor dining in Sydney, Cronulla's CC Babcoq could have written it. Add the likes of whole lamb shoulder with tzatziki and lemon, rotisserie chook, standout salads and ricotta doughnuts for sweets and it's a clean sweep.
Shop 5, 66-70 Cronulla Street, Cronulla, 0420 955 844, ccbabcoq.co
Banksii has relaunched as Tequila Daisy at Barangaroo. Photo: Hamish Ingham
Hamish Ingham and Rebecca Lines did the whole indoor-outdoor thing brilliantly at Banksii down at Barangaroo. Now they've relaunched the site as Tequila Daisy, an all-round sunnier proposition where mezcal and tequila (of course) fuel the drinks list and inspire a menu that fuses the flavours of Mexico with Australian ingredients. Extra points for the sky-blue tables and canary-yellow umbrellas.
11/33 Barangaroo Avenue, Sydney, 0423 947 305, tequiladaisy.com.au
A spot waterside on the finger wharf at Woolloomooloo remains one of the city's best outdoor propositions. It'd be worth staking out a table at for the view and the people watching alone (is that Russell Crowe?), but the team here has real pedigree evident in Richard Ptacnik's classic Italian four-part menu as much as Nathan Lawler's exceptional wine list.
Area 8, Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo, 02 9368 7488, ottoristorante.com.au/sydney
Lola's channels the Mediterranean in every which way. Photo: Edwina Pickles
A brand new Bondi restaurant and bar, Lola's channels the Mediterranean in every which way. There's the Cantabric anchovies with piquillo peppers, octopus from the plancha with eggplant and tahini, and garganelli al ragu firstly. Then there's the aperitivo hour, bright wine list and fine hospitality from Manny Spinola and Marco Ambrosino. The clincher, though, is the sunny terrace with a view towards Bondi. Prime real estate, whatever the occasion.
Level 1, 180-186 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach, 02 9085 5888, lolaslevel1.com.au
Good rooftop bars in Sydney are few and far between, so when you get a rooftop restaurant it's worth taking notice. Add the fact that this is one of the few Sydney restaurants pushing levelled-up Korean and it's a rare beast. A spot on the terrace offers views of Chippendale's skyline, but a menu featuring the likes of a headline beef and octopus bibimbap or crisp pork with Brussels sprout kimchi means the food draws just as much attention.
A6, level 3, 2-10 Kensington Street, Chippendale, 0400 991 011, jungsung.com