Bondi Beach – the Best Bites
I ate in a lot of places in Bondi Beach over the four weeks I was there in January 2014 so I’ve organised the reviews into these categories: Brunch, Chippies, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Indian, Italian/European, Modern Fusion, American, Middle Eastern, Ice Cream and Pubs.
Please see the previous post for other non-food stuff about Bondi Beach, and the following posts for Bondi Junction and central Sydney for more food.Here’s my Google map with all the places reviewed below and heaps of others all over Sydney that I didn’t get to go to.
When it comes to food, something the Aussies can’t be beaten on is the morning meal. There are heaps of cafes all over the shop and I’m sure you could go into any of them and have a good brekky. These were my favourites in order of preference:
La Piadina (Elementary A+), Bondi Beach, www.lapiadina.com.au, closed Monday.
This was my primero place to eat during my whole stay. It’s just a small place run by two young brothers from Romagna, the Italian region from which the Piadina flatbread hails from, and some of their Japanese friends. The food is authentic and healthy, the coffee is the best in town and I enjoy the quirky touches, like the fact that their cups and glasses are never the same.
I generally drank Flat Whites here but their Macchiato and Iced Mocha are also very good (B+).
Flat whites are similar to cappuccino or a latte but have a velvety microfoam of milk made of smaller, finer bubbles. According to my barista friend Gavin, the credit for this improvement on an Italian classic should go to the Kiwis rather than the Aussies.
Over my stay I slowly worked through their whole piadina menu. The ones that stick in my head as being particularly good were the classic Tuna (tossed lemon juice), Mozzarella, Tomato & Rocket, or the spicy Nduga, Stracchino & Spanish Onion (all A), as well as the weekend special ’Rocco Siffredi’ (pictured) named after an Italian porn star and involving strachino mozzarella, organic egg frittata, cherry tomatoes, rocket and chilli oil (A+).
The occasional Negroni aperitif was downed here too in the company of my buddy Finn, Gavin’s sister.
You can also get bottles of Chinotto (the bitter orange used in Campari and other Italian amari) by San Pelligrino (my favourite fizzy pop company) from La Piadina’s deli next door, one of a row of great food and drink businesses along this stretch of Glenayr Avenue.
Bondi Massive (Intermediate A), 2/8 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach
Excellent coffee and the best BLAT (bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with avocado) that I had during my stay. All their egg dishes are good too, such as the Eggs Benedict in the pic.
Bondi Massive is immediately below Noah’s Backpackers hostel but the quality and the consequently slightly higher prices seem to attract a more genteel local clientele.
Sonoma Café (Advance A), 130 Campbell Parade (entrance on Gould St) www.sonoma.com.au
I heard about this place via Where Chef’s Eat, a world restaurant guide published by Aussies, which describes them as making ‘the best bread in the country’.
I’d go further and say the huge wedge of sourdough I had with my smoked salmon and poached eggs (A) was perhaps the best bread I’ve ever eaten (A++). Prices are high but it’s worth the taste experience if you can get in.
Lock Stock & Barrel (Intermediate A), 140 Glenayr Ave, Bondi Beach www.lockstockandbarrel.com.au
You’ll have a good brunch here, if you can get in. Always popular.
Brown Sugar (Intermediate A), 106 Curlewis Street, Bondi Beach
In the same vein as Lock Stock, and equally difficult to get into.
Bondi Hardware (Intermediate B-), 39 Hall Street, Bondi Beach, www.bondi-hardware.com.au
Yet another of the seemingly generic brunch places but this place is also apparently a very good in the evenings. I’ve only had breakfast here (avocado smash with eggs on toast and a good coffee I think) as it was a slight trek from where I was staying but it was definitely worth the walk (A).
Organic Republic (Intermediate B), 98/100 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi Beach
I’d come here for brekky occasionally to break the routine of piadinas from next door. Everything I had here; coffee, chocolate croissants, beef sausage roll, mini-focaccia, was just ok (B) and nothing special, but it was freshly baked and still warm. I’m sure their spelt bread is very good but I was too lazy to make my own sandwiches. Nice staff and owner.
Bondi Picnic (Intermediate B-), 101 Hall Street, Bondi Beach
I’m sure this place is fine (the service was very pleasant) but I had my first experience of Australian bacon here, which isn’t something I want to repeat. It was served here in a thick clump of wafer thin rashers that looked broiled rather than grilled or fried. So at least there’s one thing we do better at home.
Cafe Bondi (Intermediate B), 14 O’Brien Street, Bondi Beach
Ended up here when there was an electricity cut on Glenayr Ave and there were no piadinas to be had. Generic brunch place, you can sit outside, good service, totally fine.
Bondi’s Best Seafood (Elementary A+), 29-53 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach www.bondisbest.com.au
Another thing I think the Aussies beat us on is chip shops. At BBS for instance you can get Owen’s Fisherman’s Basket, a mixed fry which includes battered king prawns and squid, as well as the more typical fish, onion rings and potato croquettes.
And you can get excellent freshly made sushi!! It’s fully licenced as well with a good selection of white wines. What a great place, I love it.
It’s hard to get a seat but the tables both inside and out offer great views of a beach. If you can’t get a seat, get your fry to take out and go to the bottom of the street where you can sit at the top of the grass slope overlooking the beach as Finn, Gavin and I did.
Fishmongers (Intermediate B), 42 Hall St, Bondi Beach www.mongers.com.au
Mongers is the best fryer down in the centre of Bondi Beach, not as good as BBS above who have got the view and the sushi thing going on as well, but still better than a chippie in the UK in terms of the variety of offerings on the menu (fresh oysters anyone?). I had the Mongers Box which involved Hoki Fillet, Chips, six Calamari Rings, served with fresh lemon and tartar sauce, all very nice thank you (B+).
Miss Chu (Intermediate B), 178 Campbell Parade, www.misschu.com.au
I’m a sucker for a Banh Mi and this place was a regular lunch stop for me after a long morning at the pool. I’ve had the best and they do a pretty good one here, though I do wish they’d peel the inedible skin off the sliced sausage as it’s like finding a rubber band in your baguette (hence the B). Another good thing is you can have a schooner of pale ale in the Bondi Hotel opposite while you’re waiting for your sandwich to go, although they will also deliver (‘you ling, we bling’).
Bangkok Bites (Intermediate B), 95 Hall St, Bondi Beach
Think I remember this place being touted as ‘Best Thai’ in Bondi? It’s always packed out so there must be something good on the menu. My choices were ok but nothing special (B).
For good Japanese food you need to go to Bondi Junction which has a bit of a Japantown thing going on, please see my next post. The Japanese places in Bondi Beach are less authentic and generally not as good in my opinion.
Mamasan (Intermediate B+), 57-59 Beach Rd, Bondi Beach, www.mamasan.com.au
I quite like this place for modern Japanese fusion although a bit it was a bit too expensive for me to go that often. The Papa Sashimi plate, big chunks of raw fish on a bed of salad leaves, is good (B+) but it costs a hefty $27.
The Papa Sashimi plate, big chunks of raw fish on a bed of salad leaves, is good (B+) but it costs a hefty $27.
However, I really like their Edamame which are stir-fried with garlic (A) rather than just steamed as is traditional.
I also like the fact that you can get Asahi draught in chilled glasses. It’s a shame they’re plastic and not real glasses but they look the real deal and still do a fairly good job of keeping the beer cool. After a couple I can at least still pretend I’m living in Japan again.
Soy (Intermediate B), 3/38 Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach
This is just an okay Japanese sushi shop with nice service, on the seafront, nothing to write a blog about really.
Sake St (Intermediate B), 76 Hall St, Bondi Beach, www.sakestreet.com.au
Not as good as Soy for straight up nigiri but I quite like their Vegetarian and Fish Tempura maki rolls. Their menu is more limited but they are cheaper than the others.
As I said earlier, if you want real Japanese food, go to Bondi Junction instead (next post).
Namaste (Intermediate B), 80 Hall St, Bondi Beach, www.namasteinbondi.com.au
Purveyors of fairly authentic Indian food. They were severely short of staff the second time I went which slowed things down a lot. I paid about $50 for two curries (one veg, one meat), two beers and a plain rice, not particularly cheap.
A good place to go with your veggie friends. Their samosas are huge. I’m sure you’ll be able to get them to go.
Sababba (Elementary B+), 80-82 Hall Street, Bondi Beach http://www.sabbaba.com.au
This is a good place to come for cheap, healthy, tasty middle-eastern food. Lots of menus to choose from and they have draught beer.
Neighbourhood (Intermediate B+), 143 Curlewis St, Bondi Beach, www.neighbourhoodbondi.com.au
A popular hipster joint, great if you can get in. I love their fresh oysters with tequila and coriander (A) but the mussels in tomato sauce were over salted (C-). Their cocktails are pretty decent.
For an authentic Italian restaurant experience I recommend Osteria Riva in Bondi Junction (see next post).
La Macelleria (Elementary A), Shop 1, 112-114 Campbell Parade (entrance on corner of Curlewis St and Gould St), Bondi Beach, www.macelleria.com.au
This is a deli and sandwich shop as well as a butchers. A good place to pick up top quality chunks of meat if you’re going to a BBQ. Should you fancy a DIY dinner you can cook your grill items on the public barbecues at Biddigal Reserve, a grassy park with picnic tables at the east end of the beach.
Gelbison Pizzeria Ristorante, (Low Intermediate B), 10 Lamrock Avenue, Bondi Beach, www.gelbisonbondi.com
Gelbison is the people’s choice when it comes to Italian food in BB, and I agree it is the best of a not particularly good lot (avoid Bondi Trattoria on the next block at all costs, my food was crap), but they are resting on their Calabrian laurels in my opinion.
I had the Pappardelle di Nonna Pina, a seafood special with crab, scampi, prawns, mussels and clams, for $34. It was ok, but the pasta wasn’t al dente and they didn’t have the crab, so they only got a B from me for the food. Customer service isn’t great and it’s always rammed, so go early if you want to get in. No complementary limoncellos here.
Icebergs Dining Room (Advanced B-), 1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach, www.idrb.com
I came to this high end restaurant on my last night because I’d read good reviews and because they have a fantastic view of the beach. I also love their swimming pool which is just a couple of floors below.
Things started well with a well-mixed Negroni in the bar watching the sun go down with my mate Finn.
Unfortunately things went downhill when we moved into the dining room. I ordered the steak, for which they are supposedly famous. Unfortunately mine was well done when I had asked for it medium rare (B-) and I had to complain.
Finn wasn’t particularly enamoured with her fish either which she said had not been descaled properly, though like me she still ate her food. The service was pretty decent though and my glass of dessert wine was made complementary when it should have cost a pretty penny. No intentions of going back however.
The service was pretty decent however and my glass of dessert wine was made complementary when it should have cost a pretty penny. No intentions of going back though.
Smart casual dress only so probably for people with more money than sense. When you reserve remember to specify a table at the window at sunset if you want to get the famous view.
Hurricane’s Grill (Intermediate B), 130 Roscoe Street, Bondi Beach www.bondibeach.hurricanesgrill.com.au
One of the most popular places on Trip Advisor, popular with my carnivorous friends and always rammed to the rafters. Everyone likes this chain except me it seems. I’ve never been that keen on BBQ ribs which, as well as steaks, is what Hurricane’s specialises in. It’s the gloopy, usually over-sweet BBQ sauce that puts me off.
I had a ‘full’ portion of their pork ribs for $49, a gluttonous choice given that you get two whole racks of ribs to yourself. What annoyed me this time was that they both tasted differently, one just mediocre (B-) and the other a bit burnt (C-). On the positive side, the bib is a nice touch.
I also dislike the dark, cavernous interior of this particular branch. I’m sure it’s nice to sit out front on the terrace but as a lone diner there was no chance of that. I would go back with company but overall I wasn’t that impressed. Total bill with an ok cocktail was $67.
Gelato Messina Bondi (Elementary A), 6/61 Hall Street, Bondi Beach
The Trip Advisor #1, as ice cream shops often are, this gelateria is so popular they have a greeter and a velvet rope to organise the queue at busy times. Perhaps that’s because the gelato is exceptionally good. I had the Dulce de Leche version (A).
Beach Road Hotel (Intermediate B+), 71 Beach Road, Bondi Beach, beachroadbondi.com.au
This can be redneck central but they have a great yard with mattresses and floor cushions out back, and DJs at the weekends, which seems to attract a more interesting crowd. They have several pool tables at the back of the front bar too.
Another thing I like about this place is that they have a drive-in off licence right next door, known as a Bottle-O in Oz (a brand name but in common usage). This is where I’d come for a six pack of my favourite Aussie pale ales, Little Creatures or One Fifty Lashes.
Ravesi’s (Intermediate B)
A big boozer with sports screens on the water front, popular due to its location. Good for watching cricket while sinking a cheeky afternoon schooner on the way home from the pool.
For more refined drinking experiences I’d recommend Neighbourhood or Bondi Hardware above.