Have you just arrived in Sydney and are looking for a place to eat? If so, then this blog post is perfect for you. Here we will be discussing some of the best burgers restaurants in Sydney.
Whether it’s a good old fashioned cheeseburger or something more exotic like a lamb, there’s something here for everyone! So come on down and have yourself an Aussie burger experience.
Now burgers are everywhere. They’re on cafe menus, at the bar in fine diners, and in just about every second food truck that’s ever rolled onto a Sydney street.
Style-wise it may look all over the place with wild specials, attention-seeking ingredients and even more ridiculous names but all the basics are classic American. Beetroot, eggs, defrosted patties and sesame buns are relics now; now it’s all about milk buns, American cheese, house-ground patties and special sauce.
Whether they’re classically American, stacked like fatty Jenga towers or filled with experiments, here’s where to find the best in town.
It’s also a great starting point for friends, couples and housemates to discover new bars and restaurants nearby with the potential to become local favourites.
No matter where you live – CBD, northern beaches, western suburbs and beyond, there’s a place, joint or restaurant near you.
When you’re in Australia, the most important thing to do is find a burger! So what are some of the best burgers in Sydney? Are there any hidden gems that tourists should know about? Read on for our list of favourite places to grab a bite.
1. Mary’s Newtown
Sydney’s burger scene can be roughly divided into two eras: before Mary’s and after Mary’s. Nowadays, the city is awash with cafes, diners and even fine-dining restaurants serving American-style cheeseburgers, but back in 2013, hardly anyone was.
Strong drinks, low lighting, great music, and graffiti are all part of Mary’s charm. It’s a loud, energetic chain that has expanded beyond the Newtown venue to open a series of diverse establishments across the city.
Owners Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham weren’t aiming for revolution. They just wanted to create a venue they’d like to hang out in.
It just so happened that loud, dark pubs playing metal, pouring local beers and serving fried chicken and cheeseburgers styled on America’s popular fast-food chains didn’t really exist in Sydney.
The duo got hold of the 100-year-old building and gutted it. They retained the original floorboards, added a mezzanine level and built tables using old railway sleepers. Homemade Jack Daniel’s light fittings and a timber feature wall add plenty of character.
The short menu is styled on American fast food, but it’s far from it in production. Sure, the buns are soft and cheap (Breadtop is our best guess at their secret identity), and the cheese is American. But the all-important patties use some of the best beef in Australia – O’Connor grass-fed, and the trashcan bacon is smoked on-site in a (spotless) garbage can.
The drinks list, written in an Iron Maiden-style font, has leaders in Australian natural wine, Islay whiskeys and the local beer scene, as well as a mix of old-school Australian brews, including Reschs.
The Castlereagh Street stop in the CBD is a hole-in-the-wall takeaway. However, a trip to any of the other Mary’s joints will undoubtedly result in some of the best burgers in Sydney, alongside fried chicken and hangovers because you will want to stay long after the tables have been cleared.
2. Ume Burger
It might be called Ume Burger, but the star attraction here is the pink, help-yourself soft-serve machine for many people.
Ume Burger is the sister to one of Surry Hills most popular eateries, Bar UME.
Located on Barangaroo’s Wulugul waterfront walkway, the view is equally as good as the patties themselves. Hatted Head Chef Kerby Craig runs the show with a small selection of Japanese inspired bangers that are genuinely out of this world.
It’s becoming something of a tradition to film the (mostly amateur) attempts at filling cones and post them to Instagram.
The flavour inside changes regularly, but it will no doubt be exciting and unusual.
On opening day, it was a soft and icy strawberry and shiso flavour, somewhere between familiar soft serve and a Sicilian granita. Otherwise, it might be pumpkin, sweet potato, roasted tea or lavender and white chocolate.
But of course, Kerby Craig and Regina Jose Bar Ume know a thing or two about burgers, too. So along with the four signatures, there’s a pretty menchi burger with a hefty patty of crumbed pork belly and pork mince, shredded cabbage, mustard, Japanese barbeque sauce and a yuzu-kosho mayo.
Then there are the sodas. An addictively sweet-and-sour blend of brown sugar and yuzu comes out of a vintage Japanese vending machine operated with pre-bought tokens.
There’s more of a hamburger shop vibe here than at Bar Ume, but it’s still far from an austere, in-and-out burger joint.
The traditional UME Burger is phenomenal and features a signature beef patty with Wagyu mince sauce. Head towards the Fish Katsu or Menchi with Handmade Pork Katsu and Tonkatsu Sauce for less traditional options.
This is easily one of the best burger restaurants in Sydney. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a Yuzu Soda, of course.
Part of that is down to the selection of Japanese booze (a concise version of what is served in Surry Hills) and the shop’s slick fit-out by Amber Road Design.
3. Five Points Burgers
The New York-themed Five Points captures the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. Push through the long lines of this famous place to order a selection of burgers that represent the five New York boroughs – The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and Queens.
The Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan are beefy experiences. The Queens is a chicken, and the oh-so original Staten Island is a portobello mushroom and just one of the many reasons to make the trip to North Sydney. Dine-in or takeaway.
Five Points is unashamedly New York in flavour: burgers are named after boroughs, a brushed-steel industrial fit-out, and the liberal use of American mustard.
Short and straight to the point, the menu is by much-lauded chef Tomislav Martinovic, a former employee at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.
The Bronx is a grilled beef pattie, double cheese, pickles, bacon, tomato sauce, aioli, onion jam, mustard and iceberg lettuce. The Manhattan is a trimmer version – no bacon, no onion jam, no extras.
Queens is a burger of grilled chicken breast, bacon, cheese, tomato in chilli sauce and gherkin mayonnaise. The requisite Portobello mushroom is available for vegetarians, decked out in cheese, tomato, marinated peppers, and tzatziki.
The enthusiastic can add extras of cheese, bacon or “double meat”. The list of sides is necessarily brief because what do you need beyond beer-battered chips or slaw?
4. Bar Luca
There are almost always three things outside Bar Luca: a raging font of smoke, a wait for a table and relentless chatter about something called a Blame Canada.
This burger place in Sydney might have the best menu, and it’s the perfect place to go on a night out. Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a meal at a restaurant, and now that Lotus 2.0 is gone, there’s only one obvious choice to grab a gourmet burger with table service.
The latter is the creation of James and Sarah Robbins, the burger master and chef-owner duo behind both Bar Luca and BL Burgers.
It’s 200 grams of succulent Wagyu, crisp maple-glazed bacon, molten American cheese, maple aioli and poutine between two soft milk buns. Suppose you’re not acquainted with the Canadian delicacy poutine. In that case, it’s basically French fries, cheese curds and gravy – making the Blame Canada one of the most ridiculous, delicious and talked about burgers in Sydney.
Once part of Bar Luca’s experimental weekly burger specials (others have included fried triple-cheese patties, peanut butter, duck bacon and potato crisps), it became an essential part of every burger nerd’s diet.
Most of those b’nerds will also attest to the Robbins’ less-inventive burger range. But whether it’s a classic cheeseburger, karaage chicken or pulled pork, they’d also recommend packing it with extras from the burger hack menu.
The non-burger experience is more standard – the classic CBD Friday afternoon atmosphere but with a more exciting beer list and a mix of American and Italian sides such as lamb ribs with garlic and lemon; or smoky fried chicken wings.
Bar Luca is home to some of the best choices in town, and with a menu that includes about 20 add-ons, you can customise your meal as you please. Personal preference aside, you must try the BL Beef; it’s a classic burger with the famous BL sauce. Hungry yet?
5. Mary’s Circular Quay
When Mary’s Newtown patriarchs Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham announced they’d been handed the keys to Circular Quay’s shuttered live-music venue The Basement, Sydneysiders breathed a sigh of relief.
Not only was the duo promising to bring nightly music back to the curfewed city, but they hinted at some exciting new food too.
They’ve split the space into two distinct venues. Below is Mary’s Underground, a Mary’s-style dinner-and-a-show place, opened in May 2019. Above ground is Mary’s, Circular Quay. It’s Mary’s sibling; it’s just got a white-collar job in the CBD. The well-loved grungy and aggressive attitude is still there, but it’s tempered and refined by its surroundings.
It’s in the space previously known as The Basement Upstairs (inside, an illuminated sign that once said “Upstairs” had been artfully rearranged to say “Ratpiss”).
It offers the same Mary’s burgers-and-pounding-music experience we already know and love, but with one major twist: the entire Mary’s menu can be recreated vegan. Of course, all traditional Mary’s options will remain available.
All herbivores need to do is choose anything off the menu and ask for it vegan.
Their kitchen tinkering has also yielded vegan buns, sauces, and cheese, all prepared with a dedicated meat-free grill and fryer and stored in a meat-free fridge.
The group’s characteristically loud music is here. Still, instead of the ’80s and ’90s metal that pumps at the Newtown venue, the soundtrack at Circular Quay is influenced more by the current UK punk movement.
As with the team’s other venues (which include The Lansdowne and Unicorn Hotel), beers come from inner-west breweries Young Henrys and Grifters), as well as plenty of other craft brewers.
The wine list features 20 wines by the glass, all organic, sustainably farmed, and lean heavily toward Australian and New Zealand producers.
In case you haven’t quite worked it out yet, there’s a burger revolution happening in Sydney. Helping push the process for suitable ol’ American styles is Balmain’s Burgerhood.
Burgerhood’s offering is reminiscent of the US’s Five Guys and In-N-Out Burger or, closer to home, Sydney favourite Mary’s.
This American style shack offers shakes and fries alongside their mouth-watering burgers.
It is owned by Grandma’s Bar, Wild Rover and next door’s Wilhemina’s, which was resized to accommodate the new venue.
Burgerhood’s patties are thin – they’re made with free-range beef ground in-house from chuck and brisket (with a bit of added bacon) and cooked medium to retain a hint of pink in the centre.
Options include the Hood Burger, Cheese Burger and the Bloody Mary version, including horseradish and spices.
The IPA-battered ling-fish burger is served with mushy peas and smoked-mussel tartare sauce. And the vegan burger has a beetroot, red-bean and brown-rice patty topped with a skordalia (a garlic, almond and potato) sauce and nut cheese that melts like dairy.
Match these with a beer, cider or wine, or Burgerhood’s crowning glory: its shakes. They’re the right amount of thick – they resist the journey through the straw – and come in vanilla, Milo, strawberry, banana and peanut butter.
Those who decide to eat in are treated to a complimentary soft serve that pairs like a fine wine. All the usual suspects are there, but you can’t go past the Hood Burger (as pictured) that comes with a very secret and mouth-watering ‘Hood’ sauce.
There’s also free soft serve. You can get a second for a gold coin donation – that money goes to Balmain’s Nicholson Street Public School.
7. Smoky Sue’s
Smoky Sue’s is more than just a name. It’s a nod to this restaurant’s unusual style of American barbeque, which begins with sous-vide cooking before the meat is hickory smoked.
The idea is to cook precisely while retaining juiciness. But not all the rules have been thrown out the window. According to owner and pitmaster Owen Brown, the team here barbecues about a tonne of smoked meat each week.
Smoky Sue’s uses an American-made pellet smoker imported from Kansas. Slabs of grain-fed beef brisket, Riverina pork belly and hot links stuffed with spicy jalapenos and cheese are piled inside its black steel frame and smoked with Myron Mixon hickory pellets for hours until done (exact cooking times and temperatures are house secrets).
They’re rested in the hotbox for a couple more hours and plated up with sides and on buns until sold out.
The style here isn’t hogtied to any of barbeque’s state or region-specific nuances. Pulled pork is lashed with sticky barbeque sauce, Carolina-style; crunchy Southern fried buttermilk chicken evokes New Orleans, and Buffalo-style wings are doused in Frank’s Red Hot sauce.
There’s even a Philly cheese-steak burger loaded with chopped brisket, green capsicum, onions and a molten cheese sauce (that canary-yellow stuff rarely seen this side of the Pacific).
The menu is full of classic barbeque cuts, including beef brisket and pulled pork. Platters include at least three meats plus sides and sauces.
Burgers are also available, including the Ribby McRibface, which contains an entire beef short rib, bone included. The meat is tender enough that the bone can be removed without making a mess. Eating it is another story.
Smoky Sue’s fully embraces the stereotype of American excess. Portions are large, and toppings and sauces are lavishly loaded on.
If there’s a fire in your belly, you can put it out with tins of local beer (there’s Bondi Brewing Co, Young Henrys and Mountain Goat), a Long Island Iced Tea or a milkshake.
8. Vic’s Meat Market Butcher
Vic’s Meat Market has it all as a part butcher, smokehouse and grill, and even part culinary school!
Vic’s Meat Market consists of a butcher, smoking station and wagyu bar, brought to you by Anthony Puharich and his father, Victor.
The two are behind boutique butcher Victor Churchill in Woollahra, as well as wholesaler Vic’s Meat.
Pulled pork smoked for 10 hours, and spicy slaw rolls come out of the Yoder smoker (custom built-in Kansas). There’s beer and cider on the deck, and the wagyu bar is by appointment only and serves premium Wagyu matched with Penfold’s Grange.
The butcher section acts as a walk-in cool room, where you’ll find the comprehensive range of meats that Vic’s is famous for, from the lean and green range (organic and grass-fed) to the wild selections (changing seasonally).
There’s even a pick’n’mix-type set-up where you can make your selection of biltong and jerky varieties and pay by weight.
Vic’s takes the fresh quality meat from the Butcher straight to the smokehouse and grill to serve burgers with smoked meats and perfectly grilled steaks.
Pair a burger with some fries and glass from one of Australia’s finest wineries to make your next trip to the Sydney Fish Market’s a truly memorable experience.
Finally, there’s a gloriously fleshy and primal display of whole beasts where you can order a side of beef and have it broken down just how you want it while you wait.
9. Soul Burger
Soul Burger is Sydney’s first entirely plant-based burger joint. Situated in a bar-like space at The Spot in Randwick, owner Amit Tewari serves big vegan burgers, filling and packed with flavour.
Vegans and vegetarians will appreciate this restaurant for its 100% plant-based burgers, fries and shakes. Juicy, healthier and great for the environment, the current menu includes classics like southern fried chicken, battered fish and pulled pork, all made entirely from plants.
Tewari, who also works in cultured meat research, imports the best vegan products from the US. The beef replica patties he uses are made from pea and soy proteins, and the chorizos are made like traditional sausage, but instead of meat, there’s a mix of vegetables, grains, herbs, wine and apple cider vinegar.
The flagship Sumo burger is juicy but structurally sound, with vegan chorizo, cheese, plant-based beef, field mushroom, caramelised onion, tomato relish and herbed mayo.
While the chilli beef could be mistaken for meat and drips with melted cheese and relish, and the falafel burger is crisp, moist and full of flavour.
See if you can tell the difference. We don’t think you can. The Soul range also includes unique creations like Satay Tofu and Falafel burgers. Dine-in or takeaway, you can find Soul Burger spreading its wings across Sydney and possibly shaking up the entire fast-food industry shortly.
Sides include thick-cut, spiced, herbed or sweet potato chips. To drink, there’s house-made coconut shakes, as well as Young Henry’s on tap.
10. Rockpool Bar & Grill
A far cry from your local burger joint, Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney is home to one of Australia’s most elegant dining rooms and the perfect venue for experiencing one of the country’s most acclaimed wagyu beef burgers.
When it comes to must-do Sydney food experiences, Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar & Grill is right up there.
From its opulent, green-marbled, art deco interior to the choreographed service from floor staff and an occasional thrilling glimpse of that famous ponytail, this striking sibling of Perry’s Rockpool family is something special. But the dramatic decor isn’t what entices the well-heeled masses.
It is, of course, the food. And plenty of it. At its heart, Rockpool Bar and Grill is a steakhouse, but you’d be ill-advised to ignore the excellent seafood or the poultry from the wood-fired rotisserie.
A vast, unpretentious menu boasts around 30 starters and about the same number of mains, with proteins from partridge and pheasant to wagyu beef and all manner of oceanic creatures.
Then there are the numerous sides – perhaps a tumble of mixed mushrooms or Brussels sprouts with speck and chestnuts. It’s a diverse, exciting and considered menu, sprinkled with touches of nostalgia – some mac and cheese here, a soft-boiled egg there.
This bar meal is part of a menu produced under the guidance of Head Chef Corey Costelloe, and the David Blackmore’s Full Blood Wagyu Burger with Bacon, Gruyere Cheese and Zuri Pickle are exactly as gourmet as it sounds.
Pair it with a glass of Si Vintners’ Si Red’ Cabernet Blend for $27.
The wine list is a tome of world-renowned labels, including that lauded 1945 Romanee-Conti at a staggering $89,510 a bottle and only a small number of wines below $100.
A cluster of awards and rave reviews lie in Rockpool Bar & Grill’s wake, so expectations (and prices) are high. But with its impressive interior and expertly executed yet uncomplicated food, it lives up to the hype.
In 2016, Rockpool Bar & Grill joined the Urban Purveyor Group alongside its two sibling restaurants and other Perry offerings Spice Temple, Rosetta and The Burger Project.