Landing a table at the perpetually packed 17-month-old Cutler & Co. Dining Room and Bar is no mean feat, but what many don't know is that seats at the bar are first-come, first-served. Spiced-quail pies, wagyu bresaola, and local oysters are just a few of the modern Australian dishes available to walk-ins willing to pull up a stool. 55-57 Gertrude St., cutlerandco.com.au, wagyu bresaola $16.75.
Fresh take on tapas
The menu at 2.5-year-old Añada Bar and Restaurant, a humble, 50-seat Spanish spot, is anything but ordinary. Exhibits A, B, and C: cold-smoked swordfish with broad beans and ajo blanco (white gazpacho), beets with mint and labneh (strained yogurt), and pomegranate-and-orange-blossom sorbet topped with sugared pistachio nuts. 197 Gertrude St., anada.com.au, tapas from $2.25.
Floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with thick-spined cookbooks, jars of homemade jam, and a vast array of single-malt Scotches serve as decor at Gertrude Street Enoteca. The low-key wine bar also offers indulgent midday treats like rich, Valrhona hot chocolate spiked with Caribbean rum. 229 Gertrude St., gertrudestreetenoteca.com, jam from $11.
Fresh, house-made crumpets and baked eggs with potatoes, right, are the draw at Birdman Eating, where committed fans of a hearty British breakfast thumb copies of Vogue Italia near the bar—or crates of old soul albums at Northside Records, next door—while they wait for a table. 238 Gertrude St., birdmaneating.com.au, crumpets from $7.
Modern sweets shop
The rare candy store with a gender-neutral vibe, Monsieur Truffe opened in 2008 and sells fancy chocolates from Venezuela and Madagascar—as well as the odd edible rooster—under an exposed-beam ceiling lit with industrial-style lamps. In the evenings, owner Thibault Fregoni leads chocolate-appreciation classes. 90 Smith St., 011-61/3-9416-3101, classes $46.
When Ismail Tosun opened Gigibaba in 2008, he was one of the city's first chefs to turn a spotlight on Turkish cuisine. His menu delivers both familiar favorites (stuffed vine leaves) and lesser-known gems (za'atar-spiced cauliflower salad; iskender, steamed prawns with capsicum butter)—all on mismatched floral-patterned plates. 102 Smith St., 011-61/3-9486-0345, iskender $7.