Since Europeans first arrived on the shores of Australia, it has been the scene and setting for many fantastic and fanciful stories. From the coastal cities to the rugged inland Outback, they don’t call it “Down Under” without reason – it is a bit otherworldly, and that unique perspective has permeated every part of the culture and cuisine.
As a film nerd, Anthony Bourdain was unsurprisingly quite inspired by the films that depict Australia – and that informed the episodes firmed by Anthony Bourdain in Sydney and other cities in Australia too.
Anthony Bourdain traveled to Sydney twice to film season 2 (episode 8) of A Cook’s Tour and again a decade later to film season 8 (episode 10) of No Reservations. These were his only two visits to Sydney during his television career, but not his only visits to Australia, and perhaps not his only visits off-screen. Both on-screen occasions were filled with adventure and delicious Australian cuisine.
If you’re planning a trip to Australia’s “Emerald City” and want to follow in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Sydney, you’ve come to the right place. Below is a guide to all of the places Tony ate in Sydney to help guide your culinary adventures Down Under.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Dharug, Tharawal, Gandangara/Gundungurra, and Eora peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
A Cook’s Tour (2002)
Anthony Bourdain opens this short episode honoring one of his favorite movies, Mad Max (the name of the episode is “Mad Tony: The Food Warrior”). He drives through the arid Australian desert with a dog in the passenger seat. An unsuccessful but humorous high-speed chase leads to his car breaking down.
Tony tries to console himself with some vegemite. If you’ve never had it, it’s an Australian staple. The yeast spread is an acquired taste for many. Tony doesn’t seem to like it, however: “Aussies are wrong about one thing.”
Silverton Hotel Pub
The first spot that Anthony Bourdain eats during his visit to Sydney actually wasn’t in Sydney; Tony stops at the Silverton Hotel Pub in Silverton – “The town of Silverton. Population: 50” – after having a few food experiences outside the city. (See details in the “Local Dining Experiences” section, below.)
The town is actually famous for being a film set for TV and movies. Apart from that, the pub is known for some good meat pies. Tony indulges in one before continuing down the highway.
Bourdain doesn’t hit a restaurant in Sydney proper until almost the end of the episode. But don’t worry, it’s a meal to remember at a great Sydney eatery: Tetsuya’s.
A multicourse meal is brought to the table. There are so many courses that it’s hard for Tony (and me) to remember everything. There’s venison, tartar, bonito, Tasmanian trout, and wagyu beef; “after so many courses, I lost count.” But Tony does remember the dessert: a delicious vanilla bean custard.
Harry’s Café De Wheels
Bourdain closes the episode by visiting a Sydney staple. Harry’s Café De Wheels is the most famous place for meat pies in Sydney, and Tony orders the Curry Tiger Beef Pie. The massive thing is filled with beef, mushy peas, mashed potatoes, and drenched in gravy.
“You must go here,” Tony exclaims after a mouthful – a great note to end the episode on.
No Reservations (2012)
A decade later, Anthony Bourdain returned once again to Sydney for another adventure. This time it was more in-depth, with more restaurants and meals to dig into.
Matt Moran, a notable chef in Australia, kicked off Bourdain’s Sydney experience at one of the best new restaurants: Porteño is an Argentine grill with an Australian identity. And the food? Well, they have a lot of it. And as you might expect from an Argentinean steakhouse, it’s mostly meat.
The restaurant atmosphere is vibrant. Porteño is packed with patrons, and you can see the large chunks of meat being cooked on grills, some even roasted over direct flames. The smell almost comes through the screen. Tony and Matt begin the feast with chorizo, blood sausage, and sweet bread; “hipsters turning out good food? Delicious,” Bourdain exclaims.
The server then brings out a pig’s head. Odd to some, it’s no surprise to Tony fans that he calls it one of the best parts. “You want the ear?” Matt asks. “Let’s split it,” Tony replies. The duo completes the meal with a veggie salad and wagyu beef.
Harry’s Café De Wheels
Next, Tony returns to Harry’s for another meat pie. He even orders the same pie from the A Cook’s Tour episode: the Curry Tiger Beef Pie. He’s in awe at the excessive amount of gravy: “It’s a volcano of love.”
He calls it drunk food and says he’s “inappropriately sober” but the pie is nevertheless delicious.
Anthony decides to dine at Matt Moran’s restaurant, Chiswick. The restaurant is beautiful, and all the food comes from the family farm. The first dish is Moran’s Lamb. The cut is a lamb shoulder, slowly roasted for several hours.
More meat comes out, this time Moran’s Beef. It’s wood-grilled and Tony is in love with both dishes: “The meat falls right off.”
Golden Century Seafood Restaurant (CLOSED)
Anthony Bourdain continues his culinary adventure at one of the best Chinese restaurants in Sydney – at the time. Before it closed in 2021, Golden Century Seafood Restaurant was famous for being open very late when many other restaurants in the area close early.
“You can find chefs here every night after a long shift,” says Elvis, one of the lead chefs at Porteño, or one of the ‘hipster chefs’ as Tony calls them.
A fantastic array of seafood is brought to the table in various Chinese culinary styles. The lobster, oysters, and mud crabs all look fantastic. The group completes the meal with more lobster, this time deep-fried Sichuan style.
Victor Churchill’s is the oldest-running butcher shop in Australia. The family business has been going since the 1800s. It’s now also a fine restaurant. Bourdain enjoys some meats with Moran, the owner, and his two sons.
A board of finely sliced meats is brought to the table. Ham, chorizo, garlic salami, and rabbit are just a few of the thin cuts. “You rarely see boards like this anymore. Even in France, it’s less common now. But this is indescribably delicious,” Tony exclaims.
The Lord Dudley Pub
Tony finishes his second trip to Sydney with some pints at the Lord Dudley Pub. “This is what Australian life is about,” Matt says. “Eating great. Enjoying the weather. Drinking pints.”
Tony muses about buying property in Sydney: “Wouldn’t it be great to live here?”
Local Dining Experiences Tony had in Sydney
As is usually the case, Tony has a few local dining experiences that are worth mentioning. You might not be able to do these on your Sydney trip, but the foods are worth seeking out if you’re intrigued by them.
- First, Bourdain finds some Australians, including aboriginal people, to have a cookout in the Outback. They begin with Johnny Cakes – pancakes made from flour, coffee, and beer – pan-fried over the fire. Tony builds a salad with wild spinach and other greens, and they even have grilled kangaroo.
- Bourdain also meets with a friend named Steve; they go to his house, still outside Sydney proper, for an Australian lunch. The meal is somewhat similar to something you’d find in the Southern states of America: bread, mutton, coleslaw, curried eggs, and a green salad. The dessert, one could call it, is a big pot of boiled crawfish in the backyard. Something different about these crawdads is how the Australians dip them in a bowl of vinegar. I’ve never had crawfish that way, but it does sound delicious indeed. Tony agrees as he digs in for more.
- Lastly, Tony meets with his guide Matt Moran – a notable chef in Australia – and together they take a private flight out of the city. They arrive at his family’s farm, Green Hills Farms, to see where the food for his restaurant comes from. Together they butcher a lamb and cut steaks. They throw the cuts on the grill. “It’s not a barbie,” Tony scoffs. Only adding salt and oil, the lamb cuts themselves are more than enough. Tender and tasty.
Sydney Food Tours to Try
As always, it could be helpful to consider booking a food tour in addition to visiting a few of the restaurants above. This will give you a chance to try other new foods and spots that Tony might not have – or at least to approach the experience with the open-minded enthusiasm for new experiences that he brought to his shows. Here are a few to inspire you:
Have any other questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Sydney, Australia? Let me know in the comments.