When I first moved to Bondi, I wanted to try every café and bar I came across. If you live there—or you’ve been—you’d realise this would be no easy feat. As the health mecca of Sydney, Bondi is teeming with trendy, healthy hotspots. There’s more kombucha on tap than beer, Paleo bread is the norm and you can find coffee shops that offer everything but cows milk.
While I’m yet to get around to every venue, I’ve given it a good go. Places have closed, others have opened and some will stand the test of time. Here are three that are well worth the visit.
1. Mr Perkins
My boyfriend thinks soup isn’t a proper meal. Whenever I suggest it for dinner, he never agrees. And yet, on our recent visit to newly open, Mr Perkins aka The Soup Specialist, he happily devoured a bowl of mushroom soup. Considering he also hates mushrooms, it’s safe to say there’s something special about this place.
The soups change daily and are displayed in colourful crockpots in the front counter. Along with the classics like roasted tomato and parmesan, you’ll find more intricate flavours such as honey-roasted beetroot and chilled watermelon. Don’t be afraid to try the stranger choices, the expert team of chefs—including David Lee, Megan Wigglesworth and Luca Ciano—ensure everything is delicious, while the in-house nutritionist, Jessica Rutledge, takes care of the health side of things.
While the soup is undoubtedly a highlight, it’s not the only thing on offer. Every day you’ll find an array of colourful, fresh salads, nutrient-dense smoothies and a selection of healing bone broths, which are literally all amazing. The space is bright and cheerful and the staff are friendly and clearly passionate about what they do. In fact, it’s highly likely you’ll be served by one of the owners including brother and sister duo, Chris and Candice Miller and friend and manager, Phil Ujdur.
Insider tip: You have to try the homemade chicken broth, the golden smoothie and the cauliflower soup—it will make you rethink everything you thought about cauliflower.
2. Saigon Lane
Taking over every location of the once popular, MissChu, Saigon Lane is a Vietnamese-fusion restaurant that’s slowly developing a similar cult following. Founded by the brains behind Ku De Ta and Saigon Street in Bali, Aki Kotzamichalis, Saigon Lane has that same, fresh, fun appeal.
On the menu you’ll find light and healthy sharing dishes, including some of Saigon Street’s signature items, such as green rice fried tiger prawns (an absolute must) and Vietnamese chicken coleslaw salad, as well as popular favourites from MissChu. Offering a modern take on Vietnamese street food (bahn mi, rice paper rolls, pho), most dishes are gluten-free and all of them are delicious.
There’s one restaurant in Bondi, another in Glebe and two ‘tuck shops’ in the inner city.
Insider tip: If you like espresso martinis, you have to try them here.
3. Bondi’s Best
When you can see the catch sitting on ice beside you, straight from the morning market, you know the fish is fresh. And that’s what it’s like at Bondi’s Best. Half take-away fishmonger, half restaurant, it offers market seafood in an upmarket restaurant without the jaw-dropping price tag.
With head chef, Phillip Davenport (ex-Hugo’s and Ku De Ta) at the helm, the food is exceptional and cooked to perfection. You can pick your fish from the display and pair it with sides or order from the menu which includes a list of specifically curated meals as well as a large sushi offering headed by Japanese chef, Hirofumi Fujita.
I visited the restaurant on Hall St on a Saturday evening and couldn’t fault it. They also have a venue in North Bondi which was the original and is undeniably a local favourite.
Insider tip: Obviously all the seafood is exquisite but the miso roasted eggplant is something else.