Food / Wellbeing

Looking for a last-minute table tonight? Find a spot at these Sydney restaurants and bars…

Best bars and restaurants for last-minute bookings in Sydney

One of the most frustrating parts of city living is the inability to do much on a whim. Most restaurants, cafes and events these days require some forethought and a prior booking – leaving us reeling when we decide upon the fabrication of last-minute Friday dinner plans, or in an endless search for a walk-ins friendly after work drink spot.

Luckily, we here at RUSSH are only human, and experience these problems too. But we also have done the research to find some of the city's best spots for walk-ins (or that you're just most likely to get a last minute reservation at) on a Friday evening.


Best for: last-minute after work drinks

1. Lobby Bar at Ace Hotel (CBD)


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Location: 47/53 Wentworth Ave, Sydney NSW 2000

A particular favourite of mine for an after-work aperitivo hour is Ace Hotel's Lobby Bar. Situated walking distance from the Sydney CBD and Central Station, it's easy for all your working pals to meander down to after a big week and, even on busy nights, they can usually accomodate for parties of four or less on one of their shared sunken lounges, or seated along their gorgeous marble bar. With interiors decked out by Flack Studio (the design studio behind Troye Sivan's iconic AD house tour), and soundtracked by a roster of live and local DJs, it's a great spot for rubbing shoulders with the city's creatives (or travelling ones popping down from their rooms for a drink). And if the atmosphere isn't enough to convince you, their menu offers a range of craft cocktails, wine by the glass, beers, snacks and small, shareable plates – all curated with the help of P&V co-founder Mike Bennie.


2. Snack Kitchen (Potts Point)

Location: 1/95 Macleay St, Elizabeth Bay NSW 2011

Newly opened, Snack Kitchen occupies the street-side corner of Hughes and Macleay Streets, with big glass-louvered windows allowing for some pretty excellent people watching along its front-facing bar. The vibe is vibrant, but it doesn't take bookings – so even if it's full when you arrive, you're likely to be in the door within the half hour. The wine menu features different producers each month, and the menu a seasonal mix of charcuterie, crudités and tapas that can be shared between you and a mate or a date.

We'd highly suggest heading for their daily happy hours from 4-6pm, where you can access a capsule menu of drinks and snack plates for less than $10 a pop.


3. Shady Pines Saloon (Darlinghurst)

Location: 4/256 Crown St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Down the side of an industrial alleyway in Darlinghurst resides the bustling underground bar of Shady Pines. Home to some of the city's friendliest bar staff and cosiest Twin Peaks-esque decor, its' the perfect place to rally the squad for knock-off beverage. There's free peanuts to gorge yourself in while you chatter, and of course, we'd highly encourage you to order their signature cocktail, the Whisky Apple, made with freshly juiced Granny Smiths refilled on the hour.


5. Love, Tilly Devine (Darlinghurst)


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Location: 91 Crown Ln, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

A quintessential example of the hidden laneway bar, Love, Tilly Devine is a hole-in-the-wall spot that caters for wine lovers and snack lovers alike. While it can be hard to snag a table later in the night, we'd suggest heading down for an early beverage during their daily happy hour, where they're serving up mini martinis, mini negronis and sardine sandos for less than $12.


Best for: last-minute dinner plans

1. D.O.C Pizza (Surry Hills)


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Location: 78 Campbell Street, Surry Hills NSW

One place I've called upon more than once for a last-minute dinner reservation is DOC Pizza in Surry Hills. Just a block from Central Station and across from some great little bars that you can happily kick on to afterward, D.O.C is a goldmine for really, really good Italian food. They take their produce seriously, and import some of their ingredients directly from producers in Italy. Woodfired pizzas, handmade pastas, and a selection of mortadellas and mozzarellas so good you'll be thinking of them for days afterward. While I'd still encourage you to book ahead, I've usually found a two-person table is pretty readily available here.


2. Derrel's (Glebe)


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Location: 78 Campbell Street, Surry Hills NSW

Another walk-ins only joint that is pretty much the definition of 'cheap and cheerful' dining. Located on the main drag of Glebe, newly opened Derrel's plays into the Australiana decor of the early 2000s – Woman's Weekly issues doubling as menus, and diner-adjacent decor giving the place a bright and retro feel. The menu is small but mighty – offering a selection of Anglo-Indian curries, samosas and burgers that will have all needs met. The place is open late – until a rare 2am – and has a pretty quick turnover of tables, so you'll never be waiting for long.


3. Mark and Vinny's Italian (Redfern)


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Location: g07/38-52 Waterloo St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Vegans and vegetarians can rejoice in this last-minute option that serves up an all-plant based modern Italian menu. Nestled into a backstreet of Surry Hills, right on the border of Redfern, this neon-lit restaurant has plenty of space for walk-ins and is a low-key, casual dining spot perfect for all budgets. They dish up a range of woodfired pizzas and fresh-made vegan pasta dishes, with the addition of gluten-free, and nut-free options too.


4. Bridge Street Pizza (Penshurst)


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Locations: 129 Laycock Road, Penshurst NSW 2222

Known affectionately as Bsp'eria, this quaint, pink pizzeria tucked next to Penshurst Station has become a culinary hotspot in South Sydney. Casual dining at the premises is dished out on a first in first served basis, with additional few seats at the pizza garden at the back. Firing up a six-item menu of Brooklyn-style pizzas – both old-school classics and contemporary favourites – it's a great spot to warm hearts and stomachs on a Friday evening.


5. Bad Hombres Mexican (Surry Hills)

Locations: 40 Reservoir St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Bad Hombres is your go-to spot for last-minute Mexican fare. Not too fancy, but still with a vibe. A plant-based and gluten-free menu that caters to just about every dietary needs that your dates or friends might have. They've put together a stellar little wine list that includes people-pleasers like DAS JUICE and Delinquente, as well as a plethora of Mexican beers and house-made red and white sangria. When it comes to food, tacos are the obvious answer. But I also wouldn't overlook their stacked nachos or charred corn cobs for sharing between pals.


6. Biang Biang (Haymarket)

 Location: Shop 39/1 Dixon St, Haymarket NSW 2000

Chinatown favourite Biang Biang is a reservation-less spot that you can count on for delicious hand-pulled noodles freshly made everyday. For those with particular tastes, you can choose from your choice of savoury sauces and an array of toppings to complement your dish.


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