The Pantry (Sydney)

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Breakfast, lunch and dinner, right on Manly Beach

by Rhyl

Unfortunately one of the truer rules of travelling is: the more world  famous the beach, the more likely the restaurants surrounding it will be tacky, greasy and overpriced slop-shops the non-tourists wouldn’t be caught dead in.

The Pantry is an exception to that rule – so close to Manly Beach it is actually ON the beach, in a wonderful timber teahouse built in 1919, long before pesky town planning regulations were put in place.  The locals pack it out breakfast through to dinner.
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¡Muy Buena! Chica Bonita – Cochina de México, en Manly (Sydney)

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by Rhyl

If it’s not blindingly obvious from that heading, I have not been to Mexico and am not really on speaking terms with  Español  either. However, I know the difference between the food being plated up in casas around Mexico City, and the food more likely to be served at a ‘Mexican’ joint in Australia, Tex-Mex.

Portions of the  menu here – the chimichangas, the corn chips and the fries-in-the-burritos, put Chicago Bonita squarely in the latter territory.  The question is, who cares?

This tiny place – not much bigger than a genuine taco-stand – with its Day of the Dead, meets Sailor Jerry decor, the friendly service, the homemade chilli sauces (ask for all 3) and the $8 margaritas, should give you more than enough reason to pause the food purism for just long enough to bag a table.

Which can be no mean feat; even midweek the place is usually rammed.  Try a late lunch instead and soak up the sun, and you’ll have far more room to in which to swing (and enjoy) a Corona or 3.

More: www.chicabonita.com.au; Visit: 9/9 The Corso, Manly (enter via Whistler St); Call: 0450 612 896; Open: lunch & dinner Tuesday – Sunday, closed Monday; Wallet: Dishes $6 – $13, $8 margaritas and Coronas.  

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Chica Bonita

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Northern Thai food, for the brave (Sydney)

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House, Surry Hills, Sydney – By Rhyl

Thai food, like almost every other kind of national menu, is wildly changeable from region to region. If you’ve ever torn yourself away from Phuket or Samui long enough to head north to Chang Mai, you’ll know Isaan food – the food of this landlocked region – is worlds away from green curries and prawn-anythings.

House is from the crew who brought Sydney Spice I Am – but it’s one of the few places specialising in Isaan food and as has built up a dedicated and loyal fan base of chilli ‘shippers.

Because, this food is spicy. There aren’t many salads out there that come with a “medium or hot?” Question/warning from the waitstaff, but hot versions of the green papaya salads (5 on the menu) with their powerful hot-salt-sour pungency, will change all your ideas about salads being for the weak.  Luckily, House is annexed to the pub’s bottle shop, meaning you can put out the fire pretty quickly in case of emergency. Also handy – the pub’s ATM, as House is cash-only.

For the chilli wusses, the duck larb and gai yang (grilled chicken) reign in the heat and are huge crowd pleasers. Offal also makes welcome and frequent appearances.

If you’re an avowed carnivore who likes it hot, it’s definitely worth checking out.

View: www.spiceiam.com/house-surry-hills; Visit: 202 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills; Call: 9280 0364 (no reservations); Open: 7 days, 11:30am til late; Wallet: Dishes $8.50 – $19. Average cost around $30 person for dinner.  

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House

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