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Vivid Sydney food guide for 2019

Where to eat before you play at Vivid Sydney.

Vivid Sydney commands more than a 5-minute walk to see the lights.

A whole evening, at least, needs to be dedicated to its brilliant displays and interactive exhibitions. So we wouldn't expect you to tackle it without some good grub in your belly. Lucky for you, neither do these guys.

They're the restaurants, cafes, food stalls and food trucks paving the Vivid pathway and keeping you well sated so you can enjoy the colour and lights in all their glory. Some are even offering special Vivid menus and deals to make your journey through the lights that much brighter.

While the 2018 Vivid Sydney festival has come on gone, the 2019 event will be around before you know it. Here were some of the highlights from 2018 to get you excited for what's to come.

As soon as the menus, restaurants and anything else food-related are announced for 2019, we'll update this space.

Haven't planned your Vivid experience yet? Check out our Vivid Sydney guide to start

Stalls, food trucks and dining precincts

The hotspots outside of Sydney Harbour that were perfect for hangry Vivid attendees:

Vivid Food Trucks

Wherever a festival is, food trucks will follow - and Vivid is no exception to the rule. For the festival, the best variety of food trucks tend to hang around the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House and Maritime Museum.

Restaurants at Barangaroo

One of Sydney's newest precincts is took Vivid by storm in the culinary department with more than 10 of its waterfront restaurants taking on the Vivid challenge. That is, to curate a glowing menu to excite and delight. Highlights included glow-in-the-dark fairy floss at Banksii, trio of rainbow sliders at United, Garden of Sweet Delights dessert at 12-Micron (pictured), colour-changing tea at Rabbit Hole and pink and green ice cream sandwiches at Devon's Cafe.

Restaurants at Cockle Bay Wharf

For those checking out the lights at Darling Harbour, the wharf was rife with restaurants serving their own slide of Vivid fare. The Lindt cafe, Blackbird Cafe and Cafe del Mar are renowned for adding their personal Vivid touch to their menus, so flirt around with a few. It's what you're supposed to do.

Food stalls at the Royal Botanic Gardens

Before you tucked into the light show overtaking the Royal Botanic Gardens for Vivid, there was the chance to tuck into its smorgesboard of food options.

Ranging from your standard hot dogs and nachos to more intriguing on-theme delights such as neon-bright cocktails served in plastic lightbulbs and cupcakes dispensed via a bespoke Cupcake ATM there was something for everybody to indulge in.

Food Stalls at the Concourse

With Vivid expanding out to Chatswood once again, so too did the food offerings. All manner of food stalls paved the way from Chatswood Station to the concourse throughout the festival and took on an Asian hawker flair.

To keep the masses entertained, Westfield Chatswood has featured food and entertainment delights for the family.

Vivid restaurants and bars

You gotta love a restaurant that plays nice with events. These guys jumped on the Vivid bandwagon once again for 2018 by offering spesh meals and extended hours to amp up your Vivid experience. The best bit? Heaps of these places don't take reservations which means you can pop in and out whenever you like.

Kobe Jones

Combining the theatrics of teppanyaki with that of Vivid, Kobe Jones has festival nights sorted. The Rocks Teppanyaki and Wharf Teppanyaki were all hosting mouthwatering hunger busters to fuel you for a long night. Prices started from just $190 for two but the meal itself was priceless.

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The Hilton Sydney

The Hilton is synonymous for delivering colourful cocktail concoctions in its Marble Bar whenever Vivid comes around, and this past event it also offered a pre-show 2-course meal in the Glass Brasserie. At just $189 for two, it's was a steal that came with the added bonus of a window seat. Because you really must see the view.

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Meat Wine and Co.

Perfectly positioned in Barangaroo overlooking the waterfront Meat Wine and Co. has the chops to set your Vivid night on fire. Whether you were after a late lunch before the sun sets or a two or three course dinner as the lights dance around you this restaurant has you covered during Vivid. And because the meals here are all about the cocktail, Meat Wine and Co. also served up brilliantly bright Vivid-inspired cocktails on the night. Because that's just the way they roll.

Hunter and Barrel

New to the Vivid scene, Hunter and Barrel offered an affordable meal in the heart of the action that didn't set you back more than $95 for two (or $47.50 per person). From that you not only got a two-course meal of coal-roasted meals (are you salivating yet?), you also washed it down with a neon cocktail.

MCA Cafe

On the outside, the MCA plays host to one of the popular Vivid displays on the circuit. Inside, the MCA cafe tends to stay abuzz with lights spectacular. In the past it has featured a glow bar with Vivid-inspired cocktails and a grazing menu that hits the spot. Usually open til late throughout Vivid.

The Argyle

Each and every year without fail The Argyle puts on a Vivid spectacular of light, music and performance. Entry is free, the espresso martinis are not, but they're worth every dollar.

No.1 Bent Street

In honour of the 10th birthday of Vivid, No.1 Bent Street created three take-out boxes you could pre-order and pick-up at the restaurant so you can chow down on while getting your light thang on. All you needed to do was make your order by 4pm and it was available for pick up from 5-9pm that evening. Boxes were $19 each and included spit roast chicken, hot smoked ocean trout and wood fired pumpkin. Who says you can't have healthy options at a festival, right?

Four Seasons

Located perfectly on the edge of The Rocks and Sydney Harbour, Four Seasons is the ultimate starting point to a Vivid journey. Each of its restaurants will be glowing with delicious dishes throughout the festival. From past years, we expect an innovative cocktail list of neon proportions and a special three-course Vivid menur.

Sake

For something more opulent, there's Sake. You may have to start early to get through its stunning Vivid menu - which in the past has featured hiramasa kingfish, shumai dumplings, grilled shiokoji chicken and tofu cheesecake. At $55 per person, it's was bargain but once we'd recommend you start early with to you don't run too deep into your Vivid time.

Opera Bar

Located right on the footsteps of the Opera House, you'd be a fool to miss stopping by Opera Bar - especially with its array of luminous cocktails and nibbles on show. This year's offerings included colour-coded electric blue (bacardi rum, blue curacao, orgeat, lime, pineapple), orange glow (42 below vodka, agave, lime, sparkling orange) and red night (bombay sapphire gin, peach, pink grape fruit, lemon, ginger beer). Couple them with a trio of neon-coloured dips and you're all set.

360 Bar and Dining

Sydney Tower's 360 Bar and Dining restaurant joined the Vivid food scene last year, offering epic views of the city's lights from up above.

The Deck

On the other side of the bridge near Luna Park is The Deck. It's a hidden secret in the Vivid food game, though now that Luna Park has joined as one of the festival's precincts it's bound to become ever more popular. On the menu in 2018 was a choice between a 2- or 3-course a la carte dinner for $55/$70 per person. Diners also got free parking as an added incentive.

The Shangri-La

The whole of The Shangri-la lights up from the inside out during Vivid with Altitude restaurant commanding the show off the 36th floor of the hotel. Six course tasting menus awaited eager stomachs every night of Vivid. The stunner set diners back $170 per person, or $235 with matching wines. For something a little more budget-friendly, dinners at Cafe Mix were available most nights from $90 per person.

The Glenmore

While there's nothing much going on at the Glenmore for Vivid, it always a top spot above The Rocks to sit back with a beer in hand and see the lights from its rooftop. It's got a great view of the Opera House and buildings around Circular Quay that are lit through the evening.


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Stephanie Yip

Stef is the Travel Editor at finder.com.au and has been writing about travel for over a decade. She's visited over 50 countries and has had some incredible experiences, including hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, hitchhiking across Romania and seeing the Northern Lights (twice!). And while she’d never say no to a luxury escape, she's far more likely to stretch her travel dollars as far as they can go by keeping her ear to the ground for unbeatable travel bargains. And she'll tell you all about them, too! Stef has had articles featured on Travel Weekly, Escape and Hostelworld.

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