Lockout laws are a thing of the past, so there's no stopping this year's Mardi Gras parade party from pumping all night long. Lucky for us, the parade just happens to travel past some of Sydney's most exciting eateries and bars. While the parade hums along, within a couple of blocks you could be tasting a sample of the Caribbean, France, Philippines, Italy, China, the USA and beyond.
We recommend booking a pop-in-pop-out food-crawl along the parade route to create some true foodie heaven. Start at brunch at Son of Frank and then just keep on going/ stuffing, right through until recovery on Sunday at Madame Shanghai.
Incidentally, Mardi Gras institution, the Stonewall Hotel (175 Oxford Street) is already booked solid, or we'd be giving its Dick's Diner and general 48-hour party extravaganza a mention. See if you can beg a ticket inside for Saturday night...
In the meantime, get ready in your most comfy (but still incredibly glam) shoes, because you're going to want to cover each and every one of these venues. Here's what to eat and where along and near Oxford and Flinders streets in Darlinghurst, Sydney on Saturday, Sunday and every day.
You may find yourself in this jerk chicken diner and rum bar for a quick plate of sunshine fritters, then end up staying all night. It's always jumping with the kind of vibrant warmth you'd hope for from a Jamaican venue.
Eat the Caribbean cauliflower curry (a steal at $19) or get stuck into the BBQ beef ribs with banana jerk bbq sauce ($34). There's also bao, burgers, chippy things, poke bowls and other small plates to reel you in. Leave room for the signature rum cake and one too many cocktails.
320 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Book in for an extra-long lunch at this chic French place, handily located right at the start of the Mardi Gras route. With a bit of luck, the private dining room upstairs (which turns into a cabaret venue come Wednesday nights) is still free and you can really set yourself up for a merry parade.
Claire's Kitchen is also hosting their annual Mardi Gras celebration from 6pm. Book in for three hours of canapés, cocktails and one of the best views of the parade ($100).
35 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Contemporary Lebanese food served in a beautiful, edgy setting deserves a spot in your Mardi Gras evening. Nour takes classic Lebanese ingredients like pomegranate, tahini, eggplant and chickpeas and mixes them up to create exciting new flavours.
Dishes currently on offer include wood-roasted spiced Cape Grim beef short rib with local heirloom carrots and toum bearnaise ($52) and laham nayyeh with roasted chilli, confit shallot, preserved lime and fermented mushroom ($25).
Just up from the parade end at Shop 3, 490 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Located right on the parade route, Mr Crackles is all about the pig. Their signature pork belly takes three days to prepare, followed by 10 hours of braising, then additional roasting. Now, that's dedication.
They also do a lamb shoulder and chicken katsu with similar attention to detail. Then they simply serve it up in a roll with various salads (all $16) because, let's face it, perfection does not need adornment.
155 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Rey's Place is a gem. It serves authentic Filipino food to share and the servings are generous. The place is named after Australian-born owner Jonathan Bayad's Filipino father and you get the impression that everything served here is a father-favourite.
The chicken adobo ($23) is marinated for 24-hours before being slow-cooked in the classic soy-vinegar sauce. Their signature dish Rey's Lechon ($28) is flat-out worth pausing the entire parade for. Grab a bunch of friends and make yourselves at home for the night at Rey's.
Shop/163 Crown St, Darlinghurst
Dimitri's has been serving up pizza in Darlinghurst since the mid-70s. It moved to its current location just past Flinders Street on Oxford in July last year, so everything feels fresh and very now for a 50-year-old business.
Alongside salads, antipasto and pasta, comes woodfired pizza with classic toppings - marinara, fungi or formaggio - or something a little different - Brussels sprouts, honey or eggplant. The bee sting pizza with tomato, sopressa, mozzarella and honey ($23) is particularly enticing.
215 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
Worth the two-block walk up Darlinghurst Road from Oxford Street, Gaku Robata is a compact izakaya serving meat, fish and veggie dishes from the charcoal grill, along with fresh sushi, sashimi and hand rolls. Chef-owners Haru Inukai and Shimon Hanakura put an innovative twist on every dish, borrowing techniques and ingredients from both European and Asian styles.
By day this place serves coveted bowls of steaming ramen (from $15) - there's always a line up to sit down for the limited number the kitchen offers each day.
2/132 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst
Madame Shanghai is owned by Michael Jiang's Lotus Dining Group, so you're in great hands here. The glam interiors and stunning views over Hyde Park are matched by the eclectic menu.
This is Chinese cooking, but not as you know it. Mozzarella finds its way into the dumplings (cheese on a Chinese menu? We are not in Shanghai anymore, Toto), cumin spices lamb in the pancakes and asparagus and turnip raid the san choi bao.
There's a canape and bao station parade party on Mardi Gras night ($160 for food, beer and wine package) and they're offering Blingo on Thursday night and a bottomless dumplings late brunch for Sunday recovery.
8 College Street, Darlinghurst
If you're seeking some peace within the crazy on Mardi Gras night, Bon Vin is the place to be. Head down the stairs in Stanley Lane and you'll be embraced by romantic calm and exceptional food. The menu is short but substantial. Right now you might choose the blue cheese bavarois for entree ($18), trout grenobloise for main ($30) and finish with a strawberry and rhubarb clafoutis ($14).
82 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst (enter via Stanley Lane)
When you develop a hunger than only bahn xeo can sate, head to Phamish. It's phast, phriendly and phabulous. Their crispy pork belly served with Chinese broccoli ($24) is what other pork bellies eat when hungry. You also can't go wrong with the chilli and lemongrass chicken ($22) or tamarind prawns ($25).
Near the start of the parade at 248 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst
Southern American comfort food should line your tum nicely for the festivities ahead.
Saturdays see Surly's light the 'ole hickory' barbecue, so tuck into a Nashville-size plate of beef brisket, ribs or pulled pork, smoked in-house. Surly's also offers a young, fun, pub atmosphere that should be jumping come Mardi Gras night.
182 Campbell Street, Surry Hills
This cosy Italian cafe is best known for its outstanding 'bottomless brunch' ($70 per person, including drinks), but they also do a mean dinner menu. Start with the grilled sardines with preserved lemons, move onto the slow-cooked beef brisket conchigle and finish with a tiramisu lamington.
The welcome is warm, the atmosphere molto bene and brothers Anthony and Jonathon Canturi have kept things reasonably priced.
263 Victoria St, Darlinghurst
Watch the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2020 parade LIVE on SBS and SBS On Demand on Saturday 29 February at 7.30pm.
A creamy tahini dressing and crunchy, honey-roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds really make the shredded raw vegetables of this colourful salad shine. You'll be glowing too after you eat it!
Follow the trail of rainbow cookie crumbs and you'll end up at this remarkable pinwheel. #MardiGras40
This spectacular cake is coloured with homemade natural food colouring. Its innocent exterior belies the excitement when it is cut open!
A nutritious, delicious salad full of body-healing ingredients. Make the dressing and dukkah ahead of time, and keep handy for other salad creations.