If you consider yourself a foodie when you travel, then you need to head to the buzzing neighbourhood of Marrickville, Sydney’s centre for culinary innovation.
According to Time Out, the inner west Sydney suburb of Marrickville is one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world, and one already famed for its multicultural food and drink scene. it’s also the hub of Sydney’s craft brewery and distillery movement, and its backstreets harbour live music venues and bustling markets. It’s innovative, traditional, new, old, vibrant and relaxed all at once. Here’s how to enjoy the area like a local.
Marrickville’s restaurants showcase the suburb’s history and its future. Award-winning venues like Baba’s Place and Barzaari (below) explore the identity and flavours of Sydney’s European and Middle Eastern communities while keeping the mood fun and relaxed.
While local favourites like Corinthian Greek Restaurant (a three-decade old Greek diner) show Marrickville’s Greek history. Casa Do Benfica (an old-school Portuguese restaurant attached to a tennis club) is another relaxed, traditional option.
Tour the Bars
Marrickville’s bar scene is one of the most vibrant, diverse and innovative in Sydney. Start at Pepito’s with a zesty Peruvian cocktail and a ceviche, then walk five minutes down the road to find The Marrickville Hotel, a bar serving tap beers and toasties (or Vietnamese from next door) to communal wood benches, and Where’s Nick (below), a hip but unpretentious bar sporting a menu of natural wines (highlighting Australian women in wine) and seasonal, Mediterranean snacks.
Live Music, Parties and Comedy
Sydney’s live music scene is thriving in Marrickville. Camelot Lounge and Lazy Bones are two of Sydney’s last remaining jazz bars, but the eclectic, retro bars also host folk, rock and traditional music from around the world.
Gasoline Pony is a lively small bar where craft beer drinkers battle for space with local acts playing folk, soul and rock. Community-oriented bar The Great Club also has a wide repertoire of genres and sometimes pulls in international acts.
For a more youthful party vibe, hit up the Marrickville Bowling Club (above); its dance floors are famous in the area. The biggest in size and reputation is the Factory Theatre, a champion of independent art and culture that hosts not just live music but comedy, cabaret and dance parties, often with a food truck to fuel you up at half time.
Tour the Breweries
Marrickville is the undisputed hub of Sydney’s craft beer scene. At one end of the brewing spectrum is The Grifter Brewing Co., offering a range of Sydney-style bright, extremely drinkable beers that appear in both pubs and expensive restaurants. At the other end is Wildflower Brewing & Blending – an experimental brewery blending unique sour beers using native yeast.
Between them, find a brewery with a nostalgic Australian-Chinese restaurant at the Bob Hawke Beer and Leisure Centre, Mixtape Brewing with 18 rotating taps and no core range, plus many more. And you can tour them all on foot; walking between each of these is an easy stroll.
Explore the Local Vietnamese Hub
Cabramatta is Sydney’s famous Vietnamese hub, but little-known fact, the city has many Vietnamese areas, each with their own tilt. Marrickville is the centre of the Northern Vietnamese community, with restaurants, cafes and banh mi shops all serving the locals. VN Street Foods serves a full family meal in a single-person, customisable bento box. Try Alex ‘N’ Rolls for takeaway, northern-style sticky rice with roast pork. Or try to get a seat at Banh Cuon Ba Oanh, a tiny eatery doing some of the best silky, rice noodle rolls in Sydney.
Brews and Brunch
While most suburbs are lucky to have one great local cafe, Marrickville has multiple cafes bringing people from across Sydney just to try their wares. Two Chaps champions sustainability with an all-vegetarian menu where almost everything made on site. You can try a AU$20 US$13) rare coffee at specialty coffee bar Ona (below), taste a slice of New York at the bagel-slinging Lox in a Box, get American diner food but with a good brew at Valentinas or try for a table at the Japanese-influenced mini-cafe Kurumac.
Double Tap Coffee is a more relaxed option while Deluca is more of a modern, stylised coffee bar. Or act like a local and pick up some fresh fruit and Egyptian street food at the Marrickville Organic Food Markets every Sunday.
This is another intimate venue that locals appreciate. Camelot Lounge showcases everything from jazz to Latin music and classical to reggae. Sydney songwriter Jamie Hutchings (Bluebottle Kiss) even recorded his live album here. The moody crimson space is full of character: it’s decorated with retro bric-a-brac, band posters, vibrant artworks and lots of camel figurines.
In between the industry and art of Marrickville there are more than six hidden distilleries dotted around the suburb, each with their own vibe. Poor Toms (above) is the original. The gin distillery, opened in 2015 by Jesse Kennedy and Griffin Blumer, has now picked up many awards and has its own bar. It’s a relaxed, sun-lit hang out in the backstreets of Marrickville.
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