Marrickville has a huge range of options when it comes to drinking and dining. In the lead up to the 3rd Annual Marrickville Business Awards this month, we decided to take a tour through some of our favourite foodie haunts. The following is not an exhaustive list – there’s always more to explore!
Fast food chains like McDonalds or KFC don’t seem to last very long in Marrickville – the competition from local restaurants and takeaway outlets is too strong. In the takeaway stakes, you can find rather moreish thin-crust pizza at Nom Pizza, and some say the best souvlaki and yeeros in the area are at The Yeeros Shop, while others argue Victoria Yeeros is best.
Then there’s that great Vietnamese-French combination, the banh mi or ‘pork roll.’ Queues form at the tiny Marrickville Pork Roll shop as soon as lunchtime hits on Illawarra Road. This place is often hailed as making the best banh mi in Sydney but there are other places to get this treat; around the corner at Rose Sunrise Bakery you can buy a barbecued pork roll for $3 – surely Sydney’s cheapest lunch – and nearby the BBQ Prince sells barbecued pork, chicken and duck.
They also take their coffee very seriously in Marrickville, especially in the coffee zone south of Enmore Park around Victoria Street.
The pioneering roaster/cafe Coffee Alchemy has been ‘Best Coffee’ winner according to the Sydney Morning Herald for four years running, but not too far away you’ll also find Bourke Street Bakery, with an ever-inventive range of sourdoughs and tempting pastries, as well as the versatile Two Chaps, who bake their own bread, roast their own coffee and make their own brand of chai tea, plus the new kid on the block, Coffee Tea & Me.
Double Roasters is another roaster/cafe that provides “tasting notes and brewing advice to anyone who wants to talk coffee.” Others worth checking out include the Italian-styled Vesbar Espresso, the Vietnamese-styled Take Coffee, the ultra-hipster (but pricey and often crowded) Cornersmith, and Forage, a café that morphs into a bar Wednesday to Saturday. Just follow your nose to the best coffee aroma.
If you’re looking for something a little stronger than coffee, try Batch Brewing Company, where you can sample the house hand-made beers Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons until 7pm. For a wider choice, check out The Gasoline Pony, which is an expansive small bar with rustic styling, craft beers on tap, wine, snacks, pizzas and occasional ‘specials’ such as a Cape beef curry. Beejay’s is another popular breakfast/lunch cafe that transforms into a bar Thursday to Saturday evenings. Dishes here include tacos, risotto and souvlaki.
Meanwhile the Henson Park Hotel has a hit on its hands with its sympathetic retro redesign, unusual wines, local craft beers on tap, a children’s play zone and some fairly sophisticated bistro offerings such as lamb koftas with chickpeas, olives, spinach and labne – dishes which tend to arrive annoyingly ‘deconstructed’ on bread boards. Late-nighters head to Lazybones Lounge Restaurant and Bar for microbrewery beers and interesting snacks like a South African street food called ‘bunny chow.’
A mixture of glitz and funk, The Ritz is a new hotel targeting the incoming ‘gentry’ of this so-called ‘new Paddington.’ It serves fancy beers, ciders and wines, plus posh pub food, though the pulled pork rolls seem to be the most popular option, funny that. The Royal Exchange Hotel has Vietnamese food as a bistro option, which is very ‘Marrickville’ but most people prefer to dine in one of the many Vietnamese restaurants along Marrickville and Illawarra Roads, all of which serve classic dishes such as pho noodle soups and bun vermicelli noodle salads.
It’s hard to go wrong with any of these restaurants. Bun Bo Hue Huong Giang specialises in bun bo hue, a spicy beef noodle soup from the central region of Vietnam. One popular destination, PHD, now has two restaurants – one in each of these ‘eat’ streets.
Slightly more upmarket, is the very popular but noisy Yen for Viet. Favourite dishes here include caramelised fish (or pork) and the banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake). Even more upmarket is Bau Truong, where your eyes glaze over and you start to salivate just reading the list of sharing dishes even before you turn to the menu of 60-plus main courses. Bay Tinh serves dishes from the elaborate ‘palace’ cuisine of southern Vietnam, but this restaurant has not retained the influence it once had before changing hands five years ago.
Loyal customers flock to two institutions: Huong Huong which, under various names at various locations, has been serving a wide range of Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese dishes like its signature lemongrass chilli squid since 1987; and the Old Thanh Huong, which has been serving a similarly wide-ranging menu to repeat customers for about the same length of time.
There are quite a few Thai restaurants to enjoy as well. Thai Pothong is a smaller but equally reliable version of the large Newtown original, and Let’s Eat Thai attracts accolades for its fresh, no-holds-barred approach to Thai cooking. On Addison Road, Tongue-Thaied seems to be aiming for the hipsters with its kana mhu grob (fried kale with crispy pork belly), while Thai Power appeals more to a family crowd.
The Asian food doesn’t stop there however; Hung Cheung has queues on weekends for its extensive, inexpensive yum cha options (the snow-pea dumplings are great), Sakae Japanese Kitchen has an appealing, if predictable menu, and friendly service, or you can head to Everest Kitchen to sample Tibetan cuisine.
Other cuisines to savour while in Marrickville include Peruvian at Mancora but also Greek at the venerable Corinthian Rotisserie Restaurant (the melt-in-mouth roast lamb is recommended). Speaking of Greek delights, the family-owned Athena Cake Shop (above) is a must visit for those with a sweet tooth. Athena’s has been around since 1974 and are known for their Greek sweets, but in particular their traditional Easter bread and Christmas sweets, as well as modern cakes.
On Sundays, head to the stalls at the Addison Road Markets where everything that’s great about Marrickville comes together and you can sample Turkish gozleme, corn fritters, Chinese dumplings, German kransky, Indonesian and Malaysian food side by side. Or if eating in appeals, there’s no better place to pick up fresh fruit and veggies, dairy, meat, eggs and smallgoods to take home and cook.
• Words: Keren Lavelle
• The Marrickville Business Awards will be presented by Mayor Jo Haylen (above) on July 31st at the Concordia Club. The event will recognise long-serving businesses and those that have contributed to the community. www.marrickvillebusiness.com.au
A directory of Marrickville
Nom Pizza: 205 Victoria Rd
The Yeeros Shop: 431 Illawarra Rd
Victoria Yeeros: 301 Victoria Rd
Marrickville Pork Roll: 236A Illawarra Rd
Rose Sunrise Bakery: 255 Marrickville Rd
BBQ Prince: 289 Marrickville Rd
Coffee Alchemy: 24 Addison Rd
Bourke Street Bakery: 2 Mitchell St
Two Chaps: 122 Chapel Street
Double Roasters: 199 Victoria Rd
Coffee Tea & Me: 100b Sydenham Rd
Vesbar Espresso: 1 Warburton Rd
Take Coffee: 286 Illawarra Rd
Cornersmith: 314 Illawarra Rd
Forage: 181 Marrickville Rd
Batch Brewing Company: 44 Sydenham Rd
The Gasoline Pony: 115 Marrickville Rd
Beejay’s: 395 Illawara Rd
Henson Park Hotel: 91 Illawarra Rd
Lazybones: 294 Marrickville Rd
The Ritz: 252-254 Illawarra Rd
Royal Exchange Hotel: 203 Marrickville Rd
Bun Bo Hue Huong Giang: 287 Marrickville Rd
PHD: 308 Illawara Rd & 260 Marrickville Rd
Yen for Viet: 296 Illawarra Rd
Bau Truong: 185 Marrickville Rd
Bay Tinh: 316-318 Victoria Rd
Huong Huong: 1/228 Marrickville Rd
Thanh Huong: 356 Illawarra Rd
Thai Pothong: 322 Victoria Rd
Let’s Eat Thai: 352 Illawarra Rd
Tongue Thaied: 15 Addison Rd
Thai Power: 220 Addison Rd
Hung Cheung: 338 Marrickville Rd
Sakae Japanese Kitchen: 303 Illawarra Rd
Everest Kitchen: 314 Victoria Rd
Corinthian Rotisserie Restaurant: 283 Marrickville Rd
Mancora: 107 Addison Rd
Athena Cake Shop: 412 Illawarra Rd
Addison Road Markets: 142 Addison Rd