A plate of Egyptian street food.
Photograph: Jack Ailwood

The best places to eat in Sydney's Inner West

Where to find the best eats in Newtown, Enmore, Marrickville, Ashfield, Stanmore, Lewisham, Petersham, Dulwich Hill, Balmain, Leichhardt, Rozelle, Lilyfield, Camperdown, Campsie, Erskineville, Five Dock and Annandale

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Sydney's Inner Western suburbs have a well-earned reputation as the boho bloc of the city, with arty enclaves in places like Balmain, Marrickville and the rainbow streets of Newtown, where Sydney's counterculture communities still thrive in spite of soaring property prices. And with those creative energies comes a whole plethora of good eats to fuel the community spirits of the Inner West. Workday lunches could be anything from Egyptian street food to dumplings, tamales or banh mi, and when you don't feel like cooking dinner, there's pretty much no corner of the globe or price point not catered to. Want to eat on one of the city's most respected fine diners? Sixpenny is hiding in the residential streets of Stanmore. New world pizza? Hit Bella Brutta in Newtown. Nigerian, Pakistani, or Mexican? Got them all. And if it's the first meal of the day that concerns you, we've got top-tier coffee to spare and avo toast enough to finance a first home owner's grant. If you're hungry in this 'hood, these are the best places to fill your tank.

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Restaurants in the Inner West

  • European
  • Newtown
  • price 2 of 4

Finnish chef Pasi Petänen's permanent reboot on King Street in Newtown is our pick for dinner out. It's the full package: service, drinks, fitout, and a menu that is at once creative and cheekily nostalgic (we see you, steak Diane).

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  • Enmore
  • price 1 of 4

Still the number one spot for a serve of the smoky, feather-light babaganoush, spicy humous dressed with a warm chilli oil, and those famous garlic prawns.

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  • Newtown

The only place in town doing a breakfast ramen – a beautiful big bowl of rich, fatty broth made from an infusion of buttered toast, topped with stretchy, firm noodles made exclusively for Rising Sun Workshop to their own recipe. The whole lot is topped with a just-set onsen egg, shards of crisp bacon and a charred tomato.

  • Seafood
  • Petersham

Fich at Petersham is definitely nicer than your average suburban fish and chip shop. It’s split in two – on one side you’ve got a counter for ordering takeaway. Over the divide is a clean, white dining room where the menu goes well beyond batter and potato.

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  • Haberfield

There’s no denying that a hard-working little izakaya like this feels incongruous in the proudly Italian enclave that is Haberfield’s high street, but if it's killer yakitori you want, here'e where to get it.

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  • Balmain

They’ve got some pretty strict rules here. Try ordering a ham-and-pineapple or a half-and-half and you’ll be laughed out of Balmain. 
The pizza bases here are charred and bubbly, the toppings are strictly traditional.

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  • Enmore
  • price 1 of 4

Faheem is one of Sydney's best curry joints. Fast, fun and incredibly cheap, FFF gets an AAA for value, but don't come for the décor or flattering lighting. Faheem's commands maximum respect for minimum bucks, and they don't tone down the spice for tender palates.

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  • Leichhardt
  • price 1 of 4
Jasmin1 Leichardt
Jasmin1 Leichardt

The Inner West branch of this famous Sydney eatery serving falafels, smooth hummus, fatoush salad, outstanding baba ganoush, and little missiles of spiced sausage.

  • Nigerian
  • Enmore
  • price 1 of 4

The crowd at this Nigerian restaurant is about 50-50 West African customers desperate for a taste of home, and curious diners. “People are bringing their grandmothers and saying ‘Grandma, you’ve got to try Nigerian food'," says owner Adetokunboh Adeniyi.

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  • Newtown
  • price 1 of 4

This longstanding dining room is still a solid bet for some mod-Oz dishes (includig their famous polenta chips), or just a cheeky bevvy on a sweaty Inner West afternoon.

  • Shopping
  • Petersham
  • price 1 of 4
Frango's Petersham
Frango's Petersham

Giant hot pits of coal, huge braziers, iron cages filled with meat and queues out the door for the frango de churrasco (aka barbecued chook) are what you’ll find here.

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  • Vietnamese
  • Marrickville
  • price 1 of 4

Nope, your fellow diners aren’t taking a test – they are customising their Vietnamese meal boxes on cleverly designed wipeable menus. Choose your preferred rice, main, vegetable, salad and soup and it’ll all get assembled in a lacquered bento box for one.

  • Vietnamese
  • Marrickville
  • price 1 of 4

Never had banh cuon? You need to. These silky rice noodle rolls are a traditional Vietnamese breakfast staple. Banh Cuon Ba Oanh is about as close as Sydneysiders can get to the real deal. That includes a tiny kitchen cloaked in clouds of steam and squishy tables with ankle-high stools (no joke).

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  • Leichhardt
Bar Italia
Bar Italia

You can eat here for cheap, there's excellent gelati for dessert, and if you've taken a punt on a date you're not sure about, it's loud enough to hide the awkward silences. Bar Italia is one of the busiest places to eat in Leichhardt for those after some casual, red-sauce action.

Cafes in the Inner West

  • Cafés
  • Newtown
  • price 2 of 4

In a city full of cafés that sacrifice substance for style, all too ready for their Instagram close-up, One Another is the real thing: that elusive, earnest, #nofilter neighbourhood spot that just nails it.

  • Cafés
  • Marrickville
  • price 2 of 4

The primarily all-day menu remixes home-cooked Japanese dishes with quiet sophistication that’s still approachable. Green tea soba and tempura? Salmon congee? Nigiri? It's all amazing.

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  • American
  • Haberfield

The best thing about this sunshine yellow café in Haberfield is a menu of sides that’s as long as the mains. You can mix and match streaky bacon, salmon, mushrooms, a tip top house-made baked beans, hash brown or even a single golden pancake.

 

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  • Chinese
  • Campsie
  • price 1 of 4

Jin Weigu in Campsie where they’re doing powerhouse breakfasts, Northern Chinese-style. Here, as in Beijing or Tianjin, the only way to start the day is with a meal that’s hot, hearty, thick, and filling. No one was off battling the Mongolians on juices and bliss balls.

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  • Ashfield

It's been nearly four years since ordered the pork hash breakfast. That dish was a revelation and it's still the hot ticket item. And the crowds are still packing out this corner café on a weekend.

  • Cafés
  • Annandale
  • price 2 of 4

The open kitchen is busy putting together breakfast toast and granola, with smoked butter croissants, filled-to-bursting sandwiches and sausage rolls, daily pizza and focaccia, plus sweets so enticing they look stolen from a British story book.

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  • Cafés
  • Marrickville
  • price 1 of 4

Yes, this is a temple to coffee, but the experience isn’t complete without a toastie. Sometimes it’s a bacon toastie, or ham, or garlic mushrooms, with pickled green tomatoes – the sharpness of the pickle balances the melted gruyère.

  • Cafés
  • Dulwich Hill
  • price 1 of 4

Small Talk Coffee is a local pit stop for flat whites, filter coffees and focaccias, fluffy slabs of high GI bread, complete with an oven-blistered crust and a sprinkle of salt. It’s like a big, warm pillow and all savoury dishes from the eight-dish menu are served in, with, or atop it.

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  • Cafés
  • Haberfield

This Italian bakery in Haberfield is one of Sydney's most beloved eateries. The cheesecake at Pasticceria Papa has a cult following, and it's not hard to see why. It's made with ricotta and is light and fluffy as a cloud.

  • Cafés
  • Marrickville

Attempt to procure breakfast here on a weekend and you may be met with queues, but a midweek repast is a stroll-in-and-kick-back affair, where you need to decide if you feel like lunch for breakfast or breakfast for lunch. The all-day menu hops blithely from pork cassoulet to Belgian waffles in the very next line item.

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  • Petersham

You might just pop in for a blue and white tube of fresh custard tarts, but a display case of cakes and fresh creme caramels in a sea of caramel might convince you to have a seat and order coffee too.

  • Cafés
  • Newtown

Welsh rarebit, buckwheat pancakes, a ploughman's board for brekky or a killer brekky roll are all good reasons to take your empty stomach here.

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  • Erskineville

The Fleetwood team bring their A-game on the food front. Sure, it all fits easily into categories like baguettes, soup, salads, eggs and toast – but like Darryl Kerrigan famously said, "it’s what you do with it".

  • Newtown
  • price 1 of 4

One of the country's most famous bakeries (thanks to a certain Instagram-friendly watermelon cake) is never without company queueing for their top-tier pies, quiches, cakes and properly melty ham and cheese croissant.

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  • Marrickville

This sunny corner spot on Llewellyn Street is where to go for huge plates of golden scrambled eggs, which is how you justify the fact you're really here for the chococlate chip sea salt cookie afterwards.

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  • Cafés
  • Enmore
  • price 1 of 4

For someone as adept at cakes, Andy Bowdy also knows his way around an impressive sandwich, which is why his lunch menu at Saga is worth a trip when hunger strikes.

  • Cafés
  • Petersham

You’ll see it stationed on every other table, and all over Instagram. And there are good reasons why the brioche piled with fruit, flowers and hot-pink fairy floss is the pin-up-pretty number that everyone wants to order at this Petersham café.

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  • Cafés
  • Dulwich Hill
  • price 1 of 4

This is the place to solve all your FOMO breakfast issues, because they have a corn fritter burger on the menu: a bacon-and-egg-roll-meets-fritter baby. The bacon is crisp and the avo aplenty, plus a fritter on a slightly sweet milk bun with housemade barbecue sauce.

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Pubs in the Inner West

  • Pubs
  • Petersham
  • price 1 of 4

This local isn't rewriting the book, it’s just doing pub things better than most. Want craft beer? It’s on tap. The venue is also dog friendly (and cat friendly, for that matter). The ham-and-pineapple pizza on the kids’ menu comes out of the same woodfire oven as the Margherita for the adults.

  • Craft beer
  • Rozelle

This great pub manages to strike an easy balance between being a familiar, cosy watering hole and raising the bar where it counts – the food and drink – and at the Welcome a degree of extra care has been given to the menus.

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  • Pubs
  • Newtown
  • price 1 of 4

The beautiful thing about this old boozer is that it’s a pub designed to facilitate a good time on your terms. They’ve even got two separate outdoor areas so that smokers and diners can both enjoy the sunshine, and they let you bring your dog (on a lead) or kid (no lead required, probably).

  • Marrickville

The most famously family-friendly pub in the Inner West is also a destination thanks to it's bistro menu that applies café sensibilities to a classic counter meal menu.

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  • Erskineville
  • price 1 of 4

This famous queer-friendly hotel now boasts a pub bistro with a veggie-heavy menu – there’s vegan ceviche made from coconut and cauliflower and broccoli "wings" with ranch dressing – though steaks and roast pork also feature.

  • Enmore
  • price 1 of 4

They keep it simple at the redux pub. There are tasty snacks like deep-fried bunched of enoki mushrooms or creamy orbs of burrata, and then you can choose if you're in the mood for steak, or 'expensive steak'.

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  • Craft beer
  • Newtown

The bistro here has always been popular, but it’s vastly improved now that general manager Luke Hiscox has brought the operation in-house with Big Arties running the kitchen.

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  • Marrickville
  • price 1 of 4

The spacious, low-lit bistro is where the Golden has had the most work done. It’s a seriously family-friendly joint, with cheap kids' meals and activity packs. For fully grown appetites the serves are big, and if you choose your night, also very affordable.

  • Marrickville

Prime real estate at the Vic is out the back on the huge, covered wooden deck with a shady tree at one end and a fire pit for the odd spit-roast lamb at the other. This is where to eat your burger and kick back.

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  • Forest Lodge
Forest Lodge Hotel
Forest Lodge Hotel

The Forest Lodge is a diamond in the rough. From the outside this brown brick local doesn’t look like much, but inside there’s a decent feed, plenty of space, a warm welcome and a surprisingly excellent craft beer collection.

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