As you step off the train at Harris Park, the first thing that hits you is the rich scent of aromatic spices. The community has one of the highest Indian populations in the state, and there are 20-plus Indian restaurants located within a stone’s throw from the station. You’ll also find tailors and sari shops with colourful, bejewelled outfits, plus grocery stores where you can stock up on bitter melons, a kilo of peeled garlic for $6, or ten different brands of ghee and Bollywood DVDs.
Where to eat in Harris Park
This colourful South Indian street food-inspired restaurant is bustling every night with local families sharing huge plates of dosas, dhal curries and other vegetarian dishes. First up, order a tall glass of nimbu masala. It’s a refreshing riff on a lemon squash that delivers a savoury hit with cumin notes punching through the sour soda. The cheese dabeli sees a soft bap-like roll doused in grated cheese, sandwiching even more cheese mixed with potato and studded with spicy peanuts. Dip it in the mint sauce for a fresh kick, or try the funky, sweet tamarind sauce.
In the middle of Harris Park is a colonial-era house that is a part of the National Trust’s collection. They run tours daily and have an afternoon tea out on the verandah. Order scones, tea and finger sandwiches while looking out over the garden of lavender, geraldton wax flowers and chamomile. The cottage was built on the first land grant in Australia, which was brought in to act as an early test to see how long it would take for an individual to become self sufficient, by farming with wheat crops. While the colonial cottage focuses on the early history of the English settlers, we would have liked to hear more of the Indigenous history of the area, too.
During hot summer nights out in Western Sydney you might not be inclined to sit down to a meal of curries and naan, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from heading down Wigram St, Harris Park’s famously fairy-lit eat street, in search of refreshment. Outside Billu’s Indian Eatery, one of the most popular and long-standing of the cottage restaurants, a kulfi cart sets up shop after 6.30pm. Here you can buy long, slender spires of tacky Indian ice cream flavoured with saffron to eat as you wander.
We fully appreciate the mesmerising draw of the flashing rainbow lights that adorn the cottages along Harris Park’s famous eat street, Wigram Road, but just around the corner is a restaurant that is specialising in Indian food with a strong southern accent. Coconut Grove will certainly make you a thick, rich butter chicken or throw tender chunks of paneer through a tomato sauce fragrant with roasted spices. But to get the most out of this elegant eatery we recommend you flip through to the back of the menu to where seafood is the star.