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A buzzing restaurant interior with a prominent cactus
Photograph: Destination NSWChechos

Where to eat in Penrith

From picturesque brunches to fine-dining feasts, this Western Sydney hub has it all

By Time Out in association with Penrith City Council
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Without fanfare or fuss, Penrith has become an exciting place to eat in Sydney. Whether you’re in the market for a leisurely breakfast on the banks of the Nepean River, locavore fine dining at a sophisticated wine bar or a generous international feast, you’ll find a top-notch iteration in this flourishing food scene, right here in Sydney’s adventure sports capital. Bring it on...

Spots to be seen

This ritzy bar and restaurant is Penrith at its finest. Bathed in soft lighting, AG’s velvet green banquettes are the perfect environment for an intimate tête-à-tête over imaginative house cocktails, shareable snacks and premium meat cooked over a hibachi grill. Lather their housemade bread with lemon myrtle butter, feast on capocollo or crumbed pork sambos, and slice up a juicy duck breast with black garlic and Pedro Ximénez jus. 

During the warmer months there’s nowhere you’d rather be than Theo’s, the stunning rooftop bar of the Astina Suites hotel. Open air dining and sunset vistas over the Blue Mountains will win you over before you’ve even been handed a menu. Go as big or as small as you like, with everything from freshly shucked Sydney Rock oysters and bountiful charcuterie boards to antipasto, pastas and meaty mains.

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Enjoy a feast for all senses at Percy Plunkett, a charming café housed inside a heritage cottage. The building has been lovingly restored to retain its original character, with cobbled paths and pretty flower beds leading you towards hearty, modern spins on brunch classics. Tuck into eggs bennies topped with tender slow-cooked lamb, miso caramel-drizzled cinnamon French toast and crisp halloumi fries to share.

High street hot spots

For festive vibes and moreish Mexican, head to the pink-hued Chechos on High Street. Shareable dishes are delivered with zing, from jalapeño-topped kingfish ceviche and cheese- stuffed piquillo peppers to Cape Grim carne asada seasoned with an addictive cumin chilli rub. There are tacos and Margaritas aplenty too, if you’re in that kind of mood, plus the crispest churros in town for dessert.

Penrith’s most polished café food is found at Henri Marc, where your semolina porridge will be topped with poached red plums, your avo toast served alongside sauce vierge and your toastie sandwiching Gruyère and béchamel. The coffee is top notch too, using beans from Reuben Hills, but you’ll want to consider opting for a hot choc instead, given they’re steaming up chocolate from award-winning Emu Plains chocolatier Zokoko.

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Duck Duck Goose takes two of life’s great pleasures – dumplings and cocktails – and combines them in one raucous, neon-lit space. The buzzing nightlife spot entices you to fill up with plump steamed dumplings, crisp fried gyoza and fluffy bao while knocking back fun house tipples that include Margarita slushies and teapot cocktails. Kick on ‘til as late as 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Peppy café by day, intimate speakeasy by night, Mr Watkins has brought new energy to Penrith’s burgeoning bar scene. Knockout cocktails range from punchy to punchier, while the kitchen takes the reins with generously portioned food inspired by South African, Spanish, and Dutch cuisine. Dive into chimichurri-topped beef asado barbecued low and slow, sticky pork hock and even a whole butter chicken.

Dining by the river

Emu Hall is a ‘camera eats first’ type of venue with its scenic Nepean River views, verdant garden backdrop and colourful cocktails begging to be immortalised. The historic homestead has been artfully transformed into a modern restaurant while retaining its original appeal, with large windows and French doors bringing the outdoors in. They’re open from morning to late for brunch food, next level desserts, woodfired pizza, pastas and burgers.

Bring a whole new meaning to dining on the water as you cruise down the tranquil Nepean River while enjoying lunch, dinner or Devonshire tea. It’s all aboard the Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler for buckets of old-world charm and views of the breathtaking Nepean Gorge. During the day you can nibble on fluffy scones while spotting native wildlife, while at night you can sink into the romance of a three-course meal with live music.

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The Log Cabin is a 200-year-old westside institution, experiencing many incarnations over that time but always being a place to meet and gather. Rising from the ashes of a fire ten years ago, the current Log Cabin is a casual, convivial pub that feeds the masses updated classics (there’s a vegan schnitzel, FYI) while their finer diner Sinclair’s shows off local produce and showstopping meats cooked over a coal and ironbark grill.

It’s all about big flavours and boisterously good times at Goji Bar, a pan-Asian joint that’s one of eight eateries forming the East Bank Precinct. Drop in seven days a week for feast-worthy dishes like soft-shell crab roti, Sichuan peppered chicken wings, XO Balmain bugs, Peking duck and typhoon shelter king prawns. Make it a party with imaginative cocktails and memorable desserts including a Ferrero Rocher deep-fried ice cream.

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Situated in the charming heritage gardens of the Penrith Regional Gallery, Café at Lewers is serving up brekky, lunch and afternoon tea that’s as pretty as the art inside. Soak in the sunshine as you cut into house baked cakes, heirloom tomato and burrata bruschetta, summer fruit waffles and more. Great coffee is a sure thing, but on weekends you’d be remiss not to order a jug of their sparkling gin punch to share.

Worth the visit

Travel to the American south without leaving the 2750 by paying a visit to CJ’s Crab Shack and Grill. It’s a more-is-more attitude here, where you’re encouraged to get messy with racks of saucy, smoky ribs, plates of barbecue prawns and piping hot mac’n’cheese bombs. The main event, however, is their signature seafood boil, where you can pick from an array of crustaceans to be cooked in addictive garlic butter, Singapore chilli sauce or piquant creole seasoning. Bib provided, of course.

Avli brings the flavours and spirit of Greece to Penrith’s backyard. The restaurant is located inside a historic former church, with a picturesque garden for outdoor dining when it’s warm. Let stiff Greek aperitifs à la ouzo and tsipouro open your appetite for generous servings of traditional mezze (don’t go past the flaky spanakopita and sizzling halloumi saganaki), juicy grilled meats and syrupy desserts. 

One for the beer lovers

Craft beer brewery trail
Photograph: Destination NSW

Craft beer brewery trail

Beer lovers have a lot to get excited about in Penrith, with four superb craft breweries to explore. At the top of your list should be the newly opened Mountain Culture, a cult-fave brewer from Katoomba now pouring 20 taps locally. Check out local legends Casey’s Brewery for their beloved American-style amber ale, and Squinters for their seasonal beers and onsite Polish food truck. Finally, nanobrewery Rusty Penny is a hit for their funky tasting room, which includes a function bar, pool table, live music and eats.

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