Sydney's best markets
You’re spoilt for choice for truss tomatoes, plump berries, technicolour capsicums and leafy greens. The popularity of the bacon and egg rolls from Bowen’s has reached celebrity status, with queues long enough to make you think Bieber is signing autographs at the end of the line.
You can find pretty much anything here; vintage clothes, books, rugs, eco food wraps to healing crystals, rice bread and tarot reading. Pick up a paper lunch bag filled with sweet, mini plums and stop by Brooklyn Boy Bagels for a poppy seed dough with cream cheese, lox, dill and caper schmear. If you visit on the first or fourth Sunday of the month, the longest lines will be found at La Casa Latina – a pop-up diner where you can eat authentic Mexican food.
Go for the pho stand for a traditional Vietnamese start to the day. There’s a bibimbap stall that will even replace the rice with shredded cauliflower if you don’t believe in cheat days, and a French crêpe stall and a classic bacon and egg roll for creatures of habit. The big hitter is always Billy Kwong, where a perfect fried egg is swaddled in a Chinese pancake, packed with salad and dressed in a luxe ginger tamari sauce.
Bar Pho has been a staple of the weekly produce and snack fare for the past eight years, and the warming basil, beef and star anise-spiked stock makes a solid argument for passing on the usual bacon and egg breakfast. This stall along with Fritter House (try the lion’s share with chipolatas, sour cream, two big corn fritters, bacon and salsa) and the Raclette Shack (oozy cheese-topped potatoes are always a great idea at 10am) make the markets an excellent brunching destination.
Snaking through the seemingly small parklet on the northern CBD’s fringe, this bimonthly produce fair brings stallholders peddling orbs of creamy burrata, blood sausages, double-fist-sized heirloom tomatoes, salted caramel meringues, fresh egg pasta, free range eggs and soda bread.
Many of the stallholders return week on week, like the elderly Japanese couple selling Bonsai trees and the Spanish shoemakers selling espadrilles. It’s predominantly an art, clothing and design market – and alongside the kitsch bric-à-brac and Australiana-print tea towels you’ll find straw hats for $35 from local milliners and soft Tunisian-made ‘Turkish’ towels from young Eastern Suburb entrepreneurs.
You can pick up Hass avocados for $3, lush green veggies like broccoli, leeks, fennel and spinach, plus earthy Dutch cream potatoes and butternut, and boxes of free range eggs. Alongside the two main produce stalls at the church end of the street, there are fresh-cut flowers such as flowering gum for $25 and eucalyptus for $12, but also more weathered bunches of roses and dahlias. Chippendale café Brickfields also has a stall selling sourdough loaves, almond croissants and generously sized white Chocolate passionfruit lamingtons.
These pint-sized produce markets take place in Pannerong Reserve just back from Rosebay’s main drag selling bunches of aromatic sage, fennel and mint, miniature organic eggplants and juicy grapefruits. Grab an eggy quiche lorraine filled with bacon, caramelised onion, shreds of tasty cheese, cream and milk from Tart by Ursula; or get a taste of the Northern Beaches via Berkelo’s hearty loaves of bread.
The schoolyard of the Rozelle Public School has been a hive of weekend crate digging for more than 20 years, and while some stalls have almost earned long service leave, there are always newcomers keen to swap their good and chattel for some cold hard cash. Saturday is the best day if it’s pre-loved clothing you’re after. You can find bargains for less than you’d spend on a coffee – it’s all about the chase. Don’t be afraid to dig down into the tables of tops and skirts, T-shirt piles and racks of leather jackets.
The curated Sunday offerings are diverse enough to ensure you have a gloriously full basket and belly. They also pack up at a hangover friendly 2pm, meaning you can scarf a crackling spiked pork pancake and impulse buy a house plant without having to get up at sparrow’s fart. Posh puppies get a look-in with sachets of dried roo ribs and doggy craft beers (yes, really) from McPets. You can also pick up jars of Zeus’s ambrosial vice from Wanderer Honey, with selections in unusual yellow and amber gradients.
There are plenty of reasons to walk down Crown Street on a Saturday: brunch catch-ups, shopping, gelato – and if you do it on the first Saturday of the month you can also pop into Shannon Reserve to fossick through these markets, which specialise in second-hand and recycled goods. Browse the $5 rack at Not Too Shabby and pick up a fashion bargain, or find the perfect mid-century wooden coffee table at the Boneyard Retro Furniture. Several stalls have books, DVDs, CDs and vinyl: if you are looking for an LP by an obscure 1970s UK punk outfit you could be in luck.
Every Friday from 4pm, the main strip of Chinatown transforms into a vibrant night market selling Asian street food, desserts and gifts. You’ll find yum cha favourites like har gow and mango pancakes from East Ocean, or have the joy of pulling apart Mamak’s fluffy roti canai without waiting 40 minutes in line outside their permanent eateries.
The non-for-profit collective behind the market, the Westies, is all about showcasing the Penrith region while giving local growers and makers the opportunity to sell their products through an accessible event. They’re aiming to create a lazy Sunday atmosphere, where you get to know the community rather than fight over the bargain bin. Visitors can expect homemade one-of-a-kind fashion items, live performances and all manner of edible treats on the third Sunday of every month at the Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School.
This community-focused market has taken place in the St Andrews Church grounds since ’77 and still pops up there each Saturday. The focus is on homewares and arts and craft, with stalls selling everything from live plants to chunky jewellery and antiques. Grab a bite to eat from the small selection of food vendors selling gözleme and spicy Portuguese chicken burgers. Inside you’ll see sketches by local artist Ted Lou, who has captured significant local landmarks in his artwork. You can even commission him to sketch your own home.
The main square hosts an organic food and farmers’ market every Saturday, and on the first Sunday of the month they close off Main Street for the Sydney Boutique Markets: more than 50 stalls selling womenswear, kidswear, jewellery, candles and the like. When Time Out drops by a couple of cheesy rides are set up for the kids, and there’s a busker warbling anodyne pop songs. One fun stall specialises in fancy kids’ lunchboxes, and if you need a baby’s bib that looks like a tuxedo or are hankering after a henna tattoo, then by all means head on down.
Sydney markets open every day
The 150-year-old institution spans two locations – Haymarket and Flemington – and as well as the usual food, fashion and bric-a-brac, Paddy’s stallholders hawk knock-offs, tourist tat and so many mobile phone covers.
Get up early and catch the noisy wholesale fish auctions; they start at 5.30am, with tours for public starting at 6.40am. It’s the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and you won’t find more varieties of fish on sale anywhere outside Japan: it trades more than 100 species a day and over 1,400 tonnes of fish a year.
It’ll be an early morning trip – it opens in the dark hours and you wanna be an early bird – but if you can get yourself up then the effort is more than worth it. Flower shopping is about seeing what’s on offer and buying the most divine blooms on the day.