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 Island Dreams Café1/4
Photograph: City of Canterbury Bankstown | Island Dreams Café
Traboulsi Bakery Lakemba2/4
Photograph: City of Canterbury Bankstown | Traboulsi Bakery
Ramadan Nights Lakemba3/4
Photograph: Jason Nichol
Lakemba street, King of Sweets4/4
Photograph: City of Canterbury Bankstown

A guide to Lakemba

Home to a vibrant food scene and a diversity of migrant communities, Lakemba is a year-round treat of a suburb

By Claire Finneran and Alannah Maher

Lakemba is a centre for Sydney’s Muslim communities, with Eid prayers attracting up to 50,000 worshippers at the local mosque every year. The streets also swell in the lead up with the Ramadan Night Markets, which usually run for a whole month over April and May, converting the main drag of Haldon Street into a buzzing marketplace with spicy and smoky wafts hovering over hungry crowds. Hop off the train at Lakemba and be plunged straight into a world of Sydney’s best food, and experience the gold-flecked sights – whatever time of year you find yourself there. 

RECOMMENDED: A local's guide to Marrickville.

Tablelay at Jasmins
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Jasmins Restaurant Lakemba

Restaurants Lebanese Lakemba

Situated on one of the Lakemba’s main strips, Haldon Street, Jasmins is a humble Lebanese restaurant with thick stuccoed walls framing painted scenes of Lebanon (castles; charming harbour vistas, that sort of thing). Order up an ayran – not dissimilar to kefir, it’s a fermented yogurt drink that’s typical of this part of the world, aiding digestion and soothing the throat when you hit it with too much chilli – and get stuck into generous portions of food.

Person stand behind cabinet/counter filled with sweets.
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Dhaka Delight

Restaurants Bakeries Lakemba

Lakemba bakery Dhaka Delight sells a whole range of sugary surprises and the service is super warm and friendly. It’s a cute space too – long and thin, with crisp, Euro-inspired pastries at one end and the more uniquely Bangladeshi offerings at the back. Nab a window seat so you can watch Lakemba wander by, and eat as much sugar as your liver can handle. There are loads to choose from but we like the cream toasts, which aren’t like toasts at all.

Food at Al Aseel Newtown
Photograph: David Cheng

Al Aseel - Greenacre

Restaurants Lebanese Greenacre

At Al Aseel, breads and pickles line every table so that as soon as you sit down, there’s something to nibble on. The Greenacre (Lakemba) branch is Sydney’s original Al Aseel, and even on a weeknight, it’s packed to the brim with big groups, families and kids running about. Make sure to try the hummus and babaghanoush, and the falafels are something else.


Island Dreams

Restaurants Lakemba

Aquamarine walls, seashells and paintings of frangipanis will settle you into island-time at this relaxed and cosy café in the middle of Lakemba. It serves Christmas Island and Cocos Islands cuisine, which has influences from Indonesia, India and China. At $9, the Murtabak (roti canai stuffed with chicken) is one of our favourite cheap eats in Sydney.


Abdul Rahman Sweets

Shopping Lakemba

The streets of Lakemba are littered with Lebanese sweet shops but for the real sticky deal, head to Nabil Abdul Rahman's joint where you'll get a world of honey/nutty/buttery treats like lady's fingers, baklava and sugared almonds.

Warung Ita
Photograph: Nicholas Jordan

Warung Ita

Restaurants Indonesian Lakemba

This traditional Indonesian diner might just win the title of least pretentious venue in Sydney. The place looks like a humble living room, and feels like one, too. Like a home kitchen, you’ll never quite know what’s on offer here but some kind of fried fish, a soupy rendang and sambal-smothered eggplant are all pretty much sure-fire bets. There’ll probably be a menagerie of fried and sweet snacks on the counter, maybe even a sign advertising a special or two. 

Two pieces of Zaatar, a Middle Eastern flatbread topped with oregano and seasame seeds.
Photograph: Drew Dies/Flickr

Al Fayhaa Bakery

Restaurants Lebanese Lakemba

There’s a reason why you’ll find a modest queue spilling out of this tiny shop front, Al Fayhaa Bakery is Lakemba’s pop-in stop for fresh manoush and zesty Lebanese pizzas. Get in early for $2 oregano flatbreads or gussy it up for the most divine of breakfasts with a rolled up package of warm halloumi and feta, juicy capsicum and tomato, just enough olives, and slaps of fresh mint.   

Row of meat and vegetable skewers are lined up on a grill.
Photograph: Alex Proimos/Flickr

Afghan Sufra

Restaurants Afghan Lakemba

Chewy, fresh-out-of-the-oven bread can’t be beaten. In fact, at Afghan Sufra it is the shooting star, flying in and out of a giant mosaic oven at cosmic speeds. There’s also meat, of course, and the hunks of marinated lamb and chicken are freshly charred on charcoal to order and put to bed on the soft hot doonas of fresh Arabic bread.

Plate of Mutton Biryani.
Photograph: Jeff/Flickr

Biryani House

Restaurants Indian Lakemba

Biryani House is an essential Lakemba stop. Cooked in the style of Hyderabadi Muslims, this joint is your go-to for the popular meat and rice dish biryani. Tuck in to a mini mountain of mutton biryani and be rewarded with intoxicating clove and cardamom aromas twirling around tender lamb chunks and sticky saffron hued rice.

Pile of pistachios.
Photograph: Joanna Kosinska/Unsplash

Five Star Coffee and Nut Roaster

Shopping Grocers Belmore

Take home some hard-to-find snacks at Five Star Coffee and Nut Roaster. This grocer stocks their aisles with local and Middle Eastern imported products so you’re bound to nab a treat with a help-yourself olive bar, selections of fresh and packaged dates, bottles of rosewater and gigantic jars of pickles. They also have an in-house roaster so look out for big tubs of freshly crisped almonds and pistachios and try a locally blended bag of fresh coffee.

Inner Dome at the Lakemba Mosque
Photograph: Matthew Perkins/Flickr

Lakemba Mosque

Attractions Religious buildings and sites Lakemba

Lakemba is home to Australia’s largest mosque, and the site on which it stands has housed places of worship since the 1960s. Officially known as Imam Ali bin Abi Taleb Mosque, the intricate brickwork and towering palms envelope a stunning deep purple and gold carpeted interior. The Lebanese Muslim Association hosts regular tours for groups of ten or more and you need to book at least a week in advance, gathering nine friends is easy if you show them photos of the jaw-dropping azure lightwell.

Lady's arm pastries are fried in wok
Photograph: City of Canterbury Bankstown | King of Sweets Lakemba

King of Sweets

Restaurants Bakeries Lakemba

At this traditional bakery, you'll feel like you've walked right in off the streets of Lebanon. The most popular sweet is the lady's arm pastry, of which they make hundreds each day. Thin layers of light phyllo dough are rolled tightly, stuffed with milk cream then fried until crispy before being dipped in sugar syrup and sprinkled with crushed pistachios. 

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