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Staff making banh mi sandwiches at Marrickville Pork Roll
Photograph: Pauline Morrissey

A local's guide to Marrickville

This drink and dining destination is packed with craft beer, Vietnamese food, specialist groceries and live music venues

By Emily Lloyd-Tait
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Marrickville’s identity is a complex one. The formerly industrial swathe of land in the Cook’s River basin has become a desirable postcode for families, but there’s still a lot of manufacturing and business rubbing shoulders with those beautiful federation homes and terraces. The suburb has been heavily influenced by waves of Greek and Vietnamese residents, with a healthy dose of creative colour on top as the Inner West’s rainbow and arts communities steadily move out from the centre. It’s a proper melting pot that’s as much a destination for dining as it is for auto-repair and wholesale provisions.

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EAT DRINK COFFEE THINGS TO DO SHOPPING

What’s Marrickville known for
These days most people head to Marrickville for their exceptional Vietnamese food – some of the city’s best banh mi are found along Illawarra Rd. Henson Park oval is a destination for sports fans; bookish types head for the award-winning, architecturally designed library; and music lovers flock for live music at after-hours haunts like the Factory Theatre, and the Red Rattler.

Why do the locals love it?
Eliza Carr is a new resident and loves the area because it hasn't suffered from the city sprawl or had its local identity undermined by over-developement. "It feels like a close knit neighbourhood even though it's quite close to the city. It's also a great place for the noodle lovers. Flu season is no match for the plethora of phos available on Illawarra Rd. It's also a really pretty suburb - it's filled with Federation houses with stained glass and lovely gardens."

How do I get to Marrickville
Marrickville is a short 7kms from Sydney CBD, making it an easy drive but far enough out that parking rarely poses a problem. If you’re using public transport, Marrickville Station is on the T3 (Bankstown) train line. Sydenham Station also lets you out an easy walking distance to Marrickville Road’s main shops. The 308, 352, 355, 412, 418, 423, 425 and 426 bus lines all cut through Marrickville.

What’s nearby
It’s a big suburb, hemmed in on the south side by the Cooks River and sharing borders with Dulwich Hill and Petersham to the West, Stanmore and Enmore to the North, and St Peters and Sydenham to the South East.

Map of Marrickville

If you only do one thing

Every Sunday the Addison Road Centre becomes a buzzing hive of activity thanks to the weekly markets. Arrive hungry because the breakfast offerings are spectacular: corn fritters off the barbecue, bacon and egg rolls, fresh juices, gozleme, buddha bowls, and chai tea. Once you’ve sated your hunger time to fill your kitchen with fruit and vegetables, hot smoked salmon, soda bread, fancy cheeses, free-range eggs, bagels, Portuguese custard tarts and local seafood. From there you can browse handicrafts, plants, secondhand books, and clothing. They even have pony rides for the little humans in tow.

Three pizzas and drinks on a table
Three pizzas and drinks on a table
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

Eat

First order of business in Marrickville when you're feeling snacky is a pork roll. No matter how many other contenders open up, Marrickville Pork Roll (236A Illawarra Rd) is still the number one pick (don't worry, those queues move fast).

If you're more a noodle fan, make sure you check out the cupboard sized Banh Cuon Ba Oanh (343 Illawarra Rd) for their amazing steamed rice noodles with pork, or the choose-your-own lunchboxes at VN Street Foods (294 Illawarra Rd).

Craving pho? The offerings in Marrickville span the full spectrum, from new era restaurants like Eat Fuh (274 Illawarra Rd), to the classic fluorescent-lit comforts of Pho PHD (260 Marrickville Rd).

Transport yourself to Kyoto with a traditional Japanese breakfast spread from Kurumac (107 Addison Rd).

Plant-based dining is all the rage and few places do it better than Pizza Madre (2/205 Victoria Rd), a vegetarian wood-fired pizza joint that nails their vegan pizzas too (get the broccoli, pinenut, chilli and tomato number). For more meat-free dining check out Two Chaps (122 Chapel St), a vegetarian cafe that also opens at night for pasta and Italian-style desserts. Or for café treats that are vegan-friendly, Petty Cash (68 Victoria Rd) has you covered. Grab your food to go and eat in the sunshine in Enmore Park.

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Four beers at the Grifter, Enmore
Four beers at the Grifter, Enmore
Photograph: Aristo Risi

Drink

This is craft beer town, so get thee to the likes of Batch Brewing Co (44 Sydenham Rd), Sauce Brewing Co (1A Mitchell St), Grifter Brewing Co (1/391 Enmore Rd), and Wildflower Brewing and Blending (11-13 Brompton St) to slake a mighty thirst. If you can't commit to one brewery head to the bar above Bucket Boys (300 Illawarra Rd). This killer craft beer shop stocks every weird and delicious brew you can think of.

For local vibes, cheap-but-good cocktails and toasties, the Marrickville Hotel (244 Marrickville Rd) is your next stop.

The Henson (91 Illawarra Rd) is famous across the city as one of the most child-friendy pubs with a dedicated playroom. Or head to the Vic on the Park (2 Addison Rd), which is a dog-friendly pub.

To really knock about with local spirits duck under the roller door of the Poor Toms Gin Hall (6 Chalder Ave) for Marrickville's finest juniper distillates.

And if you're particular about your wines but want natural, new world vinos in casual surrounds, Where's Nick (236 Marrickville Rd) is the little local wine bar for you.

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Person making coffee at Matinee Coffee
Person making coffee at Matinee Coffee
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Coffee

At the Sydney outpost of Canberran roastery Ona Coffee Marrickville (140 Marrickville Rd) they take coffee very, very seriously. They also whip up a cracking toastie, waffles and stock Short Stop doughnuts, saving you a trek to the city for their maple walnut flavour.

If life is a Matinee (23-29 Addison Rd), the good news is that this one comes with good coffee and an expansive menu that is surprisingly inclusive to all dietary requirements.

Coffee Alchemy (24 Addison Rd) is one of Sydney's original specialty roasters. They don't offer any food here - you're here for the caffeine, which is gold standard.

This popular, sunny, corner café is where you'll find some of the best dog watching in Marrickville. West Juliett (30 Llewellyn St) is also where you should go for buttery scrambled eggs and a heart-stoppingly good chocolate chip cookie.

You might arrive at Bourke Street Bakery (2 Mitchell St) intending to only get a coffee, but we all know you'll be leaving with a fresh loaf of bread, a pie, and a ginger brulee tart.

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Screen printing at Makerspace and Company Marrickville
Screen printing at Makerspace and Company Marrickville
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Things to do

When the weather heats up all the little kids in Marrickville can be found at Steel Park Waterplay Park (Illawarra Rd) getting their splash on.

Learn how to cut, dye and stitch leather aprons, wallets and folios at Makerspace & Company (12 Gerlad St). They also have classes in woodworking, machine knitting, screen printing, ceramics and 3D modelling.

The Factory Theatre (105 Marrickville Rd) is a mid-size, dedicated live music venue that has multiple spaces, allowing for intimate blues gigs right up to mini festivals spanning both stages and out into the courtyard. You can catch more live gigs at the Red Rattler (6 Faversham St), Lazy Bones Lounge (294 Marrickville Rd), Camelot Lounge (Cnr Marrickville Rd & Railway Pde), Gasoline Pony (115 Marrickville Rd) and even the Marrickville Bowling Club (91 Sydenham Rd).

The brand new Marrickville Library and Pavilion (313 Marrickville Rd) is an award-winning, architecturally designed building that makes quiet time a joy. It'a a light-filled oasis with an amazing selection of magazines, a nice café and one of the most popular rhyme times for toddlers in town.

Got little ones in tow? The playground at Marrickville Park (111 Frazer St) is excellent, with equipment designed for the littlest humans right up to the teenagers who stop by after school to burn off some energy on the round-a-bout, climbing frames and giant, arching see-saw. But the best part of all are the three single person trampolines built into the ground - bouncy fun for everyone.

If you prefer to watch the exertions of others rather than participate, Henson Park oval (22 Centennial St) is the place to be for local sporting leagues.

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Cheese at Paesanella Latticini
Cheese at Paesanella Latticini
Photograph: Katje Ford

Shopping

Shop for locally designed, handmade gifts like jewellery, art prints, leatherwork, plants, and homewares at Hypmotive community hub (155 Marrickville Rd).

Those in the know head through the simple café on street level and into the lift, which opens out into the Paesanella deli (150-152 Marrickville Rd). There's a long gleaming cheese counter, small goods hanging from the ceiling, and shelves of imported and local provisions from fancy jams to fresh olive oil. But best of all is the cheese fridge with their fresh mozzarella and fior de latte that they make on-site.

Fill your pantry at Village Wholefoods (123 Marrickville Rd) Unlike many bulk food shops they also stock everyday items like white flour, sugar and loose wheat pasta as well as dried fruit, nuts, grains, seeds, tea and spices.

It smells like heaven in the Lamia Super Deli (270 Marrickville Rd), where they've wedged a king's ransom in cheese and meats into the glass counters and the fridges are stocked with house-made dips (the taramasalata is particularly good). You could then apply those dips to the souvlaki skewers from Souvlaki Boys (179 Marrickville Rd), making tonight's dinner fast and delicious.

If you prefer seafood to the meats of the land, Faros Bros Seafood (21-25 Buckley St) is like a miniature version of the Sydney Fish Markets, without the crowds and parking issues.

Avid home brewers can get everything they need for their home kit at the Hop and Grain Brew Store (50 Sydney St).

The queues on weekends get particularly fierce at Feather and Bone (Unit 8, 10-14 Lillian Fowler Pl), a direct-to-the-public ethical butcher, also known for supplying meat to some of the city's best restaurants.

For a curated selection of wines, local spirits, cheese, cured meats, craft beer and some local groceries, check out Grocery and Grog (91 Illawarra Rd), the bottle-shop/deli attached to the Henson.

People at a street festival
People at a street festival
Supplied

Mark your calendar

Marrickville Festival is an annual community street fair in October that shuts down Marrickville Rd and its cross streets with music, dance, food stalls, markets and community displays.It has been cancelled in 2020 as we all observe social distancing, but hopefully it’ll be back on the calendar for 2021.

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