4 ways to experience Marrickville
Named one of the coolest suburbs in the world by Time Out, Marrickville’s mix of music venues and markets, cafes and craft breweries has set this part of Sydney abuzz.
Marrickville tells a fascinating tale about Sydney’s immigration history. This sprawling suburb on the fringes of the city’s Inner West was once a heavily European enclave, teeming with Greeks and Italians. In the 1980s and ’90s, it became home to a large Vietnamese community, whose presence is still obvious in the oodles of Vietnamese food options along the suburb’s two main thoroughfares, Marrickville Road and Illawarra Road.
The Greeks and Vietnamese are still there, of course, but they’ve been joined by increasing numbers of artsy students, hipsters, and young couples with and without kids, attracted by still-reasonable rents and property prices, decent transport and that great melting-pot of culture. Need proof? Marrickville made the top 10 in Time Out magazine’s annual survey of cool global neighbourhoods in 2020.
Here are four ways to immerse yourself in all that coolness.
Naturally, Marrickville does great Vietnamese. Don’t miss Marrickville Pork Roll, where people have been queueing for what’s considered Sydney’s best bánh mì since 2008. Lovers of pho are well catered for at Pho and Eat Fuh, while at VN Street Foods, owner Xuan Thang Nguyen is bringing Vietnamese home-style cooking to the masses via bento boxes. Hello Auntie features an open atrium-style space at the rear, and serves elevated Vietnamese food like angus brisket wrapped in betel leaf and pan-roasted barramundi with Vietnamese curry. and Eat Fuh, while at VN Street Foods, owner Xuan Thang Nguyen is bringing Vietnamese home-style cooking to the masses via bento boxes. Hello Auntie features an open atrium-style space at the rear and serves elevated Vietnamese food like angus brisket wrapped in betel leaf and pan-roasted barramundi with Vietnamese curry.
The multicultural feast continues next door at Pepito’s, a Peruvian taberna where you can taste Latino-style tapas (think crispy fish with spicy pickle) in a hip space in an old fish shop. Europe is represented at Pizza Madre, which serves meat-free, Neapolitan-style sourdough pizzas, and Barzaari, where ex-Quay chef Darryl Martin has embraced the food of the East Mediterranean, serving up Cypriot, Greek and Turkish delicacies., which serves meat-free, Neapolitan-style sourdough pizzas, and Barzaari, where ex-Quay chef Darryl Martin has embraced the food of the East Mediterranean, serving up Cypriot, Greek and Turkish delicacies.
Cafe culture is particularly strong in these parts, too. If you take your coffee very seriously (hello, hipsters), you’ll want to discover Double Roasters, which roasts its own blends in Carrington Street and serves them at its café on Victoria Road; and Ona Coffee Sydney, where you can taste premium reserve brews by the glass. Other good options include West Juliett, Two Chaps (the doughnuts are delectable) and vegan-friendly Petty Cash Café , where you can taste premium reserve brews by the glass.
With six independent breweries within its borders, Marrickville has every right to declare itself the brewing capital of Sydney.
Craft beer is the brew du jour around here, led by Batch Brewing Co, which opened in 2013 in a former panel-beating workshop and offers an ever-changing roster that normally includes an IPA and American pale ale. Sauce Brewing Co’s husband-and-wife team, Mike Clarke and Kate McBean, make very drinkable New England-style IPAs and pale ales which can be enjoyed in a lovely beer garden out the back of their Mitchell Street brewery.
At Wildflower, Topher Boehm is creating what he calls “wild fermentation” beers using non-commercial yeasts that he forages from the bush and mountains, while over at Grifter, founders Trent Evans, Matt King and Glenn Wignall love an exotic ingredient – their watermelon-tinged Serpent’s Kiss pilsner the perfect example.
Spirit lovers aren’t totally forgotten: gin maker Poor Toms has a dedicated Gin Hall on Chalder Avenue, where you can taste its new-world take on London dry gin in a space overflowing with greenery, and munch on fabulous jaffles.
Pubs more your scene? The Henson on Illawarra Road is a local favourite, its front bar largely untouched from its days as the working-class Henson Park Hotel. But out back there’s now a spacious dining area and child- and dog-friendly beer garden, and the food is primarily locally sourced and sustainable – and excellent to boot.
The Vic on the Park is another feather in the Merivale hat, and occasionally the pooches will outnumber the people either in the pale-green-tinged front bar or the back deck, which looks over the great muralled wall. You’ll find locally brewed beers on the menu, and good pub grub, and there’s live music from Thursday to Sunday nights.
The Vic isn’t the only happening music venue in Marrickville. It’s hard not to love the shabby-chic vibes of Gasoline Pony, owned by music-obsessed brother and sister Fiona Cook and Elmo Reed. The Pony has been hosting live music (everything from folk to gypsy beats) four to five nights a week since 2014, favours local craft from the likes of Grifter and Batch Brewing, and nothing on the food menu is over $17.
You’ll find things taking a turn for the sophisticated at Lazybones Lounge, a glamorous upstairs space on Marrickville Road dotted with leather lounges, eclectic decor and velvet curtains. Blues and jazz feature heavily on the seven-nights-a-week music roster, and the likes of pizzas and cheese boards on the food menu.
The Camelot Lounge (named for the “lots of camels” represented in artworks and decor rather than the Arthurian legend) has been around forever, hosting names big and small on the main stage upstairs and Django @ Camelot downstairs. It’s compact, fun, friendly and open to under-18s.
Newest kid on the block is The Great Club, run by two female music industry stalwarts who have transformed a former Greek-Macedonian Club HQ into a community-focused venue that seats 300. The musical line-up is reasonably eclectic, the cocktail menu favours local producers and the food has a distinct Greek tinge – think spanakopita and pork neck yerros.
The big dog in Marrickville is The Factory Theatre on Victoria Road, where big-name local and international musos of the Triple J ilk tear up the stage most nights. If acts like Pond, Mansionair, Montaigne, Ocean Grove, Ladyhawke and Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are your jam, The Factory has you well covered.
Arts & culture
You’ll get a fabulous taste of local life – and sustainable goodness – at the Marrickville Organic Food Market, held every Sunday at the Addison Road Community Organisation centre, aka Addi Road. Organic fruit and veg, sourdough, honey, seafood, vintage wares and books are all on offer, and don’t leave without trying a Brooklyn Boy Bagels creation. creation.
Addi Road is also home to an incredible enterprise known as Reverse Garbage, which has been “creatively reusing” garbage since the mid-1970s. Each year, it receives some 35,000 cubic metres of items that would have otherwise ended up in landfill, and then teaches people how to reuse those items in awfully creative ways in workshops.
Creativity is also alive and well at community theatre outfit Red Rattler. Named after Sydney’s famous old red rattler trains, The Rat describes itself as a “queer-run creative playground” and was established by five local artists in 2009 as a place where alternative arts, performance and activism could flourish. Head along on a Monday night for an Abstract Sip and Sketch class. Clay Sydney also offers classes at its two Marrickville outposts in Renwick Street and Victoria Road, from a six-week introduction to wheel-thrown pottery to how to make a keep cup.