Explore Western Sydney through its street food
A food truck serving American barbecue, fluffy buns from a shop window, a Malaysian night market, and a street of Indian snacks. Here’s where to eat street food in Western Sydney.
Barbecue smoke billowing down the street, arcades flooded with the smell of peppercorns and fried bread, fresh roti flipped off the grill and onto your plate, food trucks with American smokers in tow, and dumplings served from a shop window – Western Sydney is NSW’s street food capital, and what makes it so alive, fast-paced and varied is the region’s communities. Just an hour from the CBD, Western Sydney is one of the most diverse places on the planet and the food scene reflects that. With fast and loud street stalls, vibrant markets, traditional menus, and food trucks serving on the side of the highway, these nine Western Sydney spots will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the other side of the world.
Flat breads, North Indian snacks & fried sweets in Little India, Harris Park
Right next to Parramatta is Harris Park, a vibrant Indian community hub (dubbed Sydney’s Little India) lined with restaurants and street food options run out of heritage-listed cottages. Before you explore the main drag, snack-filled Wigram Street, check out Shri Refreshment Bar and Jaipur Sweets on Marion Street, two of the suburb’s most popular street food spots. The former is popular for their incredible masala tea, made to order parathas (fried flat breads) and range of crunchy friend snacks. And the latter is famous for their freshly fried jalebi (deep fried and sugar-syrup coated dough swirls).
Try this: Aloo paratha (potato-stuffed flat bread) and chana masala (spiced chickpeas) at Shri Refreshment Bar.
If you like this: Mitran Da Dhaba, like Shri but with a bigger range of options and based in a cavernous Blacktown manor.
A hundred different snacks, textures & flavours at Burwood Chinatown
Prepare for sensory overload. This Inner West dining precinct, an arcade that spills out onto the streets around it, is saturated with neon lights; full of the smells of all kinds of snacks being baked, fried in spice, and doused in chilli; and usually packed with people. The choice of snacks is vast, with many cuisines and cooking styles represented. You'll find some choices, like the guo kui (clay oven-baked flat breads) are straight from the history books. While other snacks, like sweet egg waffles served in a cup with ice cream, show off newer trends from East Asia. Or get a bigger serving and order a bowl of hot pot, a Malaysian noodle soup or a spicy Lao salad.
Try this: Get a flat bread from Guo Kui, a bag of spicy mixed skewers at Kwafood, a papaya salad at Isan Tum Zaap, and something else you’ve never tried before.
If you like this: Taiwan Night Market in Eastwood, a series of stalls selling far more than just Taiwanese snacks.
A night in Malaysia at Mamu Penang Coffee Stall, Guildford
Mamu Penang is set up like a typical, old-school Malaysian street food market: one central vendor selling food and drinks plus a number (how many depends on when you go) of extra stalls selling smoky fried rice, rich curries, different noodle soups, charcoal-grilled satay skewers and other Malaysian classics. You order a drink and a roti, pick up your meal, and sit on some improvised furniture with a backdrop of barbecue smells, laughter, heat, and the allure of a second dinner. It feels just like eating street food in Penang, just without the humidity.
Order this: Fresh roti and a teh tarik (Malaysian milk tea).
If you like this: Although not the same street experience, Island Dreams Café in Lakemba and Malaysian Groceries in Punchbowl, serve similar Malay-style food.
Award-winning American barbecue at 2 Smokin’ Arabs, Bankstown
This Bankstown food truck feels like having your own catered picnic, only with award-winning American barbecue chefs doing the catering. The owners have scooped major awards in the Australian competitive barbecue scene, including first place for their brisket at Meatstock, and 7th overall best barbecue in Australia at the Townsville BBQ Battle. The awards are hardly surprising when you learn all their beef is wagyu 9+ marbling and smoked for 10-12 hours in an offset smoker using ironbark.
Try this: The Brisket Box with 200g brisket, slaw, pickles, crisps, and bun.
If you like this: BlackBear BBQ, another American barbecue joint with a similar outdoor setup in Blacktown.
Dumplings, buns & fresh soy milk at Tianjin Bun Shop, Campsie
Tianjin Bun Shop is famous for two things: good-value, Northern-style Chinese street food served hot and ready to eat and their abrupt, no-nonsense service style. The Northern-style snacks they make are from the Tianjin region of China. The two most famous snacks are the popular orders here: the steamed buns (sweet red bean and savoury egg or meat fillings) and jianbing (crispy, savoury pancakes).
Try this: A bun, a jianbing, and if you go for breakfast, a freshly made soy milk.
If you like this: Jinwei and King of Buns in the same neighbourhood offer a bigger range of snacks and a hot cabinet of Chinese lunch options.
Roadside Filipino barbecue at Smoky Cravings, Lakemba
You’ll probably smell Smoky Cravings before you see it; charcoal smoke from the barbecue billows down the street, attracting passers-by and highway drivers with empty stomachs and open windows. This Filipino street stall has made its name on old school charcoal-driven barbecue, and you’ll find everything from single skewers of chicken, pork or quail eggs to an entire hunk of crispy-skinned pork knuckle. Combine with some rice, chips and a halo halo (shaved ice, coconut milk and a heap of other different textural add-ons layered in a tall glass), and sit out on the street, under the suburban lights.
Try this: A couple of classic, sticky, smoky barbecue pork skewers with a side of tangy vinegar dip.
If you like this: Panlasang Pinoy, a Kogarah Filipino grocer with an in-built diner.
Multicultural snacking at Parklea Markets
Parklea Markets is not your typical local market experience. It’s massive and densely packed with a dazzling range of, well, everything. The fresh fruit and veg is wildly diverse, the flea market section has everything from trinket stalls to mini plant nurseries, and there’s another section serving meat and offal. Among all of that there’s also a number of street food stalls selling Indian flat breads, Malay-style curries, modern Filipino deserts, Fijian cuisine, Persian kebabs and more.
Try this: One of the best nasi lemaks (coconut rice with a side of sambal, cucumber and fried anchovies) in Sydney from Nasi Lemak Parklea.
If you like this: Foodie Fridays markets in Blacktown on the last Friday of the month have an incredible range of stalls.
Vietnamese street food on John Street & the side streets of Cabramatta
There are few places in Sydney as transportive as Cabramatta. Since the 1980s the southwest suburb has been Sydney’s Vietnamese hub, and its bustle, community and food scene are just like what you’d find in Ho Chi Minh City. John Street is the suburb’s main drag and both it and the side streets around it are packed with street food options. There are more than five excellent bánh mì shops. The arcades are full of coffee shops, snack vendors, and noodle diners. The grocers often sell pre-packaged snacks, some made by local home cooks. And, sometimes the street will have random vendors popping up selling everything from packages of sticky rice to fresh fruit.
Try this: Bánh mì xíu mại (bánh mì with meatballs) from Vinata Hot Bread, one of the oldest shops in Cabramatta, then get Thai sweets from Pak Soi Thai.
If you like this: Illawarra Road in Marrickville has excellent bánh mì shops and Vietnamese grocers, but with more northern Viet influence.
Takeaway Korean rice rolls on the street from Tomato Kimbab in Lidcombe
Take a ball of high-quality Korean short grain rice, fill in the centre with anything from pickled vegetables to spicy meat, and then wrap the outside in dried seaweed and you have kimbap, one of the all-time classic Korean grab-and-go snacks. Tomato is one of the best kimbap shops in Sydney, not just for the quality and range of fillings they offer, but also for the warmth and care that comes from behind the counter.
Try this: A classic kimchi kimbap.
If you like this: Irae up the road is a grocer with readymade snacks and Seoul Deli in Strathfield is a Korean street food diner with a little takeaway section.
Explore more with a tour run by a local expert
Experience Western Sydney’s great street food options with a side of storytelling and social enterprise, with these two award-winning tour companies. Gourmet Safaris is run by renowned food journalist and broadcaster Maeve O’Meara OAM. They run food tours and special feasts (imagine Turkish or Lebanese breakfast feasts) all over Sydney, including many of the locations above, each led by a guide from the local community. And Taste Cultural Food Tours offer suburb-based food tours (find out about Western Sydney’s Persian, Syrian or Italian communities), with any profits shared with the local communities.