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The Best Cafes (and Coffee) in Marrickville

These cafes pair exceptional coffee with standout brunch dishes, making them some of the best daytime haunts in the inner west.
By Lauren Vadnjal and Concrete Playground
August 15, 2018

The Best Cafes (and Coffee) in Marrickville

These cafes pair exceptional coffee with standout brunch dishes, making them some of the best daytime haunts in the inner west.
By Lauren Vadnjal and Concrete Playground
August 15, 2018


These cafes pair exceptional coffee with standout brunch dishes, making them some of the best daytime haunts in the inner west.

Sydney has a high volume of top quality cafes all over the city, but Marrickville is home to a big chunk of them. A boom circa 2012 and another one this year means that the inner west suburb can offer everything from all-vegetarian breakfasts to fresh pastries to some of the country's best coffee.

But if there's one quality that ties these disparate breakfast-to-lunch hangouts together, it must be their sense of community. They all pride themselves on their local and hyperlocal produce, in-house preparation techniques, and nose for what their regulars want.

If you live in the inner west, you've probably been to at least a few of these already. But for those who haven't (local or otherwise), here's the ranked list of Marrickville's best cafes. They've been judged on the tastiness of their menus, the quality of their coffee and the feel of their interior design. Go forth and brunch.

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    West Juliett is a large, light-flooded corner cafe with whitewashed brick walls, an industrial-style polished floor and a decent amount of comfortable outdoor seating — and it’s been busy since it opened in 2013. The location is killer, as are the breakfast classics and the array of baked goods (giant cookies included), soups and salads that are ferried from kitchen to table are nothing but destroyable.

    The breakfast plate of leg ham, provolone cheese, avo, one poached egg, tomato and thick toast is a tasty little hat-tip to the provincial influence of the menu, what with their eggs sourced from a local farm. There’s also plenty to keep mix-and-matchers satisfied with extras ranging from pork and fennel sausages to kale with silverbeet. If you’re heading in at lunchtime, get the burger.

  • 7
    Illi Hill

    When elderly couple Con and Mary closed the doors of their Marrickville deli, perched on the hilltop halfway down Illawarra Road, after 47 years of trade, the area lost an icon. Oleh Sokolovsky and partner Perry Silvio, however, saw an opportunity not to be missed. The result was Illi Hill, a delightfully appointed cafe that, since 2014, has been serving up tasty and health-conscious food centred on a philosophy and love of local.

    This place has history. And equally good food. The ricotta hotcakes have an almost-cult following — the fluffy rounds are served with pear, dark chocolate and orange. The comfort food items are the best, namely the roast chicken sandwich or the chicken pot pie (if you’re there on the right day). Coffee is sourced from another inner-west favourite, The Little Marionette, and with the roaster just 900 metres away in St Peters, Illi Hill has the luxury of offering seriously fresh beans every three or four days.

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    Double Tap

    Double Tap is owned by ex-Coffee Alchemy barista Daniel Karaconji and, despite its residential Marrickville location, the family-owned coffee shop has already got a strong following, with many considering their brews pretty hard to beat. If you’re interested in knowing what you’re drinking, Double Tap sources all its coffee from small batch roasters only, with its house blend Silver Bullet by Panorama Coffee Roasters in Sydney’s Wetherill Park. Used for white coffees only, the Silver Bullet blend is made from Brazilian and Ethiopian beans and reveals lingering notes of cacao, berries and stone fruits. For black coffees, customers can choose their own single origin beans, with offerings from Sample Coffee, Wood & Co, Grace & Taylor, Small Batch Roasting Co and Market Lane, among others.

    If you’re starting to get the jitters, try hitting up the food menu, with Double Tap serving a homely menu of toasted sarnies, fresh salads and brekkie bowls. Made on toasted Brickfields sourdough, the sandwiches are particularly tasty, even more so, when you consider they’re only $9.50. Options include a free-range poached chicken with chives, blanched almonds and a mustard-seed mayo as well as a mortadella, provolone and fresh mint with sliced green olives. Cakes are also a standout with Karaconji’s wife and mum hand-baking the selection.

    While this may be a family-owned cafe, the interiors are sleek, with warm Australian timbers, native floral decorations and a botanical wall mural, painted by Karaconji’s brother, Alex. While Double Tap may not be doing anything “new” or “different” per se, sometimes just doing the simple things well can be pretty revolutionary.

  • 5
    Ona Marrickville

    With a swag of popular ACT cafes under its belt, and a long, award-filled history to boot, Canberra’s largest specialty coffee roaster Ona has finally taken on Sydney, opening a cafe in Marrickville. The acclaimed coffee brand’s baristas and brews are often recognised as some of the best at the annual Melbourne International Coffee Expo.

    It also has a passion for top-quality, sustainably sourced coffee and it’s eager to share the love. Step inside the new Sydney cafe and you’ll notice a huge central coffee bar, where you can engage with the baristas and letting you watch your cuppa being made. The bright, minimalist cafe space is a coffee-lover’s heaven, offering espresso, filter and milk-based options, with a rotation of blends and single origins to choose from.

    As with all Ona Coffee venues, milk-based coffees here are served only as a traditional cappuccino (without chocolate), the consistency allowing the beans to play the starring role. But true coffee nerds will be all about the Marrickville store’s special reserve coffee menu, offering dosed coffee beans that have been frozen and vacuum-sealed at their optimum freshness, effectively hitting pause on the ageing process. Those in the mood for food will find a simple, approachable lineup of cafe-style fare, including creations like the tomato stracciatella with grapes, olive, basil oil and rye, and a kingfish smørrebrød topped with lemon aioli, capers and pickles.

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    Coffee Alchemy in Marrickville

    If it wasn’t for the hordes of people crowding into this unassuming place, Coffee Alchemy would certainly go unnoticed along Marrickville’s industrial concrete stretch. But this place has always been popular because it does outstanding coffee.

    For Coffee Alchemy, coffee is “the elixir of life”. Owner Hazel de los Reyes and her team are meticulous about freshness, preparation and having the most superior coffee. In short, your coffee will no doubt come with a shot of devotion and taste pretty darn fine. The house blend, Goodness Galileo, is the standard bearer for cappuccinos and lattes. With rich notes of chocolate and nuts, it leaves a satisfying taste on the palate long after the last sip. If you’re in the mood for something fizzy, the carbonated sparkler is the way to go.

  • 3
    Matinee Coffee

    This fairly new addition to Marrickville’s cafe scene takes cues from NYC in a number of ways: it’s open all-day, it serves booze — including neighbouring brew Grifter on tap — and it has an unabashedly bold fit-out. Noting that he feels both Scandi and industrial styles have been serviced in the cafe scene — and he would know as a former owner of industrial haven Brewtown — owner Charles Cameron set out to make Matinee different. 

    Luchetti Krelle has defined the interiors — a jewel colour palette tracks through orange table-tops, a crimson-tiled communal table, green velvet chairs and a mural on the back wall. There are references to old-school milk bars in the blue marmoleum flooring and a neon-lit menu above the coffee machine. But it’s not gaudy, it’s considered — as is most of Matinee’s make-up.

    The entire menu fits snugly on one page. For drinks, coffee is a custom house blend by Collective Roasting Solutions, plus there are vegan shakes and the aforementioned alcohol. The majority of sweets — including a delectable lemon meringue tart and caramel slice — are vegan and gluten-free. 

    Breakfast is available all day, but at midday the kitchen welcomes in lunch items including hot smoked salmon saffron pasta ($20) and dukkah roast sweet potato salad ($15). Modern attention spans mean that Sydney folk often get bored quickly with new cafes — but Matinee looks set to be a stayer. 

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    Two Chaps is one of the best things you’ll find behind a garage roller door in Sydney. The Chapel Street cafe has a strong following among vegetarians and pastry lovers, and for good reason — everything on the menu is vego and the kitchen bakes all its own bread and pastries. Plus, almost everything can be done vegan or gluten-free.

    You can drop by and purchase the aforementioned baked goods each day — along with one of two daily sandwich options — or sit in for what is one of Sydney’s best brunches. Avo toast comes with whipped tahini, savoury croissant french toast is topped with harissa mushrooms and crumpets comes in the chocolate sourdough variety. Dinner is also on the cards on Thursday and Friday nights with one of the city’s best degustations: $55 for fresh pasta, cheese and dessert.

    This quiet garage turned cafe is the perfect place for a morning in Marrickville reading or swapping stories with a few of your favourite people.

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    Cornersmith has been a Marrickville brunch favourite since 2012, but at the start of 2018 its winning formula underwent a few changes. The biggest one? You can now add an alcoholic beverage to your meal and the cafe is now open for dinner, Thursday through to Sunday.

    In keeping with Cornersmith’s approach to food, the drinks list features loads of house-made ingredients, from syrups and fermented sodas to bitters and brines. Sommelier Marc Dempsey (Yellow, 121BC) has come up with a bunch of signature cocktails, including a cherry kombucha spritz, as well as an all-Australian wine, beer and spirits menu, which focuses on small-batch drops and brews.

    Dinner, served from 5pm, is all about share plates. New head chef Ava Stangherlin is mixing and matching local produce, such as Wapengo oysters from Bermagui, NSW, Maffra clothbound cheddar, seasonal veggies and, of course, Cornersmith’s famous pickles, preserves and ferments. The brekkie menu has received a few new additions (like the egg roll with Spanish tortilla), but it’s retained the dependable substance that has made — and continues to make — Cornersmith Marrickville’s best cafe.

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