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TRAVEL & LEISURE

Seven Must-Visit Spots in Parramatta for Every Occasion

Have date night at a 26th-floor bar, organise a group feast at a famous south Indian restaurant chain or pick up a new hobby at a guitar factory.
By Samantha Teague
May 07, 2021
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By Samantha Teague
May 07, 2021
  shares

SEVEN MUST-VISIT SPOTS IN PARRAMATTA FOR EVERY OCCASION

in partnership with

Have date night at a 26th-floor bar, organise a group feast at a famous south Indian restaurant chain or pick up a new hobby at a guitar factory.

Parramatta is Sydney's second CBD, but it doesn't sit in the shadows of its harbourside sibling — particularly when it comes to food and culture. The multicultural suburb has a rich history and it's growing fast, which means it's home to both sparkly new sky-high bars and 30-year-old shops. It has globally renowned streetwear stores to visit when you want to refresh your wardrobe, famous south Indian restaurant chains for your next group feast and musical instrument stores for when you want to pursue a new hobby. In fact, it has a must-visit spot for pretty well every occasion.

Together with American Express, we've rounded up our picks of the western Sydney spots to visit when you're planning your next date night, looking for a quick dinner or wanting to buy a gift for that aunt who has a thing for healing crystals.

  • 7
    Guitar Factory Parramatta

    Most people have, at some point in their life, contemplated learning the guitar. Maybe you were inspired by Jack Black in School of Rock or by Paul Rudd and Jason Segel’s enthusiasm in I Love You, Man — or maybe you’ve just always wanted to be able to strum some tunes around the fire on a camping trip. Whatever your inspo, you can (finally) make your dream a reality at Church Street’s Guitar Factory. Home to what it calls “Sydney’s widest range” of guitars, the shop sells everything from vintage Fenders to acoustic guitars for beginners and even ukeleles. It repairs guitars, too, if you already have one sitting at the back of your closet, and offers music lessons for all levels — from beginner to advanced — so you’ll be playing ‘Smoke on the Water’ or slappin’ da bass in no time.

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  • 6
    Culture Kings Parramatta

    Australian-owned streetwear and sneakers brand Culture Kings has seven stores located across Australia — and the biggest is in Parramatta. Visited by celebs, including American rappers Nas and A$AP Ferg, the Church Street store is not only home to a huge selection of hats, shoes, clothes and accessories, but also has an in-store DJ, a Holy Grail machine (from which you can win rare sneakers and not-for-sale merch) and a half basketball court. If rifling through the hundreds of available brands — from Supreme to Nike and Off-White — is a little overwhelming, you can also book in for a free VIP style session. And, if you end up picking up a new pair of kicks, you’ll feel right at home at our next must-visit spot.

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  • 5

    Opening in late 2017, Butter’s Parramatta outpost is a two-storey temple of fried chicken, champagne and rare sneakers. The chain (which also has shops in Surry Hills and Chatswood) has gained a cult following for its fried chicken sandwiches, hot cinnamon doughnuts, bottomless bubbles and — wait for it — ramen. Yep, Butter’s famed fried chicken ramen is back for 2021, with a different Sydney chef whipping up their take on the noodle dish each month.

    The store also sells kicks (if you don’t have enough after your visit to Culture Kings), clothes and accessories, and hosts Sip N Drip classes where you can learn how to customise your existing sneakers. But, be warned: a quick dinner of fried chicken at Butter can quickly turn into an extended evening of Hennessy lemon iced tea jugs and sneaker shopping.

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  • 4

    With incredible 26th-floor views, more than 50 different champagnes and a lavish art deco fit-out, Nick & Nora’s makes for an impressive date night. It’s run by The Speakeasy Group — the same team that’s behind Eau de Vie and Mjolner — so you know what to expect: escapist opulence. This time, however, instead of a moody and dramatic cocktail lounge or an underground viking den, the team has created a luxe lounge that’s an ode to 30s New York.

    Here, you can schmooze your date while snacking on escargot and lamb croquettes, sipping on a Rhubarb Royale (cognac, champagne and rhubarb) or The Hard Goodbye (rye whiskey, chipotle, quince, bitters and absinthe), and soaking up impressive sights from the sprawling terrace.

    Image: Jiwon Kim 

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  • 3

    For over 30 years, Aquarius Rising has been a western Sydney go-to for one-of-a-kind gifts. Does your aunty swear by her calming blue lace agate crystal? Has your maybe-kinda-psychic friend always wanted their own pack of tarot cards? Or is your dad currently obsessed with collecting essential oils for his new diffuser? The perfect gift awaits them at Aquarius Rising. Home to a huge range of crystals, incense, cards, books and salt lamps, the Civic Arcade spot isn’t your run-of-the-mill gift shop (you won’t find any ‘live, laugh, love’ posters here), but it has something for all the Co–Star-loving and astrology meme-sharing people in your life.

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  • 2

    Aykut Sayan’s Circa Espresso is one of the OG specialty coffee shops in western Sydney — and one of the best places to go for breakfast and lunch (or brunch). You can try Circa’s house-blend coffee in the form of a flat white or its grapefruit-flavoured single-origin Finca Santuario in a batch brew. Can’t decide? You can order a flight and try the filter, a white coffee and an espresso for $12. To eat, you’ll find hearty baked eggs with sujuk and house-made focaccia; citrus-cured ocean trout and baby zucchini atop sourdough crostini; and sweet sourdough waffles with fresh figs and honeycomb. The popular cafe doesn’t accept bookings, so we suggest you get there early and prepare to wait for a table on the busier days.

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  • 1

    Founded in Chennai in the 80s, Saravanaa Bhavan is now one of the biggest chains of southern Indian vegetarian restaurants in the world, with 33 outposts in India alone and 47 across several other countries. In Parramatta, it’s serving up an extensive menu of traditional southern Indian dishes, such as idly (lentil and rice cakes served alongside chutneys and sambar), parotta (flaky flatbread), thalis (platters of dahl, curries, rice and more) and gulab jamun (deep-fried dough balls served in a syrup). Oh, and dosa. So many dosa. These thin and crisp lentil crepes are available in 46 different varieties, from traditional potato masala dosa to chilli cheese dosa and even sweet peanut butter dosa. The more friends you bring to Saravanaa Bhavan, the more dosa you can try.

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Shop small to support the local stores that make Sydney so great. To learn about American Express and the Shop Small initiative, visit here. Then, head this way to find more must-visit spots.

Top image: Circa Espresso

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