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DESIGN & STYLE

Where To Shop Like a Local In and Around Parramatta

Find the last remaining indie vinyl store, pick up fresh kicks, and eat your way around Parramatta's cheap eats.
By Jasmine Crittenden and Emma Joyce
August 20, 2020
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Where To Shop Like a Local In and Around Parramatta

Find the last remaining indie vinyl store, pick up fresh kicks, and eat your way around Parramatta's cheap eats.
By Jasmine Crittenden and Emma Joyce
August 20, 2020
  shares

WHERE TO SHOP LIKE A LOCAL IN AND AROUND PARRAMATTA

in partnership with

Find the last remaining indie vinyl store, pick up fresh kicks, and eat your way around Parramatta's cheap eats.

Parramatta, or Burramatta, is a Darug word meaning 'place of eels' and anyone who's taken a stroll along Parramatta River will have seen images etched into the pathway of this western Sydney suburb's history from its first people through to the communities who live here today. It's western Sydney's main hub, and the high-rise developments and new apartments show how much investment there's been into bringing international brands to this area — so it's not easy to know where to spend your time (and money) when you're shopping on Church and George Streets. The trick is knowing where to go.

Take a walk down one of Parramatta's laneways and you'll find western Sydney's last remaining indie record shop, a craft brewery with water views, and a florist that's been bringing cheer to locals for more than three decades. With the help of American Express, we've picked out the independent shops, eateries and producers that are well worth a visit. Here's where to shop small in Parramatta with your Amex Card.

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    Beatdisc Records is the last independent record store in western Sydney. It lives in the far corner of Centenary Square — opposite St Johns Church. Locals have been coming here since 1995 for vinyl, CDs, DVDs and music memorabilia, both new and secondhand. Even the most hardened of Spotifyers could spend an afternoon here, trawling through old classics and discovering new albums. Plus, if you’re looking for something rare or difficult-to-find, owner Pete Curnovic will do his best to track it down. Every now and again, the pint-sized space turns into a stage for live gigs featuring both local and interstate touring acts.

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    Butter Parramatta opened in December 2017, and is the two-storey sibling of the Surry Hills original. As in the inner city, this spot is a haven for lovers of the finer things in life: champagne, fried chicken and sneakers. Perch yourself on a black stool, order a glass of Veuve Clicquot and choose your feast — be it the simple fried chicken ramen, or the more elaborate hot donut lathered in butter and maple syrup and topped with fried chicken tenders. Upstairs, there’s a retail space, dedicated to street wear, including tees, hoodies, socks and lighters. Butter’s massive sneaker collection — which includes rare footwear and one-offs — has pride of place in the front window.

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    Adora Handmade Chocolates began in 1993, when two sisters who loved making chocolate so much at home decided to take their passion out into the world. Fast-forward to 2020, and there are six retail spaces across Sydney including a very popular (and very cosy) spot on George Street. Every creation here involves perfecting a balance of flavours — be it a melt-in-your-mouth butter truffle dusted with chocolate flakes, a mango and cream lamington, or a rich slab of chocolate fudge. There’s good coffee to match your sweet picks, and be sure to take a bag of treats home with you as the love here should definitely be shared.

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    Nick & Nora's

    As you’d expect, the views from Parramatta’s 26th-storey rooftop bar is what pulls in the crowds around sunset. And for good reason, Nick & Nora’s has a covered outdoor section where you can look out to the city skyline in the east and around to the Blue Mountains in the west. Like its sister venues Eau de VieMjolner and Melbourne’s Boilermaker House, Nick & Nora’s is about expertly made cocktails and classy service. As it’s named for the fictional sleuthing characters Nick and Nora, from Dashiell Hammett’s novel The Thin Man, who have a penchant for martinis, you can expect yours shaken or stirred to your desire, olives or otherwise. The venue itself has a 1930s charm, with an opulent fit-out, lavish art deco touches and a back bar with 900 spirits to choose from. Come here when you’ve got something to celebrate, as the venue also has 50+ champagnes stocked in climate-controlled fridges.

    Image: Jiwon Kim. 

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    Take a break from your shopping spree with a bowl of steaming laksa at Temasek. This extremely popular Malaysian-Singaporean eatery looks no-frills from the outside, but, once you’re tucking into your spicy feast, you’ll understand why it’s been packed since it opened in 1992. The laksa list offers chicken, prawn, chicken and prawn, seafood and vegetarian versions. But, if none of that whets your appetite, there’s other dishes to choose from, including Singapore chilli crab, Hainanese chicken rice and a spectacular oyster omelette.

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    PappaRich

    Like all of the eateries in the PappaRich empire, this Parramatta outpost of the Malaysian restaurant chain serves consistently satisfying buttery rotis, fragrant laksa, filling nasi goreng and fiery sambal. What started out as a vision to create a modern version of the traditional coffee shops in Malaysia, has turned into an Australia-wide name, and rightly so. Each store has its own menu, but you’ll always find roti canai, nasi lemak and pan mee — plus its range of teas, like teh tarik, lemon tea with honey and the Milo Dinosaur, a cup of iced Milo with a scoop of Milo powder on top.

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    Velocipede

    Whether you’re looking for a hardcore mountain bike or a smooth electric cruiser, you’ll find it at Velocipede on Sorrell Street. This super-friendly bike shop is happy to help cyclists of all types — not just serious, Lycra-ed, long-distance peddlers. You can count on genuine interest in your riding ambitions, a range of services and all the gear you need, including clothing and accessories. There’s also an in-store cafe, so, if your bike’s getting fixed, you can snack and drink while you wait. Once you’re done, you’ll find loads of cycle paths to explore in and around Parramatta — from Parramatta Park’s easy-going, 3.2-kilometre loop to the epic Parramatta River Cycleway.

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    Given how difficult it is for independent shops to survive, Dot’s Flower Shoppe has been an impressive exception. Locals have been coming here for 30 years — whether looking for the perfect bouquet to cheer up a mate or with plans to organise a Pinterest-worthy party. The bouquets, all created by Dot’s devoted team range from brilliant bunches of classic red roses to designer arrangements of Australian natives. And, if you have something in mind that you can’t find in the store, all you have to do is ask. You’ll find Dot’s on busy Church Street, along Parramatta’s busiest strip.

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    Anytime you need anything to drink or eat, you can pretty much count on the Coffee Emporium being open. Found on Phillip Street, this rather grand space is an all-day eatery dedicated to decadent and thirst-quenching food and drink. Drop in for a quick coffee or spend hours lingering over a long, lazy, multi-course lunch or dinner. It’s open till 11pm three nights a week.

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    No local adventure is complete until you’ve tried a local drop. In Parramatta, your beer-themed destination is Riverside Brewing Company, a brewery set on Darling Mills Creek, one of the Parramatta River’s tributaries. All made onsite, the brews range from the crisp, hoppy, fruit-driven Thirty Three Golden Ale, to the refreshing, passionfruit-y Sixty Nine Sumer Ale, to the Eighty Eight Robust Porter, a smooth, dark beer, which, with its coffee and chocolate notes, is perfect for chilly nights.

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    Culture Kings Parramatta

    Streetwear store Culture Kings opened in Parramatta in 2018, and like the other CK stores across the country it has hundreds of sneaker brands across Vans, Nike, Adidas and Puma, and even more caps, accessories and clothing from brands like Champion, 9Five and 10Deep. Right now, Culture Kings has face masks from street style gurus, Carré, Saint and Last Kings, too. The store, found on the corner of Church and Macquarie Streets, is designed to make you want to hang out in store with your mates; it has a DJ, half a basketball court and arcade games to keep you playing and testing out your new kicks. You can also book in for a half-an-hour style session with staff, which costs nothing, and you’ll be kitted out in the latest releases and hear what’s coming in store soon.

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Shop small to support the local stores that make Sydney so great. To learn about American Express, its Shop Small initiative and current Shop Small offer, which ends on August 31, visit here. Then, head this way to find more must-visit spots around greater western Sydney.

Top image: Destination NSW. 

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