Ten Stellar Drink and Dining Spots to Check Out in Parramatta
Add these flashy cocktail bars, all-day diners and cosy family-run joints to your must-visit list.
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Located smack bang in the geographical centre of the Sydney metropolis, Parramatta is a food lover's haven — especially if you're the type who likes an international adventure. Without leaving the CBD, you can taste your way all over the planet, from Vietnam and Thailand to Greece, Italy and the Middle East. And don't forget the craft beers, fine wines and creative cocktails aplenty available to match your picks.
Whether you work in the area, live there or just feel like paying a visit, when you're in the mood for a feast, get yourself along to one of these ten Parramatta gems. You'll discover everything from a world-class rooftop bar to a cosy Malaysian eatery.
Parramatta Square was one of the only good things to come out of 2020, gifting Sydneysiders with another precinct filled with top-notch drinking and dining options. One such offering is all-day spot Ruse Bar & Brasserie. The European-inspired diner spotlights an open basque grill, from which the chefs serve dry aged pork loin, King George Whiting and top-of-the-line tomahawks. With expansive indoor and outdoor spaces, including a private dining room, Ruse is the perfect setting for a group feast. If you've only got time for a quick drink, swing by for happy hour (3–5.30pm from Tuesday to Friday, 5–7pm on Saturday) to enjoy $8 wine, house spirits and schooners and $12 Aperol Spritzes.
Fancy a cocktail with water views? Pop into riverside lounge ALEX&Co. The drinks list covers both classics and creatives, like the One in a Melon, with sour patch-infused vodka, watermelon, lemon and aquafaba. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, head chef Kamal Karki does wonders with super-fresh produce to create what is best described as elevated pub fare. Grab a couple of entrees to share, like the stuffed zucchini flowers and kingfish sashimi, before tucking in to a szechuan chicken burger, seared barramundi or herb-crusted lamb cutlet. The massive venue hosts more than 300 people and offers a variety of spaces.
Like all great Greek eateries, Kouzina Greco isn't just about feasting on delicious fare. It's also about having a damn good time. So, settle in and prepare for the ride. The menu features all the Greek cuisine classics — think taramosalata and pita, meatballs with tomato salsa, dolmades, calamari, haloumi, chicken souvlaki and the signature kleftiko (three-hour slow-roasted lamb with lemon potatoes). Pick a handful of favourites or, if you're dining with one or more mates, let them do the hard work for you — the set menu gives you stacks of dishes for just $69 per head.
Towering 26 floors above the Parramatta CBD, Nick and Nora's affords epic views — all the way to the Sydney CBD and Sydney Harbour. The Speakeasy Group, which owns the venue, is well established on the Australian hospo scene, thanks to excellent venues like Eau de Vie and Mjolner. This bar takes its titular inspiration from fictional sleuths Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man) and its aesthetics from the indulgent post-prohibition era. Sip on glorious champagne or choose from more than 900 spirits, while sinking into a banquette surrounded by art deco fittings and feasting on oysters and caviar.
Pho Pasteur isn't just a Vietnamese restaurant. It's the realisation of a dream. Owners Mr and Mrs Pham fled to Australia in the 1970s, as refugees of the Vietnam War, and, in 1992, opened this old-school eatery. Their hope? To share the recipes of their home province, Tay Ninh, with their newfound neighbourhood. Arrive hungry: the dishes are generous. And fair warning: you'll struggle to go past the beef pho, a heartwarming noodle soup containing the works — rare beef, brisket, meatballs, tendon and tripe.
For some of the best laksa outside Singapore, hunt down Temasek, a Malaysian-Singaporean eatery hidden up a laneway in Parramatta CBD. For more than 25 years, owner Susan Wong has been keeping locals happy in this no-frills space with piping hot bowls of laksa. Choose chicken, prawns or both. If laksa's not your thing, go for the Hainanese chicken rice, Singapore chilli crab or nasi lemak. There's also a brief selection of Chinese dishes. This is another one that gets packed out, so don't be surprised to find yourself queueing.
Another gem within the Parramatta Square dining precinct is Lilymu, which we consider one of the best restaurants in Sydney. Head here to enjoy contemporary spins on Chinese and South-East Asian flavours, like the tom yum prawn dumplings and grilled wagyu beef skewers with sesame, soy and wasabi — both crowd favourites that have been on the menu since day one. The elevated flavours continue with larger dishes. We're talking massaman curry served with Kiwami 9+ wagyu beef, banana leaf roasted barramundi and rib eye served with yuzu nori, nahm jim jaew and Japanese hot mustard. Hot tip: the bottomless weekend lunches are as delish as they are generous. For $99pp, you'll get bottomless cocktails, wine and beer, plus six share plates.
It's a truth universally acknowledged that when you have a big group of people to feed, Lebanese cuisine is the answer. Baba Ghanouj gives you just that with an extensive menu of tasty Lebanese style dishes designed to share. Opt for one of the banquet menus for minimum ordering stress and maximum value. The Mama ($60pp) includes nine mezza plates and three meats, including Lebanese bread, olives, pickles, baba ghanoush, hummus, labneh, tabouleh, falafel, batata b kezebra (fried potato), sabih (fried Lebanese pastry filled with three cheeses), arabit meélah (fried cauliflower), shish tawouk (marinated chicken skewers), lahem meshwi (grilled lamb skewers) and kafta (grilled mince lamb).
As one of the longest-standing restaurants on Church Street, Restaurant 317 is considered a local favourite — and there are a few reasons why. It was the first restaurant in NSW to be accredited by Coeliac Australia, with every single dish on the menu available gluten-free, from pizzas and pasta to chicken parmi and salt and pepper-battered squid. This extends to desserts, too, including tiramisu and sticky date pudding — all sans gluten. The menu is also halal certified and a good chunk of it is vegan, so the varied dietary requirements that make group dining difficult are a non-issue here.
Discover more spots to eat, drink and play in Parramatta by visiting the website.
Top image: Nick and Nora's, Jiwon Kim.
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