If you haven’t ventured west in a while (or ever) the transformation might surprise you. In this edition of Pick of the Precinct, we take a peek at Parramatta.
The food scene is thriving in Sydney’s second CBD and plenty of big names in the industry are taking notice and moving in. Meanwhile, locals are laying out the welcome mat. Shopping and other lifestyle options are also on the up in this booming Western Sydney suburb and we’re thinking it won’t be long before Parramattarians join the list of Sydneysiders too culturally satisfied to leave their home ‘burb.
Circa Espresso is a little slice of the Inner West and, having hit the scene in Parramatta a long time before many other recommendation-worthy establishments, it has been a godsend for locals craving a contemporary café experience. The menu boasts plenty of favourites, often with a full-of-flavour Middle Eastern twist. Circa closed on weekends for a while there but, thankfully, is a seven-days-a-week spot again.
The Oxford dictionary defines “emporium” as “a large retail store selling a wide variety of goods”. Hey guys, don’t worry, I know how lame that intro is. I was being ironic. Plus, I don’t own a dictionary. That was a Google definition. But anyway, the point is The Emporium on Philip Street sticks true to its name. The new-ish kid on the block is a restaurant (indoor and al fresco), bar, bakery and coffee roaster. The Emporium is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. They’re our kind of hours!
A Parramatta institution, Temasek offers delicious Malaysian and Singaporean fare, and if you don’t order the kecap manis sotong you’re not doing it right. The fried calamari rings in sweet soy sauce is a house specialty and just one of the reasons Temasek is buzzing night after night. The décor is nothing to write home about but diners don’t care. The flavours are keeping them happy.
Nonna Maria’s Place
“BYO, no corkage”. And that’s not even the best bit about this Philip Street restaurant. A simple but hearty dining experience, Nonna Maria’s serves up traditional pasta and meat dishes, and the sweet potato gnocchi will ‘gnocc’ your socks off! Complimentary bread and home-made lemonade add to the authentic Italian feel.
Jamie’s Italian Trattoria
Some people can be adverse to things that have “been done”. And Jamie’s has certainly “been done”. But it’s also good—really good—and a welcome addition to Western Sydney. The menu is simple for the most part but it’s done well and the rustic fit out makes for relaxed but delicious dining.
You know the one. Following huge success at Darlinghurst, Pyrmont, Surry Hills and Bondi locations, the team behind Gelato Messina saw Parramatta’s potential and moved into Church Street just over a year ago. It’s proven to be a win-win situation with the all-familiar Messina queues a common sight (don’t worry, they’re fast moving) and many a thrilled customer getting a five-star gelato fix.
And coming soon…
Apple Core Living
12 Mary Street has endured many reincarnations over the years. Apple Core Living is the current resident and we think it’s here to stay. A diverse collection of gifts and homewares set in a rustic and inviting space, Apple Core Living is worth much more than a browse.
Centenary Square (formerly Church Street Mall) transforms on Fridays to showcase local and seasonal produce directly from growers and artisan food producers. It’s not a particularly big market but there are always some tasty finds, especially if you arrive with breakfast or lunch in your sights. Bonus points for being Bourke Street Bakery adjacent.
Face Body Day Spa and Beauty Salon
Okay, you’ll need to be quick. After 25 years servicing Parramatta, Robyn Hamilton is just a few months away from retirement and she’ll be sorely missed. Face Body has built a loyal customer base thanks to Robyn’s expertise, her talented team and the huge range of luxurious day spa packages. Robyn is now selling the heritage house that is Face Body. In a few months we should know whether the buyers plan to continue Robyn’s legacy. Fingers crossed.
Eyebrows are a serious business. So when in Parramatta, get Cara Delevingne-ed with the brow experts at La Belle. Eyelash extensions are another specialty. Facials, massage, waxing, permanent hair reduction and nails are also on the extensive menu.
Lake Parramatta Reserve
You can keep your kale salad. When it comes to health, I’d rather inhale some fresh air. And Lake Parramatta, a 73-hectare bushland and parkland reserve, is a pretty sweet place to do just that. Hike, picnic, swim, run… relax. The reserve is located only 2km away from the Parramatta CBD but it feels a world away once you’re surrounded by green.
Image credit: Jamie's Trattoria, Chinta Ria.