Parramatta is setting itself up as a hub for food, entertainment and fun in the west. Even as Sydney’s sprawl spreads further and further from the harbour and it’s opera house, Parramatta is becoming its very own city with its own feel and dynamic. Here are our top 3 recommendations for a night out in Parra.
Until recently, the only people visiting Parramatta would be commuters, kids on school excursions to Government House and fans out to watch the Eels rugby league team play. Or those going to court.
Otherwise, going west would mean either a trip to the Blue Mountains, or heading further out to visit the delights of Orange or Mudgee in the New South Wales countryside. Redevelopments along the Parramatta River and along popular Phillip Street have meant Parra has a lot to offer diners and revellers. And it looks like there’s still more to come.
We went exploring recently and were impressed with what we found. Here are our top 3 foodie finds in Parramatta – ‘Sydney’s second CBD’.
3 must-eats in Parramatta, NSW
1. Coco Cubano
Ever since our trip to Cuba, Mrs Romance and I are always on the lookout for reminders of our time in this fascinating country. Although the food on offer in Coco Cubano isn’t authentically Cuban – in it’s better here than the food in Cuba – the range of rums behind the bar and the salsa setting take us right back to Havana.
However inauthentic, the menu is mouthwatering. Full of pulled pork and beef sandwiches and burgers, tapas and pizzas, and an enticing breakfast selection, it’s almost a struggle to choose what to have.
The cocktail menu is just as tantalizing – and if you’re looking at going to all 3 of our recommendations in one night, this might be where you start.
The mojitos are well made, the Cuba Libre is always good and the signature cocktails are very tempting.
2. The Emporium
The Emporium – a ready-made Parramatta icon – is quite stunning. The gable end of this standout building has been rendered to resemble an Italian trattoria. The hole-in-the-wall bakery and bar faces a piazza that houses live music and tables in the evening and enjoys the shade of the jacarandas by day.
Inside, this light and airy eatery is as beautifully styled as its menu, which is full of clever combinations and intriguing dishes.
Standouts on the menu are the stuffed zucchini flowers that come in the lightest crisp tempura batter and thin slivers of pickled zucchini, the king fish ceviche with avocado puffed black rice crackers and corn salsa, and the generously portioned crispy skinned Atlantic trout fillet.
As for desserts, this is where UK chef Jason Dean shows his artistry. The white chocolate sphere filled with sugared jellies and citrus cheesecake, and the green tea sponge cake with rhubarb ice cream and an amazing marshmallow snake look great and taste even better.
3. Gelato Messina
With over 10 stores Australia-wide and wings spread as far as Vegas in the States, the Messina juggernaut is going gangbusters.
The Parramatta store offers all the frozen delights you could ever wish for – though we all know we’ll end up with a scoop of salted caramel and white chocolate with [insert any other Messina ‘flavourite’ here].
Do you have any tips on where to go in Parramatta or Sydney’s Western Suburbs? Have there been any interesting developments in areas near where you live? Tell us about them in the comments!