The Localist

20 reasons why Marrickville is RAD

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Here is my list of 20 reasons why Marrickviille, a suburb in Sydney’s inner west, is just plain rad. It’s my neighbourhood, and a neighbourhood that I chose to live in over the apparently more obvious beachside or inner-city alternatives.  Perhaps I’m biased, but I do love it here. This list is in no particular order, nor is it in any logical sequence. Oh, and it is no way complete. Add, subtract, comment, share.

1. The Vietnamese grocers on Illawara Road. Does anyone else keel over in shock when they walk into a Coles or Woolworths and see a pitiful, dehydrated bunch of coriander being sold for $2.99? Heads up – coriander only costs around 80 cents at grocers like Nam Hung Asian Grocery at 337 Illawara Road.

2. The New Peony Cake Shop & Bakery. Some say that things must change. Some say that to stay in the game, it is necessary to ‘evolve’, keep up, start selling green smoothies, gluten free goods and homemade fermented pickles. Don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff. But I also love a place that sticks to what it’s good at. This place has been selling delicious Vietnamese and Chinese-style baked goods like mango pancakes, pork buns and durian rolls for years. And you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back into the nineties when you see the prices.

3. Cornersmith. If you are after those homemade fermented pickles and labneh cheese, Cornersmith café is your new best friend. Apparently they keep their own bees for honey. I also heard a rumour that they purchase vegetables from home gardeners in the neighbourhood. Is this true? I really want it to be.

4. The Vietnamese coffee shops along Illawara Road. Get your Trung Nguyen coffees with condensed milk, icy or hot, just like in Vietnam. Look around and feel like you’re in Vietnam. Save $$ on that airfare.

5. Bourke Street Bakery. Why queue at the Surry Hills Bourke Street Bakery, only to feel under the pump when you finally reach the counter and the obnoxious staff look at you with impatient, bored eyes as you take your permitted 3 seconds to glance around and state your order? The Marrickville Bourke Street Bakery is bigger, there’s room to move, there’s more places to sit, and it’s even calming. Oh, ok, there is that parking issue…

6. Yum Cha at Hung Cheung Chinese Seafood on a Saturday or Sunday morning. It’s delicious, it’s not expensive, and the range is huge if you’re there around lunchtime. No need to say more.

7. Arts spaces. Marrickville is recognised as a hub of new and independent arts in Sydney. There are places like Marrickville Garage, a free artist run space that holds events on the 1st weekend of every month. Also, once a year, usually during Art Month in March, over 40 studios throw open their doors to the public for MOST (Marrickville Open Studio Trail).

8. Pho. This delicious Vietnamese soup is available in abundance in Marrickville. Each restaurant’s recipe is different, so you can spend a good few weeks tasting, comparing, choosing a favourite, then mixing it up whenever you feel like it. Our current favourites: PHD and Pho Hanoi Quan.

9. The Cooks River Walk. We like to get away from the hustle and bustle and take a stroll or ride along the greenway by Cooks River.  It’s really lovely.

10. The Rooftop Marrickville. Every now and then this place holds rooftop parties in a massive two-level rooftop space, with lots of shrubs, some good tunes and cheap food and alcohol.

11. The Newsagency. With room for only 50 people, this artist-led, underground creative space is perhaps Marrickville’s most intimate underground venue.  It’s been host to acts such as Lanie Lane, Lachy Doley, Jesca Hoop, NGAIIRE and Elana Stone.

12. Marrickville Pork Rolls. Ok, so banh mi, or pork rolls, have been one of the most talked about foods in Sydney during the past couple of years, and this place always tops those infamous ‘best banh mi’ lists. That’s because they’re amazing. What you might not know is that they taste even better when washed down with a coconut and lychee smash from the place next door.

13. The Addison Road Markets. These markets have grown so much since we first started frequenting them about 4 years ago. Now it’s even a bit squishy. There is a reason why they are popular though, and perhaps you need to get on down there on a Sunday to truly understand why. Can I just say – the Jackie M Malaysian food stall sells truly delicious food, the honey guy who turns up on the last Sunday of every month sells 1.3kg tubs of raw, unprocessed honey for only $11, and I can barely keep up with the number of great stalls selling raw, organic goodies that pop up every week.

14. Sidetrack Theatre. This cosy, unpretentious theatre is housed in a demountable at the Addison Road Community Centre. We go there a lot, particularly during the Sydney Fringe Festival. So should you.

15. The Latin American Hut.  Hut 47 of the Addison Road Community Centre is the meeting place of various Latin-American solidarity groups from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Cuba and Uruguay. Every Sunday a different group from the Latin American community gets together to cook, serve food, eat, listen to music and dance. All are welcome, and it’s rad.

16. Yeeros. After World War II, postwar immigration transformed Marrickville into one of the most diverse communities in Australia. Greek-born migrants formed the largest postwar community, and the Greek community retains a strong presence in the area. We like to pay homage to Marrickville’s Greek heritage by grabbing a lamb, beef or chicken yeeros at either The Yeeros Shop on Illawara Road or Victoria Yeeros on Victoria Road.

17. The Henson, Not long ago, this heaving, self-described ‘community-driven’ establishment was a forlorn old-man’s pub. There are many things I love about the revamped Henson, but the real draw card for me is the flavoured salts selection. Seriously, try the smoked chill salt. Woah.

18. Music venues / performance ‘playgrounds’. There are a few around, and they’re well worth a visit: Try The Factory, the Camelot Lounge, Lazy Bones, and the Red Rattler Theatre. In fact, they each deserve their own number in this list, but I’m nearly up to 20 already. Damn.

19. Feather & Bone. If you’re a meat eater, and have even the vaguest interest in where your meat comes from, you might want to visit Feather & Bone. They’re passionate about where food comes from, and how it’s raised or grown. Most of their products are certified free range, organic or bio-dynamic. All of their producers run sustainably-managed farms with low stocking densities. Rad.

20. Warehouse parties. These happen all the time in Marrickville, but you’ve got to keep your ear to the ground to be in the know. I can’t tell you when or where the next one is happening, because right now I’m not in the know. But sometimes I am. And sometimes you will be. If you want to be.

MEET THE LOCAL: SALLY LANGFORD

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