‘I like big buns’: Wacky burgers with a difference
Parramatta is classed as Sydney's second CBD and in every good city, there are great places to eat.
Church St in Parramatta is the place to go to enjoy amazing food at affordable prices.
"If you're looking to give your tastebuds a treat, you can't go past Parramatta's iconic 'Eat Street' dining district," City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer says.
"It's the beating heart of our city, with an array of incredible restaurants, bars and cafes to choose from."
Take a tour of Sydney's best eateries right here with The Sunday Telegraph's Eat Street. Follow us on Instagram. #SydneyEatStreet
Growing up in western Sydney, Sarah Robbins knew that one day she and husband James would open a shop in the area. So after conquering the city with their premium burgers at Bar Luca and BL Burgers on Oxford St, they followed through and landed on Church St.
"Parramatta has always had a special place in our hearts," says Sarah, and just to emphasise the point, they commissioned muralist Brent Smith to paint a wall reflective of their location.
"It has some great nods to the area with symbols from Western Sydney Wanderers and the Parramatta Eels (which we're both supporters of).
"While they may hail from the west, it's a reference to North America that put them on the map, specifically the Blame Canada Burger - Haverick Meats beef patty, American cheese, maple-glazed streaky bacon, maple aioli and poutine on a BL milk bun.
"It originally started out at as a weekly special."
To date, they've done more than 250 different specials.
"It's insane when you think about it. We take inspiration from everything. Sometimes I'll eat a meal somewhere and think, how can I turn this into a burger," Sarah says.
"Or we'll see a trending meme, celebrity or event and base it around that. We've had so much fun over the years. It's great to be able to be so creative each week and we love seeing people's reviews and comments."
- 3/188 Church St; blburgers.com.au
BAY VISTA DESSERT BAR & CAFE
Unabashedly decadent. Whether it's a cuppa and a slice of cake or the loaded Rocky Mountains bowl filled with strawberry, chocolate and vanilla ice-cream, marshmallows, cherries, whipped cream, crushed nuts, chocolate fudge sauce and coconut flakes, Bay Vista is where all your sweet dreams come true.
Renowned for their massive share-size desserts, this popular late-night spot is a tick different from its humble beginning as a neighbourhood restaurant in Brighton-Le-Sands, but 30 years on, and now with its second spot on busy Church St, owner, Bill Mougios is still adamant about supporting the community - be it with fundraisers, charities and sponsorships or merely a place to meet up with friends and indulge in stacked pancakes, waffles, crepes, chocolate fondue and sky-high meringue pies.
For those who prefer the savoury side of the menu, there are plenty of options there too including light meals, New York-style grilled sandwiches, cheesy waffle melts and baguettes - which of course, you can then follow-up with dessert.
- 330 Church St; bayvista.com.au
ALEX & CO
A global feast has landed on Church St and with it comes dishes inspired by the magnificent flavours and colours of the varied cuisines throughout Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.
At Alex & Co, an expansive riverside venue with both indoor and outdoor seating, it's equally suited to a light lunch with colleagues, dinner with friends or drinks and dancing with friends.
Like Parramatta itself, the menu here is innovative and unique. Start small with a sizzling plate of honey halloumi and Sydney rock oysters, then move on to the mains with salads, pizzas, burgers, pasta, grilled fare, share plates and more.
The roast lamb salad, grilled barramundi and spaghetti with chilli prawns are particular standouts.
Plus there's always something going on here, from regionally-themed menu nights to lazy Sundays with live music and creative cocktails so whether it's a light lunch with colleagues or a late night with friends, Alex & Co has you covered.
- Lot 2-4/330 Church St; alexandco.com.au
The iconic pillars of this 1928 building once stood fast as the entrance to a Commonwealth Bank branch, but now, nearly a century later, it serves as the entrance to an evening of glamour and good times.
Embracing the joie de vivre of the roaring 20s there is an extensive list of premium spirits, wines and beers but the real highlight is the talented team of mixologists serving up clever cocktails that speak to Heritage Lounge's history.
Taking the lead is The Bank - vodka infused with strawberry and cinnamon, Sipsmith Dry Gin, Lillet Blanc with a hint of Absinthe; and in a supporting role is The Banker's Wife - vodka, Aperol, pineapple, passionfruit and fresh-squeezed lime; or Teller's Nightmare - Makers Mark, Lillet Blanc, homemade pear and ginger syrup, garnished with mint.
Complement your drinks with a selection of canapes and platters, the perfect pair for lounging about, listening to music and enjoying a memorable night out with friends.
- Level 1, 215-217 Church St; heritagelounge.com.au
BOURKE STREET BAKERY
It all started back in 2004 as a small neighbourhood bakery in Surry Hills with a recycled old oven and a vision to create that elusive loaf of "really good bread", so when owners David McGuiness and Paul Allam sold out of sourdough bread on the first day, they cautiously realised that they may be on to something special.
That, of course, has a lot to do with George, their sourdough starter which has been with them - holidays and all - since the late 90s.
While bread was the winner that fateful day, their other baked goods, particularly the pork and fennel sausage rolls and selection of brulee, chocolate, and lemon tarts, became quick contenders.
Fortunately, now that they've gone on to open additional shops outside of the eastern suburbs, you can forego the early morning queue that stretches up Bourke St and head to Church St instead. Tell them you're there for breakfast with George.
- 186-190, 1 Church St; bourkestreetbakery.com.au
THE SOUVLUCKY COUNTRY
Savour authentic Mediterranean fare at this warm and welcoming restaurant where you'll find generous servings of traditional Greek dishes including souvlaki, beef and vegetarian moussaka and paidakia (lamb).
Grab a gyros pita to take away or share a plate of dips and skewers under the watchful eye of Greek deities painted on the sea-blue wall by renowned muralist, Nick Bon.
Be sure to save room for dessert. Their house-made baklava and rice pudding are delicious, but the real treat is the loukoumades, a Greek doughnut that is deep-fried then topped with honey, crushed walnuts and a dusting of cinnamon, or for extra decadence, add some Nutella.
Who's lucky now?
- 316 Church St; thesouvluckycountry.com.au
VASCO'S CHARCOAL CHICKEN
Go the Eels! There are two things this family-run business is passionate about, and that's their free range charcoal chicken and the NRL.
As a member sponsor of the Parramatta Eels, they're keen supporters of the Blue and Gold Army, with 10 per cent discounts to the club's members - and it's a great reason to try their salads, burgers or their famous juicy chicken with housemade Peri Peri sauce.
Plus, you might even spot some of the players, and they regularly show up for onsite appearances.
Come game day, they also offer Parra Footy packs, only $55 for a chicken, two burgers, two large chips, 10 nuggets and two 1.25L drinks. (Alas, no discount on this awesome combo.)
Of course, all sports fans are welcome as all is fair in love and lunch.
- 1/459 Church St; vascoscharcoalchicken.com
ITIHAAS INDIAN RESTAURANT
Take a culinary tour through time at Itihaas, a word that translates to "history", where masterful chefs prepare both traditional and contemporary Indian dishes from around the country's many regions.
On the menu, you'll find familiar options such as chicken tikka, butter chicken and lamb vindaloo, but they also have several preset and banquet menus, including a vegetarian option with the likes of kofta curry with vegetable dumplings in a spiced butter sauce, olive cheese naan and, for dessert, delicious gulab jamun, golden brown cottage cheese dumplings in a rose fragranced syrup.
- 325 Church St; itihaas.com.au
Follow the mouth-watering smells of secret herbs and spices to this authentic Vietnamese restaurant, a staple of Parramatta's dining scene since owners, Mr and Mrs Pham first opened shop in 1992.
There is an extensive menu but you need only look at the bowls on practically every table to realise that their pho (pronounced "fur") is the signature item.
Using a recipe that has been passed down through generations, this traditional southern-style broth is served with rice noodles and a choice of beef, though the house special includes them all - rare beef and brisket, meatballs, tendons and tripe.
- 137 Church St; phopasteurparramatta.com
LAO DER, LAO & THAI CUISINE
While the "nose to tail" approach has gained on-trend recognition in cooking shows, it's been a part of Lao and Isaan dishes for ages.
Visiene Matharu, Lao Der's co-owner, explains that it can be a bit less than appetising for those new to the cuisine so, in lieu of intestines, offal or chicken feet in a meal, they've substituted those with more familiar cuts.
While many of the dishes can be quite spicy, at Lao Der, Lao they tend towards the lighter side with regional spices that give them plenty of flavour.
"Our most popular dishes include Ob Gai, BBQ Ox Tongue, Lao Pork Sausages, Green Papaya salad and Larb Zeen (raw beef salad)," Visiene says.
And you can trust he knows how to keep his customers happy as Visiene, along with his brother also own the award-winning Thai Garden House Restaurant, a Parramatta favourite for more than 15 years.
- 277B Church St, Parramatta; laoder.com.au
Those epic burgers stacked with the lot can make for an awesome photo but it's all for nothing if they don't taste as good as they look.
At Brades Burgers, it's 'mission accomplished', and they owe it all to fresh local ingredients. Starting as a market stall in 2015, they garnered a loyal following with their gourmet burgers and eventually opened a permanent place on Church St in 2018.
Proof of their success can be found on the menu with such faves as the Triple Truffle - triple smashed beef patties, butter lettuce, pickles, confit bourbon & onion relish, Swiss cheese and white truffle aioli or the Double Kernel Sanders with double southern-fried chicken breasts, corn slaw, streaky-bacon, American cheddar and chipotle aioli.
And if you're hankering for a burger but need to save it for later, order one of their DIY@Home Kits which comes with all the ingredients of your favourite burger and it's just up to you to cook the patties.
For a premium experience, add a jar of Drunken Sailor jams and relishes or the latest cult-condiment, Truff Hot Sauce (truffle hot sauce) to your order.
- 277 Church St, Parramatta; bradesau.com.au
Originally published as 'I like big buns': Wacky burgers with a difference