In Short: Paddy’s Night Food Markets is loads of fun in the centre of Sydney. Our tip is get there by 6:30pm and take your place in the line for Dirty Bird Chicken.
While we may not have street food culture of Asia or the hot dog stands of New York or even the lane way culture of Melbourne, it’s refreshing to see a different type of food movement take hold in Sydney in the form of food trucks. The growth may have started out slow, and most probably burdened by bureaucracy, but now there’s dozens of trucks doing the rounds of the city on any given day. On a Saturday night though, one location has captured the imagination more than most, and that’s Paddy’s Night Food Market in Flemington. I have been to a couple of roadside and carpark food truck parties, but none of them compete on the same level as those you’ll would find at Paddy’s.
The one advantage is the space. It’s huge, and even with 30 food trucks, as a foodie, you don’t feel claustrophobic or your personal space being invaded constantly. While around the food trucks it may get busy, you can retreat to the vast expanses of the block and have your own little food party, once you’ve acquired all the food first! Of a Saturday morning, this are is packed with vendors selling their wares, but by 5pm the space is cleared out, the asphalt is jet sprayed clean, and in roll the trucks. There’s no sophisticated dining options. Forklifts zip around dropping pallets, which are then upturned to act as tables. Foldable chairs are distributed and it’s a first come first served fight to secure a prized pallet to lay the food down. It’s communal too, so you might make a couple of new friends along with making a new food discovery.
Before I dive in and tell you about some of our favourite food finds, I need to educate you on the strategy that we’ve employed on our two visits so far. Follow this guide, and I can assure you that your foodie night at Paddy’s Night Food Markets will be much more enjoyable and you patience will reaming untested…
Rule 1. Try to get a group together and head out to Paddy’s in force. At least 4 will work best. Aim to arrive at or just after 6pm. By arriving 15-20 minutes early, you have the opportunity to scope out the stalls and pick your favourite food. You will need at least one person to grab a pallet or table and mind that table. The other 3 will be your food gatherers. The food gatherers will then venture out to the designated trucks to secure the goodies. Ideally you would have identified at least 3 favourites, so each food gatherer heads out to a unique truck. This is a serious foodie mission after all!
Rule 2. If one of those favourites is Dirty Bird, have one food gatherer line up straight away. Trust me, you don’t want to wait until it opens. In our 2 visits, we’ve observed and been in a long line long before 6:30pm. Arrive after 6:30pm and it would be upwards of a 1/2 hour wait for your chicken.
Rule 3. Even if you think you might want to have dessert, do not leave it too late, those lines will become epic too! So perhaps, have 1 food gatherer grab a couple of desserts early on.
Rule 4. Enjoy your food, and leave a thank you below.
Now onto our favourites. You may have deduced by rule 2, that Dirty Bird chicken was one of those favourites. Coming to Paddy’s Markets, we had no idea what to expect. We went with an open mind, and knowing that we could come back often, it was ok if we didn’t stumble on a great food find straight away. Fortunately we discouvered what we think is some of the best fried chicken we’ve ever had. I know that’s a huge call, but when follow Coco and Viner Mavis has, at the writing of this post, requested a third visit for the Dirty Bird’s famous wings, it’s testament to how good their famous fried wings are.
Great batter is one thing, it’s when you get to the meat that sets these wings apart. The brining process keeps the chicken moist, but it’s the secret ingredients in the brine that enhance the flavour of the chicken. You can opt for medium or hot. The medium is what we’ve gone with both times, and even with medium there’s a good kick of heat that works well with the light, crispy batter. The sides of slaw and pickle aren’t just thrown in to add some colour and texture. They really do enhance the meal. I loved the pickles, not too vinegary, and a nice level of sweetness, that really quells the heat of the chicken.
We weren’t done with Dirty Bird, and our second visit, we couldn’t resist a second helping wings, and in addition we added a Crack a Mac burger. Again, I was quite simply blown away by the taste. A breast of chicken is rolled in batter and rice bubbles. Rice bubbles? Genius! This gives a light, airy batter, and a bite reveals succulent chicken. Big M sauce is combined with lettuce and American cheese. It’s an exquisite burger that is packed with flavour and really leaves a smile on my face.
My vote for the cutest and coolest looking food truck has to go to the guys from Volkswurst. Their combi, which opens to reveal an oven and grill for their sausages and neat little serving area, has been put together amazingly well.
Little Coco and Viner Sammie likes to keep it a little simpler, so we tempt her with a kransky with sauerkraut from Volkswurst. The sausage is composed of smoked pork and beef. It’s easy to bite into which tells you that it’s perfectly cooked. There’s a nice level of spice and prevalent smoky flavours. The sauerkraut helps cut through the fat of the sausage and it’s equal parts sour and sweet. A probiotic that’s perfect for any sausage in a bun.
On the dessert front, there is no shortage of choices. On our first visit, we paid the price of not following rule 3 when Coco and Viner Mavis decided she had to sample the loukimades from Me Meli. These little puffs were divine. So divine, we waited 45 mins to score the delightful little balls of fried dough. They are a type of doughnut coated with honey and generous sprinkles of cinnamon. They were light and crispy, and had us reaching for more.
Another pleasant surprise were the brulees by Torch Me Creme Brulee. Pictured below is a popcorn creme brulee. While the popcorn was the most distinguishable element of the creme brulee, it is the brulee , with a glossy film thin caramelised surface, that forms the essence of the dessert. The theatre is watching the artisans sprinkle the sugar on top and applying heat with the blow torch to give it that glossy top. The addition of fluffy popcorn adds a salty element. It’s sweet, salty, creamy custard goodness, and of a standard that exceeds what you would expect from a food truck party.
Paddy’s Night Food Markets are the best food fun in town at the moment. With new food trucks rocking up each week, a DJ pumping out tunes, Indian drummers, belly dancers, and retro video games, there’s enough to keep you entertained and host of food options that means at least two visits is a must. For the Coco and Vine team, we’re already readying ourselves for our third visit and cannot wait for some #forknflava.