October 17, 2016

Eating your way through Darwin’s markets

Darwin’s market scene will have you stuffed to the gills with deliciously cheap eats from around the world. In fact, you could easily spend your whole weekend navigating from one market to the next.

Here’s our favourite Darwin markets to leave your taste buds spinning.

1.       Parap Village Markets

Open: Year-round on Saturday’s from 8am-2pm

Saturday morning, and you’ll start the weekend off at Parap Village Markets. It’s very much a local scene, with live music, a friendly atmosphere and plenty of foodie favourites. Ruby G’s has fresh pastries galore, and the juice and smoothie bar is always heaving. If you have to pick one meal, make it Mary’s famous laksa, considered legendary amongst Darwin residents. Mary herself has been serving up laksa at Parap since forever. There’s usually a queue a mile long, but her creamy coconut broth is packed full of flavor and worth the wait.

Afterwards, get your sweet fix with the freshest tropical fruits – mango, watermelon, papaya – sliced, diced and ready to go.

2.       Malak Organic Farmers’ Market

Open: During the dry season on Saturday from 4pm – 9pm

For your dinner on Saturday night, hop over to Malak Organic Farmers’ Market. It’s a newbie on the market scene, very focused on community and showcasing locally-harvested, mainly organic and farm-fresh produce. There are different local musicians each week to provide the entertainment, and a pop-up flee market for those interested in picking up vintage or secondhand wares. 

As for the food – we love La Bottega del Gusto for freshly baked focaccia and Italian sausage burgers. Or you could go for seafood paella from Origo NT – the recipes come from straight from Spain, as does the rice they use! Wash it all down with old fashioned, freshly squeezed lemonade from Leanne Karaitiana’s stand. If you’ve got room for dessert, Petra’s Raw Cakes won’t disappoint – the raw caramel slice is heaven. 

3.       Rapid Creek Markets

Open: Year round on Sunday’s from 7am-1pm

Get an early start on Sunday – there’s two morning markets to visit. Start off at Rapid Creek Market. This is purely a food market, and it’s all about the Asian cuisine – you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the streets of South East Asia, where you can smell the spices in the air. The vendors are very serious about their produce, considered the best around by many local chefs.

There’s an abundance of tropical fruits and vegetables, both familiar and strange and all worth tasting. Don’t expect your usual breakfast fare; but that’s all part of the fun. Try zingy Thai mango and papaya salads, Sri Lankan egg hoppers, Vietnamese pork sausages, fried bananas, coconut rice cakes and more!

4.       Nightcliff Markets

Open: Year round on Sundays from 6am to 2pm

Once you’ve sampled the best of Asia, it’s time to head beachside to NightCliff Markets. It’s less frantic here, so relax with a coffee or freshly squeezed juice under the banyan trees. There’s live music, obviously, and more emphasis on bric-a-brac and craft stalls. Get your tarot read, try some reflexology or snap up some souvenirs.

If you’ve got the munchies, go for some fresh Vietnamese rolls, or any of the crepes from Ken’s Crepes, infamous on the market circuit. His savoury specials include Cajun chicken and avocado or the ‘Caprese’ – tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and smoky ham. But we prefer the sweet ones – try mango with toasted almonds and cream, Nutella and strawberries, or just plain with ken’s homemade caramel sauce.

5.       Mindil Beach Sunset Markets

Open: During the dry season on Thursday from 5pm-10pm, and Sunday from 4pm to 9pm

We’ve mentioned the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets before here, but they’re probably the most well-known markets in Darwin, and definitely worth a visit.  End your epic weekend market tour of Darwin here on Sunday night.

It’s a mixed bag – lots of arts and crafts, indigenous art, local performers and of course, food. With over 60 food stalls, we say go with a group and try as much as you can! There’s cuisine from around the world, and yes, we know you’ve probably had your fill of Asian (even though there’s plenty of good stuff here too).

Instead, you might want to start with half a dozen plump oysters from the Sunset Oyster Bar, served fresh or in a variety of other ways. The adventurous should visit the Roadkill Cafe, whose motto – you kill it, we grill it – might or might not be a joke. They’re serving up satay sticks and sausages made from kangaroo, possum, crocodile and more. If you’re still hungry, there’s fish and chips, pizza, souvlaki, burgers and the list goes on – but whatever you choose, take it down to the beach and watch that famous Mindil Beach sunset.