Good Neighbours: Andrew Levins



Good Neighbours is a conversation series with our local friends and partners. It's all about getting to know the Nation neighbourhoods and discovering the best tips for food, entertainment, and lifestyle from those in the know. This week we’re joined by our resident DJ and popular local food blogger Andrew Levins.

Andrew Levins has been a DJ since he was a teenager, and a food writer for almost as long. He cut his teeth as one of the inaugural DJs on FBi radio, plays most major Australian music festivals and hosts the longest-running hip-hop night in Sydney. His articles have been published by the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC Life, VICE, SBS, Good Food Guide and Time Out. In 2007 he co-founded the youth music charity Heaps Decent (with Diplo and Nina Las Vegas), and in 2009 he was named one of Sydney’s 100 Most Influential People by the Sydney Morning Herald. Since then he’s had two kids, run a successful restaurant, released a cookbook and started no less than five podcasts. 

You've been living in Western Sydney since 2012. What brought you to the area?

My wife and I were running a restaurant in the city and spending all our income on renting an apartment that we hated in the Eastern Suburbs. We knew it was much cheaper out West, so we moved to an apartment in Granville and were so inspired by the food and culture of the area, every day off we'd jump in the car and see what new incredible restaurants we could find.  

What are some of the biggest changes to the area you've seen over the last 10+ years?

Parramatta just keeps getting bigger and bigger! There's a lot more options now when it comes to going out and getting around. I wish the nightlife was better but it's slowly improving. Parramatta Lanes is a big street festival in October and that's the highlight of my year.  

What do you love about living in Western Sydney?

It's such a cop out to say the food, but honestly, it's the food! Living in close proximity to the best Indian in Harris Park, the best Sir Lankan in Toongabbie, the best Vietnamese in Cabramatta, the best Lebanese in Granville and Guildford just makes every weekend so fun and delicious. It's also a great community to raise kids in with a lot more space than we'd have in the city.

What are some of the biggest differences between Western Sydney and the rest of the city?

Little pockets of different cultures that make you feel like you're on holiday for an hour or two.  

Smoky Cravings Parramatta

Tell us about your Paramatta Food project. 

We were in lockdown for COVID and for some reason everyone in Parramatta was on an ultra strict lockdown that meant we couldn't go 5km from our houses. I made a list of all the local businesses who were offering takeaway and delivery and realised how much good stuff there was, so I kept showing support.

Best discovery was definitely Fratelli Pulcinella, a traditional Italian pizzeria that was being run out of someone's backyard. There was no good pizza in our area and this place just showed up out of nowhere, eventually getting so big that they moved out of the backyard and opened their own multi storey restaurant in North Parramatta.  

As someone who has been a part of the local arts and culture scene for a few years, what do you think is needed to continue to grow those industries here?

Nightclubs and live venues! There's a lot of awesome talent in the area but not many places to play. City of Parramatta Council does a great job organising live events throughout the year but more than anything I'd love somewhere to hang out in the late hours of the weekend, listening to music and relaxing with a drink.  What are some of your favourite local family activities

There's a lot of bushwalks in Northmead area, our favourites are the Pemulwuy Loop and the walk to the Northmead/North Rocks dam.  

For someone considering moving out here, what are some of your best tips for starting to feel at home in the neighbourhood?

Just explore the area as much as possible until you find the things you love. Make sure you attend the big public events like Parramatta Lanes as they're a great introduction to all the amazing businesses and people that make up our community.

Listen to Commute, the first in our series of playlists curated by Levins for Nation Radio.