It’s easy to think of social enterprise cafes as humble soups and salads served in rooms that resemble grandma’s house or a hospital cafeteria. While I’m sure these places exist (and don’t knock ‘em ‘til you try ‘em) Sydney is flush with do-gooder cafes and restaurants that strive for a finer dining experience.
If you want your next brunch or celebratory dinner to be an ideal blend of tasty and philanthropic, try one of these exciting eateries.
This YWCA-owned café and restaurant in Surry Hills donates all of its profits to supporting victims of domestic violence. The Mediterranean-inspired menu at Song Kitchen was created by head chef Liz Mason and relies on Australian grown produce. It includes a number of fine dining dishes like squid ink pasta and wagyu steak. Song Kitchen is open for breakfast too, but if you’re heading there for lunch or dinner we recommend trying a wine from the list curated by Billy Kwong sommelier, Sophie Otton. Oh, and you can't go past the rosewater meringue.
Folonomo—a portmanteau of "for love not money" (clever right?)—offers its profits to a variety of charities, including RuralAid and Blue Dragon, a charity that supports trafficked children. Operating alongside its sister cafe, Gratia, the stylish Surry Hills dinner destination is perfect for a romantic meal for two or a casual after-work spritz ($5 during Wednesday happy hour!). At the end of your meal, you get to pick which charity to support too.
Another sister venue to Folonomo, newcomer Portal Cafe is also part of the Pure Collective of organisations dedicated to raising money for charity and providing training and employment to refugees. Portal will no doubt be a hit with 9-to-5 workers who will enjoy its sleek Martin Place location. The spacious café will also be great for a working lunch where you can chow down a healthy plate or burger.
Heart Café in Bondi is a project of Wayside Chapel and offers hope to disadvantaged youth through paid traineeships. It is one of the more family-friendly destinations on this list, with plenty of light and space for kids or groups. After opening in late 2018, customers are already raving about its colourful, healthy menu, quality produce and, well, heart.
Parliament On King
Inner West locals will know of the café on South King that is tucked away literally in someone’s living room. Now Parliament on King resembles a small but comfy library and retains some of the charm Newtown has lost to flashy chains and fast-food. It’s a great place to venture solo or for a good chat with a mate, but the best part is that it trains and employs asylum seekers and refugees looking to forge their path in the hospitality industry. This means the menu is rich with top food from the employees’ home countries, such as Sri Lanka and Myanmar.
Symbol is tucked away on the ground floor of an office building in North Sydney making it the perfect pit stop for corporate traffic. If you’re looking to do your part while working the daily grind, your coffee catch-up could help rescue a child from slavery or human trafficking (via Blue Dragon) or provide a child with lunch (via Eat Up).
After a delicious feed that's packed with flavour without the hefty price tag? Check out Enmore Road.
Image credit: Song Kitchen.