Recently, an inner west café in Sydney hit the headlines after asking a mother to leave because she was breastfeeding her baby. Thankfully, cafes like this are rare in my experience. The inner west of Sydney has an abundance of fantastic cafes that not only serve great food and coffee, but also go out of their way to create a child-friendly café experience.
Here are five of my favourites:
1. Bitton Gourmet Cafe 36-37a Copeland Street, Alexandria
Bitton Gourmet has a fantastic play area out the back including toys and two Child-Friendly Solutions wall mounts. It is like a private room for kids, although it opens out onto the deck area. They have lots of highchairs and baby change facilities. The kids’ menu looks really yummy and offers lots of kiddie-sized drink options such as babycinos, milkshakes, smoothies and fresh juice. They open for dinner from 5.30pm Wednesday to Saturday, which is perfect for dinner with little ones. Staff are very welcoming and helpful. Headed up by French chef David Bitton, this café takes its food and coffee very seriously. Their website says “Bitton continues to strive to be the best local cafe in the community providing quality food using the freshest produce and our own unique flavours”. They do not disappoint.
The Grounds of Alexandria Building 7A, no.2 Huntley Street, Alexandria
Located in an old pie factory from the early 1900s, The Grounds of Alexandria is a very popular cafe (note – there are often queues to get in on weekends). Outside is spacious, filled with vegetable and herb gardens, a kids’ play area and chicken coop. There is no table service outside (takeaway food and coffee only) which was disappointing as the menu looked delicious. The play area is very popular with young families. It has ‘soft-fall’ ground, chalk board and interesting things to climb on, however, it is worth remembering that there is no shade in this area. Other child-friendly features – there are highchairs, but no baby change facilities and no room in the toilet cubicles for a pram, a limited kids’ menu but bakery items that little ones would enjoy. Major downside is the parking. Even at 10.30am on a weekday it was a nightmare.
Armory Wharf Cafe Blaxland Riverside Park, Jamieson Street, Newington
Located within Sydney Olympic Park the cafe sits down along the Parramatta River where kids can watch the River Cats go by. The cafe has loads of child-friendly features – highchairs, plastic plates and cups, colouring-in sheets about The Armory and a change table in the disabled toilet. They have a ‘cadets menu’ on offer for breakfast and lunch that includes mini milkshakes. Don’t come here if you are in a rush because I can guarantee your kids will want to play in the AMAZING adventure playground set up on the hill above the cafe. There are also cycle paths galore and some army-style rope structures just by the cafe. Parking can be hard on weekends due to how popular the playground is.
Esther’s Table 61 Annandale Street, Annandale
This cute corner cafe is tucked away off the main roads, which creates a lovely intimate local feel. There are plenty of child-friendly features on offer. They have a kids’ menu, plastic cups and cutlery, and highchairs. Babycinos and kiddie-sized milkshakes, smoothies and frappes are on offer. Adults menu is really yummy, too. Inside you will find kids’ table and chairs tucked in the corner out of the way. You will need to ask directions to the toilets if needed, but once there you will find a baby change table and a cane chair for breastfeeding if you prefer to be tucked somewhere discreet.
Hopscotch Cafe 284 Great North Road, Wareemba
The play area is the winner for kids at Hopscotch Cafe. It is not enclosed but is nestled in a corner. Kids will enjoy making you coffee in the toy kitchen, doing a puzzle or galloping on the plastic rockers. Highchairs, baby change table, breastfeeding welcomed and plenty of space for strollers. Very nice and reasonably priced kids’ menu. For example, a slice of organic sourdough with choice of spread is $2.95, egg, bacon, tomato and organic toast costs $6.95, or free-range double smoked ham and cheese sandwich on organic sourdough is $6.95. Babycinos only 70c and kiddie milkshakes $2.95. Service can be a little slow here, but the staff are very friendly and accommodating. Outdoor seating available for sunny days and free Wifi on offer for grown-ups.
Linda Anderson is the founder of Mums on the Go – a directory of child-friendly businesses. Linda is mum to three gorgeous girls (aged 4.5 years, 2 years and 7 months) and loves heading out with the family for weekend breakfast or coffee. Linda has lived in Sydney’s inner west on and off for more than 10 years. To find child-friendly cafes and restaurants in your local area visit the website or Mums on the Go facebook page for updates.