Angie Schiavone

Grab a coffee from The Incinerator and head to the excellent park and bike track at nearby Hallstrom Park. Click for more photos

Family-friendly cafes in Sydney

Grab a coffee from The Incinerator and head to the excellent park and bike track at nearby Hallstrom Park. Photo: Fiona Morris

  • A brekkie option at The Grounds Keeper Cafe. There's also a kid-friendly menu.
  • The Grounds Keeper Cafe in Ryde overlooks a large playground.
  • The babyccino at Botany Bites is topped with hundreds-and-thousands with two marshmallows on the side.
  • Monster juice? The signature Alive juice at Sprout Wholefood Cafe & Grocer.
  • Sprout Wholefood Cafe & Grocer in Naremburn.
  • Buckwheat pancakes with fruit and cashew milk at Sprout Wholefood Cafe & Grocer.
  • The Red Velvet hot chocolate at The Choc Pot.
  • Coffee at The Incinerator in Willoughby.
  • Grab a table outside at The Incinerator in Willoughby.
  • Milkshakes, babyccinos and an all-ages brekkie-menu at The Incinerator in Willoughby.

Hear that? It's the school holiday call and response of coffee drinking parents ringing out en masse. For every "I'm bored" uttered by a youngster comes an "I need a coffee" from a parent in reply.

It's important then to have a list of places serving up the goods for all ages. Here are our favourites.

The Innocent Kitchen
288 Unwins Bridge Road, Tempe, 0411 101 166

A background in catering for kids' parties means the folk behind this new corner cafe have a fair idea of what gets the thumbs up from kids (and their parents). While the focus is on sweets – think homemade marshmallows, oozy banoffe pie, and "Oma's breakfast cakes" (light-as-air vanilla with a cocoa swirl) – simple savoury options hit the spot too. Colouring-in supplies, a playpen with dinosaur-inhabited dollhouse, and a park across the road are big pluses.

Coffee: Allpress Carmelo blend
Babyccino: They're free of charge here, served simply as an espresso cup of froth dusted with chocolate.

Sprout Wholefood Cafe & Grocer
272-274 Willoughby Road, Naremburn, 02 8094 8101

It's hard to say what we love most about this sprawling cafe, which opened in March: its vibrant, wholefoods-focused brekkie and lunch menus (including healthy kids' options starting at just $3.50), or its big outdoor area complete with cubby house and kitchen garden. It's truly family-friendly, but those thin, crisp-edged buckwheat pancakes with cashew cream, coconut nectar and fresh fruit are not the way to go if you're trying to teach your little ones the virtue of "sharing".

Coffee: Little Marionette
Babyccino: Half froth, half warm milk, chocolate powder on top, marshmallow on the side, $1. Go for a kids-sized juice instead.

Sorelle on Grand Cafe
116 The Grand Parade (corner of Teralba Road), Brighton-le-Sands, 0435 560 402

As the name suggests, the women behind this bright spot on a noisy strip of road are Italian, and sisters (they're helpful and friendly too). The menu is about to be rejigged but it'll retain its Italian bent with plenty of cafe staples for good measure, and specific options for kids. Memo for when warm days return: they sell gelato and there's a beach right across the road.

Coffee: Double Roasters Flight Path
Babyccino: Go the whole hog and order the Babyccino Grand. It's an investment at $4.50 a pop, but comes complete with compulsory cup of frothed milk, two marshmallows and a mini choc-covered ice-cream cone.

The Choc Pot
Shop 7, 1 Railway Parade, Burwood, no phone

So they don't have high chairs and they're located on a busy strip of road at the base of one of Burwood's giant new apartment blocks, but what kid isn't going to love freshly made waffles smothered in melted chocolate and house-made marshmallows, or an oozy, decadent chocolate fondant (the namesake choc pot) with a side of fresh strawberries, or a smooth, not overly sweet pretty-pink Red Velvet hot chocolate? It's guaranteed to win brownie-points for parents (speaking of – they've got brownies too). They're open until 10pm or 11pm Fri-Sat for visits with the inner-child rather than the real child.

Coffee: Morgan's Handcrafted Coffee
Babyccino: Simple frothed milk topped with chocolate, $1.

Botany Bites 
1641 Botany Road, Botany, 02 9666 1799

It mightn't scream "kid-friendly" from the outset, all black paint and full of hard-hatted tradies having burgers for lunch, but take a closer look and you'll find a wall of kids drawings, high chairs, and a brief kids' breakfast menu. Parents – or those rare chilli-loving-youngsters – don't miss out on the cracking Portuguese chilli chicken burger (the hot sauce is for sale by the jar too).

Coffee: Campos Coffee
Babyccino: A full-sized chocolate syrup coated latte glass that's two-thirds froth, topped with hundreds-and-thousands, two marshmallows on the side, $1.

The Grounds of Alexandria
Building 7A, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria, 02 9699 2225

Great any time thanks to the enclosed kids play area, farm animals, and crowd-pleasing food – the Grounds has upped its family-friendliness ante further still with a school holiday activities program. There'll be kids' potting classes, yoga, dance sessions, storytelling, colouring-in competitions, art and crafts sessions and more, running weekdays 9.30am-3pm. Details are on the Grounds Facebook page, along with information on the Grounds Winter Market, July 12-13.

Coffee: The Grounds Roasters
Babyccino: Free of charge – an espresso cup of froth topped with chocolate powder.

Meadow Cafe
Prince Alfred Park Pool, 1004 Chalmers Street, Surry Hills, 02 8399 1198

This sunny cafe has one of the best kids' menus around – a good range at affordable prices and complete with 'hidden' vegies. The adjacent park with playground (and the pool next door – good to remember for warmer days) is another big plus, especially as it's within sight of the cafe, so parents can rest easy with their top notch meal and coffee – the former, grilled fish tacos with soft flour tortillas, tomato and lime salsa.

Coffee: Campos Coffee
Babyccino: Served free of charge with any kids' meal ordered.

The Incinerator
2 Small Street, Willoughby, 02 8188 2220

The name mightn't sound particularly kid-friendly (and in this context a little Hansel-and-Gretel, even), but the venue itself – an artfully designed former incinerator - is. There are high chairs, all-ages brekkie and lunch menus (from bacon and egg rolls and sandwiches, to salads and wood-roasted meats). On warmer winter days, grab a table outside and be sure to visit the excellent playground and sign-posted bike track at neighbouring Hallstrom Park.

Coffee: The Grounds Roasters
Babyccino: They're free - but do try a kid-sized chocolate Tim Tam or vanilla malt milkshake for $3.50 too.

The Grounds Keeper Cafe
Ryde Park, 30 Argyle Avenue, Ryde, 02 9808 4696

Even on days when it's a little too chilly to use the large playground this cafe overlooks, the "little grounds keeper" brekkie and lunch menus, and lovely house-made baked goods will keep junior cafegoers content. The rest of the menu has a Middle Eastern bent and brekkie options such as shakshouka, and lamb kafta baked eggs are particularly enticing.

Coffee: Gabriel Coffee
Babyccino: A takeaway cup with 100 per cent froth and a marshmallow inside, $1

Hopscotch Cafe
284 Great North Road, Wareemba, 02 8753 0317

The kids' corner here comes complete with play kitchen, toy cars and blackboards – and staff are very attentive to the little ones' needs. The menu with all day brekkie and lunch has all the cafe staples and a dedicated kids' offering with mini bacon and egg rolls, little pancakes and more. Strong coffee should ensure the adults stay focused throughout the school holidays haze.

Coffee: Paul Basset Espresso
Babyccino: $1.50, more milk than froth with a marshmallow on the side. Kids' milkshakes, $2.95.

Did we miss your go-to spot? Jump on the comments and share your favourite family-friendly cafe.