Australia. Hamed Allahyari and work colleagues at SalamaTea cafe
© A4U/Aaron Francis
Location icon Australia

A guide to refugee cafes across Australia

Cafes and restaurants run by refugees are more than just places to eat — they are community hubs that offer cultural dining experiences and support for those who need it most. 

Australia’s culinary landscape is rich with diversity, thanks in part to the vibrant cafes and restaurants owned and run by refugees and asylum seekers. These unique spots offer delicious food and also heartwarming stories of resilience and hope. 

1. Parliament on King – Sydney 

Located in Sydney’s bustling Inner West, Parliament on King is more than just a cafe; it’s a social enterprise that supports asylum seekers and refugees. This cafe offers a unique culinary experience, with a menu that changes frequently to reflect the diverse backgrounds of its staff. In addition to serving delicious food, Parliament on King provides training, skills workshops and employment opportunities for refugees, helping them integrate into Australian society. 

Australia_Parliament On King interior
© Local Sauce Tours
Parliament on King serves dishes from around the world, including Burma, Iraq, Somalia and Pakistan.

2. SalamaTea – Melbourne

This social enterprise cafe in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine employs refugees and asylum seekers who’ve recently arrived in Australia. SalamaTea, established in 2019, was founded by Hamed Allahyari after he fled his home in Iran. Hamed serves up Persian staples, including delicious homemade falafel plates, dips and sweet Persian baklava.

Australia_Hamed Allahyari outside his cafe SalamaTea in Melbourne
© Australia for UNHCR/Sally Hulse
Hamed Allahyari outside his cafe SalamaTea.

3. Parwana Kitchen – Adelaide

Parwana Kitchen is a vibrant family-run restaurant sharing rustic and authentic flavours of Afghanistan. The restaurant was set up by the Ayubi family in 2009 and serves as a love letter to the country they left behind. This refugee-run cafe doesn't just dish up hearty home-cooked meals, they also support a local homelessness charity by donating their corkage fees.

Australia. Parwana Kitchen Interior in Adelaide
© Emmaline Zanelli & Josie Withers
The colourful dining room in Parwana Kitchen.

4. Kyiv Social – Sydney

Kyiv Social is another Sydney gem. This establishment employs Ukrainian refugees who serve up authentic Ukrainian cuisine. Kyiv Social is part of the Plate It Forward group, a cohort of humanitarian food projects that support refugee and asylum seeker communities in Australia and abroad. For every meal sold at Kyiv Social, they donate two meals — one to someone in Sydney and another to someone in Ukraine.

Australia. Kyiv Social in Sydney
© Kyiv Social
Kyiv Social brings the flavours of Ukraine to Sydney.

5. Flavours of Syria – Melbourne

Run by Syrian refugee Nayran Tabiei, Flavours of Syria serves up colourful, healthy, and hearty dishes from Syria. Open five days a week, this refugee-run cafe is the perfect spot for brunch, lunch or afternoon tea. Flavours of Syria also runs cooking classes where you can learn the basics of Syrian cooking. Nayran Tabiei also caters for events around Melbourne.

Australia. Cooking class at Flavours of Syria cafe
© Flavours of Syria
Nayran Tabiei leads a cooking class at Flavours of Syria.

6. World Music Cafe – Perth

World Music Cafe is a social enterprise based in Perth, celebrating creativity and multiculturalism through music and food. The World Music Cafe team amplifies migrant and refugee voices through their exciting dinner and show nights, featuring performances from diverse and talented musicians. World Music Cafe also provides work experience and skills training for new Australians from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

Australia. World Music Cafe in Perth
© World Music Cafe
Music and food combine to create a unique night out at World Music Cafe.

7. Ayla’s Cafe – Adelaide

Ayla’s Cafe, described as “Adelaide’s hidden Persian gem", serves up classic Australian cafe fare with an Iranian twist. This vegan-friendly cafe offers plenty of plant-based Persian-inspired food. Arian Rezaei, the cafe owner who came to Australia in 2012 from Iran, and his mum, Shoheilia, produce burgers, wraps and coffee with a warm smile.

Australia_Ayla's Cafe Adelaide
© Ayla's Cafe
Persian New Year is celebrated at Ayla's Cafe with this dish of herbed rice, slow roasted salmon and fritters.

Impact on the community

Refugee cafes have a significant impact on both the people who run them and the communities they serve. These businesses provide job opportunities and a sense of purpose for refugees who might otherwise struggle to find employment in Australia. They also promote cultural understanding and social cohesion by bringing people from different backgrounds together through shared culinary experiences.

By supporting these cafes, we can make Australia a more inclusive and compassionate place. So next time you're looking for a quick bite, a cup of coffee or something more substantial, consider visiting a refugee-run cafe and enjoy the diverse cultural experiences they have to offer.

Have you seen our new cookbook, Flavours of Hope? It's filled with delicious recipes sourced from refugees around the world – including those who have found safety in Australia, and those who are still living as refugees far from home.

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