Handsome Her is an exciting all vegan cafe built on ethical & sustainable principles developed by Alex O’Brien. The establishment opened on 1stAugust 2017 and has been breaking boundaries with pioneering social ideas since.
It was an honour to interview Alex, who comes across as a real innovator and activist, even being involved with her local council at a grassroots level. The concept of Handsome Her is a community space; developed by the community, for the community. Alex explained that she tries to do everything collaboratively, such as the menu design, interior décor, cafe guidelines and choosing the name.
There are 2 rules written on a blackboard at the front of the café. Rule 1) Women receive priority seating; and Rule 2) Men are asked to contribute a 15% surcharge (non-compulsory) to cover the gender pay gap, which is then donated to a charity. She explained that she wanted to create a safe space for women to congregate and become involved in activism or community projects. She felt there weren’t any prior spaces on Sydney rd where women could gather and network. There are also no paper coffee cups. Instead, there is an impressive wall of colourful mugs, on which to choose from and borrow from the café for a $4 deposit.
Alex explained that she has been vegan for several years now after a trip to Mongolia, a place which is extremely dominated by meat, and further conducting her own research into genetic and evolutionary human diets.
The menu is entirely vegan and full of Aussie brunch classics, with an Asian twist. She remarked that she loves Asian cuisine because she spent lots of time traveling throughout Asia and even lived in Cambodia for a while. She further believes that Asian cuisine has a lot of diversity in food and flavours for vegan diets.
Popular dishes include the Aasma Jahangir (Pulled Jackfruit Bahn Mi), Frida Kahlo (cheese & bacon bagel), Angela Davies (Breakfast burger), and Lidia Thorpe (Beetroot French toast), which all average around $20 each meal. There are also plenty of gluten-free options for those who are gluten-free.
Visually the meals look like vibrant paintings and display an array of colours. The meals come with various sauces and different soft and crunchy textures.
Our favourites were probably the Angela Davies (Breakfast Burger) and the Frida Kahlo (cheese & bacon bagel). We loved the crispy smoked bacon in the burger and the circle of edamame beans surrounding the bagel, which explode with juice in your mouth when you bite into them! Next time, however, I would definitely love to try the French toast!
Another unique element of this café is the range of coffee alternatives such as taro, charcoal and turmeric latte. We tried the taro latte, which I would strongly recommend!!! It had a warm sweet taste, which reminded me of my mother’s (who is from Malaysia) desserts!
All in all, Handsome Her is definitely more than just a regular ordinary café, but it is also a plant-based, ethical & sustainable hub for the community to congregate and exchange knowledge and ideas. It is a place where you can go to feel welcomed and feel like you are a part of a broader community.