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Cafe of the Month: Mayan magic at Meriton

The very musical and flamboyant Roberto Orellana of the Mayan Cafe, situated at 32 Dank Street (corner of Dank and South Dowling streets) Waterloo, invites you to experience the most random colourful and cultural experience you'll find within our community writes Scott Winter in the South Sydney Herald of August 2008.


I stumbled across this really cool cafe/bistro one freezing-cold morning, and to my delight was spiced up by the wonderful introduction to the delicious and distinctive imported flavours and aromas of the smooth, creamy organic and non-colonialistic Mayan coffee. Roberto also introduced me to the different kinds of chilli and cinnamon-flavoured hot chocolate from the different regions of Guatemala.

While marvelling in the decorative coloured rugs, pan-pipe mountain music and cultural Guatemalan memorabilia, I couldn't help but notice the interesting homemade cake and dessert display. I also noticed the evening tapas menu and, as there was not time for breakfast  – I was in a rush – I made a quick essential dinner booking. I was advised by Roberto that the place fills quickly because of the wonderful live acoustic music that fills this amazing little hub of colour and culture.

We devoured a tapas starter of Chicken Mole, free-range Chicken in a Chilli and Cinnamon Chocolate Sauce (strange, but rich, savoury and delicious) with Sesame Seeds served inside Soft Corn Tortillas with Black Beans, Salsa, Guacomol with Green Leaves and soft cream Feta.

We were beside ourselves at the authenticity of the atmosphere, somewhat incongurous for the Meriton Estate. The main, Baked Fresh Groper Fillet Coated in Roasted Mote (Giant Inca Corn) in Lemon and Garlic Sauce and the other plate, Medallion of Beef Braised in Garlic served on a bed of Red and Black Beans with sliced Sweet Plantains and a Green Salad of Spinach Rocket and Sweet Potato.

Roberto told me over dessert of Baked Chocolate Flan and Orange Cream that:

"A percentage of every purchase made is donated to the Social Justice Program sponsored by the company. With support and consumption either by donation or purchase we provide the education programs to give the Mayans the necessary tools to shake off the status quo of poverty and disempowerment and help them regain their own destiny."

I left the Mayan merry and fulfilled, as well as culturally enriched from learning about the Mayan people who grow their coffee and live for their traditions, costumes, culture and language. The Mayan descendants of Guatemala have had a continuous 500 years of colonisation and exploitation which has left them in a situation of extreme poverty. With just one visit to Mayan you can can ensure that their dignity, culture and traditions can be preserved. (Mains average at $25. For more information visit .)

Source: South Sydney Herald August 2008