Flying interstate over the break? Broadsheet’s city cheat sheets cover everything from new players that live up to the hype to old favourites that continue to deliver. This is a hit list that’ll have you making the most of every minute in Perth.
If ocean views are a non-negotiable part of breakfast for you, place your trust in old favourites Il Lido in Cottesloe and Leighton’s Bib & Tucker to start your day right. Yes, you can go for a pre-brekkie swim. No, they won’t mind. (Both these addresses, incidentally, are worth visiting any time of day).
At Ethos Deli & Dining Room, the Young George celebrates all things New York deli. Drop by in the mornings during the week for knishes, cinnamon buns and other baked goods. Closer to lunchtime, hook into some of the city’s best deli-style sandwiches including an unmissable Coney Island hotdog. On weekends, optional free-flow Bloody Mary and Mimosa packages turn brunch into an occasion.
Staying on the good bread discussion, Perth is home to a pleasing number of quality-focused bakers. Miller & Baker, for instance, is one of the country’s few bakeries milling its own flour. Chu Bakery does a terrific range of French and Asian-leaning pastries: make like locals and take your baked goods across to Hyde Park for an impromptu picnic. In Cottesloe, the cinnamon buns at North Street Store live up to the hype, while Freo’s Wild Bakery is another strong endorsement for flour power.
Or maybe you need a dim sum fix, stat. Northbridge is Perth’s spiritual home for yum cha and eaters crowding pavements is a familiar site on weekends. Northbridge Chinese Restaurant opens earlier than most and its molten salted-egg-yolk-custard bun is the stuff of legend.
Lunch at Jarrahdale winery restaurant Millbrook might be a day trip, but gosh, what a day trip. Executive chef Guy Jeffreys splits his time between Millbrook and its Margaret River sister restaurant, Bunkers Beach House, and his successor, Jamie Hembrow, is doing a fine job tending Millbrook’s sprawling kitchen garden (the restaurant grows all of its own fruit and veg) and upholding Millbrook’s earthy, generous spirit.
In the city, Lalla Rookh is a welcoming presence throughout the day. Whether you book a table in the dining room for the full restaurant box and dice or drop into the dedicated wine store for an enoteca-style experience, chef Alexandra Haynes’s spirited Italian cooking is available throughout this sprawling underground space.
The burgers are better at Short Order Burger Co’s new Fremantle headquarters. Simon Kony’s grass-fed beef and crisp fried chicken burgers feature regularly in Perth’s best-burger discussions. Following the opening of his new licensed diner, guests can upsize their order with thoughtful local wines and a house lager from Rocky Ridge Brewing Co.
When it comes to Thai eating, David Thompson’s Long Chim remains one of the city’s best options and combines uncompromising Siamese flavours with great drinking. Pressed for time? Long Chim’s tuck shop offers som tum (green papaya salad), grilled chicken and other Thai street food favourites to-go.
Although Perth is blessed with plenty of Asian eating options, the hit-rate is especially good at the food court at Spencer Village. For more than 30 years, this suburban food court has been helping sate pangs of homesickness among immigrants, as well as cure sudden break outs of wanderlust among grounded travellers. Worth the trip for curious eaters.
In the market for fine dining? Two of the city’s flashiest restaurants happen to be attached to two of Perth’s flashiest hotels. Both also have a strong sense of place. At Hearth at the Ritz-Carlton pristine West Australian ingredients are thoughtfully cooked on the restaurant’s eponymous open-fire grill while a predominantly West Australian wine list chimes with this parochial theme. On the rooftop of Como The Treasury, Wildflower takes inspiration from the six seasons of the Nyoongar calendar and puts native ingredients such as peppermint gum, Geraldton wax and native basil front and centre.
Mirroring its national popularity, cucina Italiano remains one of Perth’s biggest food crushes. At Lulu La Delizia pasta whisperer Joel Valvasori-Pereza explores his family’s northern Italian roots with pleasing results. The arrival of chef Paul Bentley at Si Paradiso has elevated the Beaufort Street bar’s Italianate small plate to the same level as its renowned pizzas and good-time wine list. Another newcomer to watch is Mummucc, the small bar spin-off of Wembley’s glorious neighbourhood pizzeria Monsterella; still some of the finest pizza in the west, still ridiculously busy.
Late-night dining, it needs to be said, isn’t one of Perth’s strong suits, but a growing number of operators is catering to the post-midnight set. You can join the hospo crowd and wind down at Chinatown, or consider hitting up Alabama Song for late-night fried chicken, or try Yes Please Perth for burgers, gnocchi and other favourites. Outside of the city centre, hamburger spot Alfred’s Kitchen flips burgers till late on weekends.
Wines of While, it’s safe to say, is Perth’s busiest wine bar. We’re all obsessed with this enoteca’s all-natural wine list and comforting European cooking (pasta! White beans!), so much so that we’ll often get here in the afternoon to improve our chances of nabbing a table for the night. Visitors should follow suit. In Fremantle, Madalena’s is another wine bar doing lo-fi eating and drinking well. Add some imaginative seafood cooking by young gun chef Adam Rees and you’re looking at a compelling reason to set sail for South Fremantle at day’s end.
Otherwise, craft beer is front and centre at Petition Beer Corner at State Buildings, while the deck at Mechanics Institute remains the spot for snappy cocktails in the sun. Then there’s the meticulously restored The Royal, publican John Parker’s loving homage to the corner pubs of old.
Pre-dinner, post-dinner (and dinner if need be):
Thirsty? The wine lists at North Bird Wine Store, No Mafia and Wine Merchant (nee Petition Wine Corner) at State Buildings offer rich pickings. Should drinks turn into something more, all the above also do a fine line in wine-friendly eats.
Fittingly, most of Perth’s better late-night drinking options reside underground. Live jazz, oysters and Martinis make Poole’s Temple the luxe, interwar-era hotel bar of our dreams, while Goody Two’s takes its cues from the lively izakayas of Japan. Lucy’s Love Shack, meanwhile, is the place to go for late-night rock, and Foxtrot Unicorn – a self-confessed “bar about nothing” – turns up the fun at all hours.
The standard for coffee continues to rise out west. Among our favourite places to get our daily fix: Airy Ooh Coffee chimes with its boho North Freo address; Telegram Coffee at State Buildings effortlessly combines platinum chat and great coffee; as does [Bossman] in Mount Lawley (plus the latter also does a killer galaktoboureko, a Greek semolina cake filled with custard).
Four years and $400 million in the making, the new WA Museum Boola Bardip (“many voices” in Nyoongar, the Indigenous language of the south-west region) opened in November. It consists of eight permanent galleries and a 1000 square-metre temporary exhibition space, so the museum is the perfect vehicle for sharing stories from the state and beyond. Although general admission is free special exhibits and tours need to be booked.
William Street, Northbridge’s major artery, and its surrounds continue to offer visitors a mix of the inner-city suburb’s past and future. Go record shopping at Noise Pollution Records and Safari’s Record Shack; shop for continental goods and picnic supplies at European delis Kakula’s Brothers and The Re Store; and browse the racks of local boutiques including Mantle, purveyors of high-quality Perth-designed, Japanese-made garments.