Life may have looked a little different this year – but we still had to eat. And Perth’s restaurants, bars and cafes responded accordingly, continuing to pump out plenty of good stuff. These are our favourites – the dishes our editors, writers and photographers couldn’t get out of their minds.

The rules are simple: the venue had to have opened this year (or late ’19), with excellent takeaway offerings also getting a hall pass (because 2020).

Nasi babi guling, Warung Nasi Bali
I could have written an entirely sandwich-based best-of-2020 wrap – and I did – but (wo)man can not exist on bread alone. Or at least I can’t. Like most eaters of Asian heritage, rice remains my carb of choice. Of the many ways I got my RDI of rice this year, the nasi babi guling at this new Indonesian diner in Kenwick was my most memorable. It could have been not being able to get to Bali this year and eating the island’s most famous dish on Indonesian soil. It could have been the pleasure of discovering a tiny restaurant serving real-deal Balinese food in a low-key suburban shopping centre. Or it could just be that chef Made Arsana is a gifted pork-whisperer who makes every item on this heaping plate of piggy deliciousness count.
Max Veenhuyzen, editor-at-large

Pao de queijo, Neon Palms
The public’s obsession with the late Sizzler’s cheese toast is akin to the obsession I now have for Neon Palms’ chewy, cheesy pao de queijo. The promise of stringy, melted cheese and light, fluffy dough is enough to entice anyone down to this bright new Miami-themed bar in Northbridge. It’s essentially just a ball of baked tapioca dough filled with cheese, but there’s something so more-ish about the simplicity of this traditional Brazilian snack. Even the plating is kept low-key, served with just a few dollops of smooth cheese and guava sauce and a generous sprinkling of spring onions. It’s simple and tasty – an easy dish to snack on while exploring the bar’s colourful cocktail list.
Monique Ceccato, writer

The margherita pizza, Acqua e Sale
Some Italian restaurants specialise in pasta. Others concentrate on pizza. Promising North Perth newcomer Acqua e Sale excels at both. Earlier this year, I got all excited about chef Fabio Concas’s Sardinian pasta – in particular his toothsome gnochetti sardi – but our man’s pizza is just as worthy of praise. Thin and elegant – closer to the crisp Roman style than the puffy, high-crust Naples style – his pies are a worthy addition to best-pizza-in-Perth discussions.
Max Veenhuyzen, editor-at-large

Ricotta gnocchi, Post
Post’s handmade gnocchi is one of those Italian dishes I keep returning for. So, when the restaurant reopened in 2020 after a revamp, I was worried it wouldn’t be on the menu anymore. Luckily for me, it was – and just in time for truffle season, so I was able to add the truffle option on top. The gnocchi from Post is always so soft and light, and what I love about this dish is that there’s the perfect amount of mascarpone and parmesan, so the wild mushrooms aren’t overpowered.
Clare Ryan, writer

Pate en croute, Ethos Deli & Dining Room
Good pate en croute – chunky, country-style pate and jelly entombed in golden pastry – is one of life’s great culinary pleasures. The version made by Melissa Palinkas and co. at East Freo’s new NYC-inspired deli is a masterclass in nailing the basics. Porky, deeply flavoured and studded with a heroic amount of fat, this dish reminds us why French cooking is so highly regarded.
Max Veenhuyzen, editor-at-large

Za’atar fried chicken, Pogo
This Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant opened its doors in Mount Hawthorn just before the Covid-19 shutdown hit Perth, so the team had to quickly pivot to create a takeaway version of the menu. It’s a good thing they did, because chef Scott Brudger’s za’atar fried chicken got me through the lockdown (plus the months that followed). The combination of pickled cucumber and delicious Aleppo mayo with the fried chicken is simple yet exciting – and so more-ish.
Clare Ryan, writer

Tongue katsu sandwich, Modus Victoria Park
The tongue is delicately crumbed (with the right amount of chew and tenderness); the coleslaw is crisp and bright; and the white bread (sans crust) is perfect. No oiliness or dryness, just a surprising, fresh crunch. And it’s the right size to leave you wanting more. A perfect lunch.
Danica Zuks, photographer