Perth’s cafes and restaurants offer much to savour if you’re looking to eat well for less: whether it’s deli sandwiches, small plates, Asian classics or street food, there’s a spot for you
A top-notch craft beer selection and a menu stretching from light bites to hefty plates is a dangerous proposition. Lunches here are invariably leisurely. A mix of influences put a pulled pork Bahn Mi (A$13, £7.15) alongside the Reuben sandwich (A$17, £9.30), built with a crunchy round of rye toast, pastrami, Swiss cheese and house-made sauerkraut. It’s worth checking out the nightly food and drink combos: slow-roasted pork belly and a Stowford press cider at A$22 (£12) is one example of the good value deals.
• 560 Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, +61 8 4675 34267, fivebar.com.au. Open Mon-Sat midday-midnight, Sun (and public holidays) midday-10pm. Sandwiches from A$12, £6.60
A true Perth legend, Alfred’s is Western Australia’s oldest roadside kitchen, flipping burgers since 1946. The Alfred Special (A$10.80, £5.90) is the go-to on a huge menu. Layered and laden, it’s a burger-come-club sandwich. Beef patty, bacon, egg and cheese with gherkin, tomato and lettuce, sandwiched between toasted rounds. Cooler nights call for a spot by the open log fire – and pea and ham soup (A$4, £2.20 small, A$6, £3.30 large). Made from scratch each day the soup has taken on its own legendary status, ladelled from huge pots on top of a woodfired stove.
• Corner of Meadow and James 98 James Street, Guildford, +61 8 9377 1378, alfredskitchen.com/au. Open Sun-Wed 5pm-midnight, Thurs 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-3am. Burgers from A$7.20, £3.90
Swallow Bar exudes a Parisian charm without erring towards parody. Railway carriage booths in the long, thin front bar lead to an open-air yard. At heart it’s a local, where owners Meredith Bastian and Zoe Roy tend to bar and kitchen. They’ve taken their experience of stints at notable Melbourne establishments and created a place where eating and drinking flow through the night. Small plates here are a wonder: pissaladière en croûte (A$12, £6.60) with salty Ortiz anchovy, sweet onion and tomato; truffled leek and Gruyere croquettes (A$10, £5.50), a crisp shell with gooey centre. A large serving of spiced, roasted cauliflower (A$14, £7.70) with buttered almonds and lemon confit yoghurt leaves you wondering why childhood cauliflower was always so bad.
• 198 Whatley Crescent, Maylands, +61 8 9272 4428, swallowbar.com.au. Open Wed 5pm-10pm, Thurs 5pm-11pm, Fri 4pm-midnight, Sat 4pm-11pm, Sun 3pm-9pm. Plates from around A$10, £5.50
On a once-deserted laneway, Toastface is part of a growing movement of urban reactivation where laneways to disused department stores are repurposed and revitalised. Toasties conjure up thoughts of student house-shares and a fridge buffet of bread that’s seen better days, but here they redefine grilled cheese with a “quasi-gourmet” edge. Flip open the box, each with its own biro scrawled illustration, and any thoughts of own-brand beans and cheddar are dismissed. Pear Grillz (A$9, $4.95) marries blue cheese, pear and lime chutney in an usual combo that hits the mark. Danny Zuccho (also A$9) with brie, marinated zucchini and jamon has an ooze that is sheer #foodporn.
• Grand Lane, Corner of Wellington Street and Barrack Street, no phone, toastfacegrillah.com. Open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm, Sat 9am-4pm. Toasties from A$5, £2.75
New York comparisons are often a stretch but with Ace Pizza’s laid-back style and hip charm you could easily be in Williamsburg. It’s feted by critics and locals alike, as much for the “things from the kitchen” as for the “ace pizza”. The Fried mac ‘n’ cheese (A$7, £3.85) is a winner too, and for the nose-to-tail devotee, the pig’s head and witlof (chicory, A$14, £7.70) is memorable. These plates compete with the woodfired pizza, which anywhere else would be the standout. Averaging about $20 each they are at the higher end for a budget wallet; sharing lightens the bill.
• 448 Beaufort Street, Highgate, +61 4 9944 8000, acepizza.com.au. Open daily 5.30pm till late. Pizzas from A$17, £9.30
Despite year-round sunshine, street food has taken a while to find its feet in Perth. The Hawkers night market has turned Forrest Place, once deserted on Friday nights, into a bustling market. South American flavour prevails with Marcelitas Empanada serving the Colombian staples; Comida do Sul dishing up a hearty serving of prato feito (rump steak, black beans, rice, kale, salsa, farofa and cassava) and for the committed carnivore El Asador tend smoky grills. This is a true Argentinian experience, with a hunk of beef rib and a liberal dollop of chimichurri. But it’s not just the night market; regular pitches are popping up around Perth from the Cultural Centre, and Curtin University Campus (Park’d collective) to Bathers Beach and Leighton Beach in Fremantle.
• Hawkers Night Market runs until late April
Good Fortune Roast Duck House
A Northbridge institution, Good Fortune is a celebration of peking duck. Glistening rows hang in the window, a siren call for lovers of crisp skin and moist meat. It’s a basic no-frills setup, the hallmark of many of the restaurants on a street known for good food at budget prices. Lunch is a mix of basic dishes: roast duck with rice (A$11.50, £6.30), BBQ pork noodle soup (also A$11.50). Dinner starts with a plate of peking duck (five pieces). Served on pancakes, with spring onion, cucumber and hoi sin sauce it’s A$19 (£10.40). This may seem barely in budget realms but in a group, with shared dishes among the table, dinner comes out at A$20-A$25 a head (£10.95-£13.65).
• 344 William Street, Northbridge, +61 8 9228 3293, goodfortuneduckhouse.com.au. Open Wed-Mon 10am-10pm.
While nearby Northbridge is known as a hub for cheap Vietnamese joints, Mama Tran is just the other side of the tracks. It caters to the city’s office crowd but is no less authentic. The restorative effects of a hot bowl of pho is a secret that’s obviously out. Lunchtimes see tables fill fast and queues snake towards the door. The wait isn’t long and the reward is worth it. Banh mi thit (A$8, £4.40) rolls are the best around, with no skimping on the all-important pork. Pho tai (A$12, £6.60), fresh and fragrant, with ample accompanying mint, beansprouts and chilli will have you happily inhaling lunch.
• Shop 6, 36-40 Milligan Street, +61 8 9481 6688, mamatran.com.au. Open Mon-Fri 7.30am-4pm, also Thurs-Fri 5.30pm-9pm. Prices from A$8, £4.40
Perth City Farm sits on former industrial land. Twenty years on and it’s a thriving urban farm that hosts a weekend farmers’ market, yoga classes and a low-key cafe. An ideal breakfast spot, serving six days a week, it’s easily accessible by the free Yellow Cat bus or from Claisebrook railway station. The menu is free-range, freshly prepared, with gluten- free options. Smashed avocado on toast with a side of bacon and poached egg is the ideal weekend start, while weekdays call for simpler boiled egg and soldiers or toast and preserves.
• 1 City Farm Place, East Perth, +61 4 1859 4408, perthcityfarm.org.au. Open Mon-Fri 7am-3pm, Sat 7am-midday. Breakfast A$6-A$20.50 (£3.30-£11.20)
With an influx of small bars, restaurants, coffee shops and arts spaces, Northbridge has gained renewed energy in recent years. But the old stalwarts thankfully remain. Re Store, a continental store and deli, started trading in 1936. It’s still the link for many to their heritage, whether generations removed from Europe or not. The counter at the rear serves coffee and filled rolls (from around A$7, £3.85) to order. Quality cured meats, cheeses, fresh vegetables with bite or marinated peppers and artichokes allow you to build a pleasingly hefty sandwich that could double as dinner. There’s no electronic blip as ingredients are added to a till; it’s just old-school workings scribbled on sandwich paper.
• 72 Lake Street, Northbridge, +61 8 9328 1032, no website. Open Mon-Fri 8am-5.30pm, Sat 8am-12.30pm