The Best Food, Shopping and Partying in Perth, Australia

Australia, Featured, Food & Wine, Parties, Festivals & Events, Restaurant Reviews, Wildlife & Animals — By on May 6, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Perth has never had the chance to shine like its sharply cosmopolitan brother Sydney, or its charmingly creative sister Melbourne. Yet, Western Australia has an appeal that is entirely its own. LG Asia-Pacific Editor Mary Tan uncovers the best of this underrated city down under. Here’s your guide to the best things to do in Perth.

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Best Food:

I loved Jus Burgers (http://jusburgers.com.au) in Subiaco for blasting Vampire Weekend overhead; the long narrow room crammed elbow-to-elbow with tables and the mad graffiti all along a wall; the friendly servers and the cute Colombian cashier and…what am I forgetting? Oh right, the food! Make no mistake, Jus Burgers isn’t some run-of-the-mill Hungry Jack competitor — they do serious food here. The thick, crusty onion rings have a real crunch and taste sweet and hot in the center, while the wide range of burger choices is enough to drive you insane. They may not have the same colossal proportions of say, Red Robin in the US, but the fat juicy patties clasped between magnificent toasted buns and dripping with flavours is more than enough to justify the AU$10-15 price tag. Even the vegetarian panko-crusted pumpkin burger infused with feta cheese was indulgent and more than satisfying. It explains the endless waiting line! My suggestion would be to grab your burgers to go, and enjoy them in the park.

Dim Sum at Dragon Palace, Northbridge

If these burgers sound a little too much for you, do not leave Perth without trying the dim sum (or yum cha) at Dragon Palace, Northbridge. While Perth’s idea of Chinatown is nothing more than a small block with a few Chinese restaurants and a karaoke joint, this large restaurant goes for the kill with full Chinese-inspired decor (think jade, dragons, live fish in tanks, brocade, all at the same time). Lunch is the time to be there, when waitresses pushing classic trolleys walk around the restaurant, stopping to let you retrieve baskets full of steamed dumplings, succulent meats and fried wraps. Wash it down with some white porridge and black tea before you hit the road again.

Dinner at Ciao Italia, Mill Point, Perth

Another unforgettable gastronomic experience can be found at Mill Point’s Ciao Italia, which resembles a true Italian trattoria in so many ways that you nearly forget you are in the middle of nowhere. The line outside the door should give you an indication of how busy this place is even on a weekday evening, and the crazed Italian man with a clipboard shouting out names and numbers at the entrance is slightly intimidating. Don’t let it put you off — if you want the most authentic Italian fare outside of Italy, here’s where you’ll get it. Owned and staffed entirely by Italians, this restaurant has brought the fantastic family-style Italian feeling to Perth with them. It is impossible to move without knocking the backs of chairs, and dishes are served large and piled high in a mess, but the drenched chili mussels, crispy pizza, al dente pasta and moist tiramisu more than make up for it. If anything, the rowdy atmosphere only adds to the fun of tucking into a gut-busting meal that is worth every cent. One thing to note? BYO only!

Best Shopping: Harbourtown (http://www.harbourtownperth.com.au)

There’s not much to be said about shopping in Perth other than this shouldn’t be your focus — malls aren’t exactly their strong point. Still, it shouldn’t surprise you altogether that the best shopping in Australia is discount shopping! Although it does not carry any major designer brands, it’s a good place to pick up some deeply discounted basics. While you can find the same goods at other malls downtown or in Garden City, Harbourtown is the most wallet-friendly.

Best Party: Metrocity (http://www.metrocity.com.au)

I did a few things to get into this club that I have never done anywhere else. 1) Stand in line. 2) Go through a metal detector and get frisked. 3) Pay cover charge. 4) Walked up 3 flights of stairs just to have a smoke. Was it worth it? I don’t know, but this is certainly the biggest club that Perth has to offer. Stacking up four levels and buzzing with (mostly Asian) people, the fell-good hip-hop and dance tunes were enough to keep us going, though getting drinks was a fairly time consuming process. A ‘text’ wall that is updated live as people text messages offer up priceless gems such as “so-and-so is a whore’ and ‘such-and-such, where are you? I’m going home now!’ for all to read.

Best Market: Fremantle (http://www.fremantlemarkets.com.au)

Over the weekend, cure your boredom at Fremantle (known affectionately to locals as ‘Fre-o’). The markets are open and always seem to be hustlin’-and-bustlin’, and crepes and ramen noodles are the best in town (there is a 2- hour waiting time for those noodles on the weekend!) While you wait for a new batch of ramen to be cooked up, catch local buskers appeal to your charitable side, or pick up a few trinkets in one of the many novelty stores. While you may not find anything particularly special here outside of the usual Australia t-shirt, boomerang, keychains and a few pretty candles, there is still enough to keep you occupied. On the weekday, this small town manages to turn up one or two pleasant surprises, such as the unassuming yet surprisingly well-stocked New Edition (http://www.newedition.com.au/home.php) bookstore, or the dainty boutique stores selling vintage clothes.

Best Beach: Rottnest Island (http://www.rottnestisland.com)

Yes, there’s Cottesloe and Scarborough and even a Coogee (vastly different from Sydney’s version), but Rottnest Island sweeps the rug out from underneath their sandy dunes. What it lacks in convenience, it more than makes up for in experience. Grab a ferry in the morning out of Fremantle (make sure you stick closely to departure times!) and spend the day on this gorgeous island. While it is a popular tourist and family destination, this should not put you off in the least as the beaches and surroundings oceans remain in pristine condition. Grab a map from the visitor center, hire a bike and a snorkeling set and you’re all set! Clearly marked biking trails will help you get around, but if you’re not the athletic type, then just hop on and off the shuttle buses that circle the perimeter of the island. Get your gear on and go snorkeling once you get to the bays! The beaches are relatively small here, but the clear blue waters and crystalline sands make it a hidden paradise.

Best Wildlife Experience: Caversham Wildlife Park (http://www.cavershamwildlife.com.au)

A pleasant 30 minute drive from Perth City brings you into this leafy green pasture filled with Australia’s favorite animals of all shapes, sizes and varieties. Whittle the day away with the lazy kangaroos, who have clearly grown accustomed to being fed, pampered and stroked by visitors, or wander around the park’s vast compound to catch sights of everything from squealing Tasmanian Devils to dozing koalas. The Farm Show is unmissable — learn to crack whip, figure out how sheepdogs do their jobs, watch firsthand how a sheep is (somewhat unglamorously) sheared, milk a cow and be entertained. Stand in line after that for the Wombat and Friends show, where you will get to ogle a blue-tongued lizard, a snoozing joey (baby kangaroo), a 28kg-wombat and other curious marsupials as they scuttle around their handlers. Definitely an educational experience!

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    7 Comments

  • The Dame says:

    Completely agree with this list! Glad to find travelers who dont hate this city cos its “boring”. I hated it for the first few months, and now I love it after living here for 2yrs.

  • No mention of Trig, Mullaz, Port beach… etc.
    And what of the boutique nightlife… just because Metros is the biggest, doesn’t mean its the best.

    Still, a good “come to Perth” article 😉

    We may be a bit on the quiet-side, but we make up for it with friendly and beautiful people.

  • ps. you made a typo in the post header

  • Jennifer says:

    Best Clubs in Perth:
    Club Bay View
    Club Red Sea
    The Leederville Hotel

  • Larry Jones says:

    Best school in Perth:
    Perth Language Institute

  • Jared says:

    Great list especially the shopping part; we always love to get our print tee’s from Harbourtown!

  • I do love the manner in which you have framed this challenge plus it really does give me personally a lot of fodder for consideration. On the other hand, from what I have personally seen, I basically hope as other responses stack on that people stay on point and don’t get started on a tirade associated with the news du jour. Still, thank you for this superb piece and whilst I can not really agree with the idea in totality, I respect your standpoint.