Perth and its surrounds really do have a lot to offer in terms of the hospitality scene. Fremantle is buzzing, Leederville pops off, Victoria Park is on fire, plus Maylands and Mount Lawley have become a bit of a hotspot too. Small bars in particular are on the rise in the ‘burbs and in the city too – so we’ve put together a list of our favourite small bars in Perth and beyond right now – take a look, and keep a weather eye for updates!
1. Gimlet, Fremantle
Just a short walk down the Henderson pedestrian walkway near the Fremantle Markets, stumble into Gimlet; a wee bar where attention to detail doesn’t go astray. With eight seats inside, and about the same outside, the limestone building is a little step back in time. Upon entry, panels slicked with brilliant blue welcome you in, along with gold detailing, a cosy stove fireplace, and rustic bits and bobs scattered around the intimate bar.
A brief history of Fremantle Prison and the Warders is printed high on the walls, paying homage to the building’s prior use and occupants. Head in for a curated cocktail with a focus on gin and aperitivo; sip along the cottage’s miniature patio in the sunshine, or a tasty nibble. Check out our guide for the best things to do in Fremantle if you’d like to discover more new small bars and old faithfuls in the seaside neighbourhood too.
Where: 19-29 Henderson St, Fremantle
2. Alfred’s Pizzeria & Small Bar, Perth
Follow the illuminated neon sign down the stairs and find yourself in the goth-hipster hideout that is Alfred’s. Unusual drinks from all over the world can be found within, with the likes of: passionfruit creamsicle craft beer; whiskey made with croissants, fruit danishes, and pain au chocolat; Munich dunkel-style lager; and a lengthy line-up of whiskeys. Gentrified Jesus paraphernalia loom over you as you gulp, as well as vintage photographs, records, and a bunch of quirky stickers too. And as a bonus, their pizza is excellent; cooking up what is said to be the ‘best vegan margarita pizza ever’.
Where: 37 Barrack St, Perth
3. Darling Darling, Fremantle
Off the beaten track on a residential side street in Fremantle lies Darling Darling. With beginnings as a passion project where a group of Freo mates hung out privately, they decided to turn their seafaring lair into a public bar. Through the animal hide curtains that block out the light of day, step into a candlelit bar complete with a fit-out which screams ‘below deck’. Think: thick ropes strewn across the walls, chesterfield couches, chain chandeliers, candles which appear as if they’ve been burning for decades, yesteryear anchors, as well as copper bar top.
Once your eyes adjust, spot olde worlde rum bottles, and an incredible antique cash register, then pull up at one of the wine barrels-turned-tables. Darling Darling’s themed cocktail menu enlists tipple with the likes of: the dark and stormy; salty dog; gold rush; Dutch East Indies tea; and of course, a decent rum list as well as options for ‘those in watch’. Sit back, enjoy the 40s blues tunes, and occasionally a ‘fiddler’ of a time on Sunday nights.
Where: 1/36 Henry St, Fremantle
4. Sneaky Tony’s, Northbridge
Blink and you’ll miss it. Tucked away down a dark Northbridge/Chinatown laneway hides Sneaky Tony’s. There’s no signage, no neon lights coercing you inside – just a plain old door where a password is required on Friday and Saturday nights to gain entry to the Prohibition-inspired speakeasy. Sneaky Tony’s specialises in rum, with over 300 bottles of international goods stacked high upon the shelving. The exposed red bricks and booth seating invite you within the walls of the hush-hush bar. Subtle nods to nautical oddments can be spotted around the joint, as well as a further hidden bar in the belly of the beast. It’s a chamber of secrets of sorts!
Check out our guide to the best things to do in Northbridge if you’re keen to discover more small bars and nightlife in the inner-city locale.
Where: 38 Roe St, Northbridge
5. Picabar, Perth Cultural Centre
The Perth Cultural Centre has a whole lot to offer – Art Gallery of WA, WA Museum Boola Bardip, and the State Library of WA, to name a few. And within the peaceful Northbridge hub sits Picabar; a rustic bar with high ceilings, and a courtyard concaved by a mammoth tree which offers a refuge from any roads or passerby’s. Find plentiful craft beers on tap, as well as a combination of artsy hipsters and city workers recouping with a pint on hand and a shoestring fry in the other, amidst the historic building which once housed the Perth Boys School of 1897. Find out more about the Perth Cultural Centre in Northbridge here.
Where: 51 James St, Northbridge (Perth Cultural Centre)
6. Volare, Maylands
Pop into Maylands’ Volare for flavoursome plates and quenching drops in their sunny courtyard or at the charming bar, perhaps even cosy up in one of the hand-stitched 1920s train seat booths. The day-to-late joint is your model neighbourhood wine bar and eatery paying homage to coastal cities of Europe, with Sardinia, Marseille, Amalfi, and Valencia in mind. The leafy, yesteryear space takes up the old Swallow Bar site on Whatley Crescent, and Volare has done a delicate job of preserving the 1920s art-deco characteristics with an elegant yet quaint flare.
Where: 198 Whatley Cres, Maylands
7. Testun, Mount Lawley
Plonked smack bang on Beaufort Street, Testun is a neo-Italian osteria located in Mount Lawley which exudes a mid-century-esque atmosphere where attention to detail does not go unnoticed. Testun quickly became a go-to spot for wine and fine, but casual dining. Offering a fare of bold flavour combinations, textures, and colours – Testun manages to remix classic Italian cuisine with familiar ingredients that radiate modernity.
Where: 12/760 Beaufort St, Mount Lawley
8. Vinotto Bar, Swanbourne
Vinotto Bar is the quintessential neighbourhood wine bar perched in sunny Swanbourne. It’s rustic, it doesn’t take bookings, it’s a pleasant 55-seater, and it has been well and truly pumping from the get-go. Vinotto is deliciously sunlit during the day and by night transforms into a low-lit hang-out with an elegance via a terrazzo countertop centrepiece. The split-level space means elite views into the bar’s kitchen garden and courtyard while you await your treats, with whiffs of flatbreads baked to order from the open, but tiny kitchen, accompanied by a plethora of European vinos.
Where: Lot 2/137 Claremont Cres, Swanbourne