First impressions are important, so finding delicious places to dine with visiting friends or family is a must. My travelling writer Martin recommends the following spots if you’re on the hunt…
1. El Publico, 511 Beaufort Street, Highgate
I entered expecting fiesta food in bar-style surroundings. I left after a Mexican medley of delicious dishes, light years removed from your everyday enchilada. The opening round of drinks suggested something a bit different; the “Charola de Michelada” (pictured above) sees a tin of Mexico’s Tecate served with salsa picante, ancho chile salt, lime and your pick of tequila or mezcal. That was a neat little novelty, but the food that followed was simply outstanding. Sweetcorn and asparagus side plates sang with fresh flavours. A platter of roasted meats was crowned by blush pink steak, and the chilli popcorn appetister was beer-snack perfection. After all that, we were treated to twodesserts. The first: fabulous frozen slabs of dark chocolate, chilli ,nuts and praline, so good they silenced our party. The second: sweetcorn ice-cream, which was different, subtle and massively moreish. The “Feed Me” menu is $39 per person, which is superb value for the quality and quantity of food. If you’re not usually a Mexi-fan, give this place a go and get back to me.
2. Angel Falls, Shop 16, Shafto Lane, 872 Hay Street, CBD
Shafto Lane houses numerous options that get busy of an evening, and this Venezualan outlet is no different. An open facade, live music and friendly staff mean it’s always well populated at dinner time. But as I recently discovered, Angel Falls also offers excellent breakfast potential. Luscious Latin American flavours can ensure you start the day the right way; if shredded beef with black beans sounds too heavy, try the soft sweetness of the “cachapas”. These corn pancakes are one of my favourite bites here, and at breakfast they arrive stuffed with tasty sauteed veg and feta. I added two poached eggs and the whole thing still came in at $16, decent value for a Saturday stop in the city. What’s more, kids can eat for free at brunch on weekends, leaving plenty of change for another round of coffee/some early afternoon cocktails. What’s not to like?
3. Sayers Sister, 236 Lake Street, Northbridge
This place is so good that it disrupts my usual expert ordering by overloading me with mouthwatering possibilities. I’m not even sure about my favourite part on one plate, though the buttery frittata might be the winner of the “full veggie” (see above). The bountiful breakfast menu offers something for everybody, and plenty you don’t often see before 11am. Like lamb and pearl barley salad, or a frankly mind-boggling array of rocky road, ice cream and other sweet treats (for breakfast!) As a hardline juice skeptic, I also had to bow to their zingy beetroot concoction, and that was before I’d locked eyes on the cakes. A sample square with my takeout coffee was the best caramel shortbread I’ve had in years, and that moment of melting joy almost had me yo-yoing back inside to buy some more/shake hands with the chef.
4. The Monk Brewery, 33 South Terrace, Fremantle
Stop for a drink at this spacious spot on Freo’s Cappuccino Strip, and you’ll likely find yourself raising a glass to the food. On our visit, we dipped into their “drink buddies” menu, which provides smaller – though still generous – portions to accompany your ale. While the choices don’t sound groundbreaking on paper, they were all beautifully put together. The corn pikelets were better than those I’ve had in dedicated South American restaurants, while the sticky ribs were dripping with flavour. Additionally, the American BBQ craze of the last few years means my tastebuds normally tune out when confronted with “pulled” animal flesh of any species, but Monk’s succulent beef buns bucked that boring trend. They also do a belting beer tasting paddle, but this place is worth a trip on tucker alone.
5. Sauma, 200 William Street, Northbridge
Simply put, this restaurant delivered some of the best food I’ve had in some time. Long tables make it ideal for sharing, and I’d suggest a team-based approach because it’ll allow you to try more of their delicious dishes. We worked through some of the tastiest chicken tikka I’ve ever had, along with perfect crumbed duck and three cracking curries. The vego option was fresh and fragrant, the tender goat stew was superb, and the butter chicken sauce was liquid lusciousness. After all that we couldn’t find any room for the tempting desserts, but it was a bonus to see India’s Amrut single malt whiskey on the menu; it’s very good but not always easy to find. Just another reason to step out of the noise of Northbridge and sample some “modern Indian street food”.