The West has had a dalliance with small bars in recent years but there’s nothing like an iconic pub to settle into on long afternoons and lazy evenings. Here we wrap some of the state’s top public houses, from seaside institutions to regional stalwarts. Put them on your hit list.
Quarter Acre Hotel
Quarter Acre isn’t an edgy pub, more one with a strong sense of community that grounds it in its suburban locale. Drinks cater to the crowds, with fruit-driven cocktails matching the sunny setting, a WA-led wine list with house white and red from Vasse Felix, and beer leaning into craft locals. Food elevates classics, from tacos and burgers, through to crackly Berkshire porchetta that takes the pub roast up a notch. And how many other pubs in Applecross collaborate with Eagle Bay Brewing? All told, not quite your average watering hole.
767 Canning Highway, Applecross, quarteracrehotel.com.au
The Tav embodies so much about Margaret River across its laid-back but well-ordered service, sports and public bar at the front and bistro in the back. It’s an undisputed go-to for solid pub classics (parmies, burgers, line-caught fish) while the specials menu carries what’s in the smoker – brisket or lamb ribs, say. But it’s the broad wine cellar that has put Settlers Tavern on the map nationally, with a wine list that kicks city heavy-hitters into touch. A benchmark list, refreshingly free of any wine doublespeak, it’s the winemaker’s choice for a good time, and an essential pit-stop.
114 Bussell Highway, Margaret River, settlerstavern.com
When the clock strikes five, office workers descend on this gastropub for a well-earned drink and, perhaps, an Angus beef and bacon burger when several Gage Road Single Fin Summer Ales bring on a hunger later. The West Perth hangout is equally busy on Saturdays as groups of friends and family gather to celebrate. So far so standard on the pub front, but open sommelier Foni Pollitt’s wine list and things get serious, with 29 pages covering growing regions from WA all the way to Georgia. She and husband Chris are just as discerning in sourcing seasonal produce, with particular emphasis on meat – see the Amelia Park lamb shoulder for two with all the trimmings. They’re standouts on a vast menu that covers classics as well as more refined fare, while the setting – featuring a handsome bar, pressed-tin ceilings and bentwood chairs – keeps things polished. Lucky us to have it all right here.
72 Outram Street, West Perth, mayfairlane.com.au
The best gastropubs work hard to deliver the simple. No need to know that The Royal’s octopus has been meticulously sourced from Abrolhos Island, cooked sous-vide to impart tenderness, then glazed with teriyaki and finished with nori, sesame, chive and spring-onion oil to know it’s delicious. The Royal Burger? A toasted brioche bun squished around a heavily charred wagyu patty, a cheddar crust and kicking house pickles. But it’s the bits around the edges that make this CBD redevelopment soar. The multi-million dollar fit-out has been designed to hold various levels of interest (karaoke anyone?), regular specials keep Chase Weber’s kitchen moving, and the expansive tap program accommodates all craft-beer tastes.
531 Wellington St, Perth, theroyalhotelperth.com.au
Steves, like the students who guzzled Swan Lager in the outdoor bar back in the ’70s, is all grown up. Today, you’ll still find those former students on the front terrace, but they’re sitting under Pol Roger umbrellas and sipping elegant wines, courtesy of vigneron and publican owner Murray McHenry. Call it a pub? With scallop sang choi bau, pristine oysters and elegant wines lining the walls, it’d sit comfortably as a restaurant any day.
30 The Avenue, Nedlands, steves.com.au
There’s something quite special about eating a Fremantle sardine just a stone’s throw away from where it was once swimming. That’s just one of the many reasons the Norfolk’s courtyard, dating back to 1887, is constantly heaving with contented regulars. Some others? The food coming out of the resident smoker, the wall of spirits and the impressive craft beer line up, for starters. At the top of the list, though, is that above all this remains a quintessential Freo experience.
47 South Tce, Fremantle, norfolkhotel.com.au
The Elford Hotel
Previously known as The Flying Scotsman, this Art Deco icon recently ditched its kilt and daggy carpet to transform into the bright, breezy and ultra on-trend The Elford. Some regular barflies said “no way”, but have grudgingly agreed that this sleek newcomer to the Three Pound Group stable is a vast improvement on its predecessor, with food and drink to match.
639 Beaufort St, Mount Lawley, theelfordhotel.com.au
The Cottesloe Beach Hotel
The Cott is all to do with the verandah bar, sunsets over the Indian Ocean, ice-cold beer, the crowds and live music paying tribute to the good old Sunday sesh. Many are drawn in by the prospect of enjoying oysters with mignonette and a glass of bubbles with a view, but don’t underestimate the cocktails, stellar wines or the wide range of brews.
104 Marine Pde, Cottesloe, cottesloebeachhotel.com.au
Twenty years ago, the Brissie was one of the first old corner pubs in Perth to welcome a new generation into its newly renovated setting. Two decades on, and with new owners – the Prendiville Group – the tropical beer garden is still filled with office workers who share lamb ribs, house-made sausage rolls and pork croquettes on sunny afternoons while downing cheeky tap beers. Inside, a sleek interior often hums with punters enjoying trivia and comedy nights.
292 Beaufort Street, Perth, thebrisbanehotel.com.au
The Subiaco Hotel
A grand old lady who deserves a bit of respect – after all, The Subi has been pouring pints for thirsty timber workers since when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Not that today’s punters cramming into the recently refurbished confines give a toss about that. But they’re happy to soak up the soul of the place, and sate themselves with chicken schnitzels, steak sandwiches and any number of fashion-forward drinks while they do it.
465 Hay St, Subiaco, subiacohotel.com.au
The National Hotel
Freo is known for its famous doctor that breezes through the port city like clockwork every afternoon, and on a hot day there’s nowhere better to feel its charms than the rooftop at the National. With 360-degree views to Rotto and one of 30 taps of draught beer in hand, it’s the consummate mix. Downstairs there’s all-day dining and a widely spanning cocktail list. Just what the doctor ordered.
98 High Street, Fremantle, nationalhotelfremantle.com.au
The Guildford Hotel
This majestic old favourite enjoyed a huge makeover in 2016, and punters have been celebrating ever since – enjoying post-work drinks on the wide terrace, feasts in the courtyard or sipping a quiet tipple in hidden nooks upstairs. The Guildford oozes charm, all while promoting bounteous produce and wines from nearby Swan Valley. Don’t leave without checking out the smoker, either.
159 James St, Guildford, theguildfordhotel.