Perth: A Local’s Night Out

Perth, Australia, today is very different from when I moved here five years ago. Back then, if you were to venture into the central business district after 6 p.m., you would find a ghost town. Despite being Australia’s fourth-largest city, Perth had the reputation of being “dullsville.” However, due to a booming economy and initiatives by the state government, the night life scene is now thriving.

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Greenhouse; photo courtesy of restaurant

A wide array of venues are all in walking distance from the CBD. You won’t have to catch a taxi or public transportation to have a great night out. If you’re like me, you can stumble home in the early morning hours, drunk and happy. I consider myself fortunate to live in a city that lets me do that.

Here are some favorite spots for a big night out for this regular Perth guy.

I like to start with dinner at Greenhouse, which aims for a carbon-neutral footprint through  its use of recycled materials in its construction -– the building is covered by a living wall of greenery –– and the sourcing of its produce from a rooftop garden.

It’s best to bring along at least one friend, to fully explore the range of small plates on the menu. I particularly like the spiced cauliflower, chicken liver pate and the chorizo and emu. Or I may stop by the Indi Bar & Bistro, one of Perth’s best-known live music venues and also a spot for a burger or pizza.

After dinner, I may be tempted by the well-mixed cocktails at Ezra Pound, one of the first of a new wave of “small bars” that began opening in 2009, or a glass of wine served in a science beaker at Bar Lafayette, but I’m almost always drawn to Frisk.

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Frisk; photo courtesy of restaurant

The latter is an unassuming small bar nestled on a side street in an area just north of the CBD. Frisk is a haven for gin lovers, with purportedly the widest selection of the stuff in Australia. But a visit here is as much about the cozy atmosphere and welcoming staff as its well-stocked bar. Wednesday nights are a particular treat, because bartenders serve up the most delicious espresso martinis for $10 Australian.

If I want to round out the evening with a bit of dancing, I will hit the floor at Mint in Northbridge. Although the interior décor is loud and the dancing pole in the back room a bit trashy, I love the atmosphere on Fridays for the ’80s and ’90s-theme “Club Retro” promotions.

On those nights, anyone who grew up during the era has the opportunity to dance and sing your heart out to the songs of your childhood –– and you won’t be alone either. I clearly remember a recent time when the whole club joined in for a round of karaoke to the Australian classic, You’re the Voice, by John Farnham.

Then it was clear Perth is no longer “dullsville.”