Girl meets fun in westside story

From grunge to jazz, kitsch to genuine cool, Clara Iaccarino finds cafes and bars to suit.

Perth is a sleepy town. Laid-back, friendly and effortlessly cool, the westside capital is not renowned for its rollicking nightlife. But if you're prepared to explore, you'll find Perth boasts many exceptions to the rule, including a gloriously kitsch tiki bar, a 1960s nightclub complete with go-go girls and a late-night jazz diner, to name but a few.

Deville's Pad

Deville's is a flashback to the '60s, a tribute to Las Vegas supper club ostentation and, without a doubt, one of the sassiest clubs this side of New York.

Deville's Pad marries Addams Family ghoulishness with the sataniques go-go girls, an acrobatic swing dancing host and rockabilly DJs complete with swept hairdos and pointy shoes. The club is for over-25s only so there are no pre-teens and it's vintage vinyl all the way.

They serve a variety of drinks, including absinthe, "devilish" cocktails and exotic imported beers. The icing on the outlandish cave's cake is a smoking volcano in the middle of the dance floor watched over by busty devil- wench statuettes.

1/3 Aberdeen Street, Perth. Phone (08) 9225 6669. See devillespad.com.

Hawkers Cuisine

When you stumble upon Hawkers Cuisine in the back streets of Northbridge, beyond the sleazy bars and kebab shops, you feel as though you've been transported to the old world hutongs of Beijing.

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Popular with Perth's Asian community, Hawkers has become a well-loved haunt for those craving a bite in the wee hours. The large round tables with lazy Susans are hot property but a table on the outdoor deck is also prime real estate.

The food is traditional Malaysian and the scents from the kitchen and passing dishes will have you salivating. The salt and pepper squid is a house specialty as are the duck dishes and kopi - a Malaysian-style coffee that comes hot or iced.

Unit 17, 66 Roe Street, Northbridge. Phone (08) 9328 9668.

Hula Bula Bar

Perth's CBD is the world's most unlikely location for a tiki bar.

But Hula Bula Bar's shipwrecked creators have transformed an unassuming hole-in-the wall into a heaving Caribbean morass.

Hula Bula is a stroke of genius, complete with tropical island vista wallpaper, tribal masks, Hawaiian leis and sea-faring paraphernalia hanging from every nook and cranny.

House specialties come in large tiki mugs and the cocktail menu promises to "excite the hidden primitive within us all".

The creative team, with "Skipper" Josh Collins at the helm, is the very same crew responsible for Deville's Pad and it's clear these barflies know what it takes to make a watering hole both atmospheric and unique.

12 Victoria Avenue, Perth. Phone (08) 9225 4457. See hulabulabar.com.

Moon Cafe

There is so much to love about this art deco-styled diner, from the intimate booths to the Thursday night jazz band; from the mismatched clusters of furniture to the decadent chocolate pizza for dessert. It's difficult to know where to start.

A late-night favourite with the locals, Moon Cafe epitomises Perth's nonchalant cool. We visited on a Thursday and the regular jazz band, a quartet of boys who were as spunky as they were talented, had the crowd entranced. A popular spot to chill and chat until dawn, Moon Cafe has an air of bohemian charm and the chai tea is as delicious as the selection of locally-brewed ales.

Shop 2/323 William Street, corner Newcastle Street, Northbridge. Phone (08) 9328 7474. See themoon.com.au.

Mojo's Bar & Cafe

Mojo's is a Fremantle staple and one of Perth's best live music venues.

You're just as likely to groove to a psychedelic rock solo as you are to be seduced by a folksy harpist at the Monday open mic night with every night at Mojo's offering a diverse range of musical acts.

When we were in town, Holly Throsby was headlining on a Sunday.

It was the day after a very lively pirate-themed singalong.

For a break from the tunes, there's a ping-pong table and arcade games in the courtyard, inspirational graffiti on the ladies' loo walls and well-loved couches in the back corner. The bar staff never wipe the grins from their faces and the punters are as friendly as they are rowdy.

237 Queen Victoria Street, North Fremantle. Phone (08) 9430 4010. See mojosbar.com.au.

Little Creatures

Almost all Perthsiders include a Sunday session at Little Creatures brewery in their top five list of things to do on a westside tour.

Always heaving with a blend of Fremantle's boho-chic hipsters and buff surfer types fresh from the beach, Little Creatures is the ultimate spot to allow a late-afternoon sundowner to slip into an evening session.

Once the first Pipsqueak Cider touches your lips, there is no leaving your plush leather booth.

The staff is as grungy as they are affable and dreadlocks or funky hairstyles are par for the course, especially behind the bar where the tenders are primed for a quick toast and free sample of any brew.

The new Creatures Loft adds a performance space to the waterside brewery and it's worthwhile checking in for a dash of cabaret, lounge DJs or an oddball gypsy band.

40 Mews Road, Fremantle. Phone (08) 9430 5555. See littlecreatures.com.au.

Blue Room Bar

Perth's independent theatre scene is alive and well. Although many of the city's artists flee to the eastern states to hone their craft, many eventually return and Perth's collection of intimate performance spaces (and their onsite bars) house the boomerang talent in style.

The Blue Room has two small theatres and a gorgeously theatrical bar for pre- and post-show tipples. There's a balcony for smokers to use while watching the Northbridge parade wobbling off towards the neon strip and plenty of dark'n'cosy corners in which to download your theatrical evening.

The drinks are cheap , the cool jazz tunes flow and barman Pete is there for a chinwag, sending you into the evening with a wink.

53 James Street, Northbridge. Phone (08) 9227 7005. See blueroom.org.au.

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