Sure, Fremantle is an easy day-trip from Perth, but a weekend (or longer) stay really is best to get a sense of the port city’s boho-cool spirit. Start your Freo adventure at these addresses.

EAT

La Cabana
It’s a vibe at this lively, dog-friendly taqueria, which flies the flag for bold Mexican eats and drinks in South Fremantle. While the offer of beer and tequila-powered cocktails chime with the Mexicana theme, chef Ben Foss’s Australian-flavoured accents steer the cuisine in a fun, new direction – tostadas freight ceviche, spiked with pepperberry; saltbush lends savour to mushroom tacos; and a Tijuana-inspired Caesar salad remake features smoked bush tomatoes. Arrive off-peak to maximise your chances of getting a seat.

Bread in Common
Is Bread in Common a bakery? Is it a restaurant? Is it a providore? Is it a cafe? However you pigeonhole it, one thing is certain: this converted warehouse has established itself as an essential part of Freo’s dining landscape. Dainty anchovy toast served with an eggy mayonnaise is the stuff of beer-and-wine snack dreams, while harissa-spiked cauliflower is typical of the kitchen’s winning ways with veg. As for drinks, expect a punchy selection of beer, cider, wine and aperitifs.

Ethos Deli
Young George owners Susan Whelan and Melissa Palinkas love New York institutions such as Katz Deli and Russ & Daughters, so when the opportunity arose to take over a space on East Freo’s bustling George Street in late 2020, the couple knew exactly what to open. Enter Ethos, a cosy, Eastern European-inspired delicatessen with a strong DIY focus, from the smallgoods in the continental roll, Coney Island hot dog and other sandwiches, to the takeaway knishes, terrine and other goodies on the counter. For those who aren’t clock-watching, the top-floor dining room is a fine setting in which to brunch.

DRINK

Hush Specialty Coffee
When the discussion turns to the port city’s best coffee, Hush frequently gets name-checked. The exposed brick and timber space with plenty of natural light is another draw, as is a menu that combines brunchtime staples – avocado toast, say – with luxurious creations in the vein of pavlova and French toast mash-ups. For those on the run, grab something from the cafe’s selection of sweet and savoury baked goods.

Republic of Fremantle
Once upon a time, distiller Ollie Kitson made gin at Sipsmith, the first copper-pot distillery to open in London in nearly two centuries. In 2019, he relocated to Freo to oversee production at Republic of Fremantle, another ambitious urban distillery and bar that distils its own base spirit out of wine. The results are expressive gins and vodkas that Republic of Fremantle bartenders deploy in classic and new-wave cocktails. The kitchen keeps time with a menu of small plates that ranges from charcuterie to crumpets crowned with smoked roe and crème fraiche.

DO

Take a trip through history at Fremantle Prison
Fremantle Prison has been, as its website says, welcoming guests since 1850. After more than 140 years of service, the maximum-security prison was decommissioned in 1991 in preparation for its next life as a singular tourist attraction – the prison is WA’s only World Heritage-listed building – and link to Fremantle’s convict era. Chatty guides share engaging yarns about the prison’s history, from life on the inside through to more recent initiatives, including the restoration of the prison’s former vegetable gardens.

Get a local’s perspective of Fremantle
There are tour guides, and then there are Fremantle Tours tour guides. Run by husband-and-wife team – and local residents – Michael and Lucy Deller, Fremantle Tours aims to show visitors lesser-seen sides of Freo. Tours channel the city’s rogue spirit and include street art walking tours, a beers and bikes tour, and vegan food tours. For those visiting during Dry July, the Dellers are also offering a non-alcoholic bar crawl reflecting the growing interest in non- and low-alcohol beverages.

STAY

Warders Hotel
History and modern-day comfort come together at Warders Hotel, an 11-room boutique hotel at the heritage-listed former warders’ cottages next to the Fremantle Markets. While many of the cottages’ original features have been retained (window frames, staircases), new additions such as marble bathrooms and in-room taps pouring still and sparkling water ensure guests enjoy a good night’s rest. In-house restaurant Emily Taylor and European-style bar Gimlet are also key components of the hotel’s unique style of hospitality.

Tradewinds Hotel
Built in 1897 and originally known as the Plympton Hotel, the Tradewinds Hotel is an ideal base for exploring the pleasures of East Freo. (The aforementioned Ethos, Young George and Duke of George all spring to mind). The hotel’s 83 smartly appointed rooms are comfortable and spacious while the in-house restaurant and bar offer views of the Swan River.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Tourism WA.