These are the dishes our editors, writers and photographers couldn’t get out of their minds. While the rules would usually stipulate venues that opened this year, this is not a normal year. And we all know good eating isn’t limited to the new and shiny. Here’s what we loved this year.

Zucchini bread with tomato salad, The Humble Onion
News that Caitlin Johnston and Chris Howard are calling time on their CBD eatery this week is a blow for the CBD’s food scene, at least for those who like the idea of a couple bringing fine dining-esque rigour to a casual cafe-style setting. Of the many tasty things eaten at 100 St Georges Terrace this year – the pillowy focaccia, the brilliant house charcuterie, the crab quiche! – this vego number starring Warren Grange tomatoes piled on a crumbly cornbread facsimile won’t easily be forgotten. File under “brunchtime eating of a higher order”.
- Max Veenhuyzen, Perth editor-at-large

Mortadella, ‘nduja and pineapple pizza, Si Paradiso
Pineapple on pizza is a contentious subject. But any naysayer is likely to eat their words, and then another slice and another, after sampling this glorious creation. The king of deli meats – layered slices of mortadella, superbly filling the role of ham here – is paired with house-made ‘nduja, black pepper and chilli and lifted with a fresh burst of the tropical fruit in the perfect riff on the Hawaiian pizza. Paired with a bottle of skinsy Sicilian wine by Occhipinti and good company and this was a Perth dining moment that won’t be quickly forgotten.
- Daniela Frangos, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane editor

Ceviche tostadas, La Cabana
Too many places in Perth claim to do Mexican but Ben Fossilo got it right with his bar and taqueria in South Freo. It doesn't matter that La Cabana has been around for almost two years now – I still can't get enough of its fresh ceviche tostadas. The raw local catch of the day, delicately cubed, served with green apple, onion, creamy coconut, guac, zesty lime, and smoky chipotle piled on top of a crisp, warm tortilla always goes down a treat post-swim. Combine with a hit of aged tequila, or the sweet and smoky flavour of the mezcal-based cocktails, and I could be back under the swaying palms of that balmy little jungle bar in Tulum from four-and-a-bit years ago.
- Bonita Grima, writer

Nasi Bali, Suku
Why does the nasi Bali – a plate of white rice starring shredded Balinese-style chicken, ayam sisit and other regional dishes and condiments – at Suku hit so hard? Is it because this is the time of year where Perth folk would traditionally fly to Denpasar in the name of R&R? Maybe it’s because team Suku’s new digs in Freo bring a certain je nais se quois to things? Or maybe it’s because Ria Zulkarnaen and Nick Mailenzun sweat the details of all the elements that make up Suku’s signature dish, from the sweet spice of the island’s famous chilli and red onion relish, sambal matah, to the crunch of the kulit ayam (fried chicken skin) sprinkled on the rice.
- Max Veenhuyzen, Perth editor-at-large

Breakfast gnocchi, Holly Raye’s
Whenever I head home to Perth (I live in Melbourne, hiss), my twin sister and I make a beeline for Bassendean’s brunch hub, Holly Raye’s. We love everything about this place – the friendly service, nostalgic decor, top-notch food and coffee – and have been going since it opened six-ish years ago. This visit I went for the hangover-friendly breakfast gnocchi – and can I just tell you, it snapped me right out of my wine-blues. Bacon, mushrooms, sage, thyme butter and a fried egg. Yes. Good. Next time I’m allowed in town, I’ve got my eye on the dahl with coconut chilli eggs.
- Louise Baxter, subeditor

No-Waste Monday, Millbrook Winery
This last supper at Millbrook in June – just hours before Perth’s lockdown was announced – almost made my two weeks of home quarantine in Adelaide worth it. Inventive share plates. A zero-waste and – at $50 per person – affordable menu. And, most importantly, deeply delicious food. Millbrook Winery’s No-Waste Monday, which uses up leftover produce from the Millbrook garden, is a masterful solution to avoiding waste in the kitchen. (Why aren’t other restaurants doing this?) On the day I was there, garden greens were paired with kingfish “bacon” and poached cod in a very, very good buttery sauce. Garden carrots and brassicas joined creamy polenta and Wagyu brisket in a bowl of winter comfort. And leftover sourdough was turned into bread-and-butter pudding served with ice-cream made from cottage cheese whey. As far as last suppers go, this one was pretty perfect.
- Daniela Frangos, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane editor

Sriracha and garlic cauliflower, Kitsch
For me, 2021 was the year of Kitsch. The Asian-inspired restaurant came back onto my radar during lockdowns because of its extensive takeaway menu, and the love affair has continued throughout the whole year – I order so much takeaway that they know me by name. While many restaurants come and go in Leederville, Kitsch has remained solid. From the menu, the Sriracha and garlic cauliflower is a standout. Even though the dish is vegan, its creamy, rich sauce gets my tastebuds excited. The soft cauliflower, potatoes, cashews and edamame are all drowning in the sauce, and I’m ok with that. It’s the combination of textures and crunch that creates the perfect flavour-filled bite. Soak it all up with a little jasmine rice and you’re in spicy heaven.
- Clare Ryan, writer

All the sandwiches
Even after last year’s sandwich bonzanza, 2021 had much to offer eaters. Among my stand-outs: the straight-shooting chicken schnitzel number from Peggy’s, the chicken-fried pork sandwich at Ethos, and the Mexican-inspired steak torta at El Grotto.
- Max Veenhuyzen, Perth editor-at-large

Prawn Toast, Fleur at the Royal
The best thing I ate in 2021 was Fleur’s indulgent take on the classic prawn toast, with WA scallop and prawn. Sweet and crunchy, with a freshness from the mint and coriander. It’s just a really fun bar snack.
- Danica Zuks, photographer

The everything, Private Nyonya Supper Club
Is a food writer singling out a meal at an unbookable, word-of-mouth-only supper club a bit of a jerk thing to do? Probably, and for that I’m sorry. But I bring up this clandestine dinner to underscore that, as interesting as these end-of-year lists might be, the foundations of a meal-to-remember are well within everyone’s grasp: get together a group of people you like, ask everyone to carve out time in their diaries so they can really be present, and enjoy the pleasures of the shared table (or picnic rug, or car bonnet or any other gathering point where you can serve food and drink). While bringing together the inner circle is always nice, it’s equally important to – when appropriate – open up that circle and invite new people into the fold. Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and safe holiday. See you in 2022.
- Max Veenhuyzen, Perth editor-at-large