There's probably only one word I could use that would accurately sum up Juanita's bar in subiaco, Peculiar! It took us about 15 minutes to actually find the place, it's nestled into the back of a very fremantle-esque art supply shop on the Southern end of Rokeby Road. Unless you notice the small Sapporo beer sign out the front you'd probably walk straight past it, inappropriately cursing google maps under your breath for not knowing where the place is. The rack of garden seeds for sale out the front doesn't help identify it as a bar either.
After our third pass, we finally noticed a painted log in the window of an art store with Juanita's written on it. You have to walk through the arts store to get to the bar and once we got in I was quite surprised at how small the small bar actually was, especially when compared to other 'larger' small bars around Perth (Five Bar, Helvetica, The Stanley etc). Part of this is down to a poor use of space (over crowded with tables and chairs leaving virtually no standing area) but it's mostly due to the bar being situated within about 24 square meters of floor space. Disregarding the limited amount of space, it still has all your essentials, a place to sit, a bar with a couple of tap beers, a small kitchen and a swather of interesting art and other collectables scattered around the place, including a freaky looking forward leaning cardboard dude that will probably haunt my dreams for the next month or so.
We ordered a few beers and grabbed a table near the back of the bar. To be honest, when we first walked into the bar I thought we'd just stay for one and then be on our merry way, it had a very weird atmosphere and was a tad claustrophobic with a few groups of people occupying most of the tables. However the place grew on us, the longer we sat there it became less weird and more interesting, so we decided to order the only thing on the menu, a Juanita's platter, consisting of olives, grilled chorizo, a baguette, mozzarella and tomatoes, seasoned veggies and a Spanish omelette. It was really tasty and fantastic value at $16 per person. There was also an interesting selection of beers and wines on offer, including an IPA called Proper Job by St Austell Brewery, which had a great flavour to it.
Service in general was quite good, staff were friendly enough and made an effort to have a genuine conversation with their patrons. Value was also above average and all up 4 beers and the platter was less than $80. I can't quite put my thumb on it but there's definintely something odd about the place, not necessarily in a bad way but whether it's the arty-farty customers stopping in for a glass of wine after topping up their supply of oil based paints or all the paculiar paintings, sculptures and tid bits around the joint, it's definatley not your everyday small bar. It's like they had a small space in the back of an art shop and thought "hey we could probably bung a bar in here", then hired an interior designer, gave him a budget and a handful of LSD and said go for your life. In any case both the food and service was decent, so the next time I find myself in that part of Subi, I wouldn't have any reservations about returning for a quick beer and a lunch.