This Greek and Italian stronghold is an excellent place to spend a night bar-hopping.

In the early 2000s, the main reason to visit Thornbury was dusty shops spruiking TV antennas, discounted shoes and second-hand whitegoods. Being that bit further out than Northcote, it took a while longer for gentrification to arrive.

Things began to change around 2010, when local Marco Finanzio opened the now classic Umberto Espresso Bar – a fitting bellwether for an area thousands of Greek and Italian immigrants have called home since the end of World War Two.

The stretch of High Street between Darebin Road and Dundas Street really exploded in 2014 with the opening of four new bars, including Finanzio’s second business, Joanie’s Baretto, and Carwyn Cellars, which we feel confident calling Melbourne’s best beer venue. With the later addition of Thornbury Picture House, this is now one of our favourite areas for a night out. It’s like a smaller, more relaxed Northcote, with much better carparking.

Thankfully, none of this has come at the expense of Thornbury’s previous character. Old social clubs such as Democritus House and House of Hercules are still going strong, and the wide, weatherboard-lined side streets still feel more suburban than developed. The few cafes that have opened are consistently down-to-earth and suit the relaxed landscape.


  • After years delivering lasagne around town in a ’91 Holden Barina, owner Joey Kellock moved into a former pizza shop and started serving up the goods to his legion of followers. Now you can order a side of salumi and a spritz to go with his famous, saucy slabs.

  • A Melbourne pizzeria veteran has swapped his woodfired oven for a cabinet smoker and flat-top griddle. On spongy house-made tortillas, he’s dishing out slow-cooked beef birria, cochinita pibil pork, and rolled and deep-fried tacos dorados stuffed with potato.

  • Farro is named after the Italian word for “spelt”, which underpins many dishes at this homely pizzeria and pasta house. Go for its Italian appetisers before feasting on homemade spelt pastas and woodfired pizzas. Its inclusive menu has plenty of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options, too.

  • From the outside, Northern Git might look like your average corner restaurant. But inside, it has all the offerings of a classic British pub. The Yorkshire-born owner-chef turns out pub classics like pork crackling, bubble and squeak, pies with mushy peas and gravy, and hearty Sunday roasts.

  • This Greek family’s popular souva mobile found a permanent home on High Street. Here, you can create your own Greek spread of stacked souvas, crispy pita, meat skewers and Greek salads generously topped with salty feta – all served on old-school enamel plates.

  • Kustom is one of Melbourne’s best takes on the American diner genre. Stop into this hot-rod-themed spot for burgers loaded with beef patties, buttermilk chicken, fried mushroom and more. Race electric slot cars or sip on an old-fashioned milkshake while you wait for your dinner.


  • A tribute to the owner’s Calabrian-born father, Umberto plates up cucina casalinga homestyle cooking and classic Italian aperitivi in a former shoe shop. It’s also home to Gigi, a rooftop bar where you can sip a Negroni with one-of-a-kind views.

  • At this dedicated house of Portuguese tarts, watch your “pastéis de nata” be made, then eat them fresh from the oven – flaky, silky and with a touch of cinnamon.

  • This is an expansion for one of Melbourne's most popular bakeries – tasked with alleviating the huge demand that the Northcote original generates. Come here for sourdough loaves; pork and fennel sausage rolls' and cheese-and-oregano pastries.

  • A neighbourhood specialty coffee shop and eatery in the backstreets of Thornbury.

  • This sunny Thornbury cafe marries flavours from Mexico and southern California.

  • This 130-seat space is full of warm hues and natural materials. Whether you're sitting on a sleek leather banquette or you've got a table in the large outside courtyard, there are no dud spots here. On the menu, you'll find a range of inventive Middle Eastern-inflected dishes, many of which showcase vegetables.

  • Take a seat in the front room if you want to enjoy the cafe's community spirit. Alternately, head to the leafy courtyard for some quiet.

  • A Thornbury cafe that epitomises the concept of a local haunt.

  • Jerry Joy believes eating out should be easy for everyone, whether you have a food allergy or a pram.

  • You didn’t get matcha pancakes and Wagyu brioche burgers in the ’70s.

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  • A spacious eatery with a wealth of breakfast and lunch options.


  • An all-vegan cosy local that’s committed to serving up affordable, plant-based dishes and wines. Go for its meat-free takes on pub classics, house-made gnocchi and small bites. Enjoy your meal and vegan vino at the bar, in a booth, or in the beer garden out the back.

  • Visit the Thornbury classic for coffee, cake and cards in the morning, or spritzes in the sunny beer garden in the afternoon. Plus, it makes one hell of an events space.

  • A friendly brewery and bar located in the industrial back streets.

  • Find easy-drinking cocktails, blistering pizzas and veteran hospitality at this neighbourly bar in a converted warehouse. Franklin’s has a 3am license, so there’s plenty of time to explore the selection of whiskies, cocktails and Victorian beers.

  • Cocktail hour, Italian style.

  • Pizza, side salads, beer and wine – this little corner bar keeps things delightfully simple. The pies here are basically Neapolitan, but go rogue with the toppings. Try one topped with honey-roasted garlic and rosemary, or slow-cooked lamb shoulder and goat’s curd.

  • A Greek neighbourhood bar inspired by yiayia’s house. Go for comforting home-style plates, including pickled calamari and gooey vegan moussaka, backed by a tight list of Greek beers and wines; stay for the retro setting and vibrant vibes.

  • Soak up the sunset above one of the city’s favourite (relocated) Italian restaurants, with a pina colada punch in one hand and a cheesy ‘nduja soldier in the other. And if you’re still hungry, you can always nip downstairs for a bowl of orecchiette with broccoli and anchovies.

  • Put your feet up at this dive bar that takes upcycling to the max and has a super-tight drinks list (that means no cocktails).

  • Competition is fierce, but we feel comfortable calling this the best beer bar in Melbourne.

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  • Pallino Bar & Bocce revives classic cocktails and a vintage sport in Thornbury.


  • A chef with Michelin-star pedigree is behind this oddball ice-creamery, where flavours like pistachio and chocolate are joined by soy sauce and milo. Plus, find vintage-style cakes with lemon meringue, fairy bread sprinkles and more.

  • This pasta shop and Italian grocer (from the team behind Umberto) is an impulse-buyer’s paradise. Watch chefs hand-make your pasta, then grab a ready-made sauce and bottle of vino to match.

  • A movie theatre and bar in a 1920s petrol station, with a local heart and serious personality.

  • A beautifully curated shop of rare books and small press.

  • From the duo behind North St Flowers.

  • New alternative rock records, plus turntable repairs.