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.

Restaurants

Kustom Burgers

Restaurant

Race electric slot cars while you wait for your burger.

The Moor's Head Thornbury

Restaurant

Break away from the traditional with Lebanese pizza.

Greek Street Food

Restaurant

A family-owned souva mobile’s permanent home.

Pizza Farro

Restaurant

A homely pizzeria furnished with collected sentimentality.

Il Pizzaiolo

Restaurant

Take a bite of Naples at this traditional pizzeria in Thornbury.

Som Tam

Restaurant

Colourful, flavourful authentic Thai cuisine.

Cafes

Little Tienda

Cafe

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

Umberto Espresso Bar

Cafe

A tiny espresso bar serving hearty Italian fare with a warm, local feel.

Rat the Cafe

Cafe

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

Brother Alec

Cafe

A relaxed owner-run cafe.

Ampersand Coffee and Food

Cafe

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.

Northern Soul

Cafe

A down to earth cafe at the Thornbury end of High Street.

Bars

Nasty's

Bar

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).

Carwyn Cellars

Bar

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

Wolf and Swill

Bar

Pizza, beer and not much more – this little corner bar keeps things delightfully simple.

Joanie's Baretto

Bar

Cocktail hour, Italian style.

Pallino Bar & Bocce

Bar

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

3 Ravens

Bar

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

Shops

Kenny Lover

Shop

A chef with Michelin-star pedigree is behind this oddball ice-creamery, where favourites such as pistachio and chocolate are joined by scoops flavoured with soy sauce, yuzu and sake, and olives and white chocolate. Plus, there’s hot chips for dipping.

Thornbury Picture House

Shop

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

Perimeter Books

Shop

A beautifully curated shop of rare books and small press.

North St Botanical

Shop

From the duo behind North St Flowers.

Thornbury Records

Shop

New alternative rock records, plus turntable repairs.