Just Open: Chato, Thornbury

Chato tapas bar in Thornbury.
Chato tapas bar in Thornbury. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

On-the-up "Thornbury Heights" has just scored a warm dose of Latin love in the form of friendly Spanish newcomer, Chato – a neighbourhood cafe and tapas bar with one eye on Spain and the other on all things local.

Joining High Street neighbours Umberto Espresso, Little Henri and Pallino​ on the increasingly happening strip, the seven-day operation is the baby of Preston locals, Madrid-born Maria Echevarria-Lang (a co-founder and former chef at Caffe e Cucina) and her partner, Jenny.

Featuring exposed brick, rustic timber and Spanish-inspired wall tiles, the interiors come via Northcote architect Kalliopi  Vakras, while produce is largely sourced from folks in the immediate neighbourhood (coffee roasted in Reservoir, organic meats from a Thornbury butcher).

Carmen Sevilla: baguette slices rubbed with tomato and olive oil, topped with manchego and jamon.
Carmen Sevilla: baguette slices rubbed with tomato and olive oil, topped with manchego and jamon. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

Breakfast offers a mix of Iberian-traditional and classic Aussie-cafe fare, which means that, depending on your mood, you can opt for the likes of almond-coconut Bircher muesli or the Carmen Sevilla – toasted baguette slices rubbed with fresh tomato and olive oil, topped with sliced manchego and serrano ham.

At night the menu goes full Espanol; think share-friendly tapas and bigger raciones such as the flamenca – a rich tomato and chorizo ragu with quail egg and crisp serrano ham.

The liquor licence is still pending but wines will be a 50/50 split of locals and Iberian imports. The bar will likely make a great spot for solo diners and the odd sneaky vermouth, too.

Fideua with fish, mussels and prawns.
Fideua with fish, mussels and prawns. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

Open daily 8am-3pm & Thu-Sat 5-10pm.

Chato, 921 High Street, Thornbury, 9484 8554, chato.com.au