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).
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.
Open daily 8am-3pm & Thu-Sat 5-10pm.
Chato, 921 High Street, Thornbury, 9484 8554, chato.com.au