At any time of day or night, Northcote is a bustling hub for anyone looking for a great place to eat, shop or find some after-dark fun.

There are two distinct parts to Northcote and it’s worthwhile setting aside some time so you can check out both. As you’re heading north along High Street, you’ll first hit the strip at Westgarth. Stop for an excellent brunch or lunch at the always-bustling Barry. The menu is chockfull of must-eats, but who can go past a burger topped with bacon, pickles, lettuce and a slice of “dirty yellow cheese”? It’ll keep you sated for hours.

If you wanted to pick up some fixings for a picnic, drop into Terra Madre. It sells a huge range of organic produce, including fruit, veggies, cheese, bread and biodynamic meat. If you’re in a hurry to tuck in, take it all up the hill to All Nations Park on Separation Street. Here, you’ll find public art, playgrounds and a lake, as well as plenty of grassy spots to lay out your lunch.

Otherwise, catch an arthouse flick at Palace Westgarth before heading up Ruckers Hill to the second half of your tour of Northcote, which starts near the Northcote Town Hall. There are a number of small, independent retailers in this strip. MiM Found Ena is a design studio that stocks fashion, jewellery, ceramics and homewares from Melbourne labels. If you need a few titles for your bare shelves, Brown & Bunting Booksellers sells interesting second-hand books.

There are so many places to eat and drink in this part of town, it’s hard to know where to start. May we suggest Pizza Meine Leibe, where the well-priced, produce-driven offerings on perfectly thin and chewy bases means it’s always busy. Chef Scott Pickett has a couple of restaurants next door to one another. Estelle Bistro is the more casual of the two, although the fresh, modern dishes are exquisite, while Estelle by Scott Pickett is the fine-diner. Here, you’ll indulge in a set seven-course menu. We suggest booking a spot at the bar, where you can watch the chefs at work.

Many people come to the Wesley Anne, a pub set in an old church, for a beer with mates in the shady garden and stay for the food. It’s better-than-average pub grub from a seasonally changing menu. Then, after dinner, they hang around to check out who’s playing in the adjoining band room.

At Joe’s Shoe Store (yes, they did once sell shoes from here) you can hang with Northcote’s cool kids while sipping a glass of one of the 20 or so wines on the list. It’s cute and quirky, with vinyl playing on the decks. As an added bonus, you can order from Pizza Meine Liebe next door when hunger strikes.

A completely different drinking experience can be found on the Northcote boundary at Welcome to Thornbury. This food truck park with a permanent bar is filled to the brim on sunny afternoons and it’s no wonder. There’s a roster of 80 rotating food trucks and you can order beers and cocktail jugs to go with your tacos, sliders or whatever else you’re eating. 

End the day at Northcote Social Club, one of Melbourne’s best-loved bandrooms, hosting local and international acts. Between bands, grab a spot out on the deck and rest your weary legs.

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