Chilling in Tokyo - cafes, bars and hangouts

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Chilling In Tokyo will guide you to the coolest cafes, bars, brunch spots and hangouts in the city.

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Whether you're here for a dessert break, a casual evening meal, or an afternoon working on your laptop, Brooklyn Parlor supplies a fun, bustling backdrop. Unlike Tokyo's many quiet, hidden-away cafes, here it feels like you've stumbled onto the hub of a social scene. Of course all the standard cafe needs are provided for - free wifi; hip background music; tons of magazines and books on art, design and fashion; good espresso beverages, interesting cocktails and very affordable wines.

There are also some special touches, like Brooklyn Lager on tap and Hitachino Nest beer by the bottle. The food menu is gourmet cafe fare - scones and almond pancakes, serious burgers, and very nice quiches and salads. The burgers are also available to take out - perhaps convenient for a picnic in nearby Shinjuku Gyoen.
Perhaps this isn't the narrowest bar in Tokyo, but it's certainly the narrowest bar offering such an impressive class of craft beers, both domestic and imported. Cleverly, the tiny space is fashioned to resemble a yacht, with porthole windows and nautical decor throughout. Three small tables fill the upper deck, while the lower deck is standing-room only, with space for maybe seven or eight along the port-side bar.

If you arrive when it's crowded (i.e. most of the time) you may be asked to stand on the companionway between decks, and if that space is taken you might be directed out the stern to one of the two dockside tables; these look out onto a very noisy road where unfortunately the nautical metaphor breaks down. The tight quarters are worth putting up with for the beers, which include some great US microbrews that you simply won't find anywhere else in town.
This charming little cafe is located in an old office building that's now filled with art galleries. Relax on comfortable sofas and listen to mellow lounge music on the stereo while you admire the cat-themed artwork on the walls. Browse through their collection of magazines and cat picture books while you sip on a cappucino (Y750) or cocktail.

If you're hungry there's a simple food menu - Caesar salads (Y1000), mixed sausages (Y800). The unpretentious decor is all cinderblocks and exposed pipes, with a silver and white color theme set off by lots of green plants.
A change of pace from the down-home Korean restaurants and boisterous makkoli bars surrounding it, Festina Lente has ambitions to be a proper cocktail bar. The barman operates his shaker with just the right degree of vigor, and he understands the importance of pre-icing your glass before the pour. On the downside, a very simple drink might take five minutes to arrive even when it's not busy.

Along with standard and exotic cocktails you'll find Belgian beers and some nice Japanese sake on the menu, along with a basic food menu. The atmosphere is quite chilled-out, and you can relax late into the night if you're so inclined, as they don't close until four or five. In keeping with neighborhood customs, the background music is K-pop shown on a big-screen TV.
This small neighborhood counter-only bar offers over 200 French, Spanish and Italian wines by the bottle. There's also a good daily selection of wines by the glass, priced from Y600. The Italian-inspired food menu includes light antipasti, daily meat, fish and pasta dishes, and a special uni spaghetti; budget around Y2000-3500 for food at dinnertime. Weekday-only lunch is Y850.
Perched above an exit to Hakusan metro station, this charming neighborhood cafe seems to cultivate a deliberately Bohemian atmosphere. Hey, is that a box of sweet potatoes plunked down right in the middle of the seating area? The food menu is surprisingly wide-ranging - pastas, pizzas, teppan-grilled meats and lots of vegetable dishes. Drinks include coffee, juices, cocktails, five kinds of shochu and Sankt Gallen beer.
If you love dessert but also love vegetables, this unique pastry shop is the place for you. Sample tempting creations like avocado cheesecake, buckwheat chai mousse, arugula jelly with black-sesame and soy-milk mousse, and daikon and yuzu mousse wrapped in chocolate. There's a twenty-seat open-air terrace cafe in front of the shop where you can relax with a cup of tea or coffee along with your vegetable-based sweets.
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