A Guide to Shimokitazawa’s Dining and Shopping Scene
Rediscover Setagaya’s Trendiest Neighbourhood
Constantly evolving, Shimokitazawa is one of those places with a never-ending list of places to drink coffee and buy some cool second-hand clothes.
No longer the more low-key hang-out spot for young Tokyoites that it used to be, Shimokitazawa has now become a bustling neighborhood with its own established cafe culture, cool thrift shops and a bunch of other new facilities. It is the perfect place to spend the afternoon or evening as it has a bit more of a casual feel compared to the tourist-populated Shibuya located two stops away.
The area has evolved a lot in the last few years, with 2022 seeing a few new facilities being opened as well as much-loved ones having a slight makeover. Although the area has definitely become more mainstream, the local and laid-back atmosphere that has made Shimokitazawa such a special place to many has not disappeared.
Here’s a rundown of what’s changed since our last Shimokitazawa guide was published back in 2017.
Just last year, Shimokitazawa opened a new shopping and dining area known as Mikan Shimokita. The name Mikan was cleverly chosen to reflect the commercial areas’ “incomplete” and ever-changing state, meaning that it will probably see even more development in the future. For now however, this concrete complex features a bunch of delicious international food places, including Thai, Vietnamese and American-style pizza as well as a craft bakery.
At the end of the strip, you will find the famous bookstore Tsutaya, filled with the latest magazine publications, a solid selection of books and even a luxury “share lounge” where you can study or work for a small fee of ¥1,100 for 60 minutes.
Underground, you will find the Shimokitazawa Garage Department filled with a few small vintage clothing stalls as well as 素今歩 (Ayumu Soma) an area dedicated to selling handmade jewelry, each lovingly made by over 500 different artists.
Where to Eat
Although Mikan Shimokita is home to a number of incredible restaurants, there are so many other great places that you should also try to check out:
Shimokitazawa is also known as the soup curry district, meaning that there are several amazing soup curry restaurants dotted around the area. However, on the top of our list is Rojiura Curry Samurai, a chain that originated from Hokkaido and is famous for its fresh vegetable curry. The fact this place always has a queue proves just how good it is.
Situated in Shimokitazawa’s Nansei Plus, another newly developed area that opened in 2022 filled with new cafes and an organic grocery store, Kitade Tacos is a small taco restaurant with a whole lot of heart. Using high-quality and local ingredients, this small eatery offers a solid selection of meat tacos as well as some vegan-friendly ones filled with soybean tempeh. A great pitstop for lunchtime.
Where to Grab Coffee
The coffee shops mentioned in our previous Shimokita guide such as Bear Pond Espresso and the tiny Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory are still must-visits. Sadly, the then-recommended coffee shop Frankie has now permanently closed. However, for those who find themselves visiting Shimokita more than once, you may want to add some of these newer places to your list:
With a few chains scattered across Tokyo, Kitasando Coffee is a cashless specialty coffee shop that also serves a small range of fresh baked goods. The open space and wooden interior give this place a rather relaxing feel, with the Shimokitazawa branch often using the space to host small exhibitions or local events. There is also a mini cinema located in the same space.
Situated down on one of the quieter roads of Shimokitazawa, Sidewalk Coffee specializes in coffees and bagels as well as offers a laid-back atmosphere. Having both indoor and outdoor seating, this cafe is a nice place to go on a sunny day or when you want to change up your remote working environment.
This coffee shop is actually in the lobby of the Mustard Hotel, a contemporary hotel that has 60 rooms, all with simple and modern architecture. A great place to stay for those who want to feel more like a local on their stay in Tokyo.
Often missed since it is hidden away, W/O Stand is a small cafe with cool branding and a fresh interior. Mainly selling different types of iced coffees as well as fresh ades sometimes served in retro cups, W/O is a nice place to unwind during your afternoon stroll around the neighborhood.
If you are looking for a cafe with slightly more filling food options then head to Sunday Brunch. Located a three-minute walk away from Shimokitazawa Station, this aesthetic and plant-filled cafe serves a delicious selection of French toast, omurice (rice in omelete), pasta and other cakes. Yet, this cafe is most known for its seasonal drinks and desserts serving sakura-themed peach cream soda in March and a Sunflower one in August.
Where to Shop
With such a vast number of thrift stores in the area, it can be hard to know where to look first. Some of the most notable ones include Flamingo and New York Joe Exchange. However, if you are looking for something different, here are some other contenders:
With two newly opened stores, Desert Snow is a thrift-lover’s dream. There are so many racks to shift through, all filled with useful pieces that can easily be implemented into your wardrobe. If you spend some time searching, you may even find some rare vintage designer pieces in there.
Stocking a wide range of vintage women’s and men’s clothes, all imported from America, Gleeful is a great place to go if you are looking for items such as sweaters, skirts, trousers and shirts.
True vintage, Dylan is a second-hand store with a retro American feel and sells high-quality leather goods, jackets and accessories. There are currently two branches, one on the North side and one on the South.
Let us know your favorite place in Shimokitazawa below in the comments!