Commune 246: Tokyo’s Coolest Outdoor Food Court

By Jessamine McHugh
March 27, 2015
Food & Drink

If you're looking for gourmet fare in Tokyo, chances are you're inclined to check out one of the vast number of Michelin-starred restaurants the city has to offer. But if a more eclectic, relaxed vibe is what you seek, you'll be surprised by the quality and variety of foods available from a cluster of food trucks set up near Omotesando. Whether you're a vegan, omnivore, art-enthusiast or parent, Commune 246 has something for you.

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Anyone who is vegetarian, vegan, or gluten intolerant, or who has made a dinner date with someone who is, knows how difficult it is to find suitable fare in Japan. This reincarnation of the very popular 246 Common, which closed last May, takes the form of fancy food trucks and casual cafes, eager to serve the Omotesando crowds some much needed miso and soymilk ramen, flower sandwiches and soy nuggets (¥600). For those with a carnivore in tow, there’s also plenty of choice, including imaginatively-topped hotdogs (white gravy hotdog, anyone?), which go for about ¥600–¥800 a pop, and the gorgeous grilled skewers served up by Breton, ranging from perfectly seasoned okra (¥150), to a decent hunk of spare rib (¥650).

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A highlight of my visit was Brooklyn Ribbon Fries Komazawa, a stall that serves a crisp-fry hybrid coated in salt and pepper, cinnamon and sugar, or onion gratin (around ¥550 for a small portion, ¥750 for a large). The staff balances trendy with friendly, and the ribbon fries are delicious—we unashamedly dove back for seconds. If you look for a more permanent structure in your dining locales, then the Antenna Wired Café could be for you: it offers internet access as well as heating and air conditioning, and so you’ll often see arty-types working on their portfolios whilst sipping coffee or organic hot chocolate (¥380–¥500).

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Not only have all the stalls been carefully dressed to appeal to the discerning diner (you can check out the artist profiles and design concepts behind some of the stalls on the Commune 246 website), but there is also some very chic common seating; enter the marquee (the “festival tent”) and you will find an event space hung with regularly changed pieces by local artists. There’s also a transparent dining dome that kids and inner-children alike will find fascinating.

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But Commune 246 isn’t just a delectably decorated urban food market. It is marketed as a new kind of community space, and whether you choose to use it as an office, a gig venue, or simply a good ol’ fashioned hang out, there’s no denying its slick yet unintimidating vibe. If you really love the space and its concept, you can even stay there for a night or two at Caravan Tokyo, a retro-styled trailer that has been outfitted with all the modern amenities, including a toilet, hot shower, air conditioning, and wireless internet. What’s more, the masterminds behind Commune 246 regularly curate special events, from art nights to dances, so there’s usually something new to draw you back for a repeat visit.