1. Cherry blossoms, sakura, Nakameguro
    Photo: Edward Ma/UnsplashMeguro River
  2. Meguro River, Nakameguro
    Photo: Maru-ume/Photo-AC
  3. The Garden
    Photo: The Garden
  4. Kinto
    Photo: Kisa Toyoshima
  5. オニバスコーヒー 中目黒店
    オニバスコーヒー 中目黒店

One day in... Nakameguro

All along the sakura-lined Meguro River, the shops, restaurants and cafés here reward exploration at any time of year

Kaila Imada
Written by
Kaila Imada
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This trendy Tokyo neighbourhood is best known for the Meguro River that runs through it and the revamped shopping area under the train tracks. The former is flanked by cherry trees, eateries and independent shops while the latter is home to some of the area's best cafés, restaurants and bars, including our favourite oden restaurant Samon and minimalist coffeeshop Artless.

In spring, the river becomes a photogenic landscape of cherry blossoms. Although this year's Nakameguro Sakura Festival is cancelled, you can still enjoy a casual sakura stroll along the river. But the entire area surrounding Nakameguro Station makes for a nice walk anytime of the year. Venture away from the Meguro riverside, follow the train tracks, and you’ll find a wealth of hidden art galleries, independent shops, and cute cafés.

RECOMMENDED: Check out the best free things to do in Tokyo

Eat

  • Shopping
  • Nakameguro

Aichi prefecture’s produce supermarket Daiwa brings its famous fruit sandwiches to Nakameguro. This takeaway sandwich shop attracts queues on the weekends for the unique lineup of sandwiches including kiwi, pear, grape and even the elusive Miyazaki mango.

The classic strawberry sandwich comes in three variants – and at three different price points – each featuring a different type of strawberry, copious amounts of whipped cream and fluffy white bread.

  • Restaurants
  • Nakameguro

This light, airy eatery boasts a selection of unique international dishes with a Japanese twist. For starters, you can enjoy a zesty, refreshing dish of avocado in a citrus dressing, or seasonal strawberries tossed with anise and fennel seed. Then, dig into pasta topped with shirasu (whitebait) or more conventional local dishes such as oden. The wine list is also noteworthy, offering a well-curated selection of vino from across the globe. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Ikejiri-Ohashi

Offering a decent selection of craft beer and some not-so traditional gyoza, this quirky, playful eatery is a reliable casual hangout. Its handmade dumpling menu includes unusual options like gyoza topped with coriander salsa, a strange sounding combo which works brilliantly. Pair your gyoza with a local craft beer or one of the many brews from Portland's Gigantic Brewing Company, and you’re good to go for an extended evening in Nakameguro.

Sidewalk Stand Baisen & Bagel
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Nakameguro

Nakameguro has two Sidewalk Stands: there’s one by the river, but we much prefer the one tucked away down a backstreet, set in a vine-covered house. This location stands out for its wide selection of bagels, with classic flavours such as poppyseed and cheese, complemented by tasty spreads including homemade lox and cream cheese. And good news for coffee drinkers: Sidewalk Stand roasts its own beans onsite. Take it to go, or enjoy the spacious seating on the second floor.

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Samon
  • Restaurants
  • Nakameguro

Popular in its native Nagoya, this oden specialist opened its first outlet in the Kanto area by under the railway tracks in Nakameguro. There's an eye-catching (and oversized) oden pot outside – a stunt that surely lures in quite a few customers. Samon offers a mixture simmered in a chicken and vegetable stock noted for its full-bodied and rich taste. We'd definitely recommend having the daikon, which soaks up the stock beautifully, and the succulent chicken skewers. The Nagoya Cochin soft-boiled eggs are also impressive and well worth driving your chopsticks into. 

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Nakameguro

This lively yakitori joint is always packed in the evenings, and if the convivial atmosphere doesn’t tempt you in, the smoky aroma of grilled chicken probably will. If you lack a penchant for poultry, there are also alluring options like chargrilled bacon-wrapped mochi (or ‘mochi-be’ for short) and Hokkaido potatoes, which are grilled over charcoal before being slathered with a generous slab of butter. Bonus points for the English menu – indulging in a yakitori feast has never been easier.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Ikejiri-Ohashi

Located along the Meguro River, this quaint soba restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner – prepare to stand in line for the former, and ensure you make a reservation for the latter. They’ve got all the classics here, from your tempura and tororo soba to the refreshing sudachi soba that’s always a good option in the warmer months. The soba noodles are made from scratch, and depending on your order, are adjusted for the perfect flavour, texture and consistency.

  • Restaurants
  • Nakameguro

Shabu Shabu Let Us is a modern take on the hot pot dish. For starters, the interior looks cool and inviting, with an eye-catching vegetable bar presiding over the counter seats and tables. But what it really excels at is taking shabu shabu and all-you-can-eat dining, both commonly only available to groups (or at least pairs), and making it enjoyable even for solo diners.

Here, each diner gets their own pot – whether you’re alone at the counter or sitting together at the table. And the best part is, Shabu Shabu Let Us is all about variety. The soup stock choices go beyond the standard dashi to include a wide range of flavours from mild (creamy soy milk, Takumi’s kelp and green tea, etc) to spicy (Sichuan-style mala hot pot, spicy Korean, etc).

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  • Shopping
  • Nakameguro

Hidden in the streets of Nakameguro, The Garden is an all-encompassing venue featuring a plant shop, book wall, wine cellar and two restaurants. The lush greenery on the outside terrace looks inviting, and works perfectly with the store's concept of having a garden space where everyone can gather and hang out. You can browse the shop or sit in for lunch and coffee at the first floor trattoria, which pairs Italian-inspired dishes with wine. Head down to the basement floor restaurant for more upscale Italian dining (get the ravioli topped with freshly shaved truffles).

  • Restaurants
  • Nakameguro

Oreyu’s diverse ramen menu lists more than 30 options – so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, just go with the classics. The Oreryu shio ramen is a clean, light-tasting yet flavourful bowl topped with a tender slice of pork, spring onions, spinach and mushrooms. The Oreryu juku shio ramen, on the other hand, is more customisable, offering three broth options; our pick is the jukusei (rich salt), which features a creamy pure chicken bone broth (no dairy added!).

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Nakameguro

Vegans usually get stuck with sorbet when hunting for dairy-free ice cream. That isn’t the case at Premarché Gelateria, where, on top of fruity sorbets, the store also serves vegan gelato that’s so creamy you’d never believe it’s completely milk-free. Japanese varieties here range from shiso sorbet to roasted sweet potato gelato, but the tartness of the refreshing kishu nanko ume (Japanese plum) makes it especially popular in the summertime. 

Drink

  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Nakameguro

Artist and interior designer Shun Kawakami of Artless Inc takes his minimalist game into the brew business with this coffee and tea stand. Decorated with tea utensils and tableware from the designer's own collection, the shop also serves as Kawakami's office and a community space open to all comers. The single-origin beans come courtesy of coffee authority Kentaro Maruyama himself, the organic tea is supplied by small-scale farmers, while the edibles are the work of the owner's wife. If this were any more homely, you'd be sitting in Kawakami's living room.

  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Nakameguro

Occupying a renovated, traditional-style home right by Nakameguro Station, the most interesting café in town, run by Jiyugaoka-based roasters and bean importers Onibus, is equipped with a shiny espresso machine and newly acquired roaster. Just don’t expect to linger – this is a very functional spot with minimal frills. Onibus imports top-grade beans from Rwanda and Guatemala among others and roast them in the shop. The menu is as simple as the décor: espresso, americano, latte or hand drip, nothing else.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Nakameguro

Located by the Meguro River, this is one of the largest Starbucks roasteries in the world. The building was designed by Japanese starchitect Kengo Kuma, while the interior was created by the Starbucks community design team. The massive four-story structure houses the roasting factory on the top floor, the Arriviamo cocktail bar on the third floor and the Teavana tea room on the second floor, while first floor is occupied by the Milanese bakery Princi, famous for its cronuts and focaccia pizza. You'll want to secure a seat at the fourth floor's outdoor terrace during sakura season for gorgeous views of the pink blossoms.

Cafe Facon
  • Restaurants
  • Coffeeshops
  • Nakameguro

One of Nakameguro's top coffee spots, Cafe Facon appears to be angling for a more mature crowd. It's pocked with Parisian references, including a small library of Francophone books. Decor aside, Facon clearly means business. The shop roasts its own beans, offering four blends and a selection of single-origin coffees, plus a few milky variations and a variety of teas. If you're feeling peckish, the best bet is to order a cake or sandwich set.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Craft beer pubs
  • Nakameguro

Having opened a full-scale craft beer empire since, the first Tokyo pub opened by the Numazu-based Baird Brewing Company is very relaxed: all brick walls and wood panelling, with a long central table that's ripe for communal drinking. It's primarily an outlet for Baird's own brews, which tend to be pretty damn fine: we're particular fans of the Teikoku IPA and Angry Boy Brown Ale, available year-round. Check the blackboard above the bar for guest beers from the likes of Rogue and Brewdog, and keep an eye out for Baird's own seasonal specials. Don't miss the New Haven-style pizzas either, and note that this is a non-smoking venue.

Shop

  • Shopping
  • Lifestyle
  • Nakameguro

Japanese brand Kinto now boasts a store in Los Angeles, but the flagship shop in Tokyo is located down a sleepy street in Nakameguro and carries a sleek selection of tableware, tumblers, and coffee equipment.  The store even sells its own coffee blend, which is sourced from the Single O coffee roasters in Tokyo’s Ryogoku neighbourhood.

  • Shopping
  • Nakameguro

This stationery shop sells everyday goods inspired by the theme of travel. Set in the building of a former paper processing factory, Traveler's Factory offers stationery, books and customisable products, including the best-selling Traveler's Notebook, which encourages the user to plan ahead and start something new. The space upstairs is used to host special events and workshops and also doubles as a café where you can sip on cuppa while filling out your notebook.

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  • Shopping
  • Jewellery
  • Nakameguro

At this bijou workshop and store located a quick stroll from the Nakameguro riverside, local brand Vivify creates what it calls ‘urban craft jewellery’: predominantly silver accessories with a distinctly handmade feel. The natural wood-lined atelier and shop space has a counter spanning most of one wall, behind which you'll often find a jeweller hard at work. Outside, a terrace complete with seating and cacti offers space to relax and contemplate your purchase.

Misc
  • Shopping
  • Nakameguro

This fashion boutique-meets-juice bar is one of Nakameguro’s hidden gems, offering some of the latest sartorial trends for ladies along with a selection of fruit juices, smoothies, coffees and teas. Expect a mix of international and domestic labels like Citizens of Humanity and Pretty Ballerinas for denim and shoes respectively, as well as Misc's own house line of fashion basics: T-shirts, tank tops, well-cut pants and skirts. Lust-worthy homewares are also available – browse through luxurious candles, glass coasters and cool coffee drippers.

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  • Shopping
  • Nakameguro

This select shop has an air of confidence and maturity about it, and that’s due to a well-curated selection of fashion, homewares and lifestyle goods that are geared towards those who favour classic styles over fads. We love the highly wearable clothes for men and women, which focus on cult brands such as MM6, Studio Nicholson and Kaptain Sunshine.

The Flavor Design
  • Shopping
  • Perfumeries
  • Nakameguro

This unique perfumery offers scents for your home. You’ll find everything from air fresheners to candles, plus there are DIY sessions for shoppers looking to create their own fabric mist. To participate, simply make a reservation via the website. During the session, you’ll get to sniff around 25 seasonal fragrances – the scents are inspired by surprisingly specific moods and settings, such as ‘a casual night in Los Angeles’ or ‘a country road in Hawaii’, as well as other fruity and floral aromas.

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J'antiques
  • Shopping
  • Vintage shops
  • Nakameguro

Vintage store J’antiques sells chic American clothing and furniture from its base in the Nakameguro shotengai (shopping street). It offers a good range of vintage items from throughout the 20th century, the bulk of which is menswear and womenswear. Interior items – including antique accessories, furniture and tableware dating from as late as the 1950s and as early as the 1800s – and vintage fabrics and buttons make up the rest of the stock. The floor is divided into three sections: secondhand and accessories, vintage menswear, and vintage womenswear, with the vintage clothing split across two equally grand rooms. It’s rumoured that the quality of the stock draws big names from the fashion industry in search of inspiration – you can’t go wrong with an endorsement like that.

  • Shopping
  • Nakameguro

Tucked discreetly into a corner shop in a residential neighborhood roughly seven minutes’ walk from Nakameguro station, Miyabian has been selling its expertly crafted wagashi since 2004. Don’t be fooled by the tiny shopfront – the wagashi offering is extensive. Out the back is where the wagashi artisans work their magic, led by head chef Norimasa Minagawa, crafting their sweets with high-quality local ingredients.

To do

Sato Sakura Museum Tokyo
  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Nakameguro

This art museum showcases contemporary Japanese paintings, with an emphasis on artists who were born in the Showa era (1926-1989) and onwards. Located a few minutes’ walk from the Meguro River, this venue offers some consolation to those who visit Nakameguro outside cherry blossom season – there's a ‘100 Views of Sakura’ exhibition featuring famous sakura spots from across Japan.

  • Shopping
  • Bookshops
  • Nakameguro

Neighbouring Daikanyama has what's basically the world's greatest bookstore, and now Nakameguro gets an offshoot of that same bibliophile nirvana. Located underneath the railway tracks right outside Nakameguro Station, it consists of four interconnected but separate spaces: lifestyle and gifts, ideas and inspiration, events, and a Starbucks café fit for laidback browsing and sipping.

Check out other 'hoods

One day in... Sendagaya
  • Things to do

A short walk from Harajuku, Sendagaya is home to cool restaurants and some of Tokyo's most innovative fashion brands

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