Ebisu Yokocho is truly a world in its own right. A retro-arcade straight out of the Showa era! A wonderful little cluster of restaurants and bars that only have seats for a handful of guests each. If you can’t get a seat, you can always stand at the counter. You’re guaranteed not to feel lonely! Step inside and you feel like you’ve travelled a few decades back in time!
A mini-alley of great restaurants
Ebisu Yokocho is basically a roofed alley packed with mini-restaurants and bars on both sides. It’s pretty difficult to find if don’t know exactly where it’s located. In fact, this unique mixture of “food stalls” is situated just a short walk from Ebisu Station. Once you get close enough, keep an eye out for the colorful neon lights and red lanterns!
Ebisu Yokocho occupies the ground floor of an old apartment block. Its layout is basically like a long corridor lined with restaurants on both sides. With entrances in the front and back, you can easily walk straight through just to check it out. Beware though that when the place is packed (almost all the time!) it will take you a while to pass through!
A bit like “shitamachi”…but not quite
Although Ebisu is mainly known for its upscale dining, Ebisu Yokocho is much more like “shitamachi”. There is absolutely no snobbishness or pretentiousness about the place. It’s relatively cheap, and it’s got all the usual stalls you would expect to see around Shimbashi for instance. You can find anything from kushiyaki to oden, as well as one or two Western restaurants. On the surface it really does look more like Shimbashi than Ebisu.
One main difference is that rather than typical “salaryman” crowd grabbing a quick bite and a few drinks after work, it’s much more of a hip and young crowd. Ebisu Yokocho is really a place where you go to party and meet people. Even if you go there alone, you’ll definitely leave there having made a few new friends! The atmosphere is extremely relaxed and friendly and it’s just a great mixture of all ages, although I guess mostly people in their twenties and thirties. I wonder if there is any spot in the whole of Tokyo where it’s easier to make contact with people you’ve never met before. Of all nationalities!
In fact, it’s hard not to speak with the person next to you, when you are in most cases rubbing shoulders! Altogether a wonderful place to hang out, if you just want to have a quick beer or something, and requires no planning at all.