by Nora Wohlfeil

Despite being located right between two of Tokyo’s busiest areas (Shinjuku and Shibuya), Yoyogi is probably best known for the park bearing the same name. Attracting many people of different ages, the park is one of the largest in Tokyo, and is situated south of the popular Meiji Shrine. Whether it’s people watching, playing frisbee with your dog, or having an impromptu picnic of okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) from one of the surrounding stalls, there is no end to the ways you can spend a weekend day in Yoyogi Park.

But most of Yoyogi’s better-kept secrets can be found in the back streets, visited mainly by locals. La Patate is a small French bistro where the chef, Sejima-san, speaks very good French and fair English. Having studied in France, Seijima-san has successfully picked up the art of bread-baking; his is fresh, chewy, and simply enjoyable. La Patate is rustic, with a warm, European atmosphere. Also worth mentioning is the wine selection: French, very good, yet not too expensive.

Not far from this adorable bistro lies the bar Bottle Café. Located in an old wooden Japanese house on a side street, it strives for a welcoming, homey feel. When entering through the glass door you are greeted by just a few tables, plus seats at the counter. The cafe is sparely decorated in a retro look. On the left side is a staircase leading upstairs to another small room, which is decorated with red carpet and comfy chairs. The warm lighting and mood music support the inviting atmosphere, making this just the right place to hit up for an after work beer or simply to enjoy a cozy evening with friends.