In Shibuya it can be almost impossible to find a relaxing, quiet and spacious café where you don’t have to wait in line only to be shoehorned into a tiny seat, feeling rushed as soon as you sit down. All you really want is a coffee break to regroup and recharge, but more often than not you leave feeling even more stressed than when you arrived.
If you are able to take a little stroll away from the frenzy of Shibuya crossing, however, there are a handful of low-key cafés that are not your typical chain store, but are still large enough to feel roomy.
One gem that has become a consistent “go-to” for me is the Miyamas Bar & Dine — or as I like to call it: the “Illy Café” — near the top of Miyamasuzaka. The first floor is a pay-as-you-go café and bar while the second floor is a dining café that features special lunch and dinner menus.
The lunch menu at Miyamas offers a handful of Italian pasta, risotto and panini sandwich choices that each come with a side salad and a drink set option — all for under ¥1,000. There is also a “Dolce” menu with a variety of desserts ranging from tiramisu, pies and tarts to gelato and affogato.
The dinner menu is a full list of casual Italiano fare from lighter appetizers and various cheeses to pasta and meat dishes, all suitable for sharing and get-togethers or even a light meal with a glass of wine.
On a recent visit, my friend Mr. A joined me for lunch. I chose the spaghetti Genovese salad and drink set with avocado and chicken (¥850) while he opted for the penne with Italian sausage salad and drink set (¥880). The portions here are generous and I didn’t think that I could eat so much pasta — just pasta — in one sitting. But as Mr. A and I sat, dined and chatted away that early afternoon, before I knew it, it was all gone!
We decided that we had to treat ourselves to some dessert, so I went for the Illy tiramisu (¥580), another generous (and very shareable) portion. Post-pesto, the light, creamy mascarpone cheese and chocolate was perfect — with, of course, some fresh coffee (¥350).
The spacious seating, high ceiling (a rarity for eateries and coffee shops in Japan) and the mix of raw concrete, leather sofas, wood furniture and industrial details lend this space an urban, loft-like vibe, while the Illy red ceiling gives the décor a brilliant pop of color. We were lucky to grab the corner sofa seating that felt for all the world like sitting in a hip friend’s living room.
There are booth seats for cozying up as well as individual counter spots that welcome solo diners with comfy leather chairs and convenient reading lights lined up along the bay windows, affording people-watching and daydreaming views down on Miyamasuzaka itself. A little something for everyone for any time.
The menu is in both English and Japanese. Of the friendly staff, most seem to be conversant in English in a pinch.
The reason Miss P visits
It’s never crowded on a weekday. The first-floor bar-slash-café has ¥300 white, red and sparkling wine all day. It also has bite-size croissants and pastries (¥100) by the French bakery chain Brioche Dorée when you want a little something with your coffee.
When I go solo, I usually sit at the bar window seat with my notebook and pen and sip on my coffee (or a glass of bubbles) with a small pastry. I watch the people pass by and I take a moment to reorganize my thoughts or to brew new ideas. It’s relaxing and productive — and it’s only ¥400.
Whether it’s to take a quick break, meet a friend or have a casual business meeting, the best part is that it makes you forget you’re in the middle of busy, hectic Shibuya. It’s definitely a space where you can breathe. Miyamas Bar & Dine is not hidden — but it sure feels like a hideaway.
Tastefully yours, Miss P ♡
Access and Opening Times
- Miyamas Bar & Dine
- 1 &2F 1-8-10, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. A 4-min walk from Shibuya station (exit 11, walk up Miyamasuzaka) or an 8-min walk from Omotesando station.
- Mon – Thu, Sun and holidays, 10 a.m.– 11 p.m.; Fri–Sat, 10 a.m.- 3 a.m.