You can find just about anything you want in Tokyo. The city is a wonderful melting pot of new and old, domestic and foreign, low and high brow. With everything from a vibrant French quarter to gorgeous temple gardens, it’s hard to imagine anyone getting bored in Japan’s capital. Even so, we have to admit that we were a bit surprised to find a country bar–let alone a country bar with such authentic shows and delicious food! But that’s exactly what Meguro’s oldest country bar, Little Texas, has. With everything from license plates covering the walls to amazing bands on stage, you are guaranteed to have a great time–even if you don’t know the difference between a steer and a bull!
The bar is situated underground, like many clubs and live venues in Tokyo, which might make it a bit difficult to find if you don’t notice the sign. But once you head downstairs, there’s no mistaking whether or not you’re in the right place! The Lone Star flag, saloon-style sign, and “Howdy! OPEN” greeting will make it immediately clear that while you may be in Tokyo, you’re about to step foot on Texan soil. Kind of. Everything in the bar is designed for maximum effect. The cowboy boots and lantern in the entry way set the mood perfectly. If you’ve ever spent time in the Midwest of the United States, it’ll be just like walking into the local cowboy bar–but thankfully without the smell of Skol chewing tobacco. They didn’t skimp on the interior decorations either. The walls are plastered with license plates and cowboy signs, all fitting the western motif. For reasons this author will never understand, cowboy bars and restaurants seem to love putting license plates on the walls. Bizarre as it may be, Little Texas does an excellent job of capturing the aesthetic!
▼Though maybe someone should tell them that Cheyenne is in Wyoming…
▼Horns and chili pepper Christmas lights hang over the bar just like you’d expect.
The bar has been open for over nine years now, as you can tell from the flower display by the door. The owners have even received “Honorary Texan” certificates from the state of Texas!
▼Signed by Rick Perry, for whatever that’s worth to you.
▼And, of course, you don’t have to look hard to find a cowboy hat!
▼The tables also feature “Little Texas” brands!
▼And more cowboy boots. We didn’t ask, but we’re pretty sure they’re not for sale.
While it’s not a mechanical bull, there’s also a horse saddle next to the bar. It’s for “cowgirls” only, so we wouldn’t recommend any of the big fellows out there giving it a ride, but it is stable enough to hold up a small woman! It makes for a great photo opportunity, but you’ll need to bring your own cowboy hat.
However, Little Texas isn’t just about the atmosphere–it’s also about the music. Now, when you think of country music, you might think of pop country singers like Taylor Swift or pure country musicians like Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings. If you’re a big fan of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, you might even think of bluegrass. Well, whatever springs to mind, you are almost guaranteed to find someone playing it at Little Texas! As surprising as it might be, it turns out that Tokyo is home to quite a number of country bands–including the group we saw: Nessie Expedition, a bluegrass band that’s been performing since the 1970s and has toured both Japan and the United States. They’ve even played at events hosted by the International Bluegrass Music Association in Nashville!
▼The band warming up with a projector showing bullriding videos.
The bar is quite cozy and no matter where you sit, you’ll have a good view of the stage. There’s even a little room for dancing if you’re feeling brave!
▼We were not feeling brave…
As good as the atmosphere was, the acoustics were even better. Since you’re never really far from the stage, everything sounds great–and you’ll always have a good view of whatever band is playing.
▼Nessie Expedition wowing us with some amazing bluegrass!
▼The group shared vocal duties, with lots of sing-along harmonizing.
▼We put together a short video of a few excerpts of the band’s performance.
With a great atmosphere and stellar music, the only thing missing is food. Now, most people don’t go to a show for the food, but it’s always nice when the venue puts a little effort into giving patrons at truly well-rounded experience. We have to say that Little Texas completely succeeded on the dining front!
▼Though the placemats could maybe use another proofread.
First, we ordered some Caesar salad–and it was delicious! But it’s hard to mess up salad, so maybe that doesn’t tell you too much about the food.
▼And, besides, who goes to a bar to eat vegetables? (Besides us.)
For our main courses, we ordered jambalaya and a cheeseburger. As you might have guessed, we’re pretty big fans of jambalaya, so this was a critical moment! How did Little Texas do? Well, they did pretty darn good. We’ll say that it’s not quite a plate of Louisiana jambalaya sitting on the back of the Mississippi, but it will definitely give Denny’s a run for its money.
But perhaps even more important is the cheeseburger. Let’s be honest, when you think Texas, you think either steak or hamburger. And this was definitely one of the best cheeseburgers we’ve had in Japan. It was a hot, gooey mess of deliciousness! The only complaint we might have is that the portions seemed a little small–though it could have been that we were just hungry! Either way, we ended up ordering a helping of onion rings as well. And they totally hit the spot–you literally can’t mess up onion rings–but the best part was onion ring platter in the shape of Texas. And after all that, a few of us were still peckish, so we did the only reasonable thing and ordered waffles. With ice cream and chocolate syrup on top. Again, in the shape of Texas! We’re not sure where they found a Texas-shaped waffle iron, but regardless, it was the perfect treat to end the meal with. They also have a full bar with a host of different drinks including a number of bourbons. We’d recommend getting yourself a double of Yellow Rose of Texas to go with your cheeseburger and getting ready to tap your foot–a night at Little Texas is a night guaranteed to be a blast! Though it might be a little expensive–you’ll have to pay a music charge, which varies depending on the band but usually runs around 2,200 yen (about US$22), plus food and drinks. The main courses were about 1,200 yen each (about $12) and drinks averaged 600 yen (roughly $6). But don’t let that deter you! It’s a reasonable price for a show and a dinner out, but you’ll just want to be sure you have cash in your wallet before you head out.
▼Unless you’re a four-time world champion bull rider. Then we guess you drink for free…
If you’re interested in checking out the bar’s schedule, do so here. As you can see, they don’t have only bluegrass–there are honky tonk bands, singer-songwriter performers, and pure country in addition to twice-monthly bluegrass shows. And if you’d like to see more of Nessie Expedition, they’ll be playing in Ginza at Rocky Top on July 24. A big thank to everyone at Little Texas for a great night. You can bet we’ll be back soon!
Reference: Little Texas
All images by RocketNews24