French accordion music is floating out from lamp-post speakers as people crowd into the narrow strips of shade on either side of a street in Tokyo's Kagurazaka neighborhood. Long a cultural center, the gentle slope on which the neighborhood now stands once ended at the moat around Edo Castle. Kagurazaka is Tokyo's "Little Paris," with a high concentration of French restaurants, shops and expatriates.

Some of the people on the street today are dressed in summer yukata (cotton kimono), some are waving fans to cool their sweating brows, while others are peering into shop windows or contemplating lunch. I'm trying to admire the local Zenkokuji Temple, but the heat is too distracting — my clothes are starting to cling and I'm getting thirsty. On days like this, nothing satisfies quite like a subterranean pint.

I push open the door to basement bar Craft Beer Server Land, take a seat near the entrance and look down the length of the rectangular space to the small bar and kitchen behind. The long, white walls and high stools accented by creeping ivy create a cool and calm, almost Mediterranean atmosphere. Despite the early hour, the bar is already half full. Craft Beer Server Land is one of Tokyo's few beer bars open for lunch on weekends, with an eclectic menu that runs the gamut from fish and chips to green curry. There's a ¥380 seating charge, but the quality of food and comparatively low beer prices make up for it.