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Right now there are two good reasons to stop and doff our caps to the wonderful, one-of-a-kind Berg. The first is that this old-school cafe/bar/diner hidden underneath a far corner of Shinjuku Station has just celebrated its 30th birthday.

Actually, that number comes with an asterisk. The original Berg coffee shop opened back in 1970, but it was rebuilt and revamped 20 years later into the classic basement operation it remains to this day.

Whether you’re there for the coffee (it’s more than passable for just ¥200), the beer (from ¥300), the food (simple, basic but honest, with lunch plates from as little as ¥500) or just a breather on your way through the world’s busiest station, little has changed. Berg has become a veritable institution, a last bastion of the heady days when Shinjuku was a center for subcultural inclusivity.

The other reason for saluting Berg is that it finally pulled the plug on smoking. It may still be cramped and crowded — though less so since COVID-19 — and you may still have to stand to enjoy your hot dog, wine or craft beer. But at least it’s less of a health hazard. Long may Berg run!

Open daily 7 a.m.-11 p.m. (except when the building is closed); set lunch plate from ¥500, hot dogs from ¥290, coffee from ¥200, beer from ¥300; major cards, e-money accepted; Japanese menu; takeout available; little English spoken

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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