The English Journal Spotlight introduces restaurants and cafes around Niigata. This month we visited Solero, a “back alley” cafe and gallery tucked away just off of the main stretch of Furumachi.
Well, Solero’s title does not disappoint. When they say back alley, they mean back alley.
When we traversed the rocky pavement and passed through Solero’s green door into the smokey interior, we did so with the vague expectation that “Solero” was some Romantic word meaning “sun.” Once in the cafe however, the owner, Ryo Hasegawa set us straight. Solero is actually an altered transcription of the Japanese verb “Soreru” in the imperative (“Sorero”). In other words, the name is a command to take a step off the main path and wander a little.
Solero is a restaurant with a lot of regulars. Before they opened shop last December, Ryo Hasegawa had been operating a local night club, and industry acquaintances seem to come and go out of hours. Solero has a really cozy atmosphere, and according to staff the cafe is most popular with female customers, but be warned: if you aren’t a smoker the air might be a little stuffy for you.
The lunch menu is simple and very reasonable. Every day they offer a hamburger plate, a curry plate, and a daily pasta. Each set comes with a drink and some side items. The servings are generous and Ryo has a good sense of flavor.
If you’re looking for dinner or a drink, then Solero is open late and offers a variety of small dishes in the evening.
In addition to the 1st floor cafe space, Solero also has a gallery/party space (equipped with a DJ booth) on the second floor. Artists can use the display space for free, and the room can be rented out for private parties.
Finally, as is the trend with many cafes in Japan these days, Solero offers a kind of lifestyle image. In addition to having a sister clothing store a few blocks to the west (“Sister”), the cafe itself offers a variety of miscellaneous goods.
Lunch 12:00 ~ 15:00
Dinner 15:00 ~ 24:00
Closed on Tuesdays
5-598 Furumachi-dori, Chuo-ku
Map (Scroll out for English Landmark Names)