1. Izakaya Meiji Company 345 Van Buren St. 541-505-8804. IzakayaMeiji.com.
2. Thinking Tree Spirits 88 Jackson St. 541-515-6993. ThinkingTreeSpirits.com.
3. Nelson’s in the Whit 400 Blair Blvd. 541-844-8404. NelsonsInTheWhit.com.
Trying to get a table for two at Izakaya Meiji on a Friday night is not for the faint of heart, as you will most likely be battling it out for a table among the other hungry Japanese small plate fans. The izakaya, with a whiskey bar flair, has been a Eugene staple since Quinn Brown and his wife Ayumi Kamata opened the restaurant in 2010.
With a menu that incorporates Japanese small plate favorites such as onigiri and wakame salad, but with a Southern twist, it’s not uncommon to find Japanese potato salad made with Kewpie mayo and collard greens with pickled togarashi. With equally inventive cocktails like mugwort bitters with Sazerac rye and scotch in their Smoke Dreams, Izakaya Meiji has mastered the art of a creative beverage — as a result, Meiji won Best Cocktails and Best East Asian Food and took third in Best Bartender.
On Oct. 4 the restaurant announced it was closing its doors at the end of the month, leaving the Eugene food community dismayed and wondering how they could close such an iconic establishment. A few days later, Izakaya Meiji went back on social media to announce that the closure is more or less a rebrand of the restaurant in its same location.
Meiji posted, “Wow what an outpouring of support from the community, our hearts are warmed by y’all’s response. We didn’t mean to leave you in the lurch but while Meiji is closing we are planning on opening a new spot in its location — and some favorite items will carry over.”