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General Discussion 10

Why aren't "legit" izakayas/cantinas/tapas bars common in America?

nihon_no_paellera | Jan 7, 201705:32 PM

For those of you who are unsure what an "authentic" cantina/izakaya is, it is an establishment in which drinking is the primary objective, but where many small appetizer plates are served. Cantinas are from Mexico and izakayas are from Japan. I guess we can also throw tapas bars in there.

Now, I know there are many places that call themselves "tapas bars" and "izakayas," but in my experience, these places are just restaurants. People don't go there to drink, and if I get moderately drunk or loud like I would at a bar, it would be unseemly to the ambiance. Most importantly, the food and drinks are generally very expensive (>10$ per plate on average), which doesn't match the stereotype of izakayas in Japan, cantinas in Mexico, and tapas bars in Spain (In Barcelona in fact, it's common for a tapas bar to only charge for alcohol and give all tapas free). Typically, the drinks and food should be cheap, so that people can just have a good time. And the place has to not be pretentious - most "izakayas" and "tapas bars" are kind of hipsterish-pretentious.

I think these places are also distinct from a pub with generic "bar food." Most bar foods are large meal-sized plates. Even the for-share appetizers are very large.

There is only one place in the US/Canada in which I have found a legit izakaya: nyc. The place always has a long line, the beer is literally the cheapest I can find anywhere in Manhattan (and it's japanese imports!), and everyone orders a bunch of small plates and gets drunk. There may also be one in Toronto - I've never been, but a youtube video of it made it seem close to what I'm imagining.

So why aren't these establishments more common in the US, even in trendy cities like Chicago, LA, NYC, Boston, etc? Is it a supply problem or a demand problem? Would you attend these places? Is American culture just opposed to ordering streams of small appetizer plates as they drink and hangout?

An image of what I am imagining is a table spread like this: Then maybe you will have a bottle of soju and some beer.

And to show I'm not that off the mark, this guy seems to agree with me:

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