This is very outdated. It is current only to May 2010. Countless places have closed down since then, many replaced by soulless corporate chains or convenience stores.
If you’re looking for more detailed posts and info, check out Koenjagaya. Although, it stopped new content in Feb 2018. (Maybe one or two new posts will appear if I have time.)
Koenji was the best neighbourhood in Tokyo.
The birthplace of Japanese punk. A place to eat, drink and hit the best live house scene in Japan. I’d hesitate to live anywhere else. The proof is in pictures at this Koenji Flickr set. You may also like this New York Times article on Koenji.
20000Volt: Japanese punk’s womb. Punk, hardcore, noise, grindcore, etc.
Gear: Grindcore, funk, and anything else
Penguin House: Indie, various
Moon Stomp: Indie, jazz, various
Club Roots: DJ, hip hop, dance, weird
Koenji High: Hard, soft & in between and a (supposedly) cap of 600
Show Boat: One of Koenji’s biggest with capacity for 330 people
Club Mission’s: Eclectic (punk, rockabilly, visual kei, goth, etc.) [CLOSED 2017?]
Indian Summer: Awesome staff, good parties, live music/DJ, and a record label
Secret Base Zero: 2 dudes who love reggae. All drinks 500 yen. 2F. seats 12.
Gypsy: Small standing bar with cool Master [CLOSED OCT. 2009]
Zion: Small reggae bar with some food, 5 tables & a bar [CLOSED NOV. 2009]
B-Glad: Spacious basement bar, free pool, 2 dart machines, foosball, etc.
Dope Soul Trax (DST): Tiny dance club, lotsa vinyl
Dynamo: NEW. Foreigner-run bar/cafe/skate shop. Opens at 18:30
Rock Ya!: A 70s rock bar run by a guy, his wife, two turntables and their massive vinyl collection
Akaten: 30 years of delicious gyoza. Seats five, open 6pm-9pm. Closed Wednesdays.
Miyagawa:The best yakitori in Tokyo
Tensuke Tempura: Awesome tempura, seating for about eight
Gut’s Soul: Yakiniku (All-you-can eat meat from 1280 yen)
Baan Esan: Thai / 03-3315-1005
Dachibin: Okinawan with atmosphere
Zats Burger Café: Home of the kick ass Sasebo Burger in Tokyo
Yonchome Café: Cool 2F restaurant/café patio overlooking Koenji Station South Exit. Also has a covered patio
Café Draperie: Pizza, pasta, perfect panini & sidewalk patio, the most expensive imported beer in Koenji, WiFi, and bossanova tunes
HERE WE ARE marble Funky cafe, bar, book shop, event space, music studio
Pizza Americano: A new pizza joint connected to ZAT’S Sasebo Burger
Ichizo Ramen: awesome spicy miso thin noodle ramen and gyoza
Ramen Dai: large portions, thick noodles; ramen-only menu
DIZZ: On Central Road. The place for jumbo-kushiyaki. 17:00-25:00, seats 36
Soba Chaya (そば茶屋): Good old-style soba & udon shop, most 600-900 yen. On the PAL shotengai, no English menu or staff.
Zabon (ザボン): Damn good ramen open 6:00PM – 4:00AM.
The Koenji: Small hostel 45 seconds from Koenji JR Station, single rooms 2,500/night
Groceries & liquor shops
Takano: Cheap produce market. N. Exit b/w McD’s & 7-11. Closes 7pm/Sunday
Tokyo-ya: Imported snacks, condiments & cheap booze (2 stores down from Takano). Closed Wednesdays.
OK Mart: Best & cheapest place for groceries, beer, booze, etc. Straight out S. Exit one block
Kakuyasu: Big discount liquor shop
Becks Coffee (Koenji JR Station)
Moon Step: 2-storey punk live house & pub in Nakano