OLD NEWS: The Black Pig is out of business and has been replaced by another Bar which itself seems popular enough. It's also been redecorated. Too bad.
For Nostalgia's sake:
Originally, the Black Pig was a popular place for both foreigners and Japanese to hangout and enjoy good beer. The Black Pig was a British Pub with an Irish look. They notably served high quality IRISH beer, both Guinness and Kilkenny on tap among other things.
Mark Middlemiss, the former owner and bartender, was known for being a likable and a good host. He's been in Niigata a good 20 years.
Dress Code: None
Commentary: Formerly Cheers, now Hot Spot.
I haven't been to the Cheers after Robert sold it so I can't say what's new or not new about it. But, it turns out there's a new owner.
Rumor has it, Robert sold cheers to pursue his carreer as a `priest` to marry Japanese couples. This is understandable as it is one of the most lucrative of jobs for foreigners in Niigata (probably Japan). Some foreigners make so much money as mock priests that they don't bother doing anything else. Mock priests can make up to $1000 dollars a day. My bet is the sale of Cheers had more to do with this than anything else.
Previous posting below:
Notably, I'm posting this on May 1st the grand opening of the new and vastly improved Cheers. For those of you who may be wondering, the old Cheers closed down last week for the purpose of opening this one.
Cheers is known as the place to hang out and drink a lot. In fact, Robert encourages his patrons to get really happy and keeps his prices low. And we come back again and again because there's always good music and it's fun (and everybody knows your name). The Cheers crowd is a friendly bunch. In fact, of all the places I know, it's the easiest place to get to know the local crowd.
Naturally if you speak Japanese it'll be even easier. But, if you don't there are plenty of native English speakers sure to be about.
The new Cheers has a lot to offer that the old Cheers didn't. The new Cheers is huge serving dinner from 6 PM to 1 AM and stays open for the nightlife and fun afterwards until 5 AM or so in the morning.
Robert is active with his clientele and commanders a baseball team that has a history of its own. The baseball members are all regular attendants of Cheers.
The food is good and AMERICAN. If you're in need of a real American hamburger or steak sandwich, this is the place.
My personal favorite: The fajitas (with everything).
There are imported beers including Samual Adams, Guinness, Henry Weinhard's, and more.
Dress Code: clothing (usually)
Most of the time this is a restaurant. But, once a month the manager (Greg Hasegawa) turns it into a dance club. If you're new in town this is where a number of the newbee foreigners go to party there for a few hours with over 100 people when there are parties.
The food at the restaurant is ok.
It's more expensive than McDonald's, so bring some money. But, you'll see more foreigners here than perhaps any other restaurant in Niigata on a given night. Greg's been running his place for several years. It was briefly the most popular foreign restaurant in Niigata the first two years it was open. But, quality matters. It's still popular with the newbees because they don't know any better. Recently, others have been drawn to Dustin's Northern Lights (easy to find: located near the east end of Niigata station close to Immigrants Mediterranean) and the Local located in Honcho area (but, harder to find).
For more info go to:
Dress Code: Casual clothes.
Niigata Central-bld. B1F
Northern Lights has become a popular hang out spot for eating and drinking. Many of my students and friends frequent here.
Dustin, the owner, offers Canadian home style cooking to fill your pallet and he's been continually
improving on the service and food quality. Good job Dustin! Other foreign restaurants often become very complacent. I'm glad to hear Northern Lights hasn't.
This is the place to get a good Guinness beer on tap.
The owner, Dustin Culhane, opened this, Niigata's first Canadian restaurant several years ago.
Northern Lights boasts a comfortable atmosphere with a cedar bar, cedar furniture, and wood paneled walls.
Call to make reservations (and to get directions if you don't know Niigata well enough).
As mentioned elsewhere here, The Hot Spot is on the top floor of a large multi-function building commonly called the WITH building. I have found many old friends there, when I started going there a couple of months ago. The pool table, free, is generally level and busy after 9 pm - there are some really skilled players around, you might pick up some pointers from them. The drinks are almost all at the 500 level (about $4.30 USD), and weeknights you can get the 90-minute Nomi-hodai (all you can drink) for a mere 1500. The food is generally good, but tends to be the simplest of bar food.
There are Salsa classes Fridays and Mondays, and various events throughout the month - Eighties' Night, Trance parties, and other genres. Some nights, there will be a live DJ - if you see a white guy with a goatee, he gladly takes requests, as do most other DJs if it isn't an event night.
Dress Code: zero dress code, although I never any of the really extreme styles of dress you might see elsewhere in Japan - Harajuku being one example.
New Year's eve is a good time to go late at night to make a visit to a shrine or temple and pray for another good year. At Hakkusan shrine, throngs of people go to do so and throw out last years charms (omamori) into a giant bonfire and then they go on to purchase some new charms that also only have a one-year warranty.
This is also a good time to get some popoyaki or eat other kinds of Japanese fried snacks that are sold there on the shrine grounds.
Dress Code: pretty much, anything is ok
These are the places to have fun and do Salsa dancing. It`s not very expensive... about 1,500 yen and that usually includes 2 drinks. Cheers however doesn`t charge a cover fee. But, if you go to Cheers you`d best buy something or Robert will let you know how he feels about you.
Foreigners are welcome.
On Thursday nights they sometimes have Salsa at Cheers (in Furumachi near the Black Pig).
On Wednesday nights they sometimes have Salsa at Easy Kitchen (in Furumachi near old Camino).
On Sundays, they sometimes have Salsa during the day at Another Ticket (in Furumachi near old Camino).
Dress Code: Not much of a dress code. But, it`s recommended to wear shoes that are good for dancing (i.e. not hiking boots)
Kento's is a 50's/60's mostly American style music dance club. LIVE MUSIC!!! It's one of the few good places to go at night for some fun in Niigata. Here you can meet other foreigners from time to time and you'll actually see Japanese couples get up and dance together. It's a fun place although a bit pricey.
Dress Code: Whatever you want. But, if you're cool you'll dress a bit to the theme (50's & 60's).