Posts in Biased Bests
Abandoned Spaces, Street Galleries, and Art Collectives: Where to Get a Creative Boost in Belgrade

1. Ciglana

We spent few weeks in Belgrade and truly every person we met (after hearing about [place] makes) said, “have you been to Ciglana yet?” They were right—we loved it. Grab a drink, explore the installations, studios, and art, and then stay for a party at Kvaka 22.

We’re bummed we weren’t in town for the Dev9t festival and certainly plan to be back for it one day.

Nina Ivanovic

Nina Ivanovic

2. u10 Art Space

Stop by U10 art space - an independent art gallery that supports young contemporary artists. U10 is run by Lidija Delić, Nina Ivanović, Sava Knežević, Isidora Krstić, Iva Kuzmanović, Nemanja Nikolić and Marija Šević.

  • We visited the space and interviewed Nina to learn more about the gallery and to understand what it’s like to be a young creative in Belgrade. We learned that many young artists are conflicted between building the creative scene in the city and leaving for other, more established urban art havens where they can more easily promote their work.

3. cetinjska street 15 (zaoket + polet)

Want a guaranteed fun night out? Walk into Cetinjska Street 15, stroll past the car wash and grab a drink outside one of the hip bars, clubs and cafes. This once abandoned car lot turned cultural hub, Cetinjska, has it all. Whether it’s a film screening, concert, or club, this lively area is not to be missed.

  • We sat outside with Zaoket owners, Ojkic and Radojkovic, learning about how they have built community around music, parties and places to gather.

  • We spent another evening surrounded by arty- and academic- types at a gallery-meets-bar that inspires conversation, Polet.

Iva Cukic, Ministry of Space

Iva Cukic, Ministry of Space

4. Street gallery / (anything the ministry of space is behind)

Visit the open air “Street Gallery” . The gallery started as an underground show in 2010 by Ministry of Space, a collective that monitors and defends the use of public spaces and urban development in Belgrade and other Serbian cities. The Street Gallery then formally opened in 2012, and eventually became a 24/7 gallery of art with a new exhibit every two weeks. The exhibits focus on socially-charged, often provocative works of art on a narrow alley between Nušićeva Street and Trg Nikole Pašića Square.

  • We met with Iva Cukic, one of the members of Ministry of Space who was behind the negotiation and multi-year execution of this concept. She shared with us the story of opening The Street Gallery and the many other  urban interventions, exhibitions, and publications that confront issues of urban development.

5. museum macrua

During the summer months, head out of the city to the private art collection, Museum Macura, set in a beautiful space on top of a cliff overlooking the Danube. The space alone is reason for the visit and the impressive collection of contemporary art in both the museum space and warehouse a few km away.

  • We were there for opening day last season. Someone stood on a chair to read poetry, others sat outside taking in the view. A fish stew was prepared for all who came, and later in the afternoon we piled into cars to explore a warehouse with more of the private collection down the road.

6. just go for a walk. You’ll find work by artez and others

… and finally, simply walk around and you’ll find inspired street art, from amazing artists such as Artez, photographed to the right next to one of his murals. We interviewed him as he was painting a commissioned piece and later stumbled on his work  all over the world (really - we found a large piece on an island in Croatia!)

Best Spots for a Spontaneous Evening in NYC

Our favorite way to experience a night out in a city is to pick a neighborhood and be open to where the evening takes you.

Some of the most memorable nights are not fully planned, but allow flexibility. In a place like New York City, this can also make things quite expensive if you don’t pay attention. But, despite the rising cost of cultural events in NYC, there are still a number of spots to have a carefree spontaneous evening.

Here are some of our favorites:


  • This legendary Park Slope establishment hosts some of the most talented Jazz, Funk, Afro-Carribean, and Eastern European musicians in the city. If you feel like it’s time to get out of your musical rut and explore a different genre, come here.  No need to purchase tickets in advance. Just put $10 in the bucket once you enter the back room and enjoy the musical adventure.


  • This Red Hook bar hosts the best bluegrass jam sessions in the city. Every night, people flock from far and wide to see musicians of all ages play sing-along bluegrass tunes. No ticket needed, just grab a cheap beer and find a seat where you can. It’s no longer the secret neighborhood spot it used to be, but it’s still a gem.

Mercury Lounge

  • Located close to other small music spots in Manhattan like Piano’s, Rockwood Music Hall, and Bower Electric, this is my favorite for the lot. Mercury Lounge hosts some of the best up and coming bands around the country. Tickets are usually $10-$15, and it’s the best place in the city to find a music group right before they hit the “big time”

Union Hall

  • Union Hall curates some of the best comedy nights in the city. The former stomping of renowned comic Mike Birbiglia, this venue puts on affordable, amazing lineups that will be sure to keep you laughing through the night.

Pete’s Candy Shop

  • The volume of art events happening at Pete’s Candy Shop is staggering. They host about 3-4 artists in their small, but charming back room every night. Whether it’s an open mic, comedy showcase, or a singer-songwriter, all of the events here are free, intimate, and don’t require advanced purchase.

What are your favorite spots that we’re missing from the list? What are your favorite spontaneous spots for a night out in your city?

Best Cozy Coffee Shops in Japan

Coffee across Japan is excellent. Many of the Third Wave coffee houses are tiny havens, where a masterful cup of coffee is hand poured with a ritual-like attention to detail. Coffee experiences across the country feel like art. 

What can be a bit harder to find is a cafe (that serves excellent coffee) and is big enough to read a book, chat with a friend, or scribble ideas in your notebook.


Salon De Amanto (Nakazaki)

Hop up to Nakazaki and after meandering through shops and the beautiful narrow streets, don't miss this 120 year old house. What started as a cafe, is now a central fixture of arts and culture in Tokyo.  



Cafe Independants

This charming homey cafe embodies the Japanese "Wabi Sabi" in both decoration and ambiance. Set down a mosaic staircase, this arty environment is sure to inspire.

Walden Woods Cafe

In contrast to Cafe Independants, head South some contrast to dark, head to the crisp, clean space to enjoy a cappuccino on their minimalistic benches.   



Daikanyama T site (Daikanyama)

Disclaimer: you’ll be drinking Starbucks unless you head upstairs to the cafe but trust us, it’s worth it. Find your perfect nook among the three buildings and browse through a magazine or book. 

Hattifnatt (Koenji)

Sometimes you just want to feel like a kid and this spot delivers. In what feels like a colorfully illustrated treehouse, you can even climb a ladder and sit up in the loft as you enjoy your treats. 

Mois Cafe (Shimokitazawa)

You might think you're walking into a friends house at this converted old house as you walk up a wooden staircase and settle in. 


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Best (Hidden) Bars in Japan

Japan is full of secrets and hidden gems. No one wants to spill the beans on their favorite local bars and cafes, and for good reason! Often they only seat 3-7 people. There's charm in the fact that these bars are a bit private, subtle, and hard to find because when you find a spot you love you won't be disappointed. Hint: don't stick to the ground floor.

A few of the best:


  • A cocktail bar lit by only candlelight playing quiet house music. (We were sworn to secrecy!)

  • Yuki's will make sure your experience at The Bar Straight is both friendly and impeccable. Head up the elevator and down a hallway in Kyoto's Gion neighborhood.


  • Bar Huddle, a friendly tiny bar in Setagaya.

  • Abe will make you feel at home in his Golden Gai 8 seater, Bar Asyl. He's written descriptions of each whiskey bottle and happy to explain his preferences.

  • Little Soul Cafe: A record-spinning Shimo-Kitazawa hangout.


  • Bar Azzurri: a 4th floor cocktail lounge open 24 hours a day showing any soccer match you want to see.

  • Love Jazz and Vinyl? bird/56 should be your go to. 

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Best Neighborhood Bars in the World

We've chosen our favorite watering holes to get a feel of the neighborhood. We'll keep this list updated, in alphabetical order.

Belgrade: Polet on Cetinjska St.

Brooklyn: Freddy’s Bar & Backroom

Budapest: Szimpla Kert

Yes, this will be on every list you find...but this bar is a perfect spot regardless of the time of day.

Christchurch: Smash Palace

Hanoi: Bia Hoi Ha Noi

Ho Chi Minh City: Saigon Outcast

Kyoto: They're secret (email us and we’ll share a favorite)

Leipzig: Bayerischer Bahnhof (when in Leipzig, drink Gose)

Oakland: The Kingfish Pub

Prague: Zlý Časy

Tokyo: Asyl

Warsaw: Zacny Pyrkot

Wellington: Golding's Free Dive

Best Dive Bars in Oakland, CA

Here at Place Makes, we enjoy a $7.50 Hazy IPA at Drake’s Dealership as much as the next person. But sometimes you just want to walk up to a bar, order a $3 beer (and depending on your mood, a whiskey to go with it), and listen to a bartender talk about what Oakland was like “back in the day.” Here are the best five spots for cheap beer, good stories, and a host of local characters. 

5 Best Oakland Dive Bars

1) The Kingfish

If I only had one watering hole in Oakland to recommend, it would be The Kingfish. It’s hard to beat the combination of cheap drinks ($5 for all draughts and most cocktails), free popcorn, shuffleboard, and plenty of outdoor tables to post up and watch the Warriors. Don’t forget to order a late night hotdog from Casper.

2) The Alley

Part karaoke bar, part dive, and part cocktail lounge, The Alley is an Oakland watering hole like none other. Writer Kimberly Chun described it as being designed by “a drunken Walt Disney”, and we can’t say we disagree. Order a martini (best deal in town), take a seat close to the piano, and prepare to be transported to the 1920s. Feel free to request a song, but you better not ask for the latest pop hit. You’ll want to sing a tune from the Great American Songbook, with something by the likes of Cole Porter or George Gershwin.

3) George Kaye’s

George Kaye's is a great spot to watch a ballgame in peace. I've never seen more than seven people in this bar, but there are always two or three folks eager to shoot the shit with. Craving a rant about how terrible the Oakland A's are, or how invincible Steph Curry is this year? This is your spot.

4) Heart & Dagger Saloon

Heart & Dagger always has good vibes. It even has a spacious outdoor seating area to sip on a reasonably priced, $4 Lagunitas brew. On a Friday or Saturday night it's always full, but there's never a wait to grab your next beer. After hanging outside, head indoors for a game of billiards and put a quarter in the jukebox to play your favorite tune. 

5) The Ruby Room

The Ruby Room is known for its late night dance parties, and I’ve certainly enjoyed a few. However, my preference is to grab a seat at the bar around 8pm, well before the place fills up. Bring a buddy, grab a $3 High Life draught, and bask in the Ruby Red glow (literally) of this funky hole-in-the wall. 

Honorable Mention: Telegraph Beer Garden, The Avenue, Merchant’s Saloon

Best Local Shops in Oakland, CA

Oakland has some of the highest rates of retail leakage—i.e. people who live in Oakland and spend their dollars outside of the town. It's unfortunate because there are so many great places to shop (in addition to the many amazing restaurants, cafes, and bars). So get your wallet ready! You'll notice that many of these shops also act as venues, art galleries and community gathering spots. Just some of why we fell in love with this East Bay city.

Some of our favorite spots to shop:

1.     Viscera

Come here for American-made clothing and accessories with a story. Ari is amazing - pop in to see (read: buy) her products, and stay to chat. She knows all about Oakland's small-business world, even going as far to organize get-togethers with other shop owners, community happy hours, and more. Read our interview with Ari here.

2.     Laurel Bookstore

Across the way, Laurel Bookstore is one of those places you really want to stick around — so, give your Amazon Prime a break, and go buy a book.

3.     Show & Tell Concept Store

This store feels like a community space (it is), hosts events, and sells goods that are social responsible. They’ve recently moved locations, so be sure to double-check your map first!

4.     SoleSpace

As they say, this “shoe store and ArtsLab,” sells shoes and clothing during the day, and is an art gallery and performance space.

5.     FLAX Art & Design

Supplying bay area’s artists with materials for over 80 years, FLAX is a family-owned community staple. FLAX moved its flagship to downtown Oakland in 2016! 

Also amazing: Oaktown Spice Shop, Oaklandish, Esqueleto, Umami Mart, Two Jacks Denim, Crown Nine

Best Creative Cafes in Vietnam

Cafes are central of Vietnam's creative scene. They are a place to work, a place to collaborate and are places where poetry readings, open mic nights, art galleries, and musicians come together.   

Tang Tret Cosmos Cafe, Hanoi

Hop up to the second floor to find a cozy nook to make your own.

SOMA Art Cafe, Ho Chi Minh City

In District 2, this graffiti art clad venue not only makes a mean coffee, but also features up and coming local artists. 

Manzi Art Gallery, Hanoi

This art gallery and cafe in Hanoi in an old French Villa where you can enjoy your drink while seeing art from leading Vietnamese contemporary artists.

Mockingbird Cafe, Ho Chi Minh City  

In what may look like a rundown apartment building from the outside, leads up 4 flights of stairs to this wonderful little cafe.

Tranquil Books & Coffee, Hanoi

Leave you shoes downstairs and sneak on up to the second floor to find a silent retreat. Swing by in the evening for their open mic, piano night, or movie screenings! 


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