14 Izakaya in Kyoto that are Recommended by Locals

Publish-date: Dec 08 2017 Update-date: Nov 15 2018
Author: SAVOR JAPAN

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14 Izakaya in Kyoto that are Recommended by Locals

The historic city of Kyoto has many appealing izakaya (Japanese pubs), ranging from long-established ones serving delicious food to standing bars that you can casually stop by. Here is a selection of 14 izakaya that are specifically recommended for foreign tourists by locals.

1. Sumibi Kazuya

1. Sumibi Kazuya

First up is Sumibi Kazuya in Kawara-machi. The restaurant has the feel of a hideaway, with a beautiful wooden interior and Japanese decor. It prides itself in serving quality ingredients, such as fresh seafood and Kyo-Yasai (Kyoto traditional vegetables) procured directly from the market. The ingredients are served in a variety of different ways, such as tempura or sashimi, but the sumiyaki (charcoal grill) - which inspired the name of the restaurant - is particularly recommended (from 250 JPY each). The charcoal-grilled items are cooked at a high temperature to achieve a crispy surface and plump inside. The prices are reasonable - with 3 course offerings at 3,000 JPY, 4,000 JPY, and 5,000 JPY that all come with limitless drinks.

Sumibi Kazuya

Open: 3:00 pm - 3:00 am (L.O. 2:30 am) Drinks L.O. 2:45 am
Closed: None
Average price: 3,500 JPY
Address: 364, Kamiya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

2. Bajitofu

2. Bajitofu

Located in the backstreets of Shijo-Karasuma, Bajitofu is an izakaya that serves Japanese food, with an emphasis on yakitori (grilled chicken skewers). The yakitori are made with meticulously selected domestic chicken. Each part is skewered differently after the order is placed, in order to bring out the maximum umami (Japanese savory taste). They are then slowly cooked over high-quality Binchotan charcoal to achieve a plump and soft texture. There is a wide selection of yakitori, which start from 150 JPY a skewer, but the most popular ones are the [Kimo] (liver), [Seseri] (neck), and [Torinegi] (chicken and welsh onions). The voluminous [Torinegi] is a particular favorite that is cooked with a secret sauce that took 30 years to perfect. There are no courses, so you can order all the items that intrigue you a la carte.

Bajitofu

Open: 6:00 pm - 00:00 am (L.O. 11:30 pm) Last entry at 11:00 pm
Closed: Sunday, National Holidays
Average price: 3,000 JPY
Address: 587, Muromachi-dori Shijo-agaru Kikusuiboko-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

3. Ichiba Koji Teramachi Branch

3. Ichiba Koji Teramachi Branch

Next up is Ichiba Koji - a Japanese izakaya with an open kitchen that lets customers enjoy watching the dishes being made. It is recommended to sit on the 8 seats at the counter, but there are also tables, horigotatsu (sunken kotatsu table), and private rooms. The restaurant offers a wide selection of dishes, starting with the [Kuroge Wagyu Rump Steak] (from 980 JPY), wherein Japanese Black beef is grilled on an iron grill and finished in a stone oven. There's also the [Obanzai no Moriawase] (1,280 JPY) - a plate of homecooked Kyoto-style dishes - and the [Ichibayaki] (780 JPY), which is a grilled pancake made out of eggs, cabbage, flour, and Japanese yam.

Ichiba Koji Teramachi Branch

Open: Lunch 11:30 am - 4:00 pm (L.O. 3:00 pm) Dinner 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:00 pm)
[Saturday, Sunday, Day before National Holidays] L.O. 10:15 pm
Closed: None *Closed on January 1
Average price: [Dinner] 3,500 JPY / [Lunch] 1,150 JPY
Address: B1F, With You Bldg., Teramachi-dori Shijo-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

4. Onikai

4. Onikai

Onikai, which is a place to "enjoy seasonal Kyo-Yasai", has an understated exterior with no signage. Only a noren (curtain) is hung at the entrance. When you enter the restaurant, which is on the top of the stairs, you'll find a chic wooden space and an open kitchen. This restaurant serves Kyo-Yasai that's procured from local farmers, such as Isozumi Farm in Kyoto Otokuni no Sato, Muko. These vegetables are used in a variety of reasonably priced dishes, such as cooked salads and tempura. A particularly popular dish is the [Tomorokoshi no Tempura] (600 JPY). It is basically corn tempura, something that can be rarely found elsewhere! The flaky batter and texture of the plump corn kernels are wonderfully balanced.

Onikai

Open: 5:30 pm - 00:30 am
Closed: Thursday
Average price: 3,001 JPY - 3,500 JPY
Address: 388, Kawaramachi-dori Shijo-agaru Komeya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

5. Ryu no Hige

5. Ryu no Hige

Ryu no Hige is recommended for those who want to enjoy originality. This restaurant serves a variety of creative dishes that combine elements of traditional Kyoto and French cuisines. At lunchtime, an 8-course meal is offered for 3,500 JPY (by reservation only). In the evening, there are 2 additional courses that are also offered at reasonable prices: a 9-course meal for 5,000 JPY, and a 10-course meal for 6,500 JPY. The [Hassun] - a plate with 10 seasonal ingredients and delicacies, including Kyoto ingredients like yuba (tofu skin) and namafu (wheat starch) - is quite popular, so be sure to try it!

Ryu no Hige

Open: Lunch 11:30 am - 2:00 pm (L.O. 1:30 pm) Dinner 5:30 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 9:30 pm)
Closed: Monday
Average price: [Dinner] 6,000 JPY / [Lunch] 3,500 JPY
Address: Sangenme, Kawaramachi Oike-sagaru Hitosuji-me Higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

6. Isoya

6. Isoya

Isoya is a restaurant that's focused on vegetables. The seasonal vegetables procured from the owner's family farm, as well as other contracted farms, are listed on a blackboard at the back of the restaurant. The list includes fabulous products for every season. One standard dish is the [Yaki Tamanegi] (450 JPY) (grilled onion). Onions from Awaji, a famous producer, are steamed on an iron grill, creating a sweet dish that goes fabulously with the [Tamanegi Shio] (onion salt) made by mixing finely chopped, fried onions with salt. The restaurant also has 7 different types of local sake (Japanese alcohol) from Kyoto and Kinki, so be sure to experience how well they go with the fresh vegetables!

Isoya

Open: 5:30 pm - 00:00 am (L.O. 11:30 pm)
Closed: Irregular (Tuesday)
Address: 1F, Radice Matsuya Bldg., 421-5, Shimomaruya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

7. Nikomiya Gaku

7. Nikomiya Gaku14 Izakaya in Kyoto that are Recommended by Locals

Nikomiya Gaku is recommended for those who want to enjoy the appeal of a Japanese-style building in addition to the food. The restaurant was created by renovating the machiya-style house that the owner lived in, and it has a warm, nostalgic feel to it. The dishes served here are, as the restaurant's name implies, mostly nikomi (simmered) dishes. The signature dish, [Motsu Nikomi] (small costs 500 JPY, large costs 700 JPY), is an outstanding dish of offal cooked in a miso-based soup. The [Oden] is a hot pot dish of various ingredients cooked in the dashi (broth) from the Motsu Nikomi. You can order bonito and kombu (seaweed) individually, starting from 100 JPY per item. It has wonderful flavors that will make you feel warm and fuzzy. Enjoy your favorite items, such as daikon (radish), egg, chikuwa (tube-shaped fish-paste cake​), and atsuage (thick fried tofu​), with sake or shochu (Japanese alcohol).

Nikomiya Gaku

Open: 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Closed: Irregular
Average price: 3,000 JPY
Address: 264, Nishi Nishiki Koji-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

8. Kuchibashi Modern

8. Kuchibashi Modern

Kuchibashi Modern is an izakaya where you can enjoy a variety of chicken dishes. The Hine-dori (Hine chicken) are mature hens that become tastier the more you chew them. They are cooked in various ways, such as karaage (deep-fried chicken) and sashimi. This clean and casual restaurant pays attention to minute details, such as making sure that each plate is beautiful and matching. It is difficult to reserve a place at this popular restaurant, so be sure to book early!

Kuchibashi Modern

Open: 6:00 pm - 11:30 pm (L.O. 11:00 pm)
Closed: None
Average price: 3,001 JPY - 3,500 JPY
Address: 153-8, Sakai-machi Ayanokoji-shita Nagahara, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

9. Torisei Main Branch

9. Torisei Main Branch

If you want to enjoy local Kyoto sake with fantastic food, go to the main branch of Torisei in Fushimi. This is a yakitori restaurant that's run by a sake brewery that was established 340 years ago, which explains why even the exclusive [Kuradashi Genshu] (refined sake straight from the cellar) is just 430 JPY per glass! The reasonable prices, with many items that are 500 JPY or less, is one of the reasons for its popularity among locals. It is open for lunch, so why not stop by while sightseeing? Enjoy its popular [Oyako-don] (700 JPY) (rice bowl dish with chicken and eggs) with some local sake!

Torisei Main Branch

Open: [Tuesday - Friday] 11:30 am - 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:30 pm)"
Closed: Monday, National Holidays
Average price: [Dinner] 3,500 JPY / [Lunch] 1,000 JPY
Address: 186, Kamiaburakake-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

10. Nikubaru

10. Nikubaru

The name of this restaurant comes from the expression "oniku wo hoobaru" (stuff one's cheeks with meat), and is based on the desire for customers to "enjoy fantastic meat to their heart's content". It serves local brand name meats, such as Kyoto Tamba Kuroge Wagyu (Japanese Black wagyu beef from Tamba in Kyoto), Kyoto Aka Jidori (free-range chicken from Kyoto), and Kyoto Pork. It also offers rare meats like horsemeat, wild boar, and ostrich, all of which are procured right from the source. The owner is personally involved in procuring the ingredients, so they can sell them at great value! They have a variety of courses that are chockfull of meat (starting from 3,000 JPY).

Nikubaru

Open: 1:00 pm - 00:00 am (L.O. 11:30 pm) (L.O.) Food 11:00 pm, Drinks 11:30 pm
Closed: Irregular
Average price: 4,000 JPY
Address: 3F, Sakizo Kiyamachi Minami Bldg., 215, Kiyamachi-dori Shijo-agaru Nabeya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

11. Muromachi Kaji

11. Muromachi Kaji

Muromachi Kaji is a restaurant that is recommended for those who want to take advantage of their trip to dine in style. The restaurant consists primarily of seats at a simple counter with the warm feel of wood, where you can savor Japanese cuisine prepared by the owner, who trained at famous Kyoto restaurants like Gion Tori-imoto and Gion Nishikawa. The menu consists primarily of monthly a la carte dishes made with seasonal ingredients that the owner personally selects at places like Kyoto Wholesale Market. In particular, the [Otoshi Hassun] is a popular dish with 5 - 6 beautifully presented items. You will need to reserve in advance to partake in it!

Muromachi Kaji

Open: 6:00 pm - 00:00 am (L.O. 11:00 pm)
Closed: Irregular
Average price: 7,000 JPY
Address: 1F, Vine Oak Cent, 185, Muromachi-dori Matsubara Nishi-iru Nakanono-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

12. Kushi Tanaka

12. Kushi Tanaka14 Izakaya in Kyoto that are Recommended by Locals

This is a calm and comfortable restaurant with Japanese decor where you can enjoy carefully prepared kushiage (fried vegetables and meat on skewers). The menu consists solely of a course called [Ippotsuko] (3,800 JPY) (one-way street). The ingredients are covered in fine breadcrumbs to achieve lightness, and then fried in different oils depending on the ingredient. Vegetables and seafood are fried in refined canola oil, while pork and beef are fried in lard. These skewers - made with the finest attention to detail - have thin batter with maximized umami. Once you've had your fill of kushiage, order the Kyoto-style [Ochazuke] (700 JPY) (rice with green tea or broth poured over it) to finish the meal. The flavors are soft, with chirimen sansho (cooked Japanese sardines with strong japanese pepper) and bu-bu wakame (seaweed) stems adding flavor to the rice that has Hojicha (roasted green tea) poured over it.

Kushi Tanaka

Open: Dinner 5:30 pm - 10:30 pm (L.O. 10:00 pm)
Closed: Monday, Tuesday *Open if it is a national holiday
Average price: 5,000 JPY
Address: 310-10, Nishikikoji-dori Karasuma Nishi-iru Uradeyama-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

13. Yuki Gion Branch

13. Yuki Gion Branch

This izakaya is owned by the brewery in Shiga Prefecture that creates Kinkame brand sake. Since it is managed by a brewery, it offers original sake at reasonable prices, starting from 200 JPY. There is a wide selection of fresh seafood to accompany the sake. The assortment plate of sashimi is particularly popular. Reserved seating is on the 2nd floor, while seating at the counter is for customers without reservations. However, since it is a popular restaurant, there are always lines out the door, so it is worth getting a reservation.

Yuki Gion Branch

Open: 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:30 pm)
Closed: Sunday, National Holidays
Average price: 3,001 JPY - 3,500 JPY
Address: 111-1, Tominaga-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

14. Monaka-do

14. Monaka-do14 Izakaya in Kyoto that are Recommended by Locals

Monaka-do, which is on the 2nd floor of a building near Kawaramachi Station, is a Japanese izakaya with an interior full of the warmth of wood. This restaurant serves creative cuisine made with plenty of seasonal vegetables. Some popular menu items include the [Avocado Sonomanma Gratin] (550 JPY) - a stunning dish served in an avocado, and the [Nagaimo no Fried Potato] (500 JPY), which consists of fried potatoes made with crunchy Japanese yam that will get you hooked! The restaurant's signature dish is the voluminous [Chicken Nanban] (650 JPY) (sweet and spicy chicken with tartar sauce), so be sure to give it a try.

Monaka-do

Open: [Weekdays] 6:00 pm - 1:00 am (L.O. 00:30 am)
[Saturday] 5:00 pm - 1:00 am (L.O. 00:30 am)
[Sunday, National Holidays] 5:00 pm - 00:00 am (L.O. 11:30 pm)
Closed: Irregular
Average price: 4,000 JPY
Address: 2F, 378, Komeya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Source: hitosara (Japanese)

One of the top tourist destinations in Japan, Kyoto is full of fabulous restaurants. This article focuses on some recommended izakaya in Kyoto. Why not go for a drink at an izakaya that intrigues you after a day spent at historic temples and shrines?

Disclaimer: All information is accurate at time of publication.

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Publish-date: Dec 08 2017 Update-date: Nov 15 2018
Author: SAVOR JAPAN

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