Kyoto, the millennial city, has an amazing culture that has been cultivated and refined through history. This is true not just in terms of folk crafts and artworks, but also in regards to its food culture. This article offers a roundup of restaurants in Kyoto that serve dishes that are as beautiful as art pieces!
1. Yamaji Yosuke
Soon after its opening in Gion, an area with lots of refined and well-established restaurants, this French restaurant became extremely popular. They serve lots of creative dishes made by a talented chef who, in France, enthralled VIPs from all over the world with his cooking mastery. His incredible ideas involve several Japanese ingredients, like spiny lobster and Kobe beef. The restaurant also offers a variety of wines to accompany your food, from old vintage products to hidden gems, as well as natural wines.
: Lunch from 12:00 pm (L.O. 1:30 pm), Dinner from 6:00 pm (L.O. 9:00 pm)Closed
: Monday *Closes irregularly twice a monthAverage price
: [Dinner] 20,000 JPY / [Lunch] 8,000 JPYAddress
: 570-151, Minami-gawa, Gion-machi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
2. Shimogamosaryo Main Branch
Founded in 1856, this long-established restaurant is a perfect example of Kyoto's exemplary cuisine and welcoming spirit. It has inherited the principle of "dosan doho" (literally: local products, local customs), which requires food to be prepared using local, traditional methods and ingredients. They serve authentic Kyoto dishes with a touch of creativity that are made with Kyo-Yasai (traditional vegetables from Kyoto) and other seasonal ingredients. It has a relaxing atmosphere and elegant furniture, which is typical of the old restaurants in the area. Enjoy a luxurious meal surrounded by the greenery of the well-cared-for garden.
Shimogamosaryo Main Branch
: Lunch 11:00 am - 3:00 pm (L.O. 2:00 pm), Dinner 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm (L.O. 8:00 pm)Closed
: IrregularAverage price
: [Dinner] 16,000 JPY / [Lunch] 7,000 JPYAddress
: 62, Shimogamo Miyakawa-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
3. Kentan Horibe
After gaining popularity in Gion, this renowned Kyoto cuisine restaurant moved to Karasuma, a shopping district. In what used to be a typical machiya (old merchant's house) that was designed in a traditional Kyoto architectural style, a small traditional garden known as "tsubo-niwa" gives it an elegant touch. The ever-changing seasonal interior and the colorful tableware reflect the typical atmosphere of Kyoto. The menu is made of amazing dishes that use ingredients chosen daily, which embodies traditional and genuine Japanese cuisine. Even the water, used in the dashi (broth), is the famous [Yanagi no Mizu], which is acknowledged by the well-known tea ceremony master, Sen no Rikyu!
: Lunch 11:30 am - 2:00 pm (L.O. 12:30 pm), Dinner 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm (L.O. 8:00 pm)Closed
: TuesdayAverage price
: [Dinner] 12,000 JPY / [Lunch] 5,000 JPYAddress
: 273, Tenjinyama-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
4. The SODOH HIGASHIYAMA Kyoto
Located in Higashiyama, an area dotted with Important Cultural Assets, this restaurant's land encompasses over 60,000sq ft. Surrounded by an immense garden, the building used to be the residence of the pioneer of modern Japanese painting, Seiho Takeuchi. Have a lovely time in this elegant Japanese house, which still retains its ancient features. Here, Italian dishes are served with seasonal products from Kyoto, using traditional cooking techniques. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the beauty and creativity of their dishes!
The SODOH HIGASHIYAMA Kyoto
: [Weekdays] Lunch 11:00 am - 2:30 pm (L.O. 2:30 pm), Dinner 5:30 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 9:00 pm)
[Saturday, Sunday, National Holidays] Dinner 5:30 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 9:00 pm)Closed
: IrregularAverage price
: [Dinner] 7,000 JPY / [Lunch] 3,000 JPYAddress
: 366, Yasaka Kami-machi, Yasaka-dori, Shimokawara Higashi-iru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
5. RISTORANTE Misato
This Italian restaurant stands in a corner of a quiet residential area. Housed in a renovated over-100-year-old kominka (Japanese traditional house), it gives off a Japanese vibe while offering Italian cuisine. They stick to the concept of "traditional Italian food" by using plenty of seasonal ingredients. Fresh seafood from all over the country, chemical-free organic vegetables from Kamitoba (Kyoto), wild mushrooms, and wild vegetables from Shinshu (Nagano) are all carefully prepared to make a variety of delicacies. There is also a lineup of 150 types of Italian wines. If you prefer to order by glass, you can choose from 8 options.
: Lunch 11:30 am - 2:00 pm (L.O.), Dinner 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm (L.O.)Closed
: IrregularAverage price
: [Dinner] 10,000 JPY / [Lunch] 3,000 JPYAddress
: 246-2, Kajiya-cho, Matsubara-sagaru, Sakaimachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
Surrounded by a hedge, this kominka built 80 years ago offers a relaxing space away from the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy your meals. You can have healthy dishes made with seasonal seafood and meat, with vegetables harvested every morning by the owner from the fields of their contracted farmer. The menu varies according to their daily stock. The charm of their dishes lie in their creative efforts to match the ingredients with each other, as well as with various dashi and sauces. Enjoy many colors of Kyoto's cuisine, from traditional dishes to creatively arranged ones.
: Lunch from 12:00 pm (last entry is at 12:30 pm), Dinner from 6:30 pm (last entry is at 7:30 pm)Closed
: Wednesday, Every last Thursday of the monthAverage price
: [Dinner] 15,000 JPY / [Lunch] 5,500 JPYAddress
: 58, Kamigamo Okamoto-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
7. Higashiyama garden
This restaurant is located near the popular sightseeing spot, Kiyomizu Temple (Kiyomizu-dera). In its modern Japanese interior, you'll get to enjoy your meal while admiring the beauty of the four seasons reflected in the garden. Their menu offers elaborate French and Italian dishes made by a talented chef who has won numerous competitions. His dishes are made so to enhance the flavor of their meat, seafood, and Kyo-Yasai, which are carefully selected from various areas of Japan. They're also incredibly beautiful. Using all 5 senses, you can savor the tradition and seasonality of Kyoto cuisine within each dish.
: [Wednesday - Friday, Day before National Holidays] Lunch 11:30 am - 3:00 pm (L.O. 2:00 pm), Dinner 5:00 pm - 9:30 pm (L.O. 8:30 pm)
[Saturday, Sunday, National Holidays] Dinner 6:00 pm - 9:30 pm (L.O. 8:30 pm)Closed
: Monday, TuesdayAverage price
: [Dinner] 5,000 JPY / [Lunch] 3,000 JPYAddress
: 4-166, Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
8. Restaurant MOTOI
"Host and guest as one" (the host and their guests participate in a tea ceremony together) is a phrase that embodies the spirit of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. It is also the concept of this restaurant. The chefs create innovative modern French dishes that, without deviating too much from French tradition, are also enriched with ideas from Chinese cuisine. Here, hospitality is taken so seriously that the chefs personally harvest their ingredients from mountains and fields. They also go directly to production places to carefully selected and procure main ingredients like meat and seafood. As for wines, you can choose from a colorful selection that, while focusing on French wines, also includes Japanese, Californian, and Spanish wines.
: Lunch from 12:00 pm (L.O. 1:00 pm), Dinner from 6:00 pm (L.O. 8:00 pm)Closed
: Wednesday, ThursdayAverage price
: [Dinner] 20,000 JPYAddress
: 186, Tawaraya-cho, Tominokoji-dori 2-jo-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
9. Gion Nishikawa
This restaurant, which serves Kaiseki cuisine (Japanese banquet cuisine with alcohol), sits in a typical Kyoto alley. The owner, who started this restaurant when he was young, is considered to be one of the best in Kyoto's gourmet world for ending up on a world-renowned gourmet guide after only running the restaurant for a year. The menu, tailored to what's available for that day, offers a lot of dishes that enhance the good qualities of the ingredients, all while adding a creative touch to the seasonings and arrangements. If you’re up for tasting a variety of flavors, you can try their dinner course that is comprised of 14 different delicacies. The interior is made out of materials like bamboo and hinoki (a type of wood), giving a sense of elegance and solemnity. From the counter, tatami rooms, or table seats, you can admire beautiful tsubo-niwa.
: [Tuesday - Saturday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] Lunch 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm (admission required at 12:00 pm), Dinner 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm (L.O. 8:00 pm)
[Monday] Dinner 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm (L.O. 8:00 pm)Closed
: Sunday (closed the following day if Sunday falls on a national holiday)Average price
: [Dinner] 20,000 JPY / [Lunch] 5,000 JPYAddress
: 473, Shimogawara-cho, Yasaka Toriimae-sagaru, Shimogawara-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
This Italian restaurant has a Japanese courtyard, and is established in a Kyo-machiya (old merchant's house in Kyoto) that was built over 100 years ago. They serve course meals that enhance the qualities of the ingredients. All of their ingredients, such as their local vegetables, are seasonal and stocked from the surrounding areas and suburbs. No ready-made ingredients are used, as everything is handmade and prepared from start with extreme care. In particular, their meat dishes made with Tamba ji-dori (Tamba chicken) and duck fillet from Kyoto are highly recommended. You can pair them with selected wines imported from all over the world, and especially with Italian wine.
: Lunch 11:30 am - 3:00 pm (L.O. 2:00 pm, but based on number of reservations, it could be L.O. 1:30 pm), Dinner 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 9:30 pm)Closed
: Monday, Every 2nd Tuesday of the monthAverage price
: [Dinner] 5,000 JPY / [Lunch] 2,000 JPYAddress
: 453, Tachibana-cho, Takatsuji Hokusei-kado, Gokomachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
This is a long-established restaurant that was founded in 1801. Located in a typical Kyo-machiya that's designated as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan, guests are welcomed with traditional Kaiseki cuisine (traditional Japanese course cuisine with tea) and exquisite hospitality. The chefs, who all mastered the elegance of Japanese cooking, create a variety of seasonal dishes that please both the eyes and tongue. Using their delightful dashi, they enhance the charms of seasonal ingredients like Kyo-Yasai to the fullest. There is no standard menu. Rather, you'll be offered the most suitable dishes according to the season and your own preferences. Come here to enjoy delicious Kyoto cuisine while admiring their beautiful tsubo-niwa.
Open: Lunch 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm (last admission / L.O. 1:30 pm), Dinner 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm (last admission / L.O. 7:30 pm)
Closed: Irregular (mainly Wednesday)
Average price: [Dinner] 20,000 JPY / [Lunch] 10,000 JPY
Address: 407, Dainichi-cho, Gokomachi-dori 4-jo-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
This is another restaurant that's housed inside of a renovated 100-year-old machiya. The Japanese dishes served here are rich in ingredients like Kyo-Yasai, as well as namafu (wheat starch cake), tofu, and seafood from well-established shops, which allow diners to truly savor the charm of Kyoto. For their dashi and rice, they use Kyoto's well water, which creates a unique mild flavor. They also serve lots of dietary dishes that are made under the supervision of a traditional Chinese medicine expert. For example, the [Awabi no Yakuzen-mushi] (3,000 JPY plus tax) is an abalone dish stewed together with medicinal herbs, such as Korean ginseng and beach silvertop. This awesome delicacy combines classic Japanese techniques with nourishing yet delicate flavors.
: [Thursday - Saturday] Lunch 11:30 am - 1:30 pm, Kyo-machiya Lunch & Cafe 10:30 am - 3:30 pm, Dinner 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:15 pm)
[Monday - Wednesday, Sunday] Dinner 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:15 pm)Closed
: IrregularAverage price
: [Dinner] 5,800 JPY / [Lunch] 1,200 JPYAddress
: 609, Kikkoya-cho, Aneyakoji-agaru, Takakura-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
13. Wabiya Korekidou Gion Hanamikoji Main Branch
Characterized by tender meat and juicy fat, [Wabiya-dori] (Wabiya chicken) is one of the premium chicken brands that's selected from all over the country and used in this restaurant, which specializes in chicken dishes. You should definitely try their beautiful and lively dishes, such as their [Truffle Tsuke-soba] (1,400 JPY), which are topped with truffle that's shaved right in front of your eyes. Soba (buckwheat noodles) and truffles are soaked in a delicious chicken chintan (clear) soup made with butter. Another unmissable delicacy is the unique [Kamo Tsukune Balsamic Sauce with Egg Yolks] (500 JPY), where juicy duck tsukune (meatballs) are dipped in a special sauce made of balsamic vinegar and fond de veau, which is served in a piping hot stone pot.
Wabiya Korekidou Gion Hanamikoji Main Branch
: Lunch 11:30 am - 2:00 pm, Dinner 5:00 pm - 11:00 pmClosed
: Monday *Always open in November, December, March, and AprilAverage price
: [Dinner] 8,000 JPY / [Lunch] 1,600 JPYAddress
: Kaburenjo Kita-gawa, Gion-machi Minami-gawa, Shijo Hanamikoji-sagaru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
The building that this restaurant is in also used to be a Kyo-machiya, and is designated as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan. They offer a new style of cooking that adds an Asian touch - inspired by dishes from Japan, Korea, China - to French cuisine. For both lunch and dinner, you can choose from 3 types of courses. A classic item to order is the [Foie Gras Sauteé], served with different vegetables and sauces according to the season. Alternatively, you could try one of their seasonal dishes like the [Hungarian Duck Roast Nara-zuke Ensemble], which is a hors d'oeuvre combining sweet duck meat with salty tsukemono (Japanese pickled vegetables).
Open: Lunch 11:30 am - 2:30 pm (L.O. 1:30 pm), Dinner 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm (L.O. 8:00 pm)
Closed: Wednesday, Every 3rd Tuesday of the month
Average price: [Dinner] 6,000 JPY / [Lunch] 4,000 JPY
Address: 100, Rokuro-cho, Yamato Oji Higashi-iru, Matsubara-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
15. Kyo Suiran
Located inside a hotel that's in a premium part of Arashiyama, this restaurant is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes. You can admire the stunning scenery of Arashiyama from this magnificent building, along with a lovely Japanese garden that was built a century ago. In the modern interior that exudes a sense of dignity, you can taste many creative dishes that combine French aesthetic sense with traditional Japanese cooking techniques. Along with premium French ingredients like caviar, foie gras, truffle, and lobsters, they also make use of local ingredients for local consumption, such as Kyo-Yasai and wild seafood from adjacent seas.
: Breakfast 7:00 am - 10:00 am (L.O. 10:00 am), Lunch 11:30 am - 2:30 pm (L.O. 2:30 pm), Dinner 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm (L.O. 9:00 pm)Closed
: NoneAverage price
: [Dinner] 18,000 JPY / [Lunch] 6,000 JPYAddress
: 12, Sagatenryuji Susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, KyotoMore Details
Did you find anything interesting? If you’re going to Kyoto, take this chance to have a unique meal in one of these traditional and creative restaurants!
Disclaimer: All information is accurate at time of publication.