With its remarkable cuisine and historical architecture, Kyoto offers a variety of unique cultural experiences. Izakaya (Japanese pubs) are wonderful places to enjoy Kyoto’s traditional taste and atmosphere. Below are 15 great izakaya in one of Kyoto’s top commercial districts, Shijo-Kawaramachi.
1. Kyoto Yakitori Seisakusho
Kyoto Yakitori Seisakusho serves a variety of chicken dishes, centering on [Yakitori] (grilled chicken skewers) that are slowly grilled over charcoal. All the chicken served here are Kyo Aka-jidori hens – a brand of free-range chicken from mountain hamlets in Kyoto. They are so fresh that they can be eaten as [Otsukuri] (sashimi)! The most popular menu item is the restaurant’s signature [Momo-yaki] (grilled thigh), which is an outstanding dish made with a special salt that brings out the chicken’s umami (Japanese savory taste). Another dish that you can’t miss is the juicy [Tsukune] (meatballs) that come in 4 flavors, including salt and cheese. The restaurant has a comfortable atmosphere, with a retro-modern interior and several types of seating, such table seating, horigotatsu (sunken kotatsu table), and private rooms.
Kyoto Yakitori Seisakusho
[Sunday] Lunch 5:00 pm – 00:00 am (L.O. 11:00 pm)
Average price: 3,000 JPY
Address: 324, Tabiya-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
At Kyohana, you can enjoy [Obanzai], which refers to traditional homecooked dishes from Kyoto. It is a regional cuisine made from seasonal ingredients that you’ll definitely want to try while in Kyoto. The recommended dish here is the [Obanzai Teishoku] that includes 7 Obanzai dishes. Enjoy the colorful presentation of food made with local ingredients. The lunch dish, [Terisuki-don] – a rice bowl of freshly grilled Kyo Aka-jidori chicken served with a special sauce and egg yolk – also has a fantastic flavor. The [Tori Dashi Ramen] – ramen noodles served in a homemade blend of chicken bone stock and carefully selected salt, then topped with slices of sudachi (Japanese citrus) – has a light flavor, and is the perfect dish to order at the end of a party.
Average price: [Dinner] 4,000 JPY / [Lunch] 1,500 JPY
Access: 5 minutes walk from Karasuma-oike station No. 4-1 exit on Karasuma subway line.
Address: 89, Machigashira-cho, Shinmachi Higashi-iru, Aneyakoji-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
Togiya serves creative cuisine featuring fresh Kyoto vegetables. The vegetables used in the dishes, primarily of Japanese and Chinese cuisine, are carefully selected by the owner, who is also a “vegetable sommelier”. All of the vegetables are either grown on small farms or by aquaculture, resulting in vibrant vegetables that smell of the sun. Some menu items that are perfect for savoring fresh vegetables are the [Togiya Salad] and [Watashinchi no Marugoto Tomato]. The [Kyo Shiro-miso no Tonyu Motsunabe] – a pot of offal in a miso and soy milk soup, blended with 4 different types of dashi (broth) – is another fantastic dish with deep flavors. The comfortable interior, along with the feel of being in an old Kyoto house, adds to the experience.
[Friday – Sunday, National Holidays] Lunch 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm (reservation required for parties of 6 or more)
Average price: [Dinner] 3,500 JPY / [Lunch] 1,200 JPY
Address: Nishi, 1F, Isle Takeshima Bldg., 496, Kamikoriki-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
Umayaro serves affordable horse meat from Kumamoto in Kyushu, which is the home of horse meat cuisine. Horse meat that is so fresh that you can eat it raw as sashimi is delivered every day from Kumamoto. The [Basashimori] is a platter of 5 fresh, choice horse meat cuts that are served as sashimi. It is served in a special plate that is in the shape of a horse, so you can easily tell what part the meat is from. If you would rather not have the meat raw, why not try the shabu-shabu (sliced meat parboiled with vegetables)? The [Kyofu Sakura-nabe] is a warm and tasty pot with soup made from white miso – which is commonly used in Kyoto – and soy milk that pairs well with horse meat.
Open: [Friday, Saturday, Day before National Holidays] 5:00 pm – 3:00 am
[Monday – Thursday, Sunday] 5:00 pm – 1:00 am
Closed: 1st and 3rd Monday of every month
Average price: [Dinner] 3,500 JPY
Address: 368-1, Kamiya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Kyoraku is a calm and comfortable restaurant that overlooks Kiyamachi Street (Kiyamachi-dori). The many historic stone monuments littering the street adds to the restaurant’s unique ambiance. They have horigotatsu, so you can stretch your legs out and comfortably enjoy your meal. The food – made with Kyoto vegetables and other seasonal ingredients – is presented beautifully, making their dishes pleasing to both the eyes and taste buds. The [Otsukuri Sanshumori] is a sashimi plate consisting of 3 different seafoods that are procured on the same day. It is a great way to enjoy the flavors of flavorful fish throughout the seasons. If you want to savor wagyu beef – famous worldwide for its sweet fat and texture that seems to melt in the mouth – try the [Kuroge Wagyu no Yoganyaki].
Average price: [Dinner] 3,800 JPY
Address: 5F, Yurika Bldg., 528, Kamiosaka-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
TAKANOYA is a beer hall serving craft beer in a business district. There are 10 beer taps: 8 of which serve foreign beers, and 2 that serve Japanese beers. There is a wide selection of beers, from light to heavy, including red beer, dark beer, and white beer. The side dishes are mostly Japanese cuisine that have been lovingly prepared to complement the beer. The [Jikasei no Kunsei], which consists of homemade smoked items, is an outstanding dish that you don’t want to miss. The [Otsukuri] – sashimi plate of marinated mackerel and fresh seasonal fish – is recommended for fish lovers.
Average price: [Dinner] 3,000 JPY
Access: 10 minutes walk from Karasuma-oike station on Karasuma municipal subway line. Located in front of Kyoto Shimbun.
Address: 255, Makieya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
7. Pizzeria e Bar La Voce
Pizzeria e Bar La Voce is an Italian restaurant that’s housed in a renovated, old, wooden Kyoto-style home called a “Kyo-machiya”. The counter seating on the 1st floor is recommended for those who want to casually enjoy food and wine, while the table seating on the 2nd floor is recommended for those who want to have a relaxing meal with friends and family. You won’t want to miss the Pizza Napolitano, which is made in a wood-fire oven procured from the Naples, as well as the [Hokkaido-san Ikeda-gyu Momoniku], which uses Hokkaido beef thigh that the owner personally chose. The homemade fettuccine noodles, served with a generous helping of freshwater prawns and fresh tomato sauce, is another outstanding dish full of umami.
Pizzeria e Bar La Voce
Lunch is only on weekends and national holidays from 11:30 am – 3:00 pm (L.O. 2:00 pm)
Average price: [Dinner] 4,000 JPY / [Lunch] 1,000 JPY
Address: 317-2, Tabiya-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
8. Muromachi Kaji
Muromachi Kaji serves Japanese cuisine that has been lovingly made with seasonal ingredients, along with a selection of sake (Japanese alcohol) that has been carefully selected by the owner. The restaurant’s concept is to be a place where customers can relax and enjoy sake and food, so they mainly have casual counter seating. The food is like what you would find at first-rate restaurants, but they are offered at reasonable prices. The menu consists primarily of a la carte dishes, and it changes every month. The popular [Otoshi Hassun] (reservation required) consists of various appetizers in adorable, small dishes and plates, with colorful food that go well with sake. The [Kama-age Shirasu Gohan] (rice pot with young sardines) is recommended as the the last dish to end your meal.
Average price: [Dinner] 7,000 JPY
Address: 1F, Vine Oak St., 185 Muromachi-dori, Matsubara Nishi-iru, Nakanono-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
9. Nagomi-ren Karasumaru Branch
This restaurant has a quiet and comfortable atmosphere, and is located in a renovated machiya-style building. It is perfect for enjoying a wide selection of tuna dishes. The restaurant has a variety of private rooms that accommodate anywhere from 2 – 32 guests. The private rooms for couples on the 2nd floor is set up so you sit side-by-side to enjoy an intimate dinner. The restaurant is run by a tuna wholesaler, so the quality of the tuna is guaranteed. The tuna is procured directly from Misaki Port, one of Japan’s largest ports for tuna, so it is as fresh as it can be. Enjoy tuna prepared in a variety of different ways, such as sashimi, karaage (deep-fried), and steak.
Nagomi-ren Karasumaru Branch
Average price: [Dinner] 3,500 JPY
Address: 242, Karasuma-dori, Senko-ji Nishi-iru, Kugikakushi-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
At Sakae-an, you can enjoy soba (buckwheat noodles), duck, horse meat sashimi, and sake. The owner is dedicated to serving wild, local food and drinks. The soba served at Sakae-an is [Nihachi Soba] – made with 2 parts wheat flour and 8 parts buckwheat flour, which is said to be the best combination for bringing out the sweetness and aroma of buckwheat. The buckwheat flour is finely milled and from Hokkaido, giving the noodles a smooth and chewy texture that’s unique to nihachi soba. The duck meat that goes perfectly with the soba is a local breed that is tender, with deep flavors. It is offered not only as a topping on the soba, but also smoked, grilled on skewers, seared, and as cured ham. The horse meat sashimi is freshly prepared, using horse meat from Kumamoto Prefecture, the home of horse meat. All of their dishes go perfectly with sake.
Open: Lunch 11:30 am – 3:00 pm (L.O. 2:30 pm)
Dinner 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:00 pm) Drinks L.O. 10:30 pm
Closed: Monday *except the beginning of the year
Average price: [Lunch] 800 JPY / [Dinner] 3,000 JPY
Address: 2F, Satake Bldg., 570, Nishikikoji-sagaru Obiya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Monaka-do serves unique and healthy original dishes that are made with seasonal vegetables. The restaurant creates novel and tasty ways to eat vegetables. The [Avocado Sonomanma Gratin] is a casserole dish served in an avocado peel. It is particularly popular among female customers. It is an outstanding dish that pairs warm avocado and melted cheese. The [Nagaimono Fried Potato] is made from fried Japanese yams that have a crunchy texture and fresh flavor that goes perfectly with sake. The [Chicken Nanban] – deep-fried chicken thighs mixed with a sweet and sour “nanban dare” sauce, and served with a special tartar sauce – is another dish that you won’t want to miss.
[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)
Average price: 4,000 JPY
Address: 2F, 378, Komeya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
12. Sumibi Kazuya
Sumibi Kazuya serves a variety of outstanding Japanese dishes, centering on a “sumibiyaki” of seasonal ingredients that are cooked on a charcoal grill. The welcoming counter seats 10 people, and is made of solid Japanese zelkova wood. At the back of the restaurant, you’ll find table seating, as well as zashiki seating that can be divided into private rooms. The recommended dish is the [Sumi-yaki Moriawase], which is a combination platter of aromatic charcoal-grilled items that will whet your appetite. The [Tokusen Filet Steak] is a lean cut of beef that is served with wasabi and homemade garlic salt to add fresh flavors. The [Otsukuri Sato Moriawase] – a combination sashimi platter of carefully selected fresh fish procured directly from the market, and [Yasai Tempura Moriawase] – a combination platter of vegetable tempura, are also recommended.
Average price: 3,500 JPY
Address: 364, Kamiya-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
13. Takarado KARASUMA
This restaurant is in a renovated Kyoto-style house that was built approximately 100 years ago. The interior has an eclectic, retro-style feel, with naked light bulbs hanging from the ceiling and a modern mural decorating the walls. The food is served in a different manner on the 1st and 2nd floors. The 1st floor has the feel of a casual izakaya and the dishes are ordered a la carte, while the 2nd floor is limited to courses, such as shabu-shabu and sukiyaki (hot pot stew). However, you can also order a la carte dishes in the private room on the 2nd floor, which is actually a renovated storage room! The first item you’ll want to order a la carte is the [Yamitsuki Avocado]. It will go perfectly with your first drink.
Open: [Monday – Thursday, Sunday, National Holiday] 5:00 pm – 00:00 am (L.O. 11:00 pm / Drinks L.O. 11:30 pm)
[Friday, Saturday] 5:00 pm – 1:00 am (L.O. 00:00 am / Drinks L.O. 00:30 am)
Average price: 3,000 JPY
Address: 369-4, Shinmachi-dori Shijo-sagaru, Shijo-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
This restaurant with a Kyoto feel is housed in a renovated home. The interior is designed to evoke the backstreets of Kyoto, and is the perfect backdrop to enjoy creative cuisine with that special someone. There are private rooms for parties of 6 – 8, as well as a room with horigotatsu that accommodates up to 33 guests. The specialty dish is the [Gyusuji no Doteni]. This outstanding dish takes the standard izakaya dish of simmered beef tendons to another level by using a white miso stock, which is unique to Kyoto. The [Uchiyama-ke no Shitamachi Croquette] – croquettes procured from a butcher in Osaka – is also very popular. The [Anago to Tororo no Sutamina Dashimaki] – an omelet of conger eel and Japanese yam cooked with dashi stock – has a deep flavor that is testament to the chef’s skills.
Open: [Monday – Thursday, Sunday, National Holiday] 5:30 pm – 00:00 am (L.O. 11:00 pm)
[Friday, Saturday, Day before National Holidays] 5:30 pm – 1:00 am (L.O. 00:00 am)
Average price: [Dinner] 4,000 JPY
Address: 232, Karasuma-dori, Bukko-ji Nishi-iru, Kugikakushi-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Nikubaru is the place to enjoy meat from Kyoto. The name of this restaurant comes from the expression “niku 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 Kyoto Tamba Kuroge wagyu from cows that have been raised in Kyoto’s rich nature, Kyoto pork, and Kyo Aka-jidori (free-range chicken from Kyoto). The [Kyoto no Niku Sanshu Sumibiyaki Moriawase] – an assortment of these 3 meats that have been charcoal-grilled – is an outstanding dish that you won’t want to miss. There are also rare meats available that have been procured from the source, such as horse meat, wild boar, and ostrich. The [Kyoto-mon] course that consists of meats, vegetables, and sake from Kyoto also comes highly recommended.
Average price: [Dinner] 4,000 JPY
Access: 3 minutes walk from Shijo Kawaramachi station
Address: 3F, SAKIZO Kiyamachi-minami Bldg., 215, Nabeya-cho, Shijo-agaru, Kiyamachidori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto (Map)
Shijo-Kawaramachi is Kyoto’s foremost commercial district that is always bustling with tourists who come for its trend-setting fashion and food. There are many tourist attractions in the area, so drop by an izakaya in this area while sightseeing!
Disclaimer: All information is accurate at time of publication.