Kyoto Restaurants

Attuned to subtle seasonal changes, Kyoto cuisine emphasizes freshness and contrast. From the finest ryotei (high-class Japanese restaurants) to the smallest izakaya (pub), the distinctive elements of gracious hospitality, subtle flavors, and attention to decor create an experience that engages all the senses. Both elaborate establishments and casual shops usually offer set menus at lunchtime, at a considerably lower price than at dinner. Although the finest traditional kaiseki ryori (the elaborate, multicourse meal) is often costly, this experience is highly recommended at least once during your visit to Japan.

If you find yourself with an unintelligible menu, ask for the o-makase, or chef's recommendation and you can specify your budget in some instances. The custom of dining early, from 6 pm until 8 pm, still endures in very traditional restaurants, but many restaurants are open until 10 or 11 pm. If possible, let the hotel staff make reservations for you. For more formal restaurants try to book at least two days in advance; bookings are often not accepted for the following day if called in after 4 pm. Keep in mind that not all restaurants accept credit cards.

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  • 1. Giro Giro Hitoshina

    $$$ | Shimogyo-ku | Japanese

    Popular Giro Giro has a lively atmosphere, excellent food, and great Takase-gawa River location. Sit at the counter to watch the busy chefs...Read More

  • 2. Kikunoi

    $$$$ | Higashiyama-ku | Japanese

    The care lavished on every aspect of dining is unparalleled here, thanks to the conscientious attention of Kikunoi's owner, Yoshihiro Murata...Read More

  • 3. Mankamero

    $$$$ | Kamigyo-ku | Japanese

    Since 1722 Mankamero's specialty has been yusoku ryori, cuisine intended for members of the Imperial Court. Every step of the meal is incredibly...Read More

  • 4. Somushi Tea House

    $$ | Nakagyo-ku | Korean

    Dark-wood furnishings create a provocative and intimate environment for sampling the bountiful brews at Kyoto's top Korean teahouse. Unlike...Read More

  • 5. Arashiyama Yoshimura

    $$ | Ukyo-ku | Japanese

    This old-style soba noodle shop two blocks south of Tenryu-ji Temple sits right in the thick of things and has a splendid view of the river...Read More

  • 6. Baan Rim Naam

    $ | Thai

    The two well-trained Thai chefs here prepare several dozen of their country's dishes at very reasonable prices. Spicy green papaya salad, hot...Read More

  • 7. Bunnosuke Jaya

    $ | Higashiyama-ku | Japanese

    On the road to Kiyomizu-dera, a wooden archway plastered with senja-fuda (name cards pilgrims affix on the entryways to shrines and temples...Read More

  • 8. Ca' Del Viale

    $$ | Nakagyo-ku | Italian

    The signature dish at this well-regarded trattoria is handmade pasta topped with a flavorful tomato sauce. Carefully selected organic vegetables...Read More

  • 9. Café Bibliotic HELLO!

    $$ | Nakagyo-ku | Café

    Leafy banana trees visible from several blocks away mark this airy two-story town-house café that's especially popular at night with young people...Read More

  • 10. Café Indépendants

    $ | Nakagyo-ku | Café

    A great backpacker hangout, this café is especially popular midday, when a devoted clientele of students and artists comes for the cheap, bountiful...Read More

  • 11. Ganko Nijyoen

    $$ | Japanese

    The estate of a former prime minister has been turned into a kaiseki (multicourse-meal) restaurant, and the stroll garden by landscape artist...Read More

  • 12. Gion Kappa Nawate

    $ | Higashiyama-ku | Japanese

    In contrast to the expensive restaurants favored by tourists, residents seek out just-plain-folks places like this fun one. It's a late-night...Read More

  • 13. Ichiwa and Kazariya

    $ | Kita-ku | Japanese

    Ichiwa and Kazariya have been serving tea and aburi mochi —charcoal-grilled and skewered rice-flour cakes dipped in sweet miso sauce—for centuries...Read More

  • 14. In The Green

    $ | Café

    This combination trattoria, pizzeria, and café in a contemporary glass, metal, and wood space borders the northern side of the Kyoto Botanical...Read More

  • 15. Izama

    $$ | Japanese

    Patrons enter this restaurant through a dark-blue curtain on the east side of Shinmachi-dori. The design inside is pure contemporary, minimalist...Read More

  • 16. Izusen

    $$$ | Kita-ku | Japanese

    Vegetarian cuisine plays a part in all major Kyoto temples, and one of the most scenic restaurants in which to sample it is in the southwestern...Read More

  • 17. Kerala

    $$$ | Nakagyo-ku | Indian

    Imported spices and very fresh vegetables are the secrets to this second-floor Indian restaurant's success. Dishes may not be as spicy as you...Read More

  • 18. Kikusui

    $$$$ | Sakyo-ku | Japanese

    Near Nanzen-ji Temple, Kikusui serves elegant kaiseki ryori (traditional cuisine) with an aristocratic flair. Dine on tatami mats at low tables...Read More

  • 19. Kisaki Yudofu

    $$ | Sakyo-ku | Japanese

    Tempura and tofu hot pots cooked at the table are staples at this attractive two-story restaurant along the tree-lined Philosopher's Path. Try...Read More

  • 20. Kyo-machiya Suishin

    $ | Nakagyo-ku | Japanese

    Not far from Gion Kaburenjo Theater, a black-and-white latticed storefront with a lantern above the door conceals a vegetable lover's paradise...Read More

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