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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Restaurant Ogawa

    $$$$ | Nakagyo-ku | French

    The best in Kyoto-style nouvelle cuisine is served in this intimate spot across from the Takase-gawa Canal. Dishes depend on the chef's whims...Read More

  • 5. Ristorante Azekura

    $$$$ | Kita-ku | Italian

    The huge darkened beams and white plastered walls of the former farmhouse this Italian restaurant occupies create a sophisticated rustic atmosphere...Read More

  • 6. Tozentei

    $$$$ | Kita-ku | Japanese

    Among the antiques stores and kimono shops on Shinmonzen-dori, Tozentei emphasizes to-the-letter traditional Japanese cooking. The meals here...Read More

  • 7. Yagenbori

    $$$$ | Higashiyama-ku | Japanese

    Kimono-clad waitresses serve fine traditional fare inside this three-story, 130-year-old teahouse south of a tiny bridge that spans the Shirakawa...Read More

  • 8. Yoshikawa

    $$$$ | Nakagyo-ku | Japanese

    Adjacent to an inn of the same name, Yoshikawa serves multicourse kaiseki ryori lunches and dinners. The beautifully presented meal includes...Read More

  • 9. Mukadeya

    $$$$ | Nakagyo-ku | Japanese

    Homestyle o-banzai cooking is the specialty of this sophisticated restaurant found in a beautiful machiya (town house). Bonito sashimi,...Read More

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