Kyoto has a vibrant nightlife and you really cannot talk about the Japanese nightlife without mentioning izakaya.
Izakaya has long been an important place where the Japanese gather with friends and colleagues after work.
It is a local bar, catering drinks and delicious inexpensive food. “Unwinding” in izakaya can get fairly loose and at a time loud.
The locals get together elbow to elbow, talking about their day’s events, laughing, and drinking…
A trip to one of izakaya should be on your bucket list, if you want to see the real face of the Japanese.
Being a place where the locals gather, you may appreciate the atmosphere more, if you go along with a Japanese friend or someone who understands Japanese.
Here are 5 popular izakaya in Kyoto you and your friends can enjoy!
Local tells Top 5 Best Izakaya Restaurants in Kyoto!Experience local atmosphere!
1.Shinme/神馬Established in 1936, Shinme is one of the oldest and most popular izakaya in Kyoto.
The exterior of the shop looks like a traditional Sake brewery and the interior has a nice retro feel for you to relax and unwind.
The shop’s aim has always been to provide the fresh ingredients at the best possible condition.
Shinme is known for their fresh fish (sashimi) and tender roast beef.
Their staff is extremely kind and attentive.
If you need a taxi on your way back home or to your hotel, they will make such arrangement for you.
This izakaya is perfect in its food as well as its customer services.
Reservation is a must here. To get to Shinme, you can either take City Bus #50 or #206, then get off at Senbon Nakadachiuri stop.
English menu is available.
2.Ukon/卯今Ukon is a very popular izakaya that can satisfy any food enthusiast with its vast menu on chicken, beef, and fish.
Particularly popular items here are: chicken sashimi (yes, raw chicken) and grilled chicken that you can compare of different origins.
These are free-range chicken of different regions.
Ukon also offers many items on the grill.
It is located in the quiet neighborhood near Nijo Castle.
It is a very popular izakaya, so you should make a reservation in advance.
3.Shokudo OGAWA/食堂 おがわOgawa is known to be the izakaya that is hardest to get a reservation.
You will need to make a reservation a few months in advance at least.
It was given a Michelin star.
Despite its popularity and the star, Ogawa manages to keep its cost down for everyone to enjoy its local izakaya feel.
The most popular items here include; tilefish sashimi, mackerel sushi, smoked duck breast, all of which are the specialties of Kyoto.
Most of the dishes here are made in a home-cooking style.
You can taste the best version of the Japanese traditional home meals that go perfectly with Japanese beer or sake.
If you want to go to Michelin awarded izakaya restaurant, you should visit Shokudo OGAWA!
Next,let’s go to a traditional izakaya restaurant in Kyoto!
4.Akagakiya/赤垣屋If you want an authentic izakaya experience, where the Japanese enjoy unloading their stress of the days, this is a place to go.
The interior and the exterior look like a movie set of a traditional Japanese film.
Akagakiya offers great dishes along with local drinks.
It is usually packed with the locals, so you would want to make a reservation in advance.
You might want to try the Kyoto classics here: duck roast, hamo (conger eel pike), basashi (horse sashimi), or various tofu dishes like yuba (tofu skin), agedashi tofu (deep fried tofu in dashi stock), or goma tofu (sesame tofu).
You can also enjoy oden (hot pot dish with various processed fishcakes, radish, eggs, etc.), which could be perfect in the winter.
5.Gion YUKI/祇園 遊亀Unlike the other izakaya introduced here, Yuki might be more accommodating to foreign tourists.
It offers the English menu and it is a great izakaya where you can experience the traditional izakaya style while understanding what you will eat.
You will see the great mix of the locals and tourists here.
The restaurant is owned by Okamura Honke Brewery that is located in the neighboring prefecture.
So it is only natural that you try their premium sake.
It is located in the middle of Gion. The first floor is izakaya while they have the second floor, which is set up more like a restaurant.
The plate of the assorted sashimi looks more like an art than a dish.
As most of their customers are stopping by here for a few drinks along with a few food items, the turn over of customers is fairly quick.
If the place is full, just wait for a few minutes until some seats become available.
I guarantee that it is worth the wait. If it is open, sit at a counter so you can observe the chef preparing sushi.
Top 5 Best Izakaya Restaurants in Kyoto
I hope you’ll enjoy local atmosphere in these Izakaya restaurants!
If you want to explore the back-streets of Gion and Ponto-cho, Try this Kyoto Bar Hopping Food Tour with MagicalTrip .
They will help you navigate through hidden izakaya bars in the backstreets that hard to find and enjoy various types of Kyoto local food and drinks!
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