11 Must Know Restaurants In Kyoto For First Timers

Visiting Japan means that you have a veritable wonderland of food to try out. Japan’s culinary scene is one of the best in the world. In fact, some might argue that it’s the best. Kyoto, in particular, is famous for having a Westerner-friendly restaurant scene

If you’re dining out, you might as well dine in style. Let’s show you our picks for the best restaurants in the area.

Best Japanese Restaurants In Kyoto

While your restaurant picks might differ from ours, these are the ones most people agree are worth a trip.


Hyotei Restaurant In Kyoto

Scoring an incredibly impressive three Michelin Stars, Hyotei isn’t just one of the best restaurants in Kyoto. It’s also one of the best kaiseki restaurants in Japan, not to mention one of the oldest establishments in the country.

Chef Yoshiro Takahashi keeps a strong grip on traditional Kyoto culinary works with a full kaiseki menu. It’s important to note that this is an omakase-only venue. So, you will have to be okay with the chef choosing what you eat.

Don’t worry.

Once you taste the food, you’ll understand why Hyotei is going 450 years strong.


While Hyotei is mostly known for being very pricey, you don’t have to be expensive to be a great restaurant. Sushisei is one of the most popular sushi restaurants in Kyoto, and it’s fairly affordable.

Their menu offers a lot of different rolls, and have a deep level of comfort with Westerners. Locals love it, and so will you.

Itoh Dining Kyoto

Are you looking for one of Kyoto’s most popular restaurants for foreigners. Itoh Dining Kyoto is where you want to go. This steakhouse is one of the many shrines to excellent meat in the city, but most restaurants will only boast half of the items on this expansive menu.

Pasta, seafood, fresh produce, and even coffee all can be found here. As far as culinary options in central Kyoto goes, it’s hard to hate on this.

When you also take a look at the dining experience you get to enjoy, it’s easy to see why many repeat visitors will pad their budget for the sole chance of being able to head over here at least once.

Wagyu Ryotei Bungo Gion

This is a restaurant that you are probably going to have a hard time getting reservations for. Ryotei are a type of restaurant that is designed to be exclusive. Traditionally, new visitors could only sit here if they were referred by someone. Still, you might get in.

As you might have guessed from the name, Bongo Gion is proud to serve real wagyu steak and steak-oriented meals. Here, the food isn’t just food. It’s a meal that comes with a story, an artistic invention, and a way of life.

This Ryotei is pricey, but it’s also one of the only ones to accept foreigners. Is it worth a visit? Absolutely, especially for meat lovers.


Ogata Restaurant In Kyoto

Are you willing to pay a high price for the most incredible meal of your life? If so, you’re going to love the upscale culinary culture that comes with Japanese fine dining. Ogata is one of the most famous fine dining restaurants in Kyoto.

A recipient of the highly-coveted OAD Top 100 of Asia award, Ogata is all about bringing the finest service, the finest foods, and world-class dishs to the forefront. It’s #8 of the 100 best restaurants in Asia. Once you visit, you’ll understand why.


Now, let’s get some izakaya entries on this list. Bajitofu is one of the most popular places to go if you want to enjoy yakitori chicken skewers. (Though, they also have other dishes that you can enjoy. It’s all standard Japanese fare.)

Prices are reasonable, drinks are good, and the food is presented nice enough to warrant some photos. Not bad!

Kyoto Senmaru Shakariki Murasaki

Would it really be a complete blog post without at least one listing where you can enjoy high-quality ramen in the heart of the city? This casual dining experience is so sought after, the original location had to move to Kyoto Tower. (Surprisingly, they don’t require you to wait too much.)

This ramen shop is one of the best places to get shoyu ramen, delicious nodles, and tasty toppings. We don’t suggest you pass up this place. Its owner is one of the most passionate chefs in the ramen world, which is why reservations are still highly encouraged.


Finally, let’s get another izakaya restaurant on this list. Like many restaurants in Kyoto, Onikai is all about serving Kyo-Yasai, or Kyoto vegetables. Tons of vegetarian dishes ranging from tempura to noodles and rice are available here.

Getting a table at Onikaai is a great way to kick off eating in style in the heart of the city. Kyoto’s izakaya scene is great, so if you need a beer, a glass of wine, tea, or just just a fast lunch, Onikai will be able to deliver.

Best Western Restaurants In Kyoto

Believe it or not, Japanese restaurants are starting to blend their traditional cuisine with other culture’s foods. Te end result is a delicious flavor twist you won’t find anywhere outside the city.

French Kaiseki Gion Shigenaga

This highly-acclaimed restaurant serves lunch and dinner with a French twist. Unlike most “Western” restaurants in Kyoto, Gion Sigenaga serves French cuisine in a kaiseki tradition.

This restaurant is heavy on serving vegetables, though they are not exclusively vegetarian. Kyoto’s locals adore it, so you better believe it’s incredible.

This is one of the few places where you can get some killer tea alongside gyoza that have French-inspired ingredients. That’s grounds for celebration, if you ask us.

Spanish Bar Hablamos

Are you looking for a place to get something that reminds you of Europe’s Spanish tapas bars? Hablamos is one of the better options for you. This features Spanish-inspired fare cooked with Kyoto vegetables.

They also happen to have a fun selection of wine and sake, plus a paella that’s worth a visit. It boasts one of the the most Western-friendly staff in the whole city.

If you’re looking for a delicious lunch that is fairly easy on Western palates, this is it.

Burger Revolution Kyoto

Burger Revolution Restaurant In Kyoto

Burger Revolution is one of those places where Americans can get a taste of home without actually having to go home. Fresh burgers, served with a side of fries is as all-American as you can get.

The burgers here are serious business. Even if you are a connoisseur of burgers, you will be bound to enjoy a bit where. Every plate is a testament to the chef’s talent here. It sure beats a McDonald’s burger any day of the week.

Tips For Dining In Kyoto

Tips For Dining In Kyoto

Now that you’ve gotten a taste of the best restaurants in the Kyoto area, it’s time to offer a little bit of advice. Going out to eat at a Japanese restaurant is not the same as dining in an American restaurant. These tips will help you navigate around:

  • Always check to see if the venue has an English menu first. Those that don’t might be a bit harder to navigate. Thankfully, Google Translate does well with Japanese. You can often find this information online.
  • Most venues are fairly amenable to foreigners, but those that aren’t will let you know. It’s not unusual to see restaurant owners turn away potential customers by having a sign that says “no foreigners allowed” or “Japanese only.” While you might be able to ask for entry in Japanese to see if it’s a language barrier, it’s still not a good look to impose.
  • Dress to impress. Kyoto’s dining scene is not as casual as Americans might think it is. Unless you’re going to a ramen shop, it’s best to dress elegantly. (No flip-flops and tees allowed!)
  • Don’t be afraid to research menu offerings ahead of time. If you are allergic to fish or tofu, you will have a hard time eating at a lot of restaurants. Sticking to vegan-friendly options might help, but at the same time, it’s a matter of knowing what foosd are “safe” for you.

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