Here’s the definitive list of the Best restaurants in Kyoto divided by type of cuisine. I’ve tried them all and I can assure you that they’re excellent and also comfortable with foreign guests.
Kaiseki at Kitcho © cityfoodsters
In addition to the information listed here, you’ll find some background on Kyoto cuisine on our What To Eat In Kyoto page. If you don’t eat meat, there are numerous excellent vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Kyoto. And if you’re on a budget, have a read of my favorite Cheap Eats In Kyoto).
Best Kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine) in Kyoto:
- Kiyamachi Sakuragawa
Kiyamachi Sakuragawa is a welcoming and superb spot to sample kaiseki cuisine.
For over-the-top spare-no-expense kaiseki, Kitcho Arashiyama is THE place to go in Kyoto.
Best Affordable Sushi in Kyoto:
Sushisei is one of the best moderately priced sushi restaurants in Kyoto. They’re comfortable with foreigners and the downtown location is super convenient.
- Den Shichi
One of the best and most approachable sushi bars in Kyoto, Den Shichi serves mouth-watering sushi in a classic sushi-bar atmosphere.
- Ganko Sushi
Ganko Sushi is usually filled with both locals and tourists. The sushi sets are forgettable, but the a la carte sushi is usually excellent. And, they serve almost every other kind of Japanese food as well.
Best Ramen in Kyoto:
Ippudo Ramen is our favorite ramen joint in all of Kyoto. The soup and noodles are sublime and the accompanying dumplings crispy and delicious.
For a hearty bowl of ramen noodles in the Okazaki Museum District, Karako is the obvious choice.
- Ramen Muraji
For a surprisingly good bowl of ramen in relaxing surroundings in the heart of Gion, you can’t go wrong with Muraji. But be prepared to wait unless you go off peak.
For a great bowl of ramen right downtown, duck into this wonderful 10-seat joint.
- No Name Ramen
This ultra-hip ramen joint might seem gimmicky at first, but one taste of the ramen and you’ll know that it’s the real deal.
Best Okonomiyaki in Kyoto:
For some seriously fun eating, try the okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancakes cooked on a griddle at your table) at Nishiki Warai, just steps from Nishiki Market.
Best Yakitori in Kyoto:
This is “haute yakitori” – dynamite yakitori (various bits of chicken cooked on skewers) in fashionable surroundings.
Best Soba/Udon in Kyoto:
- Omen Ginkaku-ji Branch
Just down the hill from Ginkaku-ji Temple, Omen is one of our favorite restaurants in Kyoto. They serve some of Kyoto’s best udon noodles.
Located in an atmospheric old wooden building, Honke Owariya is arguably the best soba restaurant in all of Kyoto.
Best Shokudo/All Round Restaurants in Kyoto:
- Ganko Sushi
Ganko Sushi is known for its sushi, but they also serve just about every other kind of Japanese food. It’s touristy and often crowded, but the food is pretty good.
The Ootoya chain is a great new addition to the Kyoto eating scene. It’s casual and healthy and there’s a great picture/English menu.
A homey shokudo (think Japanese diner) on the main Higashiyama tourist trail, with an English menu and a friendly staff.
Best Vegetarian in Kyoto:
- Falafel Garden
A great vegetarian restaurant in northern Kyoto, Falafel Garden specializes in the eponymous falafel, but there’s plenty more on the menu to keep things interesting.
Biotei is like a good vegetarian restaurant crammed into a dollhouse up a spiral staircase. Sure, it’s cramped: but the food is good.
- Mumokuteki Café
For a quick vegetarian meal right downtown, climb the stairs to this popular vegetarian eatery.
For a filling vegetarian or vegan meal in Northern Higashiyama, within walking distance of Ginkaku-ji, try this welcoming spot.
Best Tofu Cuisine
To explore the incredible world of Japanese tofu cuisine, check out this brilliant downtown tofu specialist.
For a super-healthy and tasty tofu lunch while exploring downtown, pop into this wonderful little tofu restaurant.
Best Cafes in Kyoto:
- Café Bibliotic HELLO!
Even if it didn’t have this marvelously quirky name, I’d still love this uber-hip Kyoto café. It’s built into an machiya and the owner has some wickedly good design sense.
- Inoda Coffee
There are several branches of the venerable Inoda Coffee chain around Kyoto, but we like the old school atmosphere at their downtown “honten” (main branch).
It’s not really a café because there’s barely room to sit, and there’s almost always a line, but for some of the best coffee in Kyoto, hit the main Higashiyama branch of %Arabica. Or, visit their %Arabica Fujii-Daimaru Branch or their Arashiyama Branch
Best Child-Friendly Restaurants in Kyoto:
- Ganko Sushi
This popular downtown sushi specialist is spacious and has comfortable booths for families. And, the kiddie menu has some good options for the little ones.
The Ootoya chain is a casual restaurant that serves all the Japanese standards. It’s healthy, cheap and fast.
Best Resutoran-gai (Food Courts) in Kyoto:
The elegant seventh floor Takashimiya Resutoran-gai (restaurant floor) is a great place to eat while exploring downtown Kyoto.
The Daimaru Department Store Resutoran-gai (restaurant floor) is a good collection of Japanese and international restaurants in the heart of downtown Kyoto.
- Eat Paradise
The best collection of restaurants in Kyoto Station, Eat Paradise is our favorite place for a sit-down meal before getting on a train or exploring the area.
- Cube Food Court
The Cube Food Court, a collection of excellent restaurants on the 11th floor of the Kyoto Station Building, is one of the best places to eat in the station.
Best Sukiyaki in Kyoto:
For some good sukiyaki, try this reliable old specialist in the Teramachi Shopping Arcade.
Best Tempura in Kyoto:
Yoshikawa Tempura serves Kyoto’s best tempura in a beautiful old wooden building built around a sublime Japanese garden.
Best Japanese Tea and Sweet Shops in Kyoto:
The most atmospheric little tea house in Kyoto, we never pass this way without stopping in for a hot cup of matcha tea and a sweet.
- Kagizen Yoshifusa
Kagizen Yoshifusa is a traditional sweet shop in Gion with a serene tea room where you can enjoy traditional sweets with cups of thick matcha tea.
- Toraya Ichijoji
For some serious Kyoto sweets and wonderful matcha in elegant surroundings, a short walk west of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, head to Toraya Ichijoji
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router.
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass - here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy - here's how.
- Get travel insurance for Japan - we recommend World Nomads (and here's why)