Are you looking for a great lunch restaurant near sights like Ginkaku-ji, Nanzen-ji, Kiyomizu, the Imperial Palace or the Bamboo Forest? Here’s a list of great lunch choices near Kyoto’s most popular sights.
Soba set overlooking Togetsu-kyo Bridge in Arashiyama: toiwoody / Shutterstock.com
There are plenty of good places to eat nearby Kyoto’s sights. so you can easily pair sightseeing with a good meal.
Restaurants near Ginkaku-ji Temple
Ginkaku-ji Temple: gowithstock / Shutterstock.com
There are a few restaurants on the hill leading up to Ginkaku-ji, but they’re mostly snack joints. For proper sit-down meals, try one of the following:
- Omen Ginkaku-ji Branch
This fantastic udon specialist is just down the hill and around the corner from Ginkaku-ji.
- Daigin Shokudo
This is straight down the hill from Ginkaku-ji, just before you get to Imadegawa-dori and the bus stop. It’s a classic old-school shokudo that serves a variety of Japanese set meals, as well as some noodle dishes.
Restaurants near Nanzen-ji Temple
Nanzen-ji Temple: Richie Chan / Shutterstock.com
There are a few upscale tofu restaurants near Nanzen-ji. For more approachable fare, you have to walk for about 10 or 15 minutes to one of the following places, or head back downtown.
- Hinode Udon
This popular udon specialist serves delicious bowls of steaming soba or udon noodles. Try to go off-peak (ie, before noon or after 1:30pm), or you’ll have to wait on line.
- Doutor Coffee Shop
It’s not fancy, but this branch of the popular Doutor chain, at the intersection of Marutamachi and Shirakawa, is about 20 minutes’ walk from Nanzen-ji. It has no atmosphere, but the sandwiches are good and can usually tempt a finicky child. And it’s on the way to Shinyodo, Kurodani or Ginkaku-ji.
Restaurants near Kiyomizu-dera Temple
Kiyomizu-dera Temple: Richie Chan / Shutterstock.com
There are lots of snack stalls and restaurants on the streets leading up to Kiyomizu-dera. Some are good, some are pretty bad. However, the following places are all good and relatively close to the temple:
- Omen Kodai-ji Branch
This is a reliable and healthy udon specialist about 15 minutes’ walk down the hill from Kiyomizu, at the bottom of Ninen-zaka Slope.
About 20 minutes walk northwest (downhill) from Kiyomizu, this folksy noodle and rice specialist is famous for its oyako-donburi (rice topped with chicken and egg). It’s the perfect lunch for sightseeing. Try to go off-peak to avoid the line.
If you just need a quick little pick-me-up, this classic traditional sweet shop near the top of Ninen-zaka (about 10 minutes’ walk downhill from the temple) serves lovely Japanese sweets and thick matcha. This will definitely power you through to dinner without weighing you down.
Restaurants near Yasaka-jinja Shrine/Maruyama-koen Park
Yasaka-jinja Shrine: cowardlion / Shutterstock.com
There are several restaurants inside Maruyama-koen Park itself, but only a few are approachable for tourists. Just down the hill, of course, is Gion, which is loaded with restaurants. Here are two approachable restaurants in Gion:
- Ramen Muraji
This fantastic ramen restaurant is about 10 minutes’ walk from the front of Yasaka-jinja. It also happens to be right around the corner from the loveliest street in Gion.
For a great bowl of soba or udon, walk 10 minutes down Shijo and you’ll find this reliable old noodle joint on your right. Nothing fancy, but it does the trick.
- Takashimaya Resutoran-gai
For more choices, walk down Shijo and cross the river, then walk two more blocks to Takashimaya Department Store. Then, take the elevators or escalators to the 7th floor, where you’ll find a huge variety of excellent and approachable restaurants, mostly Japanese, but also Chinese, French and Italian.
Restaurants near Okazaki-koen Area
Okazaki-koen Park Area: Sean Hsu / Shutterstock.com
There are a few restaurants around the edges of Okazaki-koen (Kyoto’s museum district), as well as Starbucks and a fancier sit-down place right in the park. Here are two other choices:
This rough-and-ready ramen joint serves a delectable bowl of ramen and some excellent fried chicken. It’s greasy and good.
- Au Temps Perdu
The lovely little French place is just across the street from the Museum of Modern Art, overlooking a scenic canal. The service can be a little uneven and the food is a little pricey for what you get, but it’s a beautiful spot and a great place for a rest.
Restaurants near the Kyoto Gosho (Imperial Palace and Park)
Kyoto Imperial Palace Park: DutchMen / Shutterstock.com
The Gosho is huge and there are restaurants in the surrounding neighborhoods, especially near the northeast and northwest corners. The area around the Karasuma-Imadegawa intersection is particularly crowded with restaurants. Here are two choices slightly further from the Gosho:
- Bon Bon Café
This café/casual French restaurant serves decent food and has a nice outdoor seating area in warmer months. It’s about 20 minutes from the Gosho.
- Toraya Karyo Kyoto Ichijo
A few blocks west of the Gosho, this elegant Kyoto tea and sweet specialist is great if you don’t need a meal, just a sweet and a cup of tea. Don’t go in shorts or sandals, though.
Restaurants near Fushimi-Inari-Taisha
Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine: Kanuman / Shutterstock.com
There are simple teahouses all along the upper trails on the mountain. They all serve the same things: tea, soft drinks, soba and a few sweets. For more substantial meals, try the restaurants near the two train stations. Or, if you want to stay on the mountain, though, try the following place:
This excellent little café serves the usual tea and coffee drinks, as well as some pastries and light meals. The back dining deck is very nice in warm weather.
Restaurants near Arashiyama (Bamboo Forest, Tenryu-ji Temple)
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove: Joshua Davenport / Shutterstock.com
There are few restaurants actually inside the Arashiyama sightseeing district; most are located on the main street, near Keifuku Arashiyama train station, and there are a few on the south side of the river. Here are three that we like:
This friendly little spot in the middle of the sightseeing district serves tea, sweets and light meals like soba.
Inside the precincts of Tenryu-ji Temple, this popular Buddhist vegetarian (shojin) restaurant is great for vegetarians and their friends.
- Arashiyama Yoshimura
This popular noodle restaurant boasts an eye-popping view over Togetsu-kyo Bridge and the Arashiyama mountains. The tempura soba is good. Go off-peak to avoid waiting on line.
- Le Bouchon Tournesol
For sandwiches, pastries, simple light meals (eat in or take away), this friendly spot a short walk north of the train station is a good choice.
Restaurants near Kinkaku-ji Temple
Kinkaku-ji Temple: marcociannarel / Shutterstock.com
There are very few restaurants near Kinkaku-ji. Your best choice is to walk out to the main street (Nishioji) and look for a shokudo (all-round restaurant or noodle joint there). Or, buy food to make a picnic before going to the temple.
Restaurants near Ryoan-ji Temple
Ryoan-ji Temple: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
There are just a few restaurants in the streets south and east of the temple. The best idea is to bring food from a convenience store or bakery, or eat when you get back downtown.
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)