Kyoto Shijo (Karasuma, Kawaramachi)

Karasuma-dori and west

Bungalow (Beer bar). 075-256-8205
One of the better places for craft beer in Kyoto (there isn't much competition), Bunglaow has ten taps devoted to Japanese craft breweries as well as a good menu of French and European bistro fare. There's no sit-down bar, just a standing bar area on ground floor (which is open-air in summer), a couple of tables on the ground floor and several tables upstairs.
SunShijo Horikawa Higashi-iri Kashiyacho 15. Open 3pm-midnight. Closed Tuesdays.
Kinobu (Kyo-ryori). 075-352-0001
If you want French wine with your kaiseki, this is the place - most bottles are under Y6000, although they have a number of Bordeaux wines in the Y40,000 range for big spenders. Besides kaiseki and mini-kaiseki they also serve sushi and bento boxes; they even deliver within the area.
SunShinmachidori Bukkoji-sagaru, Iwatoyamacho 416. (2 blocks W, 2 1/2 blocks S of Karasuma-Shijo) Open 11:30am-2:30, 5-9:30pm daily.
Zezekan Pocchiri (Chinese). 075-257-5766
This converted Taisho-era storehouse is owned by an antiques dealer, and he's stocked the huge interior with lovely Asian-style furnishings. Several of the dining areas look out onto the courtyard garden, and there's even a small room out in the middle of the garden if you're lucky enough to snag a reservation. The food is good Japanese-style Chinese fare, and the rather filling Y4800 prix-fixe menu is a nice choice.
SundecorNishikikojidori Muromachi-Nishi-iru, Tenjinyamacho 283-2. (on N side of Nishiki-koji, just W of Muromachi) Open 11:30am-2, 5-10pm (LO) daily.
Aux Bacchanales (Cafe). 075-371-0033
Another French bistro-cafe arrives in Kyoto: this one is a branch of the excellent Tokyo-based chain, known for their authentic French style and well-prepared food. The Y1000 lunches are a good deal, and there's a full dinner menu from 6pm.
SunKarasuma-dori Shijo-sagaru, Suiginyacho 620 Cocon Karasuma 1F. (on W side of Karasuma-dori, just S of Shijo) Open 11am-11pm daily.
Hub (Cocon Karasuma) (Beer bar). 075-353-4858
British beers, darts and foosball in this national chain of pubs; no English menu though.
SunKarasuma-dori Shijo-sagaru, Suiginyacho 620 Cocon Karasuma B1F. (on W side of Karasuma-dori, just S of Shijo) Open noon-11:45pm (LO) daily.
Natural Kitchen Koji (Izakaya). 075-353-5788
This prefab-style izakaya-cafe offers a lot of healthy-looking dishes (vegetable chips, sesame tofu) along with more ordinary izakaya fare (raw horsemeat, garlic fried potatoes). Drinks include shochu and unusual soft drinks like honey and black vinegar soda.
SunKarasuma-dori Shijo-sagaru, Suiginyacho 620 Cocon Karasuma B1F. (on W side of Karasuma-dori, just S of Shijo) Open 11am-10pm (LO) daily.
Old Hong Kong (Chinese). 075-341-1800
A branch of a popular Kobe Cantonese restaurant, Old HK is known for their impressive dim sum lunches (Y3400 for all you can eat, with a 90-minute limit) - they even have dumpling trolleys making the rounds of the dining room.
SunKarasuma-dori Shijo-sagaru, Suiginyacho 620 Cocon Karasuma 1F. (on W side of Karasuma-dori, just S of Shijo) Open 11:30am-3, 5-9pm (LO) daily.

Shijo between Karasuma and Kawaramachi

Katsukura Higashi-Notoin (Tonkatsu). 075-221-4191
One of the best of the tonkatsu chains, Kyoto-based Katsukura offers nice side dishes like yuba (tofu-skin) croquettes and excellent Kyoto-style pickles. And they're open all afternoon if you need a late lunch.
SunBantoyacho 674. Open 11am-9:30pm (LO) daily.
Kamo (Japanese). 075-351-2732
A specialist in Kyoto vegetables, Kamo offers a nice vegetable-centered buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is Y490, lunch is Y880 (60-minute limit), and dinner is Y1350 (80-minute limit). Add on an extra Y950 for an open-bar plan.
SunOgisakayacho 276. Open 7-10, 11am-3, 5-10pm (LO) daily.
Daimaru (Retail). 075-211-8111
Daimaru's food floor is huge, with a good selection of prepared foods from famous restaurants as well as imported items.
SunShijo Takakura 79. (Shijo just east of Karasuma-dori) Open 10am-8pm daily.
Omotesando Koffee (Coffee shop). 075-256-8137
This small espresso stand, wedged into the front corner of a United Arrows clothing boutique, is a branch of a famous Aoyama espresso bar with an international cult following. Espresso runs Y250, and an iced cafe latte is Y520.
SunTachiuri Higashimachi 12-1. Open 11am-8pm daily.
Kinmata (Kaiseki). 075-221-1039
This 200-year-old ryokan is now known mainly as a restaurant, with excellent seafood-centric kaiseki service. Small private tatami rooms look out onto tiny courtyards or miniature gardens, and there's a quaint little "Western" dining room with old-fashioned furnishings. Lunches start at Y8000, and dinners run from Y16,000; there's even traditional breakfast service if you're in the neighborhood early (Y4500).
SundecorShijo-agaru Gokomachi 407. (on Gokomachi north of Shijo) Open 7:30-9am, noon-1, 5:30-7:30pm. Closed Wednesdays.
Yak & Yeti (Nepalese). 075-213-7919
Inexpensive and tasty Nepalese curries and Indian tandoori dishes are the specialties at this charming little shop. The dining room has been expanded, but unfortunately it can get smoky.
SunGokomachi north of Shijo. (just south of Nishiki Market) Open 11:30am-2:30, 5-10pm. Closed Mondays.
Ashoka (Indian). 075-241-1318
Kyoto's long-established Indian-food pioneer still turns out reliable curries in a smartly decorated dining room. Full-course dinners start at Y3000, although a la carte choices can be more economical.
SunTeramachi-dori Shijio-agaru, Kikusui Building 3F. (NE corner of Teramachi and Shijo) Open 11:30am-2:30, 5-9pm. Closed 3rd Wed.
Tagoto (Japanese). 075-221-1811
Although it's just steps away from the busy Shijo-Kawaramachi intersection, Tagoto is hidden away behind a narrow entrance and a long, lantern-lit passageway. The food menu includes budget-friendly mini-kaiseki dinners (Y3000) and all-you-can-eat lunch specials (also Y3000) as well as more standard kaiseki and bento-box choices.
SunShijo-dori Kawaramachi Nishi-iru. (entrance alley is on Shijo, just west of Kawaramachi) Open 11:30am-3, 4:30-9pm daily.
Din Tai Fung (Dim sum). 075-252-7992
This department-store nook specializes in shoronpo - authentic Taipei-style dumplings injected with a hot broth that fills your mouth with delicious flavors as it simultaneously scalds your tongue.
SunTakashimaya 3F. Open 10:30am-8pm. Closed Tuesdays.
Sweet Dynasty (Chinese). 075-221-8811
The Hong Kong-based tea shop offers a huge selection of Chinese desserts, plus dim sum and a few a la carte dishes. Desserts are also ready to take out.
SunTakashimaya 7F. Open 10am-8:30pm (LO). Closed Tuesdays.
Hisago Sushi (Sushi). 075-221-5409
Good, moderately priced Kansai-style sushi - there's a small counter on the ground level but plenty of additional table seating upstairs. Take-away is also available.
SunKawaramachidori Shijo-agaru. (on W side of Kawaramachi, just N of Shijo, between OPA and Sony Plaza) Open 9:30am-9pm (LO) daily.
Ringer Hut (Japanese regional). 075-254-8681
Tasty Nagasaki-style champon and sara-udon noodles are served well into the wee hours at this late-night budget noodle shop.
SunlateKomeyacho 380-1. Open 11am-4am daily.
Jajouka (Middle Eastern). 075-341-0530
Tajines, couscous, and other Moroccan and Moroccan-French dishes are the draw at Jajouka. They also stock several Belgian and other European beers. Budget around Y5000 at dinnertime.
SunChuancho 307-1. (on Yanaginobanba (west side), north of Gojo and south of Matsubara) Open noon-2, 6-10pm (LO) daily.

Nishikikoji between Karasuma and Teramachi

Ippudo (Ramen). 075-213-8800
Ippudo's Hakata-style ramen is known for its rich pork-based broth and thin, slightly chewy noodles. There are graters and garlic cloves on the counter if you're so inclined.
SunlateNishikikoji Higashinotoin-higashi-iru, Bantoyacho 653-1 Nishiki Bldg 1F. (on Nishiki-koji-dori one block east of Karasuma-dori) Open 11am-2am daily.
Komameya (Tofu). 075-221-7300
Fresh Kyoto yuba (tofu skin) is the focal point of the menu here, with unusual dishes like yuba and roast duck carpaccio and yuba dumpling pizza. The dining room is attractively appointed in Kyoto-modern style, with shoji screens, bamboo blinds, polished blond-wood horikotatsu tables and dark-wood platforms. There's a big a la carte menu as well as set menus - budget around Y3500 at dinnertime.
SunNishikikoji Higashinotoin-higashi-iru, Libertus Nishikikoji 3F. (on Nishiki-koji-dori east of Karasuma-dori, west of the north entrance of Daimaru) Open 11:30am-2, 5:30-11pm. Closed second Wednesday.
Ootoya (Nishiki-koji) (Japanese). 075-744-0853
Ootoya offers very budget-friendly teishoku meals that include interesting side dishes and a good helping of vegetables. Set meals are generally priced at under Y1000.
SunNishiuoyacho 601. Open 11am-9:30pm daily.
Divo Diva (Italian). 075-256-1326
Authentic Italian fare with a Japanese sensibility; budget Y8,000 to Y10,000 for dinner. Lunch starts at Y1600.
SunTakoyakushi Takakura Higashi-iru, Kariganecho 361. (on Takoyakushi-dori and Takakura-dori, 2 blocks NE of Shijo Karasuma intersection) Open 11:30am-2, 6-10pm. Closed Wednesdays.
Mochitsukiya (Japanese). 075-223-1717
This quaint little shop inside Nishiki Market serves traditional Japanese sweets with green tea, and they also prepare some rather novel variations on grilled mochi - peanut butter, mentaiko and cheese among them.
SunNishiki-koji-dori, Yanaginobanba-higashi-iru. (along Nishiki Market street, south side) Open 11am-5:30pm daily.
Yaoya no Nikai (Kyo-ryori). 075-221-0089
On the ground floor is a top-class produce shop with picture-perfect Kyoto vegetables, while upstairs they've set aside a tiny room for lunch. There's only one choice - a prix-fixe menu of small dishes highlighting the best of the vegetable world, priced at Y2100. [See FULL REVIEW.]
SunNishikikoji Yanagibanba-nishi-iru. (from Karasuma-Shijo crossing walk 4 streets east to Yanagi-no-banba-dori, turn left and go one block north to the market arcade, turn left again and Yaoya no Nikai is on the left) Open 11am until they run out daily.
Iyomata (Sushi). 075-221-1405
This modest, long-established shop serves Nishiki market shoppers with traditional Kyoto-style sushi including saba-zushi (mackerel pressed onto a bed of rice and sliced into rectangular slabs).
SunNishiki-koji-dori Fuyamachi-nishi-iru, Higashi-Uoyacho 197. (3rd block from the eastern end of Nishiki Market street, on the south side) Open 9am-6:30pm (LO). Closed Wednesdays.
Karikari Hakase (Takoyaki). 075-212-0481
The takoyaki at this Nishiki Market stand gets high marks from local Kyoto connoisseurs. Six pieces of jumbo takoyaki will set you back Y180; other options include takoyaki with cheese, spring onions or both (Y250-Y350).
Higashi-Uoyacho 185-6. Open 11am-7pm. Closed Sundays.
Aritsugu (Retail). 075-221-1091
A fantastic selection of chef's knives and cleavers, cooking pans, bamboo steamers, and more esoteric cookingware can be found at this 400-year-old retail shop.
SunNishiki-koji-dori Gokomachi-nishi-iru. (along Nishiki Market street, north side) Open 9am-5:30pm daily.
Nishiki Market (Attraction).
Hundreds of specialized food shops line this kilometer-long covered market street running through the heart of central Kyoto.
(one block N of Sanjo, running W from Teramachi)
Wan Nyan Chu 2 (Cat cafe). 075-746-6858
This second branch of Kyoto's most popular cat cafe has a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere than the main shop, with plenty of comfortable nooks and crannies for human visitors as well as the twenty resident cats to stretch out in. [See FULL REVIEW.]
SunIsayacho 354-1, 3F East. Open noon-9pm daily.
Kushiya Monogatari (Kushiage). 075-213-8194
This popular shop lets you cook your own kushiage skewers in a deep-fryer right at your table. It's all you can eat, including various side dishes and a big variety of skewered tidbits. Y2625 per person, with a 90-minute limit. Lunch is served on weekends only.
SunUraderacho 598, Oki Bldg 2F. Open 4-11pm daily.

East of Kawaramachi

Hageten (Tempura). 075-212-8910
Good-quality tempura at modest prices in a convenient department-store setting. Budget around Y2000-2500 for dinner.
SunShincho 68, Mosaic Dining 8F. Open 11am-9pm daily.
Misono (Teppanyaki). 075-255-2981
The "originator of teppanyaki" is Misono's claim, and they've certainly been around long enough, serving Kobe and other local beef steaks since the 1940s. The decor and prices are more down-to-earth than the average hotel teppanyaki house, with dinners starting in the Y5000 range.
SunKawaramachi-Shijo-agaru, TSC Tower 5F. (on E side of Kawaramachi about 2 min. N of Shijo (at first traffic light)) Open 11:30am-2:30, 5-9:30pm (LO). Closed Tuesdays.
Ichiyoken (Yoshoku). 075-221-4249
This charmingly old-fashioned shop serves state-of-the-art Western dishes circa 1922, when they first opened their doors - pork chops, grilled chicken, shrimp croquettes, potato salad and the like. And wait'll you see their wine list!
SunKiyamachi-dori Shijo-agaru, Nabeyacho 221-25. (from Shijo walk 150 m (2 1/2 blocks) N on Kiyamachi; when you see a big red lantern turn R into a very narrow alley, then L, then L again) Open 5-10pm (LO). Closed Thursdays.
Roan Kikunoi (Kaiseki). 075-361-5580
Third-generation kaiseki chef Yoshihiro Murata takes a fresh approach to the cuisine, drawing on French and other European influences and using some non-traditional ingredients (like Japanese pears soaked in pear brandy). This is a modern, downtown branch of the long-established family shop. Prix-fixe lunch starts at Y4000, dinner from Y10,000.
SunKiyamachi Shijo-sagaru. (on E side of Kiyamachi, second building S of Shijo) Open noon-1:30, 5-8:30pm (LO). Closed Wednesdays.
Girogiro Hitoshina (Japanese). 075-343-7070
We're not sure whether to call it casual modern kaiseki or creative Kyoto cuisine, but the food here is exquisite in both flavor and presentation. The nine-course menu follows a traditional kaiseki sequence of preparation styles, and as each dish arrives the waiter provides detailed explanations of the many seasonal ingredients incorporated therein, right down to the origins of the miso paste and seasonings. The prix-fixe menu (the only choice at dinnertime) is an incredible bargain at just Y4000.
Nishi-Kiyamachi-dori Matsubara Sagaru, Nanbacho 420-7. Open 5:30-11pm. Closed Sundays.
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