Osaka and Kobe late-night restaurants
(Osaka: Chayamachi - Italian). 06-6292-1555
You'll find inexpensive but good-quality pastas, pizzas from a wood-fired oven and more substantial Italian fare at this popular Kanto-based chain. This wine list is similarly budget-friendly.
Chayamachi 15-22, Urban Terrace Chayamachi A-3F. Open 11:30am-3:30am (LO) daily.
(Osaka: Chayamachi - Misc. Southeast Asian). 06-6292-0010
"Healthy ethnic cuisine" is the theme at Monsoon Cafe, and you'll find dishes inspired by various Asian cuisines in a festive, resort-themed dining space.
Chayamachi 15-22, Urban Terrace Chayamachi A-4F. Open 11:30am-3:30am (LO) daily.
(Osaka: Chayamachi - Bar). 06-6371-3321
This quiet, well-hidden bar has plenty of space spread out over three floors, and they offer a good selection of whiskey and bourbon, cocktails and a few Japanese craft beers, as well as an inexpensive food menu.
Chayamachi 13-9. (walk N on the street running along the E side of Umeda sta about 3 min. N of the station, turn R (just before Chayamachi Applause and the Hotel Hankyu International)) Open 6pm-2am (5am weekends) daily.
Absynthe cocktails are the specialty here; they also serve a nice, extensive menu of Greek/Mediterranean specialties all day long.
Kitahorie 1-2-27. Open 11:30am-3am (Fri, Sat -5am). Closed Tuesdays.
A big bar serving good hamburgers and lunchtime sandwiches; they even have poutine, that mysterious French-Canadian dish involving fried potatoes, cheese and gravy. There's a games room in the back, and a good sound system.
Kita-Horie 2-5-10. Open noon-4pm, 6pm-2am. Closed Sundays.
(Osaka: Kita-Horie - Spanish). 06-6531-0806
Bunny's paella is chock full of seafood - squid, shrimp, mussels and clams - along with a healthy dose of chorizo, lamb, chicken and, most importantly, saffron-infused rice. It is but one of the ways Bunny and his lovely wife Azusa transport their customers, via their taste buds, to the land of flamenco, olives and sherry. [See FULL REVIEW
Kita-Horie 1-22-26, Casa Kitahorie 1F. (from Nishi-Ohashi station exit 4 walk 1 block south and turn right) Open 11:30am-2:30, 5:30pm-late. Closed Mondays.
Another jewel in the El Poniente Spanish-food empire, this is a more casual tapas-bar setup, an easy spot to grab a glass of wine and a snack after work.
Hiranomachi 1-6-11. (from Kitahama Sta exit 5 go 2 blocks S, turn left at Hiranocho 1 crossing; it's the second block on the right side) Open 3pm-2:30am (LO). Closed Sundays.
(Osaka: Namba - Okonomiyaki). 06-6212-2211
Five floors of okonomiyaki action here at Chibo headquarters overlooking the river. Actually the top floor - called "President Chibo" - specializes in grilled steaks.
Dotonbori 1-5-5. Open 11am-2am daily.
A branch of the famous Hakata ramen chain, featuring thin, slightly chewy noodles in a pork-based broth ("red" or "white"), with or without extra chashu. You can add your own freshly grated garlic.
Nambanaka 3-1-17. Open 11am-3am daily.
This all-night Dotonbori landmark with the gigantic dragon on top serves a very popular Kyushu-style tonkotsu (pork broth) ramen. Help yourself to unlimited garlic, kimchi and pickles from the toppings station. There are a few more branches in the neighborhood in case this one is full.
Dotenbori 1-7-26. Open 24 hours a day.
(Osaka: Namba - Sushi). 06-6484-2280
Good-value Tokyo-style sushi and convenient hours from the famous Tsukiji-based chain; this is their only Kansai outlet.
Dotonbori 1-7-21, Nakaza Cui-daore Bldg 1F. Open 24 hours a day.
Located atop the H&M department store, this 24-hour-a-day shop serves good Peking Duck at just Y3680 for a portion big enough for three or four people. They also serve dumplings and small-plate dishes at even cheaper prices.
Soemoncho 7-2, Luz Shinsaibashi 5F. (above H-M store) Open 24 hours a day.
(Osaka: Shinsaibashi - Thai). 06-4704-8107
Thai pop music blares from the little food stall right out on the street, where take-out Thai dishes are available until midnight. Inside is a small cafe-style space and art gallery; the food is an assortment of Thai and other Asian standards and original dishes.
Higashi-Shinsaibashi 1-17-2. Open 5:30pm-2am daily.
A branch of the famous Hakata ramen chain, featuring thin, slightly chewy noodles in a pork-based broth ("red" or "white"), with or without extra chashu. You can add your own freshly grated garlic. Open until 3am Fridays and Saturdays, 1am Sundays.
Minami-Senba 3-11-28. Open 11am-2am daily.
(Osaka: Umeda - Japanese regional). 06-6341-3910
The prices on the menu outside Akashiya are in U.S. dollars and the sign reads: we have loco food. Does this mean crazy or local? It's a little of both. Masa, your congenial host, will cook up an Osaka culinary storm of akashiyaki (takoyaki in a light soup), ikayaki (grilled squid) and handmade gyoza. And what could be better than a glass of super-strong Samurai sake to wash it down with? The daily set menu is Y2500 on weekdays and Y2100 on weekends, when Kita-shinchi slows down a little. The set includes a fish dish, gyoza, rice, pickles, and of course, akashiyaki.
Dojima 1-3-23, Osakaya Kita-shinchi Bldg B1F. Open 5pm -2am (LO). Closed Mondays.
(Osaka: Umeda - French). 06-6341-7782
The provincial cuisine of Bretagne (Brittany) is the specialty here, including some 40 varieties of galettes (savory buckwheat crepes). Lunch is served till 3pm, and in the evenings the bar is open till 2:30am; the regular food menu is served till 11pm. The interior is huge and spaciously laid out, and outdoor terrace seating is also available.
Dojima-Hama 1-4-27, Dojima Nakamachi Bldg. 1F. (1 min. from exit C-92 Kita-Shinchi station Dojima Chika Center) Open 11:30am-3am daily.
Cheese and vegetable cuisine is the theme at this attractive basement spot in the heart of Doyamacho. The dishes are fairly simple for the most part and nicely presented, focusing on the quality of the fresh ingredients. [See FULL REVIEW
Doyamacho 3-13, Umeda Rainbow Plaza Bldg B1F. Open 11:30am-midnight. daily.
If you crave an environment of religious statuary, massive chandeliers and bordello-ready plush sofas when you dine out, we've got just the place for you. The over-the-top decor and late-night hours are the main draw, but the menu is also entertaining - Chinese- and Spanish-inspired nibbles accompany a bewildering assortment of cocktails.
(Osaka: Umeda - Japanese). 06-6361-9896
The splashy modern-Japanese decor is all part of the fun at En, but the excellent food and sake are just as big a draw. It's all pretty straightforward izakaya standards - sashimi, grilled fish and chicken, tofu - but beautifully prepared from premium ingredients.
(Osaka: Umeda - Ramen). 06-6363-3777
Ippudo's Hakata-style ramen noodles, served in a surprisingly rich pork broth, draw the crowds here every night. It's worth the occasional wait.
Kakudacho 6-7, Kakudacho Building 1F. (across street from Navio Hankyu) Open 11am-3am daily.
(Osaka: Umeda - Yakitori). 06-6361-0123
Miyazaki free-range chicken is the main ingredient at Kuruma, with chicken sukiyaki and chicken shabu-shabu supplementing the usual yakitori menu. The tasteful interior is plusher than what you'd expect from the back-alley location.
Kakudacho 6-9. (in the alley running alongside Hep Navio, next to Ippudo ramen shop) Open 5pm-midnight (LO) daily.
(Osaka: Umeda - Portuguese). 06-6362-6668
You'll find authentic Portuguese cuisine prepared by a native chef in this homey little restaurant. The food is very down-to-earth - rabbit stew, garlic-fried shrimp, grilled meats, codfish croquettes, vegetable soups. There's an impressive selection of unusual Portuguese wines, with premium wines of the day priced around Y1500 and house wines under Y1000/glass. Budget around Y5000-7000 for dinner and drinks.
Nishi-Tenma 4-12-11. (just north of the American Consulate) Open 11am-2, 6pm-2am (food LO 10:30pm). Closed Sundays.
Kiritampo (toasted rice on skewers) from Akita, tongue stew from Sendai, and other dozens of other exotic specialties from the Tohoku region are the specialty at this lively izakaya. You'll also find a dozen types of sake from the region. Budget around Y3000 at dinnertime.
Doyamacho 6-7, Stage Gold Bldg 2F/3F. Open 2pm-5am daily.
(Osaka: Umeda 2-chome - Spanish). 06-6346-7222
This cozy, cave-like Spanish wine bar serves tapas-size servings, including grilled Iberico ham and good fish and seafood dishes. Most wines are priced at Y2500/bottle; budget around Y2500 per person with wine.
Umeda 2-1-14, Umeda Nichome Hanshin Bldg 2F. (across from the Dunhill shop in the back of Hilton Plaza West) Open 5pm-1am (LO). Closed Sundays.
(Kobe: Kyukyoryuchi - Cafe). 078-331-6553
Featured in architecture and design magazines as well as restaurant guides, this beautifully repurposed space is the former lobby of a British bank built in 1938. It's a stylish spot for an afternoon coffee or an after-dinner drink (but less inspiring for dinner).
(Kobe: Motomachi - Ramen). 078-335-0581
This well-known Hakata ramen shop serves thin, chewy noodles in a pork-based broth ("red" or "white"), either with or without extra chashu. Numerous condiments line the counter, including spicy bean sprouts and fresh garlic.
Kita-Nagasa-dori 4-3-24. (on Koikawasuji, about 2 blocks north of Motomachi station) Open 11am-3am daily.
(Kobe: Motomachi - Ramen). 078-325-1250
This late-night budget ramen shop is perhaps the only place in town where you can find Nagasaki-style noodles - champon and sara-udon.
Shimo-Yamate-dori 2-10-4. Open 11am-5am daily.
As the name implies, Barstro falls somewhere between a bistrot and a straight-out bar, and you can either enjoy a full-on French-inspired meal here, with dishes like duck confit and foie gras pate, or just have a few drinks. When the weather is nice, Barstro's rooftop terrace is a very pleasant place to hang out. Budget around Y5000 for dinner and drinks.
Kita-Nagasa-dori 2-4-8, 3F. Open 6pm-1am (LO) daily.
(Kobe: Sannomiya - Izakaya). 078-331-3911
This comfortable late-night neighborhood izakaya serves excellent fish and seafood. Budget around Y5000 for dinner and drinks.
Kanocho 4-10-9. Open 5pm-2:30am (LO) daily.
(Kobe: Sannomiya - Teppanyaki). 078-332-4029
An unpretentious steak house with friendly service and the feel of a neighborhood hangout. Multi-course steak dinners start at Y8000, but you can also order steak a la carte (from Y4000) as well as grilled chicken, seafood, vegetables and okonomiyaki. They also have a decent wine list that's not overpriced.
Naka-Yamate-dori 1-17-6, Kitano Phoenix 3F. Open 5pm-3am. Closed Mondays.
Wine Bar D
(Kobe: Sannomiya - Italian). 078-391-0588
This beautifully appointed wine bar-restaurant offers an impressive list of around 400 wines by the bottle, focusing on Italy and France. Wines by the glass start at around Y1200, or Y8,000 by the bottle. The food menu features Italian- and Mediterranean-inspired fare like oxtail stew, roast duck with balsamic sauce, and tagliatelle with boar-meat ragu. Budget around Y2500-3500 for dinner before drinks.
Kita-Nagasa-dori 1-7-4, White Rose Bldg 9F. Open 6pm-2am. Closed Sundays.