A Food & Drink Guide to Kyoto, Japan

Hi, sweet friends! I hope this post finds you well! I’m here today to share – if I may say so myself – an exceptionally exciting post: A Food & Drink Guide to Kyoto, Japan! It’s the companion piece of sorts to last week’s post – Four Days in Kyoto, Japan! – and it deals exclusively with all things edible and delicious! In all of my twelve years as a blogger, the last eight of which I have been sharing travel content, I have never once shared a city guide solely dedicated to food. I suppose there’s a first time for everything – because I foresee a lot of potential for these in our future! Whenever Husband and I are setting off on a new adventure somewhere, most of my pre-trip planning is spent researching restaurants, snack-spots, and classy rooftop cocktail bars; it’s about dang time that was reflected here on the blog! Shall we?

As you might have assumed, there are a lot of recommendations listed below. For ease, I’ve divided everything into categories, with the main ones being where we had coffee / where we ate / where we drank. Naturally, the where we ate category is further broken down into pastries / breakfast / lunch / dinner / ice-cream; while the where we drank category is divided into beer and cocktails. You get the gist: heaps of delicious food and drink spots listed below.

Hope you don’t plan on reading on an empty stomach! Enjoy, friends!

DUNSTAN COFFEE ROASTERS // a very cute coffee shop! This is one of the few places in Japan that we stopped into solely for the purpose of drinking coffee and we really enjoyed it! We had an americano each and it was great; strong, hot, and punchy. The cafe itself was also very cute, with a nice communal table, plants, magazines, and an exceptionally chill vibe. Added bonus: DUNSTAN is a quick 1-minute walk away from MASH, below! Would recommend. Address: 600-8401 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Torocho, 559-2 Ragusa東洞院高辻 1階

Boulangerie Rauk // the best bakery we visited in Kyoto! We nabbed a plain croissant to share, a cinnamon swirl for Husband, and a ridiculously over-the-top pastry for me. It had a buttery croissant base, a delicious vanilla-custard filling topped with a sweetened whipped dream-cream, and a scattering of crunchy chocolate-coated cornflakes on top! Like I said, ridiculously over-the-top, but so wondrously delightful! Perhaps it’s even one of my favourite pastries I’ve ever eaten? The croissant and Husband’s cinnamon pastry were also superb, but my creation stole the show. A must-visit. Address: 600-8320 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Fukumotocho, 422

THE CITY BAKERY Nishiki-koji // another great bakery! We got takeaway treats for eating in our hotel room one day, and we enjoyed them so much that we actually went back the next day to sit in and sample some more. Altogether, we tried their corn blueberry muffin, baked cheesecake, and two of their chocolate chunk cookies. The muffin and the cheesecake were both very good – although, we’re tough customers, because a. Husband makes the best blueberry muffins and b. I make the best cheesecake ever – but the cookie was insane! The chocolate was indeed generously chunky, and the actual cookie itself was so flavourful and wondrously milk-powder-ey! Added bonus: this is located inside Nishiki Market; go for a cultural wander while you’re there! A must-visit. Address: 604-8125 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Nakauoyacho, 502

Boulangerie MASH Kyoto // a really very good bakery! Not as fantastic as the two listed above perhaps, but still a solid choice for buttery treats in the city! We shared a croissant, a pain au chocolat, and Danish between us, and everything was great! I also really enjoyed the exterior of the bakery; it is exactly the kind of cute building you expect to find in Kyoto. Added bonus: MASH is a quick 1-minute walk away from DUNSTAN, above! We scoffed our pastries outside MASH and then strolled around the corner for a coffee! Address: 600-8401 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Torocho, 568

CLAMP COFFEE SARASA // home to the French toast of dreams! Each portion consisted of one ridiculously thickkk and fluffy slice of brioche that was both a. perfectly caramelized + crispy on the outside and b. gooey and eggy beyond belief on the inside. And! As if that wasn’t enough, it also came drizzled with maple syrup and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream! I’d never had ice-cream with French toast beforehand, but omg, what a game changer! Beyond delicious! We also had a nice drip coffee each – Brazilian for me, Guatemalan for Husband – but the food was the star here. Added bonus: the cafe is very aesthetically pleasing! Cute, big beautiful windows, lots of plants, nice wooden accents, etc. Pro tip: this is located a convenient 10-minute walk away from Nijō Castle, why not tie the two together? A must-visit. Address: 67-38 Nishinokyo Shokujicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8381

Eggs ‘n Things Kyoto Shijo // a very cool & hip Hawaiian brunch place! I don’t actually remember how we ended up here, but, oof, we sure did enjoy it! I went for the fruit French toast with an iced coffee, Husband opted for the buttermilk pancakes with blueberries and a Kona blend coffee, and we shared a side of bacon between us; it was all fab! The portions were absolutely ginormous, and, while the above French toast stole the Kyoto title, this was a solid second place! Added bonus: the restaurant space itself is lovely! Spacious, very chilled out, aloha vibes only, and many a waitress clad in funky Hawaiian shirts. Would recommend. Address: 600-8091 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Motoakuojicho, 47-4

taqueria tacos // aka: the best tacos ever!! The first time we stopped here, it was snowing, we were literally on our way home after eating dinner, it was dark and freezing – and we were enticed into stopping by the luscious smell. Huddled together at the tiny window, we ate a pork carnitas taco each and enjoyed them so much that we vowed to return for more! The very next day, knowing how amazing it would be, we went big and ordered: two beef birria, one pollo, and one pork pastor. Each taco seemed to be my favourite, but the carnitas or birria might just have been my true fave? So far beyond good, and run by the sweetest man ever! Be warned: this is a cash only spot! Added bonus: this is literally right outside Nishiki Market! A must-visit. Address: 600-8007 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Nishiuoyacho, 593

Ramen Miyako (Gion Main Shop) // a great lunch spot! Slightly ramen-ed out by the time we ate here, we went off-piste and instead ordered: meat egg-fried rice, roast pork belly sticky rice, pork & chicken gyoza, and a Suntory beer each. Everything we ordered was delicious, but the pork belly bowl took the biscuit; it was crispy and sticky, with a generous squirting of Kewpie mayo over the top. I’d actually read about the pork dish before visiting, so our expectations were already high, but it was better than we’d hoped! Added bonus: Ramen Miyako is located in the Gion District! Fuel up here before battling the crowds! Would recommend. Address: 303番地, 1F, Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0073

Nishiki Gyoza // mmm, gyoza! We were 100% lured into this tiny hole in the wall eatery by a sign outside that read: black wagyu beef gyoza. Black wagyu beef inside a gyoza?! Count us in!! We ordered one portion of that and one portion of chicken karaage to share and, friends, let me tell you, it was AMAZING. So different from every other gyoza we ate in Japan – honestly, we must’ve eaten dozens! – and the karaage was so deliciously juicy! There also was a homemade yuzu soy sauce side that was *chef’s kiss*. Added bonus: this is located inside Nishiki Market; go for a cultural wander while you’re there! A must-visit. Address: 504 Nakauoyacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8125

Dining Bar Marib // in truth, we didn’t exactly stop here for lunch; we stopped in for an after-dinner beer & were enticed into ordering food because we were jealous of our bar companion. And thank goodness – the food we ate here was bloody delicious!! Seeing as it was, after all, our *cough* second dinner *cough* of the night, we opted for the wagyu beef plate to share and it! was! insane! Ridiculously juicy and tender, it essentially melted away on our tongues! Generously portioned into thickkk beautiful slices, the wagyu also came with little mounds of flaky salt, fresh wasabi, and jus on the side. Mmm, wagyu ❤️ Be warned: this is a smoking friendly spot! See also: where we drank, below. Would recommend. Address: 52 Motoakuojicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8091

KARA-KUSA curry // a fantastic Japanese curry house! We both opted for the red chicken curry with a Heartland Pilsner and truly, it was amaZING! The flavour was just spectacular! The curries came with a side of pickled lotus root and to say we licked our plated clean would not be an exaggeration. There could have maybe been sliightly more meat – but in fairness, no amount would’ve been enough. Added bonus: there are literally only 5 items on the menu, so you know it’s gonna be good! Be warned: the restaurant is a teeny tiny counter-seating-only place, and it is tight! There’s probably only around 8-10 bar stools inside, so be sure to get there early! A must-visit. Address: 600-8092 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, 東洞院東入る神明町248グランジュール綾小路

Sumi Roman // so good we ate here twice! Recommended to us by the exceptionally lovely FOH staff in our hotel, we were pleasantly surprised by this buzzy izakaya! Over our visits, we devoured: grilled corn, fried chicken karaage, pork gyoza, skirt steak both with and without salt sauce, white rice, and bean sprouts. Everything was delicious, but I was especially impressed with the crispiness of the gyozas and the juiciness of the steak! We washed everything down one night with Asahi beer on draft, and the other night with a 3-course sake taster! It was our only sake of the trip and it was such a fun way to try it! Pro tip: try grab a seat downstairs at the bar! You’ll get a front row seat into the kitchen and you’ll probably be surrounded by locals – we were! Would definitely recommend. Address: 604-8126 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Kaiyacho, 561

Kikyo // a delicious yakiniku restaurant! This was our first foray into the world of yakiniku and it was such a fun evening! After being seated at the bar, a small charcoal BBQ was placed in-front of us, as well as an all important chunk of lard 😉 We had no idea what to order, but went with: two sirloin wagyu steaks (x1 salt, x1 sauce), the daily premium lean cut, corn, a large bowl of rice, and some Heartland Pilsner, obvs. Everything was delicious – but truly, wouldn’t that be the case if everything was grilled over smokey lard?! – , the meat so beautifully marbled, and we were the only non-locals in sight!! Added bonus: this is in the same building as Liquor Museum Bar, below! Stop there for a cocktail or two after! Would warmly recommend. Address: 604-8166 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, 烏丸西入ル 御倉町79 文椿ビルヂング1F

Honke Nishio Yatsuhashi Kiyomizu Store // home to delicious soft-serve ice-cream!! It was snowing when we decided on a whim to step inside this random little shop on our way through Gion, but wow, what a great decision! The soft-serve we had here, although not as fantastic as the one we had in Osaka (more on that coming soon! ;)), was so deliciously creamy and delightful! The main draw for this shop is actually yatsuhashi – a traditional sweet made from rice flour, sugar, and cinnamon/matcha! – but we only had eyes for their ice-cream! Added bonus: this is a speedy 1-minute walk away from the Kiyomizu-dera Temple complex! A must-visit. Address: 1 Chome-277 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0862

Be warned: I believe all of the spots listed below are smoking friendly!

Dining Bar Marib // a lovely spot for a couple drinks! We found there to be a very charming family atmosphere at Marib; we people-watched a mother and her daughter sitting at the bar eating dinner, chatting away to the barman, while the mother was both drinking and smoking! Something you would absolutely never see in Europe, but it was such a chilled out and happy scene! We delighted in being the only non-locals in the bar, and enjoyed both a Sapporo and Heartland Pilsner each. See also: where we ate lunch, above. Would recommend. Address: 52 Motoakuojicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8091

Bar Rocking Chair // a fantastic cocktail bar! Located on the most unsuspecting & quiet street in Kyoto, we stopped in here for a couple cocktails one night. I opted for a whiskey sour and a Manhattan, while Husband went for an old fashioned and a whiskey sour – everything was amazing! The bar is beautiful, very woodsy and dark with cozy armchairs and warm furnishings, the barmen seemed knowledgeable and experienced, but – yes, there’s a but! – there is a cover charge of ¥880 per person. Personally, I thought it was a bit cheeky and it was for this very reason that we didn’t venture back, buttt – yes, another but! – the cocktails were the best we had in the city, so perhaps it’s justifiable? Would recommend. Address: 434-2 Tachibanacho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8044

Liquor Museum Bar // there are actually a whole heap of these bars around town, but we visited the Sanjo Karasuma location. An accidental find after dinner, we were tempted inside by the fact that we were the only non-locals around. Nestled into a quiet corner, we sampled a few different cocktails between us: margarita, old fashioned, white lady, Moscow mule, and a whiskey sour. Everything was delicious, but you just can’t beat a salty marg’! Added bonus: the cocktails were ridiculously cheap! They’re definitely on the smaller side (as cocktails go), but we still considered them good value! Pro tip: this is in the same building as Kikyo, above, just the next floor up! Would recommend. Address: 2F Buntsubaki Building, 79 Mikuracho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City
*JUNE 2024 UPDATE: the Sanjo Karasuma location is temporarily closed for renovations, but the others remain open!

dernier-bar // good cocktails. We stumbled across dernier-bar on our way back to the hotel late one night and decided to stop in for a margarita each. The cocktails were good, and the barman was friendly – but we were literally the only customers, and, as such, the barman basically stood behind the bar staring at us the whole time. I understand that he was just trying to be attentive, but it was more than a little awks… The bar itself is cute and quirky, with low ceilings, dim lighting, and a good drinks list. Address: 600-8491 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Niwatoribokocho, 501 カワモトビル 3F

There we have it: A Food & Drink Guide to Kyoto, Japan! Every single place we hit during our time in the beautiful city – I told you it was epic! Kyoto is such an underrated foodie hotspot, hopefully this guide will help you discover the same!

Osaka city guide and foodie companion coming soon!

Vicki xo

Four Days in Kyoto, Japan
36 Hours in Shibuya,Tokyo
Four Days in Shinjuku, Tokyo

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