Kyoto City (Japan) has a total of 17 UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites, most of them temples and shrines. There is one place that stands out amongst the rest, as it is the only castle on the list. Nijo-jo, or Nijo Castle, is a powerful remnant of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1868). The expansive grounds, traditional Japanese architecture, and various seasonal events held here make it one of the top destinations when looking for the best things to do in Kyoto City.
If you’re planning on spending time in Kyoto and exploring the historically rich area around Nijo Castle, you’ll also be planning on enjoying lunch or dinner in the area. With so many Kyoto restaurants and options, it can get a little overwhelming. 
Leave it to the MACHIYA INNS & HOTELS team, your local experts on where to visit, shop, and eat while in Kyoto City! We’ve picked out our top 5 favorite places to grab a bite in the Nijo Castle area to make planning your Kyoto vacation just a little easier.

1. A Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant using locally grown Kyoto ingredients

Among the many restaurants in Kyoto, Japan, you can find Kappo cuisine. Kappo-stye restaurants differ from regular restaurants in that the kitchen or cooking area is right in front of the diner, usually at a counter-style seating. With the ingredients spread out to see, you can discuss your preferences with the chef to have your own special meal created in front of you. Ristorante Noro embraces the Kappo-style of dining, and creates a special Italian-fusion dining experience, incorporating many traditional Japanese foods and cooking methods. The chef in particular strives to incorporate fresh and seasonal ingredients from Kyoto, nearby Shiga prefecture, and other areas of Japan. From various traditional Kyoto vegetables (Kyo-yasai), to Kyoto’s very own pork brand, Kyoto Pork, enjoy a laidback Japanese-Italian fusion meal using delicious local ingredients, only 10 minutes from Nijo Castle!


There is a reason the ground-meat cutlet, or menchi-katsu in Japanese, is the specialty of Ristorante Noro and popular with local fans of the Japanese restaurant! Ground-meat cutlets are a popular western-style Japanese dish, made by deep frying a seasoned meat patty coated in panko breadcrumbs. Ristorante Noro puts their own spin by using a mix of Ozaki Beef and Kyoto Pork, and by finishing off the hearty dish with demi-glace sauce and a bit of balsamic glaze. After visiting nearby Nijo Castle and Shinsen-en Garden, we recommend stopping by for lunch and ordering the menchi-katsu set menu, which comes with soup, salad, and a choice of rice or bread!

 Ristorante Noro
Address67-14 Nishinokyo Shokujicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8381
Google Map
Access8 minutes walk from JR Nijo Station JR

2. Casual Italian in a Traditional Japanese Architecture

Just a 10 minute walk from nearby Nijo Castle, this casual Italian restaurant is located inside a traditional Japanese house, or machiya. Enjoy the distinct feel of Kyoto in the converted hundred year old machiya house as you enjoy your meal in this restaurant in Kyoto, Japan. Using fresh seasonal ingredients, they serve delicious pasta, which is handmade each morning, as well as Naples-style pizza.


If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy a drink or two while eating, look no further! The bar counter at Dining+Cafe&Bar Uruu faces the small inner garden, known as a tsuboniwa. Enjoy a drink as you nibble on their Naples-style pizza as you take in the atmosphere of a traditional Japanese house and Japanese architecture. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, they also serve various appetizer and smaller dishes, which are reasonably priced, perfect to enjoy with a glass or two of wine.

 Dining+Cafe&Bar Uruu
Address610 Oshinishitoincho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-0042
Google Map
Access4 minutes walk from Karasuma Oike Station (Subway Karasuma Line)

3. Retro Japanese-style Kissaten Cafe

When searching for cafes and Japanese restaurants in Kyoto City, you’re sure to come across a kissaten or two. Kissaten are Japanese-style coffee shops which developed in the early 20th century. Many kissaten-style cafes and restaurants are a sort of retro and nostalgic nod back to the Showa era of Japan, and Cafe Tyrol is no different. First opening back in 1968, this kissaten is beloved by many locals in the area. Enjoy a plate of Japanese curry or sip a cup of coffee as you take in the retro-Japanese feel of Cafe Tyrol.


If you’re visiting Cafe Tyrol, be sure to get there early enough to try their hayashi rice, as there are only a limited number available each day! Hayashi rice is one of the most popular western-style Japanese foods, and is a common household dish throughout Japan. At first, it looks similar to Japanese curry rice as it is served over white rice, but hayashi rice is made with a thick demi-glace sauce, often containing red wine and tomato sauce. At Cafe Tyrol, you can choose to top your hayashi rice with croquettes, tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet), or their most popular option, with a fried egg!

 Cafe Tyrol
Address539-3 Monzencho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8306
Google Map
Access5 minutes walk from Nijo-jo Mae Station (Subway Tozai Line)

4. A Hidden Gem Nestled Within a Retro Shopping Arcade

Now eating Chinese cuisine while in Kyoto, Japan may sound a little strange, but Gihan Ebisudou is a true gem, and worth a trip to the Sanjo Shopping Arcade area. (The shopping arcade was first established in 1914, is over 800m long, and has over 70 shops & restaurants!)

This Chinese restaurant is located inside a hundred-year-old former miso shop, and you can feel the unique atmosphere of the shop even before entering. The chef has trained in China previously, and locals rave about the delicious mapo tofu (a Chinese dish from the Sichuan province, featuring ground meat and tofu in a spicy sauce) and fried noodle dishes. This Kyoto restaurant has also gained popularity with fans from outside Kyoto, and you can find a line formed outside each day!



Like many Japanese restaurants serving Chinese cuisine, you can find dumplings at Gihan Ebisudou, but the types of dumplings offered may surprise you! You can enjoy 7 different types of dumplings here, including kani-miso (crab innards), porcini mushrooms, shark fin, ao-shiso (traditional Japanese herb), and black truffle. If you can’t decide, we recommend ordering the dumpling set with 4 types, which include normal dumplings in addition to kani-miso, shark fin, and black truffle. Be careful when eating, as they serve them hot!

 Gihan Ebisudou
Address661 Hashinishicho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8332
Google Map
Access10 minute walk from Nijo-jo Mae Station (Subway Tozai Line)

5. A Family-Friendly Cafe with Great Food & Atmosphere

Sometimes you don’t want a Japanese-style meal when in Japan, and that’s okay! If you’re looking for a casual cafe with a great selection of pizza, cakes, coffee, and more, stop by Sarasa3.

Also located in the Sanjo Shopping Arcade in Kyoto City, Sarasa3 is a cafe popular with both locals and tourists. With a relaxing atmosphere and sofa seating available in addition to table seating, this Kyoto restaurant is the perfect stop after exploring the Nijo Castle area. We especially recommend this Japanese restaurant for travelers with small children, as Sarasa3 is very kid-friendly.


Although not necessarily a Kyoto restaurant serving traditional Japanese dishes, you can find delicious pizza, hamburg steak, fried chicken and more at Sarasa3! If you’re stopping by for a drink of their famous coffee, be sure to order a plate of their recommended desserts as well. We especially love the carrot cakes and caramel cheese cakes!

If you’re enjoying a drink of beer or wine when you visit, try the pickled Japanese ginger and quail eggs. You can thank us later!

AddressAspeel Sanjo 102, 309 Ontomocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8331
Google Map
Access7 minute walk from Nijo-jo Mae Station (Subway Tozai Line)

Where to eat near Nijo Castle

The area around Nijo Castle in Kyoto City, Japan is easily accessible by both train and bus from the main JR Kyoto Station. Visiting the castle, as well as some of the other sightseeing spots nearby, makes for a great half-day itinerary during your travel to Japan. Although our selections may not seem like regular top picks as far as Japanese foods and Kyoto restaurants go, but take our word for it that these restaurants are beloved by locals and Japanese travelers for a reason!

Where to stay when in Japan


Stay in a traditional Japanese-style accommodation during your next visit to Japan.

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