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Top 10 Spots for Lunch in Gion: Take in the Kyoto Vibes On a Budget!

Top 10 Spots for Lunch in Gion: Take in the Kyoto Vibes On a Budget!

Date published: 30 July 2020
Last updated: 20 November 2020

Today we will look at ten of the best spots for lunch in Gion, the perfect place to immerse yourself in Japan’s food culture and enjoy the atmosphere of Kyoto.

The area around Kyoto’s Gion-Shijo Station is a well-known destination, and in summer you can even enjoy a meal on one of the many “noryoyuka” decks along the Kamo River. So let’s dive right in!

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Obanzai Sakuragawa: Enjoy Kyoto home cooking along the Kamo River
  2. 2. Kyou-no-Jidoriya Aki: Enjoy locally raised Kyoto chicken
  3. 3. Okonomiyaki Arachan: ‘Japanese Pizza’ cooked in front of you!
  4. 4. Craft Beer no Steak Sakaba Paris 21 Arrondissement: For those who want meat!
  5. 5. Saijiki Toshigami: A variety of seafood in a shop full of Japanese character!
  6. 6. Kyoryori Hozan: A Japanese buffet in a cute, simple shop
  7. 7. Gion Bistro Maruhashi: Kyoto steak lunch and Japanese-style seating
  8. 8. Kyoto Gion Kawamuraryouri-Hei: A luxurious authentic kaiseki lunch in Gion!
  9. 9. Kawa Café: A stylish, warm wooden café along the Kamo River
  10. 10. Ikariya Shokudo: Authentic French and Italian food

1. Obanzai Sakuragawa: Enjoy Kyoto home cooking along the Kamo River

1. Obanzai Sakuragawa: Enjoy Kyoto home cooking along the Kamo River

At Obanzai Sakuragawa, you can enjoy classic home-style Kyoto “obanzai.” Obanzai cooking refers to simple dishes made from familiar ingredients. Despite the simplicity, the dishes still have Kyoto’s typical sense of elegance, and you should definitely try obanzai if you have the chance.

Here you can enjoy a healthy lunch in Gion! The lunch menu standard is the “Obanzai Five Assorted Set Meal” (900 yen) and is full of colorful vegetables, fish, and meat. Other lunch options are the “Mix Fry Set Meal” (1,200 yen), the “Otsukuri Assorted Meal Set” (1,500 yen), and the “Choi Drink Set” (1,000 yen) that includes three kinds of obanzai and one drink of choice. (All prices exclude tax.)

Obanzai Sakuragawa’s home-cooked Japanese food has a genuine taste at a reasonable price and also merits a one-star Michelin rating.

  • Obanzai Sakuragawa
    おばんざい 櫻川
    • Address 2F, 516 Kamiosakacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8001
    • Nearest Station Access: 2-minute walk from Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station on the Kyoto Municipal Subway Tozai Line or a 4-minute walk from Sanjo Station on the Keihan Main Line
    • Phone Number 075-256-8088
    • 11:30 - 14:00 (last order 13:30), 17:30 - 23:00 (last order 22:30)

2. Kyou-no-Jidoriya Aki: Enjoy locally raised Kyoto chicken

2. Kyou-no-Jidoriya Aki: Enjoy locally raised Kyoto chicken

Kyoto-grown produce includes vegetables, beef, and chicken. You can enjoy a variety of local chicken dishes and a calm lunch in Gion at Kyou-no-Jidoriya Aki. Priding themselves on attention to the finest detail, the restaurant uses fresh Kyoto vegetables purchased daily at the nearby Nishiki Market.

The chicken served at Kyou-no-Jidoriya Aki is high-quality, pleasantly textured lean meat without excess fat.

The lunch menu’s “Ramen” (850 yen, tax included) is eye-catching and has a unique chicken and pork bone broth. You’re sure to enjoy the taste of the carefully prepared ingredients.

There are English, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), and Korean menus at Kyou-no-Jidoriya Aki so you can easily try local chicken prepared in a variety of ways.

  • Kyou-no-Jidoriya Aki
    京のじどり屋 晃(あき) 錦店
    • Address 398 Funayacho Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8051
    • Nearest Station Access: 7-minute walk from Kawaramachi station on the Hankyu Kyoto line or a 10-minute walk from Gion-Shijo station on the Keihan main line
    • Phone Number 050-3462-7564
    • Hours: 11:30 - 14:30, 17:00 - 23:00 (last order: food 22:00, drinks 22:30)

3. Okonomiyaki Arachan: ‘Japanese Pizza’ cooked in front of you!

3. Okonomiyaki Arachan: ‘Japanese Pizza’ cooked in front of you!

Okonomiyaki, often called “Japanese Pizza,” is a staple of Japanese food culture. At Okonomiyaki Arachan you can enjoy a variety of okonomiyaki, including the classic “Butatama” (with beef) (770 yen) and “Tenkomori Crispy Moyashitama” (with bean sprouts) (1,250 yen).

Okonomiyaki Arachan’s specialty, “Retro Yaki” (1,250 yen), is also popular and has a generous serving of cabbage and other toppings on the thinly spread batter. It’s completed with the addition of yakisoba sauce to give it the “Betayaki” style of downtown Kyoto. (All prices include tax.)

You can cook your okonomiyaki while sitting on a tatami mat in a Japanese-style room (see above) or at table seats, depending on your preference.

If you are not comfortable using the grill at your table, your meal can be cooked in the kitchen. English and Chinese (Traditional) menus are available.

  • Okonomiyaki Arachan
    お好み焼きあらちゃん
    • Address 438 Funayacho Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 605-0933
    • Nearest Station Access: 6-minute walk from Gion-Shijo Station on the Keihan Main Line
    • Phone Number 075-551-2832
    • Hours: 11:30 - 23:00, Tuesdays 11:30 - 14:30

4. Craft Beer no Steak Sakaba Paris 21 Arrondissement: For those who want meat!

4. Craft Beer no Steak Sakaba Paris 21 Arrondissement: For those who want meat!
Restaurant interior with a large chandelier

You can sample a wide variety of craft beer and meat, like Japanese and Angus beef, at Craft Beer no Steak Sakaba Paris 21 Arrondissement, and steaks are available at lunch starting from 980 yen (tax excluded).

Lunch sets like the “Kuroge Wagyu and domestic pork hamburger” (1,408 yen excluding tax) come with salad and bread or rice, and there’s also an à la carte menu.

The restaurant has staff who can speak English as well as an English menu.

  • Craft beer no Steak Sakaba
    クラフトビール のステーキ酒場 パリ21区 京都寺町錦
    • Address 283 Empukujimaecho Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8045
    • Nearest Station Access: 3-minute walk from Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Kyoto Line
    • Phone Number 075-252-2572
    • Hours: Weekdays 11:30 - 16:00 (last order15:00), 17:00 - 22:30 (last order 21:45)7; Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 11:00 - 22 :30 (last order 21:45); no lunch Dec. 30 – Jan. 1

5. Saijiki Toshigami: A variety of seafood in a shop full of Japanese character!

5. Saijiki Toshigami: A variety of seafood in a shop full of Japanese character!

Saijiki Toshigami provides patrons with dishes made with seasonal ingredients. There are table seats, but it’s also fun to watch the chefs at work while eating your meal at a counter seat.

At night, you can have a luxurious experience with a variety of fresh seafood dishes.

The lunch menu features meals like the “Obanzai and Fried Chicken Set” (1,100 yen excluding tax) or the “Obanzai and Grilled Fish Set” (1,300 yen excluding tax). For those just arriving in Kyoto, it’s a great place to get a full-fledged Japanese meal with the lunch-only “Omakase Course” for 3,850 yen (tax included). Reservations for the Omakase Course can be made on the day and English menus are available.

  • Saijiki Toshigami
    歳時記年神
    • Address 6 Tsukimicho Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0829
    • Nearest Station Access: 8-minute walk from Gion-Shijo Station on the Keihan Main Line or an 11-minute walk from Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station on the Hankyu Kyoto Line
    • Phone Number 050-3466-5974
    • Hours: 12:00 - 15:00, 17:00 - 24:00; closed Mondays

6. Kyoryori Hozan: A Japanese buffet in a cute, simple shop

6. Kyoryori Hozan: A Japanese buffet in a cute, simple shop

The “Kyoryori” in Kyoryori Hozan’s name refers to the restaurant’s refined, light dishes that indulge your senses not only with taste but also with appearance and atmosphere.

Located between the Kamo River and Gion’s famous shrines and temples in Higashiyama, Kyoryori Hozan is a calm space where you can feel the warmth of wood decor and enjoy the “Kyoto Lunch Buffet” for 2,000 yen (excluding tax) on weekdays.

The buffet consists of more than twenty daily dishes, served on Kiyozumi ware.

You’ll feel happy just looking at the colorful Japanese food and the stylish ceramic bowls, and an English menu is available.

7. Gion Bistro Maruhashi: Kyoto steak lunch and Japanese-style seating

7. Gion Bistro Maruhashi: Kyoto steak lunch and Japanese-style seating

Although it’s found in a refurbished Kyomachiya (traditional Kyoto-style house), Gion Bistro Maruhashi is a modern Japanese restaurant. In addition to private rooms with tables, there are counter seats with a view of the courtyard, and private low table rooms where you can stretch your legs as you enjoy local Kyoto beef.

You might think Kyoto beef would be expensive, but the “Kyoto Beef Bistro Curry Rice (1,200 yen) and “Kyoto Beef Hamburger - Perigueux sauce” (1,400 yen) are reasonably priced. There’s also a Kyoto steak lunch for around 3,000 yen. (All prices include tax.)

Why not take a break from sightseeing to experience the deliciousness of Kyoto beef? (English menu available).

8. Kyoto Gion Kawamuraryouri-Hei: A luxurious authentic kaiseki lunch in Gion!

8. Kyoto Gion Kawamuraryouri-Hei: A luxurious authentic kaiseki lunch in Gion!

At Kyoto Gion Kawamuraryouri-Hei, which is in a renovated folk house, you can partake in authentic Japanese kaiseki (traditional multi-course) cuisine.

The tatami mat flooring and the sunken counter seats are a unique experience for international tourists.

The “Lunch Limited Set” is 1,819 yen (excluding tax). With seasonal ingredients, you can appreciate excellent taste from the first dish to dessert, and finding Kyoto kaiseki at such a discount price is a pleasant surprise!

In addition to English-speaking staff, Kyoto Gion Kawamuraryouri-Hei can also accommodate religious meal requirements.

For a trip you won't forget, why not enjoy a gorgeous kaiseki lunch?

  • Kyoto Gion Kawamuraryouri-Hei
    京都 祇園 川村料理平
    • Address 347-96 Gionmachi-Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0073
    • Nearest Station Access: 5-minute walk from Gion-Shijo Station on the Keihan Main Line or an 8-minute walk from Sanjo Station on the Keihan Main Line
    • Phone Number 050-3467-6795
    • Hours: 11:30 - 15:00 (last order 14:00), 17:00 - 23:00 (last order 22:00); closed New Year holidays

9. Kawa Café: A stylish, warm wooden café along the Kamo River

9. Kawa Café: A stylish, warm wooden café along the Kamo River

The Kawa Café, facing the Kamo River, is open from 10am to midnight and is great for lunch in Gion, or afternoon tea, dinner, or evening drinks. It’s a bit further away from Gion-Shijo Station, but you can enjoy your meal with a view of the river right in front of you.

The noryoyuka terrace seating takes full advantage of Kawa Café’s location, making an afternoon glass of wine even more relaxing. The lunch menu is substantial, and coffee and cakes are also available, but quiche is the best-selling product. A set of quiche, french fries and salad is 1,450 yen (excluding tax).

  • Kawa Cafe
    カワカフェ
    • Address 176-1, Minoya-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8015
    • Nearest Station Access: 5-minute walk from Gion-Shijo Station on the Keihan Main Line
    • Phone Number 075-341-0115
    • Hours: 10:00 - 24:00

10. Ikariya Shokudo: Authentic French and Italian food

10. Ikariya Shokudo: Authentic French and Italian food

Ikariya Shokudo, with its beautiful hidden entrance, serves French and Italian cuisine. The fusion of this 100-year-old Kyomachiya with a western interior creates a wonderful space. Surprisingly, there’s also riverfront seating (until the end of September).

The restaurant’s French and Italian chefs prepare authentic dishes like the recommended “Cocotte Soufflé Fromage” (950 yen, tax included). It has a fluffy texture with plenty of egg, white sauce, and cheese, and is the type of dish that commands repeat orders. Be sure to try the “Main Choice Kyomachiya bistro lunch” (2,100 yen, tax included) too.

With health in mind, the staff wear masks and thoroughly sterilize with alcohol and seats are appropriately spaced.

  • Ikariya Shokudo
    イカリヤ食堂
    • Address 138-2 Saitocho Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8012
    • Nearest Station Access: 5-minute walk from Gion-Shijo Station on the Keihan Main Line
    • Phone Number 075-276-2067
    • Hours: 11:30 - 14:30 (last order 13:30), 16:30 - 22:00 (last order 21:00); closed Mondays and the first Tuesday of the month, *Open daily during certain periods

These restaurants should give you a real feel for the commitment to a fine lunch in Gion. And since there are more great choices around Gion-Shijo Station than can be written about, come visit and make some discoveries of your own!

Interview & Writing: Dali Corporation Co., Ltd.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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