Gion is an effervescent area which is an intense sensory experience for visitors. From the beauty of the incredibly unique Japanese scenery to the concentration of magnificent restaurants, Gion will open your appetite for exploration. It may be overwhelming to choose a restaurant with Gion's agglomeration of restaurants, so we narrowed down the list for you. Here are the top 10 restaurants to try in Gion!
Wadachi is a bar which specializes in Japanese sake but also serves delicious food. Sake lovers, this place is awesome for a sake tasting and great food to accompany it. You can have tapas here and head somewhere else, or you can just as easily stay for dinner and relax, as you probably have been busy exploring the whole day. It's really a great spot for tasting a variety of sake at a reasonable price.
Izuju is a lovely restaurant located in the Gion district that specializes in sushi. Traditional Kyoto sushi is different from the sushi we can find abroad, both in shape and in taste. The price is affordable and they have an English menu, so don't be intimidated to walk into this lovely traditional sushi restaurant. Set courses start at just 2,500 yen.
If you want to try Kobe beef while in the Kansai region, you definitely need to stop by this restaurant for an incredible meal. The service is amazing and the price is reasonable compared to what you would pay abroad for the same quality. If you've had sukiyaki in Tokyo, you should try it in Kyoto as well, as they have different regional variations. You can also have teppanyaki, which is an amazing experience, as you can watch the chef grill the ingredients in front of you on an iron plate. "Nabe" dishes (sukiyaki, shabu shabu) start at 11,000 yen, and teppanyaki courses start at 15,500 yen.
Gion Tanto 祇園たんと
Again, if you want to try a Japanese classic with a regional twist, you should definitely try this okonomiyaki restaurant. Even if you've had it in Tokyo, you should try it again in Kyoto because it is quite different; the okonomiyaki is much thinner in Kyoto and jam-packed with fillings. This restaurant has a traditional feel and tasty food. What's more, it's cheap! For example, shrimp okonomiyaki is just 1,150 yen! If you're in search of a tasty and authentic, yet reasonable meal, Gion Tanto is a great option.
Issen Yoshoku 壹錢洋食
Issen Yoshoku is an interesting okonomiyaki place with very interesting pre-war decor. You can try the okonomiyaki from the stall outside or dine-in in the restaurant. They serve only okonomiyaki (650 yen) and matcha red bean jelly (580 yen). It is a very casual restaurant, but it is a nice place to have a light meal with a beer or an afternoon snack.
Teppan Tavern Tenamonya 鉄板居酒屋 祇園てなもんや
Teppan Tavern Tenamonya is a casual teppanyaki bar with super friendly staff. The couple who run the restaurant speak great English and are very welcoming. They serve teppanyaki cuisine (food cooked on an iron plate), and the menu includes okonomiyaki and A5 quality beef. Everything is great, and the course is only about ¥3,000 - ¥4,000.
Musoshin 無双心 祇園店
Musoshin is a ramen joint in Gion where you can have a cheap and quick bite. If you're wondering what to try, you might want to go for the much talked about black ramen, or, if you're hesitating between "karaage" (fried chicken) and ramen, have them both...together! When you walk in, you will have to place your order from a vending machine. You then hand your ticket to the staff and shortly after, they will bring you your delicious bowl of hot ramen. The soup is known for being super thick and rich.
Itoh Dining Kyoto 伊藤ダイニング 京都
Itoh Dining is located 5 minutes away from Gion Yonjyo station. You can enjoy the atmosphere of a Kyoto style house at this restaurant, while enjoying delicious Kobe beef. You can enjoy seasonal and special courses, or just order a la carte dishes. It is rare for a teppanyaki restaurant to have an a la carte menu, but you can just order one or two dishes if you are on a budget. The lunch course starts at ¥ 3,000, and the dinner course starts at ¥ 7,000. Can you imagine eating incredibly tender Kobe beef grilled on the iron plate right before your eyes by a trained chef!
Tempura Kyoboshi 天ぷら京星
Tempura Kyoboshi is arguably the most famous tempura restaurant in Kyoto. It is located a 3-minutes walk from Gion Shijo station.
This restaurant is two starred Michelin restaurant, which means their food is amazing, albeit slightly expensive. Customers can enjoy perfectly battered tempura that is presented in an elegant and beautiful way. The tempura almost looks too sophisticated to eat!
As it is such a well-known and popular restaurant, be sure to make a reservation before you go!
Saryo Tsujiri Gion Honten (Flagship) 茶寮都路里 祇園本店
After filling up on delicious Japanese cuisine, you probably have some extra room for a traditional Japanese dessert: a luxurious matcha parfait. Many Japanese people say they have a "betsu bara", which means a separate stomach for dessert. I love this expression because it's always true for me.
The Japanese parfaits are about 1,000 yen and made with matcha ice cream, matcha cake, mochi, etc. If you haven't had it yet, this is incredibly tasty!
Gion is a magical place to explore in Kyoto. There are so many great places to eat, and we hope that this article was helpful in making a decision. Happy eating!