Many restaurants in Kyoto lack an English menu and/or serve quite uncreative standard dishes. Luckily there are a few really nice food options in Kyoto. I’ve listed my personal best food spots and restaurants in Kyoto on this page. All the food spots and restaurants mentioned also serve vegetarian food.
Nishiki market is a street filled with food stalls, it’s covered so it’s also nice when rains in Kyoto. The covered streets around it have shops for souvenirs, clothes and many matcha tea products (check my matcha recipes here), but the food market is recognisable by the colored glass in the ceiling. At Nishiki market you’ll find all the Kyoto staples. Including some things that are quite strange to us, like squid stuffed with a quail egg in its head. I didn’t eat that one but I took a picture when someone else ordered it. Luckily there are also some more accessible options like vanilla and matcha soft serve ice cream.
There’s a nice restaurant for Okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancakes) in Kyoto. You can find it in the Gion neighborhood at the crossing of Shijo Dori and Yamato Oji Dori. The colorful interior is made up of countless collections like tea bags and Astro Boy figurines. You might think you’ll have to choose an ingredient from the list, but actually the Okonomiyaki has everything inside it. You can order a vegetarian version and you can also leave out the egg.
Inside a 100 year old building you’ll find a great place for breakfast and lunch: Jam Jar lounge & inn. The Australian owner is very friendly and serves great coffee. On the menu you’ll find jaffles, an Australian grilled sandwich. They have a veggie option with banana, berries and hazelnut chocolate cream. And a vegetarian version with egg, spinach and tomatoes (order the #1 without bacon).
Floresta nature doughnuts is the place to go for ‘kawaii’ donuts (find out more about Kawaii food here). Here you can find donuts decorated as cute frogs, cats or dogs. I’m normally not really a donut fan (too much sugar and too much fat) but these ones are really tasty without feeling too unhealthy. They’re also for sale in Tokyo (find out about my favorite Tokyo bakeries here).
Gin tonic lovers should go to Nokishita.Edible Garden. This small but romantically decorated bar serves up great G&T’s. You can combine your favorite gin with your favorite tonic or you can go for one of their creations like ‘My Bloody Valentine’ with grapefruit or the ‘Botanical Garden’ with actual flowers.