Have you ever heard of “Izakaya”?
Many of Izakaya are popular for their delicious food and a variety of alcohol like sake, beer, or shochu spirits collections.
“12 Best Izakaya Restaurants and Alleys in Tokyo” introduces Ten izakaya restaurants selected from thousands of izakaya restaurants in Tokyo, and also Alleys lined with lots of izakaya.
What is Izakaya?
Izakaya is a small restaurant like a gastropub, where you can casually enjoy drink and food.
We could say Izakaya is one of Japanese culture, where old and young men and women casually and cheerfully drink with friends and colleagues.
Izakaya is busiest with salaried person after 5:00 on Friday, where visitors may see another aspect of Japanese neatly suited business person released from working.
Get a bit tipsy at Izakaya, then language barrier will disappear and you may end up making friends with Japanese drinking next to you.
Izakaya is a Japanese style pub where mainly serves alcoholic beverage and some foods.
Western style bar and pub serve mainly wine and liquor. On the other hand Japanese style Izakaya serves beer and Chuhai (Shochu spirit) and Japanese sake, usually wider variety of spirits than Bar and Pub.
Kinds of izakaya
- Standing izakaya
Open only in the evening where customers get quick meal and drink at the counter.
- Gastropub style izakaya
Opens day and night where serve food and drinks at reasonable price.
Many Izakaya would hang rope curtains or red lanterns at their entrances instead of a sign board, so old style Izakaya are called “Red lantern(Akachochin)”or “Rope curtain(Aka Noren)”.
Best 10 Izakaya Restaurants in Tokyo
“Best 10 Izakaya Restaurants in Tokyo” collects Best 10 Izakaya restaurants worth to visit.
Zauo – Meguro
Zauo is Izakaya restaurant where the guests can fish and eat.
Entering the restaurant, you can find a large fish-pond and tables set in boat-like spaces.
The fish pond contains 8 kinds of fish and shellfish like turban shell, prawns, sea bream or horse mackerel. You can have freshly caught fish from the fish pond.
Highly recommended for families with children.
2minute walk from JR Meguro station
Opens: 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm on weekends
11:30 am to 11:00 pm on weekends and holidays
No closing day
Shirube-e – Shimokitazawa
Well known for its big counter with foot warmers beneath located in the center of restaurant, Shirube-e is so popular izakaya restaurant that you should make a reservation beforehand.
Shirube-e serves wide variety of sake, shochu, and Awamori alcoholic beverage ingenious spirit to Okinawa, and unique dishes.
Popular menu items are broiled marinated mackerel and fresh, soft cream cheese with honey and nuts.
3 min walk from Odakyu line Shimokitazawa station South exit
Opens: 5:30 pm to midnight
Closing day : January 1st
Kaikaya by the sea – Shinsen
Located in the center of Tokyo, Shibuya, Kaikaya by the sea serves fresh fish and seafood, where the visitor can feel as if sitting by the sea.
Owner chef is ocean lover and has local network in the seashore. Regardless genre Kaikaya by the sea serves Japanese dishes in ethnic and European style.
Kaikaya by the sea serves wide variety of meals from sashimi to beefsteak.
Having obtained a high reputation on TripAdvisor, Kaikaya by the sea attracts lots of foreign visitors.
The signboard of a big fish and mermaid on the wall is the landmark.
The most popular menu is grilled tuna jaw whose melting texture attracts lots of fans.
2 minute walk from Keio Inokashira line Shinsen station
Opens: 5:00 pm to 11:30 pm
No closing day
Kin No Kura – Shinjuku
Kin no Kura is a big izakaya chain having around 60 restaurants throughout Japan.
Kin no Kura is very popular as the guests can enjoy delicious food and drinks at reasonable price.
Kin no Kura offers a set of all-you-can-drink/all-you-can-eat style.
For example, all-you-can-drink/all-you-can-eat standard plan serving 50 foods such as potatoes, gyoza and skewered chicken : 3,480yen/person.
Popular menu is Chanko hot pot dish on cold days.
2 minute walk from JR Shinjuku station Eastern exit
Opens: 4:00 pm to 5:00am
No regular closing day
Andy’s Shin Hinomoto – Yurakucho
Andy’s Shin Hinomoto is a very popular izakaya restaurant to foreign travelers and residents.
Located underneath the railway where lots of izakaya and small restaurants are lined, Shin Hinomoto is also called Andy’s, named after the third owner.
Andy talks about dishes and menu in Japanese and English, creating friendly and cheerful atmosphere.
Dishes made of fresh fish and seafood from Tsukiji market make everyone happy.
Fresh grapefruit sour (cocktail) made of shochu, soda, and grapefruit is popular as you can squeeze grapefruit by yourself to meet your preferable thickness.
Traditional Japanese Izakaya atmosphere, British flag and Sports goods on the wall create uniqueness of Andy’s Shin Hinomoto.
2 min walk from JR Yurakucho station or Tokyo Metro Hibiya line Hibiya station.
Opens: 5:00 pm to midnight
Regular closing day : Sundays
Isomaru Suisan – Shinjuku
Well known for seafood barbecue Isomaru Suisan serves grilled seafood and fresh fish fresh fish-pond.
Grilled crab, sashimi, and other seafoods are also very popular.
Fishing boat flags, lanterns, wooden stools, and old posters decorated in Isomaru Suisn give you a feeling as if you visited old fishing port.
2 minute walk from JR Shinjuku station Eastern exit.
Opens: 24hours a day
No regular closing day
Warayaki-ya – Ginza
Warayaki-ya – Ginza serves typical cuisine of Kochi prefecture in Shikoku island.
Warayaki-ya – Ginza’s specialty is Warayaki katsuo, a traditional dish in Kochi prefecture.
Bonito is roasted over the straw-fueled fire.
The heating power is so strong and the temperature is from 800to 900℃.
It is exciting to see the shef grill bonito with a big flame to rech the ceiling in order to entertain the customers sitting at the counter.
2 minute walk from Tokyo Metro Ginza station exit B9
Opens: 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm on weekdays
Opens : 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm on Saturdays
Closing day: Sundays
GALALI Aoyama – Gaien-mae
If you would like to spend a precious time in a small restaurant with hard-to-obtain Japanese sake, GALALI Aoyama is must visit izakaya restaurant renovated from an old town house in a quiet residential area.
GALALI Aoyama’s specialties are matured hot sake and natural salt having more than 30 collections.
GALALI Aoyama serves various dishes made with natural salt and sashimi with salt.
The guest can enjoy Japanese dishes made with seasonal ingredients from various parts of the country and prepared by a skilled chef.
Sasagin – Yoyogi Uehara
Sasagin is an izakaya restaurant honored with Michelin Bib gourmand award.
You can enjoy delicious Japanese food at reasonable prices along with good Japanese sake chosen from about 80 sorts of local sake.
Located in a quiet residential area, the restaurant offers you a relaxing atmosphere along with its modern Japanese interior.
Sasagin’s specialties are various small dishes made with seasonal fish, seafood, or vegetable and dressing.
One minute away from Odakyu line or Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line Yoyogi Uehara station.
Opens: 5:00 pm to 11:45 pm on Mondays through Fridays
5:00 pm to 11:15 pm on Saturdays
Closing day : Sundays and public holidays
Uoshin – Nogizaka
Well known for fresh fish collected from all over the country Uoshin serves fresh fish and seafood. at reasonable price.
Stocked in bulk at the fish market fresh fish are served as sushi and sashimi raw fish at reasonable price.
Uoshin’s specialty is “nokke sushi” or rolled sushi with a heap of sashimi, sea archin and crab on.
Accessible from Tokyo Metro Chiyoda line Nogizaka station Exit 2
Opens: 5:00 pm to midnight on Mondays through Saturdays
4:00 pm to 11:00 pm on Sundays and holidays.
11:30 am to 2:00 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
Closing days: Obon season (mid August) and New year holidays
Best 2 Izakaya Alleys in Tokyo
To all bar hopping lovers Best 2 Izakaya Alleys in Tokyo are must visit spots in the center of Tokyo.
Yuraku Cho Under Track Izakaya – Yurakucho
To use land effectively when building railway, there are two options: One is a subway and the other bridge.
When trains run on the elevated bridge, space underneath the bridge can be utilized. Actually the space between JR Shimbashi station and Yurakucho station have been utilized as izakaya alley under railway for a long time. The underpass has negative and dirty image, but the Yurakucho under path has Showa nostalgic atmosphere mixed with stylish pubs like Italian pub, bal, Okinawa cuisine and skewered chicken shop with red paper lantern. Some has over 30 year’s history.
The commercial complex “Hibiya OKUROJI” newly opened under path between JR Yurakucho and Shimbashi st in Sep 2020 where 36 shops and restaurants for the guests to enjoy adult’s night time.
Hoppy Street – Asakusa
Hoppy Street is a rare spot for Japanese, where people enjoy alcohol in daytime.
Do you know Hoppy ? Hoppy is beer-flavored but very low alcoholic drink which was popular among common people because of lower price than real beer.
Hoppy Street was once called Nikomi dori, or stew alley, however people drank lots of hoppy with stew, so the name changed to Hoppy Alley.
Hoppy Street is very close to Sensoji temple, land mark of Asakusa and the oldest temple in Tokyo, where a lot of pilgrimms and people visit.
As one of the most popular tourist destination, Hoppy street is very busy, so travelers can enjoy food and drinks in a lively atmosphere at reasonable prices.