The 22 Best Izakaya in Tokyo – from the Cheap to the Weird
There's no shortage of izakaya in Tokyo, Japan. We've compiled the 22 best Tokyo izakaya. Cheap? Weird? You name it. We got an izakaya for you.
What is an Izakaya?
Japanese izakaya are often likened to American taverns and British pubs. However, that analogy doesn’t quite do them justice. Izakaya are halfway between pubs and restaurants; typically, they serve an array of traditional Japanese food (tempura, yakitori, sashimi, etc) but the environment is informal, lubricated by plentiful drinks (beer, sake, shochu, sours, etc). While, generally, patrons sit at individual tables and socialising with strangers is uncommon, the atmosphere inside an izakaya can still get pretty lively.
Izakaya are by far the most common venue for food and a few drinks in Japan as they are generally the cheapest option, and, importantly, they are a lot of fun. What’s not to love? Well, there’s no indoor smoking ban in Japan so izakaya can get pretty smokey (some may have non-smoking areas), plus, you may be subject to a seating charge simply for the privilege of sitting down. Get over these factors, however, and you’re all set. For the very keen, many izakaya offer nomihodai (all-you-can-drink) and tabehodai (all-you-can-eat) deals, which, if you’re planning on eating/drink excessively, can offer very good value.
If you want to indulge in a spot of izakaya hopping, the best place to head would be one of Tokyo’s many yokochos. A yokocho is a sort of alleyway with a high concentration of izakaya, so much so that they often bleed into one another. Below, we’ve listed a few of Tokyo’s best. Keep going and you’ll discover our rundown of the 22 very best individual izakaya in the city. All of our choices are foreigner-friendly and very special in their own way.
Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho (also known as Piss Alley or Memory Lane)
For more on Shinjuku, check out our guide on things to do in Shinjuku.
Address: 1-1-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo Access: Shinjuku Station
Ueno Ameya Yokocho
For more on Ueno, check out our top things to do in Ueno.
Address: 4-11 Ueno, Taito, Tokyo Access: Ueno Station
For more watering hole options, check out our favorite Ebisu bars.
Address: 1-7-4 Ebisu, Shibuya, Tokyo Access: Ebisu Station
Top 12 Izakaya in Tokyo
Gonpachi (also known as the Kill Bill Restaurant), Nishi-Azabu
Having inspired the backdrop for the famous fight scene between Uma Thurman and Chiaki Kuriyama in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Gonpachi certainly has star power. Pay the izakaya a visit and you’ll soon understand Tarantino’s thinking. The Edo vibe—all dark wood and traditional lanterns—is enchanting.
The food, too, is very good indeed. English-speaking staff serve up everything from sashimi to yakitori, all of which is to a great standard. For a closer look, check out Gonpachi’s menu. Come dinner time, Gonpachi gets pretty packed, even on weekdays. We recommend either calling ahead to make a reservation or paying a visit at lunchtime.
Other locations include Ginza, Odaiba, Shibuya, Sakura-Shinmachi, Azamino and Asakusa.
Opening Hours: Sun-Sat 11:30 - 05:30 Address: 1-13-11 Nishi-Azabu, Minato, Tokyo Access: Roppongi Station Phone Number: 03-5771-0170 Website: Gonpachi
Right in the center of bustling Roppongi, Warayakiya stands out as one of the area’s very best izakaya. The giant hanging lanterns outside make it hard to miss and believe us, you won’t want to.
In the middle of the izakaya sits a straw fire pit. No mere gimmick, the flames are used to prepare the signature katsuo no tataki (seared bonito). Another house special is their tosa-style grilled chicken or, if you’re feeling adventurous, Warayakiya is also known for its horse and whale dishes. Pair your food with a fine bottle of sake and you’re in for a memorable night.
Other locations include Kudanshita, Ueno, Akasaka, Hamamatsucho, Shinjuku, Ginza and Shinagawa.
Use our Roppongi nightlife guide to plan the rest of your evening.
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 17:00 - 05:00/Sun 17:00 - 23:00 Address: 6-8-8 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo Access: Roppongi Station Phone Number: 03-4540-6573 Website: Warayakiya
Robata Izakaya Jomon, Roppongi
With rave reviews from Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor, Jomon is definitely one of the best robata (grilled food) izakaya in town. You’ll be asked to remove your shoes before entering and you may end up sat on an empty beer crate if it’s busy. Not to worry, this all adds to Jomon’s charm. If you don’t like smoke, ask for a window where you’ll also be able to dangle your feet over the ledge. The vibe here is relaxed and they serve up some of the juiciest grilled meat in town—a winning combination.
Opening Hours: Sun-Sat 17:30 - 05:00 Address: 5-9-17 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo Access: Roppongi Station Phone Number: 03-3405-2585 Website: Jomon Roppongi
Uoshin Nogizaka, Akasaka
Uoshin can be best described as a sushi restaurant disguised as an izakaya. As it’s operated by a seafood wholesaler based in Tsukiji, a wide selection of the freshest fish is available and all at surprisingly reasonable prices. One of their most notable dishes is zenbunose: essentially just a pile of seafood (sea urchin, salmon roe, tuna, etc) but called a “roll” for some reason. A godsend for the cash-strapped seafood fan.
Other locations include Ginza, Shimokitazawa, Kichijoji, Ebisu, Shinjuku and Shibuya.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12:00 - 14:00, 17:00 - 24:00/Sat 17:00 - 24:00/Sun 16:00 - 23:00 Address: 9-6-32 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo Access: Nogizaka Station Phone Number: 03-3405-0411 Website: Uoshin
Sasagin (Michelin), Yoyogi-Uehara
Despite its Michelin Bib Gourmand award, Sasagin remains modest, friendly and affordable. The sake is what this izakaya is famed for, of which there’s a bountiful variety, all made accessible by an English menu. If you’re struggling, Narita-san, the owner, will personally recommend a sake to complement each dish. The food doesn’t disappoint either. We recommend the roasted gingko nuts to start you off and then a beautifully arranged sashimi platter.
Opening Hours: 17:00 - 23:45 Address: 1-32-15 Uehara, Shibuya, Tokyo Access: Yoyogi-Uehara Station Phone Number: 03-5454-3715 Website: Sasagin Tabelog
Galali, Omotesando (ガラリ)
Situated in the high-fashion district of Omotesando, Galali is an elegant two-story izakaya. It’s a popular post-work haunt for the area’s legions of office workers, mostly for its simple food and jovial atmosphere. We recommend the sashimi mori awase (chef’s selection) which is guaranteed to please. No izakaya trip is complete without sake, and again, Galali isn’t lacking in that department either.
Additional branch in Sendagaya.
Opening Hours: 18:00 - 03:00 Address: 3-6-5 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo Access: Gaienmae Station Phone Number: 03-3408-2818 Website: Galali Tabelog
Shirube (also known as Izakaya Ism), Shimokitazawa
Located in the ultra-cool Shimokitazawa, Shirube boasts a high-energy atmosphere, friendly staff and unique culinary creations. We recommend the aburi saba (flamed mackerel): a delicious dish which is blowtorched in front of your eyes. If you’re thirsty, there’s a 90-minute nomihodai (all-you-can-drink) option, though it’s a tad pricey at 4,000 yen. Finally, what do you get when you combine cream cheese, tofu, honey and saltines? A Shirube speciality, that’s what. This bizarrely tasty dessert is well worth a try.
Shirube can get quite crowded, so be sure to have a backup restaurant. Check out our comprehensive Shimokitazawa guide for a little help.
Address: 2-18-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya, Tokyo Access: Shimokitazawa Station Phone Number: 03-3413-3785
Kaikaya by the Sea, Shibuya
The fish mural outside gives a pretty big clue as to what this izakaya specialises in. Kaikaya by the Sea are seafood innovators, creating unique dishes inspired by Eastern and Western cooking. The house special maguro no kama no supearibu (tuna spare ribs) is a great example, though be sure to check out the whole menu if you need a little more convincing.
It’s no surprise that their motto is “no fish, no life.”
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 - 14:00, 18:00 - 23:30/Sat&Sun 18:00 - 23:30 Address: 23-7 Maruyamacho, Shibuya, Tokyo Access: Shinsen Station Phone Number: 03‐3770‐0878 Website: Kaikaya
Moritomo, Shibuya (渋谷森本)
Moritomo is pretty unassuming from the outside, enter, however, and you’ll find a legendary yakitori joint packed with raucous salarymen and very few gaijin (foreigners). Now, that’s a good sign of an authentic izakaya. Handily, however, Moritomo does have English menus. On offer is a mouthwatering array of dishes, yet it’s the chicken that people flock to. Try out the tori sashi (chicken sashimi) if you’re adventurous, or, if you’re visiting between October and March, order up some sparrow or duck—seasonal dishes that can’t be beaten.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 17:00 - 23:00/Sat 16:30 - 22:00 (Closed on Sunday) Address: Hamanoue Building 1F, 2-7-4 Dogenzaka, Shibuya, Tokyo Access: Shibuya Station Phone Number: 03-3464-5233 Website: Moritomo
35 Steps Bistro, Shibuya
35 Steps Bistro is a stone’s throw from Shibuya Crossing, tucked away in the basement of Shibuya City Hotel. Descend the eponymous 35 steps and you’ll discover an izakaya on the classier end of the spectrum.
Mouthwatering aromas from the open kitchen will hit you as soon as you enter and you’ll be hooked. The house speciality is the grilled mackerel, a dish that pairs wonderfully with a glass of bamboo sake. Other recommended drinks include their umeshu (plum wine), which, after a few too many, might make the stairs a little more challenging upon leaving.
Check out Hot Pepper’s page for coupons.
Opening Hours: Sun-Sat 17:30 - 23:30 Address: Shibuya City Hotel B1F, 1-1 Maruyamacho, Shibuya, Tokyo Access: Shibuya Station Phone Number: 03-3770-9835 Website: 35 Steps Bistro Tabelog
After wandering the streets of Ueno, head on over to Shinsuke to rest your legs. This hidden gem of an izakaya was founded in 1925 and the same family has been running it for over 11 generations now. With no tourists in sight, this quiet izakaya may seem a little daunting. Fear not though, there are English menus and the staff are eager to please.
Sit at the long wooden counter and order from a vast selection of traditional Japanese food, all prepared fresh to order. The iwashi no ganseki (deep fried sardine “rocks”) is the speciality but everything is delicious, including the sake.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 17:00 - 22:00/Sat 17:00 - 21:00 (Closed on Sunday) Address: Yushima 3315 Building, 3-31-5 Yushima, Bunkyo, Tokyo Access: Yushima Station Phone Number: 03-3832-0469 Website: Shinsuke Tabelog
Andy’s Shin Hinomoto, near Tokyo Station
Just minutes away from Tokyo Station (though closer to Yurakucho Station), Andy’s Shin Hinomoto is a rarity in Tokyo: a restaurant run by a foreigner. Hailing from the UK, Andy Lunt inherited this 70+ year-old izakaya from his in-laws and he’s been determined to keep it going ever since. This is no mere gimmick, however, Andy worked for over 20 years as an apprentice before assuming ownership of Shin Hinomoto. The food, therefore, is highly authetic and always delicious. Try the signature stuffed gyoza chicken wings or check out the menu for a more extensive sneek-preview.
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 17:00 - 24:00 (Closed on Sunday) Address: 2-4-4 Yurakucho, Chiyoda, Tokyo Access: Yurakucho Station Phone Number: 03-3214-8021 Website: Shin Hinomoto
Weird & Themed Izakaya in Tokyo
For more themed establishments, check out Theme Restaurants in Tokyo – Alternative Eating Guide.
Ranse No Koshitsu Sengoku Buyuden (Samurai-Themed), Shinjuku
Dine with samurai at Ranse No Koshitsu Sengoku Buyuden, a samurai-themed izakaya in Shinjuku. You’ll be surrounded by samurai artefacts, knicknacks and curio of all kind and served up a real warrior’s feast, featuring hearty shochu and juicy horse. That’s right, horse. If you’re not feeling brave, rest assured there are plenty of other (non-controversial) menu options.
Opening Hours: Mon-Thu 17:00 - 24:00/Fri&Sat 17:00 - 03:00/Sun 17:00 - 23:30 Address: T-wing Building 4F, 1-6-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo Access: Shinjuku Station Phone Number: 03-3209-2277 Website: Sengoku Buyuden
The Lockup (Prison-Themed), Shinjuku
Want to know what’s it like to dine behind bars? Head to The Lockup, Shinjuku’s creepiest theme-restaurant.
Fortunately, the food (we assume) is a whole lot better than prison food, though—true to the theme—it’s pretty bizarre. As are the drinks, which come in a rainbow of colours and are served in syringes, beakers, test tubes and even a mannequin head!
Other locations include Shibuya and Omiya.
Opening Hours: Sun-Thu 17:00 - 03:00/Fri&Sat 17:00 - 05:00 Address: Tokyo Shinjuku Square Building 6&7F, 1-16-3 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo Access: Seibu-Shinjuku or Shinjuku Station Phone Number: 03-5292-5516 Website: The Lockup
Located in Shinjuku Piss Alley, Asadachi is run by an old couple who have a pretty laid-back approach to opening hours. If you manage to catch them when they’re open, you’re in for a treat, albeit a very unusual treat. Turtle soup, grilled salamander, raw pig testicles and more are Asadachi classics and all classed as “stamina” food. If you want to take your love life to the next level, it’s the izakaya for you.
Address: 1-2-14 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo Access: Seibu-Shinjuku Station Phone Number: 03-3342-1083
Robot Restaurant, Shinjuku
Only in Japan will you find a cabaret performance involving giant pandas, robots, tanks and scantily clad girls. Pay no attention to the tasteless food in this robot-themed izakaya, your 5,000 yen has been spent on far more impressive things.
For more, check out Robot Restaurant Tokyo – Shinjuku’s Best Attraction.
Opening Hours: Sun-Sat 16:00 - 23:00 Address: 1-7-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo Access: Shinjuku Station Phone Number: 03-3200-5500 Website: Robot Restaurant
Punk Rock Izakaya Tatemichiya, Daikanyama
Punk rock fans, rejoice, there’s now an izakaya especially for you. Cymbals hang from the ceiling, concert posters adorn the walls and The Clash play from the speakers at this brilliant Shibuya izakaya. Yoshiyuki Okada, the owner, is the frontman, though he’s swapped the mic for a griddle, on which he cooks up some fine grilled chicken.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 18:00 - 03:00/Sat&Sun 18:00 - 24:00 Address: 30-8 Sarugakucho, Shibuya, Tokyo Access: Daikanyama Station Phone Number: 03-5459-3431 Website: Tatemichiya Tabelog
Yurei Izakaya (Ghost Bar), Kichijoji
Creepy crawlies dangle from the walls, mannequin heads litter the room and to top it off, a coffin lies by the bar. All at Yurei, or “Ghost Bar”.
The menu is just as interesting as the interior design. One dish, Russian Roulette, is particularly fun. Everybody gets a deep fried ball. The majority are delicious, one is filled with burning hot wasabi. Feeling lucky?
Opening Hours: Sun-Sat 16:00 - 01:00 Address: 1-8-11 Kichijoji, Minamicho, Musashino, Tokyo Access: Kichijoji Station Phone Number: 0422-41-0194 Website: Yurei Hot Pepper
Fishing Restaurant Zauo, Meguro
At this unbelievable Shinagawa restaurant, diners fish for their own meal! That’s right, there’s no easy ride for diners here. In truth, the fishing is pretty easy, meaning beginners are always welcome. Once caught, the chefs will cook up your fish in any way you like (sushi, sashima, grilled, etc) and serve it straight to your table. If the fish aren’t biting, don’t worry, you can also order from the menu.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 17:00 - 23:00/Sat&Sun 11:30 - 23:00 Address: Sun Felista Meguro 5F, 2-217-1 Kamiosaki, Shinagawa, Tokyo Access: Meguro Station Phone Number: 03-6417-9588 Website: Zauo
Kagaya Frog Izakaya, Shinbashi
The food and drink at Kagaya, to be honest, are nothing too special. It’s the owner, Mark, who makes this izakaya worth checking out. To say he’s eccentric doesn’t really do him justice. Mark, now a YouTube sensation, takes it upon himself to entertain his guests nightly. The show, if you can call it that, is like nothing you’ve seen before and well worth checking out. Perhaps, however, give it a miss if you’re easily offended.
Opening Hours: Address: Hanasada Building B1F, 2-15-12 Shinbashi, Minato, Tokyo Access: Shimbashi Station Phone Number: 03-3591-2347 Website: Kagaya
Cheap Izakaya in Tokyo
A favorite amongst local and tourists alike, Torikizoku is the budget travellers best friend. Here, everything is 280 yen. The food, the drinks, everything, 280 yen. With 380 branches across Japan, Torikizoku is certainly onto something. If you’re heading here at peak times, be prepared for a wait.
Other locations include Akabane, Shinjuku, Shibuya and Shinagawa.
Opening Hours: Sun-Sat 17:00 - 05:00 Address: 3F, 1-24-4 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo Access: Ikebukuro Station Phone Number: 03-3983-0633 Website: Torikizoku
Kin No Kura (金の蔵), Akihabara
Kin no Kura is another extremely cheap and extremely popular izakaya chain. Again, these places aren’t difficult to find: just look out for the yellow signboards. With a two-hour all-you-can-drink plan for just 1,980 yen and tasty, cheap comfort food on the menu, it’s always a good option.
Other locations include Nippori, Meguro, Shin-Okubo, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro and Kinshicho.
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30 - 14:30, 16:00 - 23:30/Sat&Sun 16:00 - 23:30 Address: 1-18-18 Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyo Access: Akihabara Station Phone Number: 03-5289-7851 Website: Kin No Kura