Osaka, one of Japan’s largest, busiest, and most exciting cities, is also one of the country’s food capitals. It's responsible for such culinary delights as takoyaki (fried octopus balls with bonito flakes), kushikatsu (fried skewers of chicken, pork, and mixed vegetables), and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes filled with vegetables, mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and anything else you fancy). Thanks to a treasure trove of foods to try in Osaka, you'll find a range of outstanding restaurants that cater to everyone’s tastes. Below, the 20 best restaurants in Osaka.
Tempura is an incredibly versatile Japanese food. Originally inspired by Portuguese cuisine (as many modern Japanese dishes, in fact, are), tempura is simply the art of lightly deep frying various fresh vegetables and piling them up on a plate. For the best tempura in Osaka, look no further than Tempura Makino, a favorite among locals for its super-fresh vegetables and quality dipping sauce—an essential part of a good tempura meal.
Housed in a shopping center within Osaka station, Yasai wo Taberu Curry Camp is a unique place to enjoy Japanese curry. This isn’t simply due to its location; the restaurant specializes in vegetarian dishes—a rarity considering that Japanese curry is traditionally made with katsu sauce and served with chicken cutlets.
Of all the specialty Japanese foods out there, gyoza is one that is primarily served as a side dish. But the range of gyoza at this eatery in Dotonbori (Osaka's bustling, neon-lit central district) makes this a sushi-esque experience where you can experiment with lots of different kinds. While gyoza are often filled with beef or pork meat, this particular restaurant also serves up vegan gyoza.
Opened back in the early ‘90s, Green Earth is a vegetarian restaurant that is all about healthy, fresh foods that satisfy and fill you up. And more recently, it began offering a fully vegan selection of meal options. Not specifically Japanese, Green Earth offers a range of Western dishes, including burgers, wraps, pizza, and pasta.
Thought to be the origin of the classic omurice (flavored rice wrapped in an expertly-crafted omelet) this 1950s-style house is a comfy space with even comfier food. As you might expect, the omurice is the draw here, with various flavoring options available but also great sides like chicken karaage and tempura. English menus are available. Take off your shoes, look out over the tranquil garden, and enjoy.
Known for their world-famous okonomiyaki, this busy restaurant has been frying up their savory pancakes for more than 70 years. They have an extensive multi-lingual menu with a host of different fillings (the most popular being the seafood options that toss squid, octopus, and shrimp in the cabbage batter). The pancakes are then topped with brown sauce, mayonnaise, aonori seaweed powder, and bonito flakes. They conveniently cater to gluten-free and vegetarian customers as well. Don't be put off by the line: It moves quickly!
Finding the best takoyaki in Osaka among a sea of vendors and restaurants is a difficult task—but Acchichi Honpo rises to the challenge. They use sashimi-grade octopus in their takoyaki and offer a range of sauces to smother your food in. At 500 yen ($5) for nine takoyaki, this is a great way to fill up on a budget and try some of the best of this iconic dish. Boasting a prime location on the Dotonburi river, Acchichi Honpo is impossible to miss thanks to its inviting smell and giant, red paper lantern octopus above the awning.
Kushikatsu originated in the 1900s in the Shinsekai district, and involves dipping skewers of fried meat and vegetables in a thick sauce. Settle into this gastropub for the evening with a cold sake or beer and pick your skewers; or, choose one of their convenient sets, which include extras like rice, noodles, miso, and onigiri. For the adventurous eater, Kushikatsu JanJan also offers rare skewer options such as scorpions, crickets, and frogs.
Like many udon places in Japan, this café and restaurant is almost hidden by an unassuming shop front on a quiet street. What you’ll find inside, however, is a huge selection of freshly made, perfectly formed udon dishes. A favorite among locals, the ingredients for these udon bowls are gathered from all across Japan; everything found in your bowl is the best of its ilk.
Ramen bowls are traditionally served with pork meat, though chicken ramen has become more and more commonplace in recent years. Duck ramen, however, is still something of a rarity, which is what makes Moeyo Mensuke such an exciting place to visit. The duck meat here is succulent, with a subtly smoky taste. Just know that this Osaka restaurant gets ultra-busy and lines can extend around the block.
Japan is home to the second largest number of Michelin star restaurants in the world (after France). And while many of them can be found in Tokyo, Osaka lays claim to Takama, a celebrated soba restaurant. The most attractive thing about Takama—aside from the Michelin star—is how affordable its soba is. Choose between mori and inaka noodles, each of which provides a slightly different taste and texture.
Found in the central Namba district of Osaka, this ramen restaurant is unique in that it serves halal meals for Muslim visitors. Japan has slowly expanded in its inclusion of various dietary restrictions, and to have a halal option in the heart of the city’s biggest tourist district is certainly cause for celebration. On top of that, the ramen on offer here is spectacular. Make sure to bring cash, as they don't take card.
The first thing to note about this restaurant is its traditional Edo-esque décor, which features wood panel walls adorned with calligraphy scrolls. Seasonal plates of fish can be accompanied by locally-brewed sake to wash it all down, making for one of the most refined and decadent meals in Osaka.
Serving up traditional Osaka-style pressed sushi, this restaurant has been part of the city’s furniture for more than 170 years. A lunchtime meal at Yoshino is pricey, ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 yen—but the seasonal fresh fish options are second to none.
Harukoma is the kind of sushi restaurant that really treats its customers. This is where to get your sushi in Osaka if you’re hungry and looking for a satisfying meal. It’s ordinary to see a line forming outside before the lunch rush, so beloved is Harukoma with locals. While the quality may not be quite on par with Michelin star sushi restaurants, the price of a meal, the English service, and the amount of succulent sushi you can get for your money makes this an irresistible lunch spot.
There’s no better place to try unagi bowls than at this 300-year-old restaurant, run by 15 generations of the same family. Unagi, which translates to "freshwater eel," is grilled and very much considered a delicacy. Here, they offer Osaka harabiraki-style eel, which is crispier as it isn’t steamed first; it's then smothered in a secret sauce that draws a loyal customer base. Due to their expertise, set meals at Honke Shibato come at a higher price point, but it’s absolutely worth it.
This is an ideal choice for a variety of high-quality seafood dishes in a traditional izakaya-style restaurant. Freshly caught fish from the Minoshima Fishing Port make up Gimpei's sashimi platters, which are served with sides like soup, udon, and tofu. Choosing a sake to pair with your meal is part of the experience, as they offer an extensive alcohol menu that includes shochu, wine, and beer.
If you like your seafood and meat grilled over an open fire, then this izakaya is the place for you. One of the restaurant's more popular options is the sea urchin and beef sushi tartare, though they offer all-you-can-eat sushi deals which are particularly worth it if you’re hungry. For those looking to imbibe, there are more than 50 types of sake to combine your choice with. Apart from their cozy seating area, Teru Tennoji Branch offers private dining rooms in the back if you’d like to celebrate a special occasion.
With a long history starting 250 years ago, this restaurant has become a specialist in handmade buckwheat noodles and freshly-made dashi broth. Their menu today also offers some fantastic shabu shabu and kaiseki options—perfect for enjoying as a group. Featuring spacious tables and stunning traditional architecture to admire, eating at Mimiu is truly an experience.
High-quality beef barbecued to perfection is a food you have to try while in Japan, and Kitahama Nikuya makes it easy with English menus available. They serve everything from high-quality wagyu and ribs to offal like intestines and tongue (which is extremely popular in Osaka). Just pick your cuts and start grilling them; you can also choose sides like soba, rice, and vegetables. An all-you-can-eat option is available as well.