Izakayas in Tokyo are casual and sometimes boisterous venues serving food and drink. You’ll find izakayas in every neighbourhood offering the chance to enjoy an authentic night of drinking and dining in an easygoing atmosphere. Menus are often long and varied, with all manner of Japanese classics to try.

    Similarly, yakitori bars are also common in the capital, serving quick and extremely tasty meat dishes accompanied by a loud “irasshaimase” meaning “welcome”. We have done the rounds and selected some of the very best izakayas and yakitori bars in Tokyo, so you’ll have the chance to enjoy this Japanese style of eating and drinking no matter where you’re based during your time in the Japanese capital.

    1

    Ginza Toriko, Ginza

    An esteemed izakaya in upscale Ginza

    Ginza Toriko is a small and classy izakaya close to Yurakucho Station in Ginza. The best seats in the house are set around the central kitchen and serving bar, with tables available for bigger groups. The menu here changes with the seasons, with dishes for meat-eaters and vegetarians always available.

    Highlights from the menu include chicken yakitori skewers and interesting salads made with seasonal vegetables. Ginza Toriko is located on the 5th floor of the Nishi Ginza Building. Due to the success of this izakaya, they now have several branches spread throughout Japan, Taiwan, and the U.S..

    Location: 6 Chome−3−11, Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0061, Japan

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 5 pm to 11.30 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +81 (0)3-6274-6048

    Map
    2

    Tsukishima Monja Street, Tsukishima

    An alleyway dedicated to savory monjayaki pancakes

    Tsukishima Monja Street is a real highlight for foodies in Tokyo. The 500-metre-long street is lined with around 75 restaurants serving monjayaki and okonomiyaki, which are likened to savory pancakes. You’ll also find several izakayas and bakeries, meaning you can stroll and feast until you’re fit to burst.

    The restaurants and stalls are open throughout the day, usually until around 10 pm. This bustling alleyway is close to the Sumida River, a short walk from Tsukishima station on the Toei Ōedo Line.

    Location: 1 Chome-3, Tsukishima, Chuo City, Tokyo 104-0052, Japan

    Map
    3

    Andy’s Shin Hinomoto, Yurakucho

    Authentic izakaya run by a popular westerner

    Andy’s Shin Hinomoto is a popular eatery next to Yurakucho Station in trendy Ginza. It’s understandable if you think an izakaya run by an Englishman named Andy might be some sort of a gimmick, but rest assured the food is fantastic and locals love it. The owner married into the Hinomoto family, which had been running this venue for generations.

    This izakaya is laidback and fun. Highlights include vegetable and seafood tempura, as well as classic options like gyoza and sashimi. Portions here are generally larger than you’ll find in a typical izakaya in Tokyo, which translates to greater value. This is also a great option if you are struggling with the language barrier as most of the staff speak functional English here.

    Location: 2 Chome-4-4 Yurakucho, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0006, Japan

    Phone: +81 (0)3-3214-8021

    Map

    photo by Big Ben in Japan (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Torikizoku, Shibuya

    Great value chicken-on-a-stick for first-timers

    Torikizoku has several branches scattered around Shibuya. This popular yakitori bar is well known in Tokyo for its wide range of tasty chicken skewers, along with a beverages menu that includes a variety of beers. If you’re looking for a great value meal in Tokyo, Torikizoku’s prices are hard to beat.

    Unsurprisingly, most of the highlights from the menu center around chicken. Select a little bit of everything – thigh, neck, tail, breast, liver, minced meat, wing – with a choice of coating, either salty (shio) or sweet (tare). For a bit of variation, also order some kushiage – lightly deep-fried vegetables on a stick. They have English menus here and all dining neighborhoods within are non-smoking.

    Location: Shibuya 31-3 Udagawacho, Shibuya, Tokyo

    Open: Daily from 4 pm to 9 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)5-03647 3811

    Map

    photo by Asanagi (CC0 1.0) modified

    5

    Gonpachi Nishi Azabu, Roppongi

    The famous one from the Hollywood movie

    Gonpachi is a 3-storey izakaya in cosmopolitan Roppongi. With long opening hours, a faux-feudal design, and English-speaking staff, it’s a great option for a fun night out in Tokyo. Plus, the menu is huge! Picky eaters will have no problems finding something suitable here.

    If you’re looking for a loud and raucous atmosphere to accompany your plates of fried chicken and sushi platters, Gonpachi should be high on your list. If it looks familiar, it’s because it featured in Quentin Tarantino’s famous massacre scene in Kill Bill. You can walk to the izakaya from Roppongi station in under 10 minutes. 

    Location: 1 Chome-13-11 Nishiazabu, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0031, Japan

    Open: Daily from 11.30 am to 3.30 am

    Phone: +81 (0)3-5771 0170

    Map

    photo by David Baron (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    6

    Ebisu Yokocho alley, Ebisu

    A vibrant and loud alleyway lined with bars and eateries

    Ebisu Yokocho alley offers a fun dining experience where you’ll find all manner of specialist dishes being cooked on open broils. It’s a treat to the senses for true foodies. The covered warren of bars and eateries is open in any weather, and you’ll likely find some delicious and authentic Japanese dishes you’ve never tried before.

    Seating is cramped, and it can get quite boisterous, so it's probably best avoided by families. Be prepared for frequent interruptions to cheers with your neighbor with a loud “kampai” (cheers). Ebisu Yokocho alley is close to Shibuya Bridge. It’s hard to miss – look for a bright neon sign with a row of red lanterns to lead the way.

    Location: 1 Chome-7-4 Ebisu, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0013, Japan

    Map

    photo by Andy Yeo (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Imai, Harajuku

    Gourmet yakitori bar with seating at the chef’s counter

    Imai is a high-end yakitori bar in Harajuku, where you can see the chefs preparing and cooking the tasty chicken skewers right in front of you. The chicken used here is selected from a particular farm in Hyogo Prefecture, so you can expect excellent flavor and texture from each and every skewer. With space for only 10 diners, this yakitori bar is small and exclusive, so it's best to reserve your spot.

    Imai is close to the western edge of Meiji Jingu Park, but it is quite hard to find. Bookmarking this restaurant on your phone is a good idea. The closest subway is Gaienmae station on Tokyo Metro Ginza Line. Imai is a nonsmoking restaurant.

    Location: 1F, Rosa bianca, 3-42-11Jingumae, Shibuya

    Open: Monday–Friday from 5.30 pm to 10 pm (closed on weekends)

    Phone: +81 (0)70-8397 7655

    Map
    8

    Uoshin Nogizaka, Akasaka

    An izakaya dedicated to seafood

    Uoshin Nogizaka is a specialist seafood izakaya in the historical district of Akasaka in central Tokyo. The prices could be described as mid-range but great value.

    As you might expect, sushi and sashimi platters are popular here, along with seasonal salad dishes and whatever was good value at the fish market that day. The food at Uoshin Nogizaka is served promptly, so take your time with the menu and do as the Japanese do – order a couple of dishes at a time. The staff speak limited English here but you shouldn’t have any trouble.

    Location: 9 Chome-6-32 Akasaka, Minato City, Tokyo 107-0052, Japan

    Open: Daily from 5 am to 11.45 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)3-3405-0411

    Map

    photo by Joe Mabel (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    9

    Toritama, Shinjuku

    A Yakitori restaurant in Kagurazaka that’s always busy

    Toritama is one of the best casual eateries in Shinjuku. They specialize in chicken here, specifically yakitori chicken skewers. You’ll find over 30 types of chicken skewers available making use of the whole bird, including some rare cuts that you’re unlikely to find in a typical izakaya.

    Other dishes on the menu include seasonal salads and some tasty stews, which are popular during the colder months. Wash it all down with a draft beer or some Japanese sake. The atmosphere around the open kitchen is lively and relaxed. Toritama is a completely non-smoking restaurant.

    Location: 5 Chome-7-3 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0825, Japan

    Open: Daily from 5 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)3-6457-5131

    Map
    10

    Shinsuke Izakaya, Ueno

    A great selection of beers and sake with some unique dishes

    Shinsuke Izakaya is a highly recommended bar-restaurant in Ueno. It’s a great spot to enjoy dinner after visiting the excellent museums in Ueno Park. Enjoy classic izakaya dishes like chicken karage and shishamo fish, or go for the specials, such as tofu with raclette cheese. Although it's authentic and popular with locals, they have English menus available.

    There’s a great range of sake and beer here, with friendly staff who encourage plenty of drinking and toasting throughout the night. You’ll certainly be shouting kampai a few times during your meal. Shinsuke Izakaya is easy to find, 1 block away from Yushima subway station.

    Location: 3 Chome−31−5 Yushima, Bunkyo, 113-0034 Tokyo, Japan

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 4 pm to 8.30 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +81 (0)3-3832-0469

    Map
    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveler

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