Kitano District | cotaro70s/Flickr | https://www.flickr.com/photos/cotaro70s/8763267135/in/photolist-emo31F-4wat9B-7kuHJ6-95NgSQ-5bQaou-76ToiQ-4HiDR-yWCY-7kx5P7-7kwNi7-7kGXaP-55bJU-7kwYvW-7kyCad-8kxRwp-akTWj6-85TJc3-7kzem3-7kuKdk-7kt2vr-bxKVNa-7kLx17-4wzSsg-7kwZzm-dvXpLk-7kGUmD-28bw6-akTZhB-SHSgiu-4F72iZ-7kt6rP-29jvHs-9Q6Y46-chnA-6XcVEP-7ksYQR-68mRyn-a532Do-95NeS9-6UgZFB-95Kbp6-udzM-7kGL3F-7kuJCV-7kvoik-95NcVw-f1jX5h-7kxdz3-7kGdEc-TiNoL4
Among the different major cities of Kansai, Kobe is known to all as being the most fashionable and international city in the area. With cafés figuring prominently into the lives of Japanese people, it might appear to be impossible to keep track of the newest and best places around town. Bookmark this page for the easiest way to find the coolest cafés in Kobe.
Cafe, Contemporary, Japanese, $$$
Triton Cafe | Courtesy of Triton Cafe
There are a lot of cute cafés in Kobe, but Triton Café might be the nicest. Flat grey walls and green plants immediately give it away as a millennial hangout. While the interior alone is worth a visit, the cooks at Triton make sure that customers leave satisfied. The menu changes frequently, but they cook up meals like roasted Kyushu black pork with raspberry sauce, cream pasta with sautéed mushrooms, and Keema curry. With every meal comes the choice of rice or bread and it would be a crime to pass on the bread. Triton serves fresh baked bread that is some of the best in Kobe.
It can be overstated how difficult it is for vegetarians and vegans to eat in Japan. Despite the prominence of Buddhism, the concept of no meat is still relatively new. Ask for no meat and there’s likely to be fish flakes in the food and crumbled bacon in a salad. Modernark is a popular health conscious vegetarian café with food that actually tastes good. They have a special lunch plate that comes with freshly prepared daily specials. They also have a good bean burrito loaded with cheese, beans, avocado, and sour cream. Don’t forget to pick up some of their freshly baked goods to enjoy while out and about in Kobe.
Patisserie Tooth Tooth is a Kobe institution well known for their western style cakes and tarts. Because of Kobe’s history as a port city and foreign settlement, the city is considered to be the birthplace of western style Japanese sweets. Tooth Tooth is one of the most famous places for trying these “Kobe Sweets”. They make a huge array of desserts including a fabulous uji matcha tart as well as an unusual cheesecake served with a pipette of olive oil and a sprig of rosemary.
While there still aren’t a lot of places with outdoor seating in Kobe, its slowly growing in popularity every year. Mother Moon was one of the first cafés to offer patio dining. Right near the fashionable Motomachi district, when the weather is nice, there is usually a long line of people clamoring for some outdoor seating. Try their curry or the lobster cream pasta for a great dining experience in the Motomachi area.
This café is somewhat of a secret, hidden in plain sight. ESTNATION is a 4 story building dedicated to luxury clothing and personal care. On the 4th floor is a small elegant flower shop and café overlooking bustling Kobe. The café offers outdoor seating surrounded by plants as well as a cozy interior. There are amazing sandwiches including a vegetarian option, along with some seriously good desserts. It would be a crime to leave without a piece of the decadent chocolate cake and a cup of their house blend coffee.
Many cafés in Kobe tend to serve only curry or pasta, but Sima Sima makes beautifully prepared Japanese set lunches with a menu that changes daily. The best way to find out what’s cooking is to head over to their Instagram where they post photos of the day’s menu. They’re open from 11, but get there early as their lunch plates sell out most days. Besides lunch, there are a few cakes to choose from as well as some decadent drink choices like a fig smoothie or creamy black sesame milk.
Zoe has been exploding in popularity recently, showing up on popular Kansai Instagram accounts as well as being featured on the cover of Savvy Magazine. Their number one item that is attracting all this attention is a simple cup of coffee jelly with a scoop of salted vanilla ice cream on top. Besides their famous dessert, this colorful little café serves great coffee as well as curries and sandwiches.
Trying to walk down the same alley as W/O Stand tends to be difficult The crowd of 20-somethings are all eager to grab a drink from one of Kobe’s newest cafés. The sleek white and concrete interior is jazzed up by custom-made neon signs boasting their W/O logo. Besides the normal café drinks like mochas and matcha lattes, W/O Stand creates different seasonal drinks like a pudding latte and tiramisu coffee. This isn’t really a place to grab a bite to eat, but they do make a few different toasts, like pizza toast and honeyed nuts, only available as part of their morning sets.
Want some good breakfast and good coffee? Don’t miss Round Point Café, a cute independently owned restaurant in between Kobe and Motomachi Station. They focus on only using Fair Trade beans for their house-roasted coffee. These guys are fairly knowledgeable about their beans and aim to give you the perfect cup of coffee. While coffee is the specialty, they have a small menu of freshly prepared goodies from their cozy open kitchen. Their most popular item is Eggs Benedict set served with a side of yoghurt and delicious granola.
It might seem strange to see a Starbucks on a ‘best of’ list, but the Kitano district branch is one of the most unique cafés in the world. Even people who avoid the large chain should visit this special place for a chance to drink coffee in a piece of history. Starbucks bought and restored a classic Victorian style home in the Ijinkan district of Kobe. Once an area only available to foreign settlers, the homes were built to suit the tastes of the traders and businessmen who chose to live in Japan. It’s only an 8 minute walk from Sannomiya station and a wonderful way to see one of these beautiful homes up close for only the price of a cup of coffee.