This guide to Nakazakicho’s late-night delights will help you find the perfect spot, whether you’re after a quiet hangout space or a lively dive bar.
Nakazakicho is a historic district made up of century-old wooden buildings containing contemporary art galleries, trendy thrift shops and homey cafés. This hip district is a delight to explore by day, but at night many of its galleries and cafés transform into cultural watering holes. Check out the best bars in Nakazakicho below.
NOON+CAFE for live performances and events all week
Cafe, Coffee, $$$
NOON+CAFE is a chill café for people to study or relax in by day. But this Osaka spot only really gets going at night. NOON regularly hosts exciting and artistic events like live performances, fashion shows and dance parties. The space is large and roomy, making it perfect for large gatherings. It is even equipped with a full stage (rare in Japan since local spaces are often compact if not cramped). On nights when there aren’t special events, the bar is great for unwinding with a cold-brewed beverage or cocktail.
Salon de AManTO, a shape-shifting multi-purpose space
Salon de AManTO is also a hip café by day and raucous bar by night. In 2001, the owner Jun Amanto selected an abandoned 120-year-old building, renovated it himself, and turned it into the multi-purpose creative retreat it is today. The venue was conceived as an all-in-one space for artists to drink, work and hang out, comprising a bar, café, library and workspace. Every evening, the interior transforms into a full bar. Chat to local artists about their lives and works while sipping wine, sake or one of their special cocktails.
Atelier Sangatsu for an art gallery and bar in one
The main attraction of Atelier Sangatsu is the gallery, which offers a rotating roster of exhibitions showcasing works by local artists. Like many of the surrounding venues that make this neighbourhood so wonderful and unique, Atelier Sangatsu has many functions. The art space mainly operates as a gallery and shop, but moonlights as a fully stocked bar from 6pm to 11pm Friday through Monday nights.
Funk and soul lovers will dig Funk Bar Zip, a 30-year stalwart of the local music scene. Inside, vinyl records, music memorabilia and signatures of musicians cover the walls. A disco ball illuminates the space as R&B and soul jams of the ’80s and ’90s fill the room. Zip sometimes hosts DJ nights and other parties for those who want to get down, but any night of the week is a great time to stop by. Mr Zip, the friendly owner, will welcome you himself.
Mexican restaurant HERRADURA is one of the few places in the area to get nachos, quesadillas and tacos. Even if you’re not hungry for enchiladas and burritos, the drink selection is sure to lure you in. Whether in the mood for Mexican craft beer Day of the Dead or the shop’s incredibly popular frozen margaritas, the atmosphere is always warm and festive. They also have a party menu with an all-you-can-drink option.
Bar Augusta for specialty cocktails and good whiskey
Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Unlike the many artsy and quirky spots nearby, Bar Augusta has a classier and more traditional vibe. The knowledgeable bartenders serve up a fine and diverse selection of whiskies and specialty cocktails. Try the augusta 7, a sherbert-y cocktail made with fruit juices, or the ninja, made with rum, dry vermouth and mint liqueur and garnished with a lemon, reminiscent of a shuriken, a ninja’s deadly star-shaped blade.
Perched on the edge of the neighbourhood is the massive BARBARA MARKETPLACE. This bar and restaurant serves Western-style food and drinks. The huge bar, which occupies its own space just adjacent to the dining area, is perfect for meeting people or hosting a large party. It’s located very close to Umeda Station; in fact, it’s situated right under the train tracks.