The Best Cafés in Nakazakicho, Osaka

Nakazakicho owes its old-school ambience to the surviving pre-war architecture and booming art scene
Nakazakicho owes its old-school ambience to the surviving pre-war architecture and booming art scene | © Travel and Still life photography / Getty Images
Nakazakicho is one of the most charming districts in Osaka. Less bustling and commercial than the rest of the city, the neighbourhood owes its old-school ambience to the surviving pre-war architecture and booming art scene. Tucked away among the unique buildings are some of the best cafés in the city.
Tucked away among Nakazakicho’s scenic architecture are some of the best cafés in the city © Taiyou Nomachi / Getty Images
Nakazakicho is one of the most charming districts in Osaka © sanga park / Alamy Stock Photo

Salon de AManTO for bohemian vibes and like-minded creatives

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Since the early 2000s, Nakazakicho has been a haven for art galleries, shops and hang-outs. Salon de AManTO is where it all started. Created by Jun Amanto as a space for artists to come together and network, it has become a gathering spot for local creatives. Mr Amanto selected an old, dilapidated building for his project and renovated it himself, recycling every single nail and piece of wood. With its bohemian atmosphere, selection of delicious drinks and free Wi-Fi, Salon de AManTO is a great place to relax or even glean inspiration for your next novel.

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Taiyo no Tou for a hearty lunch followed by some delectable desserts

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A Nakazakicho side street | © m-louis .® / Flickr

Taiyo no Tou is one of the best-known cafés in the neighbourhood and is probably the easiest to spot. The colourful facade draws the eye and compels passers-by to visit. Inside, the decor is just as quirky, with kitschy antiques and retro furniture. Taiyo no Tou sells a yummy selection of sweets, such as cheesecake and a tiramisu tart. It also offers a healthy, hearty lunch set that comes with your choice of three side dishes plus soup and rice. Maps of the neighbourhood are free inside.

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Minto for vegetarian food in an artist-designed café

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The same collective behind Salon de AManTO owns and operates Minto; over the years, Jun Amanto has teamed up with over 30 local artists to revitalise many of Nakazakicho’s old buildings and turn them into creative spaces. Located in a century-old former wooden storehouse, Minto is a mishmash of corridors and alcoves. With plenty of inviting seating and free Wi-Fi, paying a visit is almost like relaxing in a friend’s living room. The food on offer is vegetarian and includes delicious curries and cakes.

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Cafe Arabiq for books, magazines and a famous tiramisu

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Cafe Arabiq is for book lovers, with floor-to-ceiling stacks of tomes, magazines and other publications. The café is named after a bar from the mystery novel Kyomu-eno-kumotsu (1964), one of Japan’s most famous detective stories. Like a practised sleuth, guests will want to comb through every book on display before leaving. However, photography is prohibited – guests can take only memories. Considering the selection of books, coffee and art on display – not to mention the famous tiramisu – that should be more than enough.

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Utena Cafe for a classic kissaten menu and soft jazz

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Nestled in one of Nakazakicho’s classic historic buildings, Utena Cafe provides a relaxing space for coffee and contemplation. Jazz music plays softly over the speakers, and the coffee is served in antique cups. Everything from the furniture to the classic kissaten (Japanese café) menu conveys a Shōwa-era (1926-1989) atmosphere. Try the kiwi-topped cheesecake paired with a freshly brewed cup of blended coffee while you sit back and enjoy the pleasant ambience.

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NOON+CAFE for late-night dance parties, performances and other events

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NOON+CAFE is a fun and funky café located directly below some elevated railroad tracks. It’s spacious, perfect for camping out for hours to chat, read a book as well as wander and check out the quirky art and paraphernalia on display. Taco rice (a Japanese spin on Mexican fare), hotdogs and pizza are all available as well as sweet treats like crêpes and chocolate fondant. At night, it often hosts dance parties, fashion shows, artistic performances and other events. Smoking is allowed inside at all hours.

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These recommendations were updated on December 23, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.