Kyoto is renowned for its refined culinary arts like the kaiseki tradition, which place heavy emphasis on simple, natural tastes. When the craving for something rich and greasy kicks in though, you’ll be longing for a good burger. We list the top spots to find one in Kyoto.
Located on the edge of Kyoto’s downtown area, Kobe Gavly can be a little hard to track down, but is totally worth it as it serves some of the best gourmet burgers in Kyoto. Partnered with Steak House Zen in Kobe, Kobe Gavly serves Kobe beef burgers, considered to be the finest of Japan’s wagyu. The well-marbled, grilled beef will melt in your mouth, allowing you to taste the rich flavours of the meat. While the price may be a little off-putting, remember that this is Kobe beef, one of the most expensive foods in Japan. This is a burger you won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Located near the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Grand Burger is a friendly burger café that serves both authentic and innovative burgers. Filings range from the conventional, such as cheese and bacon, to Japanese favorites, such as avocado and cheese, and daring anchovy and Hokkaido cream. Their burgers may be a little on the expensive side, especially considering the generally low cost of café food in Kyoto, but the amount of fillings and the quality of the burgers makes them worthwhile. This gaijin (or foreigner) friendly joint has an English menu, which makes ordering easy.
Named after the American underground bars of the Prohibition era, Speak Easy is an American-styled diner that serves fantastic burgers and other American foods, such as fried onion rings. While their burgers are, for the most part, conventional, they replace certain ingredients with local ones, such as locally grown vegetables and Japanese pickles. Speak Easy is a favourite breakfast venue for local expats as well as Japanese, due to their Western breakfast menu and refillable coffee. The diner’s signature dish, however, is their Special Burger, a 30cm tall monster of a burger and a fun challenge to eat.
Housed in a renovated wooden townhouse, Salut Ya is a Western café that serves affordable diner food with Japanese influences. Their burgers are made with with juicy meats, with a vegetarian option of avocado and cheese also available. They also serve salad, curry, and a soup of the day. A classic Japanese interior of wooden rafters and sliding doors is dotted with Western furniture, such as a bar table, bar stools, and sofas, for a cozy fusion atmosphere.
To satisfy your cravings for an authentic burger, look no further than The Burger Company. The meat in their burgers is juicy and tender, and the vegetables are fresh. The burgers’ sizes are surprisingly large, especially considering the trend for generally small portions in Japan. This American-diner inspired joint is located just out of the city, in picturesque Kitayama, so you can stop by after exploring the area or before visiting the nearby Kyoto Botanic Gardens.