Today’s guest post comes from my long time friend and fellow JET, Stephanie in Japan. Armed with having lived in Osaka for a few years and amazing Japanese ability, I would trust Stephanie as the go to person with all the amazing places and recommendations for enjoying the Osaka culinary experience. If you haven’t checked out her post on Osaka’s mouthwatering eats, you need to read it now.
If you are looking for traveler friendly places in the heart of the city, I would recommend some well-known foreigner bars like Balabushka, HUB, Cinquencento, Captain Kangaroo, or Tin’s Hall. These are all great places…
BUT, if you want to go off the beaten path a bit and experience non-touristy bars, you will have to be willing to go a little outside of town.
My first few recommendations are in Kyobashi which is still considered within the city limits of Osaka. These three bars form what I like to call, the Kyobashi Bar Power Triangle. If you are a regular at one of these places, chances are you’ve been to the other two as well.
First up is Pacha. It’s an American themed bar, but oddly enough, I’ve never seen any other Americans inside besides myself and the people I bring. The music is always thumpin’. Depending on what events are going on that day, it can get so packed it becomes standing only. Many customers here are friendly and will strike up a conversation with you.
Seven Days is a live bar that has performances on the second floor, usually for an extra charge. I prefer to sit at the bar on the first floor. This place charges a little more for their drinks than the average place, but the owner will often pull out the bottle of tequila and start to pour free shots. The atmosphere is nice and so are the drinks.
The last bar of the power triangle is Hi-Five. This is definitely the most relaxed and spacious of the three. Occasionally there are live performances here as well. The décor is like a cross between a classroom and music studio, and it provides an interesting backdrop to zone out into if you are too shy to strike up casual conversation. The long-haired, middle-aged owner is actually pretty good at speaking English, though.
High on my list is a place in Kyobashi on a level of its own, called Wisteria. I save this classy sherry bar for special occasions because the bar master is a certified sherry specialist. There are many outstanding drinks to choose from if you’re not into sherry, but don’t be afraid to drop 1,000 yen on a cocktail. There is an entrance fee, but in return, you are given a homemade delicious snack such as raw ham slices or Spanish omelet. When entering Wisteria, it’s like stepping back in time to the Golden Era; black and white films will be playing silently in the background covered by the sound of smooth jazz, and the bar area is decorated in red and gold. I’ve never cared much for a Moscow Mule, but if you try it here, you will be blown away by the fresh gingery taste. I drink it every time I go.
I’m going to be a little biased with my last set of bars. Depending on what part of Osaka you’re visiting, there are sure to be some very cool local bars nearby, but I can only tell you what I know. So, I’m going to tell you about my two favorite local bars in my town, Shijonawate. They might not be the most convenient to get to from the city, but I don’t think you’d be disappointed if you decided to make the trip out.
There’s a dining bar called Soul Kitchen where the food and drinks are delicious. The menu and special cocktails are well thought out by the owner. The menu includes pastas, salads, soups, pizzas, and a variety of appetizers. I enjoy hot wine in the winter or sangria in the summer. The atmosphere is tasteful, so I think it’s a great place to take a date or relax on your own.
White and Cigar
The last place is my favorite bar in the entire world, and it’s called White and Cigar. It’s basically my second home, and it’s just a minute walk from Shinobugaoka Station. During the day it’s a café and transforms into a bar at night—hence the name “White and Cigar.” It’s all family run. The mother and daughter make authentic and affordable Japanese style lunch sets during the day, and the son manages the bar at night. It has an adult atmosphere, and it’s a great place to unwind. As the name suggests, there are cigars for sale and a fine selection of whiskeys and other drinks. There is a 300 yen cover charge which includes a snack. The thing that makes this place so special is the skill of the bar master. His drinks are the best I’ve ever had, and he doesn’t overcharge. It’s gotten to the point where I just tell him to make me anything he wants, and he always surprises me with deliciousness. His homemade chicken jerky is a must try. Here, you can enjoy watching the movies playing on TV while listening to the master’s favorite tunes, usually Jamiroquai. It’s the perfect place to drink, in my opinion.
Obviously, I am just one girl in a big city, and there are so many places I have yet to discover. There are probably some gems that I couldn’t tell you about because I don’t know them yet. There are also places I enjoy that simply didn’t make the cut for the sake of keeping this post concise. However, I think that the places I recommended are a great starting point, and if you do make a trip to any of them, I hope you enjoy! Thank you for reading.
Hello readers! I’m Stephanie, a twenty-something American who has been been living in Osaka, Japan for the past four years. Feel free to check out my blog, Stephanie in Japan, if you are interested in journal-like entries of my experiences, life, and thoughts on living in Japan. By the way, I’m on Instagram too!