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Osaka at night
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The 38 Essential Osaka Restaurants

Where to find fancy Japanese steaks, loaded okonomiyaki, chewy udon, and fluffy Dojima roll cake in Japan’s second-largest city

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Osaka at night
| Photo: Shutterstock

Japan’s second-largest city has long been nicknamed “the Nation’s Kitchen,” so it’s natural that its biggest draw is the cooking. Food is in Osaka’s blood — “kuidaore,” loosely meaning “eat yourself to ruin,” is a favorite motto and pastime. Osaka and its charm tend toward the downmarket, but fine dining gems also draw hungry fans from around the world. Less stuffy than Tokyo and less dainty than Kyoto, Osaka is a true culinary destination in all its unfussy, in-your-face glory. Here are the 38 essential eating and drinking experiences in Osaka.

Editor’s Note: Eater is not updating international maps at this time given disruptions to global travel during the COVID-19 crisis.

Price key:

$ = 3000 yen (25 USD) and under
$$ = 3000 - 8000 yen (26 to 70 USD)
$$$ = 8000 - 15,000 yen (71 to 130 USD)
$$$$ = 15,000 yen (130 USD) and up

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Awajishima Burger

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4-1 Ikedachō, Nishinomiya-shi
Hyōgo-ken 662-0911, Japan

Just a short trip into the suburbs gets you to the legendary Awajishima Burger, which is currently the center of nearly every burger conversation in western Japan. As the name suggests, the shop’s food is intimately tied to Awaji island and centers on its most famous products. The Awaji beef patty is as flavorful as it is juicy and the organic vegetables distract just a bit from the red-meat bomb. Supersweet Awaji onions come both on top of the burger and as fried in rings on the side. Shoddy digs belie the shop’s hyper-focused level of detail, right down to its “secret sauce.” [$]

Awajishima Burger
Photo: raneko/Flickr

2. Byakuan

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6 Chome-12-7 Niitaka, Yodogawa-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 532-0033, Japan

For most, udon is the cheapest possible meal on their way home. Byakuan, however, is a shrine to the humble wheat noodle. Using meticulously sourced sardines, Hokkaido kombu, and Kochi bonito, the soup reaches a higher plane of complexity and umami. The noodles, made from 100 percent domestic wheat, have a delicate mouthfeel that shine in either a thin, cold soup or the hot curry version. [$]

Udon at Byakuan
Udon at Byakuan
Photo: Byakuan Official Site

3. Yonemasu

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Japan, 〒531-0075 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku
Ōyodominami, 1 Chome−9−16 山彦ビル 1F
06-6345-1107

Bursting onto the scene in 2016 and garnering its first Michelin star this year, Yonemasu has become one of the city’s hardest reservations to get. From behind the counter comes course after course of stunning kaiseki. Tomoya Yonemasu prides execution over inventiveness, but both his food and his banter exude a subtle joviality. Some say he takes too many cues from Honkogetsu, the gold standard for Osaka kaiseki, but it’s only a matter of time before this newcomer eclipses the old guard. [$$$$]

Yonemasu
Photo: shota_hak/Instagram

4. Sunshine

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Japan, 〒530-0057 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku, Sonezaki
2 Chome−11−8 大阪日興ビル B2, Kita

Ultra-thick, fluffy pancakes have taken the country by storm. Many new cafes command long lines for their breakfast-dessert crossovers, but Sunshine and its contemporaries are the inspiration for the newcomers. Sunshine’s hotcakes, served since 1973, are the platonic ideal of a bouncy flapjack. Best enjoyed with the shop’s dark roast coffee, the pancakes aren’t too cloying to enjoy for a reasonable breakfast. Coffee shop classics like omurice, pilaf, and spaghetti Napolitan round out the vintage menu. [$]

Sunshine
Photo: Sunshine Official Site

5. Ginzaya

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Japan, 〒530-0001 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku
Umeda, 1 Chome−3−1 大阪駅前第1ビル

Throngs of businessmen are as much a symbol of Japan as Mount Fuji, and there’s no better place to join the after-work crowd than Ginzaya. Pack into the cramped storefront like standing sardines to nibble on extra-tasty versions of izakaya classics from sashimi to beef tataki. Good luck finding it, though. Even regulars can get turned around in the bowels of the labyrinthine Osaka Ekimae building complex. [$]

Ginzaya
Photo: Sapparo

6. Ketobashiya Champion

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Japan, 〒553-0003 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Fukushima-ku
Fukushima, 7 Chome−9−1 福島レジデンス 1F

It may not be the norm everywhere, but many traditional Japanese bars serve horse meat as an inexpensive snack. At Ketobashiya, horse is treated with the same careful attention normally reserved for beef. Yakiniku is the main event, and nearly every cut imaginable is available to grill. Spring for an appetizer of sashimi or raw liver and it’ll blow your local izakaya out of the water. [$$]

Yakiniku at Ketobashiya Champion
Photo: Ketobashiya Champion Official Site

7. Moeyo Mensuke

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5 Chome-12-21 Fukushima, Fukushima-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 553-0003, Japan
06-6452-2101

There’s no better example of the new-wave ramen boom than Moeyo Mensuke. Started by classically trained chefs, the austere, expensive-looking storefront still commands painfully long lines daily. The exquisite duck ramen is more than worth the wait. Wakayama prefecture’s revered Kishu duck is the star of the show, so the soup puts its luxurious poultry flavor at the forefront. The delicate noodles and rare duck meat on top round out a bowl that’s way more opulent than its price point. [$]

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8. Ichimatsu

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1 Chome-5-1 Dōjima, Kita-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 530-0003, Japan
06-6346-0112

There are many shrines to chicken around the city, but none holier than Ichimatsu. Counter seating around an altar-like grill puts the yakitori eye candy on full display. Delightful simplicity centers the Hinai-jidori birds from Akita prefecture and Hideto Takeda’s mastery. Skin, gizzards, neck, and sashimi are all highlights of the constantly changing omakase course, and the pickled kinkan (early stage, unlaid eggs) are revelatory. [$$$]

Ichimatsu
Photo: Ichimatsu Official Site

9. Houba

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1 Chome-2-1 Dōjimahama, Kita-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 530-0004, Japan
06-6456-0080

Given its history, it’s natural that Osaka would be home to Japan’s most talked-about Korean restaurant. At its core, Houba is a family operation, with the head chef working in tandem with his mother. It stood just a head taller than the city’s other such Korean restaurants until word got out about its impeccable execution and slight Italian flair. Two Michelin stars and a move into trendy new digs have cemented its reputation. [$$$$]

10. Regalo

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Japan, 〒553-0003 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Fukushima-ku
Fukushima, 1 Chome−5−2 堀野ビル

Tokyo’s perfectionist Neapolitan pizza is blowing up in English-language media, but as always, Osaka’s counterpart scene continues to fly under the radar. Two years after a second-place finish in 2013’s World Pizza Championships in Naples, Tomohisa Niizoe returned to his home city to open Regalo. Since then, the carefully crafted pies flying out of his custom oven have led western Japan’s own pizza renaissance and rival any in Tokyo — or Italy. [$]

Pizza in the making at Regalo
Photo: Regaro/Facebook

11. Mon Cher

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2 Chome-1-2 Dōjimahama, Kita-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 530-0004, Japan

It’s not clear if Osaka is best known for its famous roll cake or for Mon Cher’s Dojima roll cake specifically. Either way, Mon Cher is absurdly popular with both locals and domestic tourists. The spongy, moist cakes are filled with a healthy helping of cream made from raw Hokkaido milk. Rolls are available in department stores throughout the city, but daily micro-adjustments to the recipe mean they’re best when purchased from the main shop. [$]

Dojima roll cake at Mon Cher
Photo: Mon cher Official Site

12. Hanakujira

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2 Chome-8-2 Fukushima, Fukushima-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 553-0003, Japan

Many foreigners turn up their noses at oden, the stuff-floating-in-dashi dish symbolic of winter — but they probably just haven’t had a good rendition yet. At Hanakujira, the life-giving broth is bursting with complexity. However, unlike a new wave of high-end oden shops, Hanakujira keeps things affordable and ultra-casual, just as the workaday stew should be. Be warned: Lines can get absurd, especially on cold days. [$-$$]

13. Shibato

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2 Chome-5-2 Kōraibashi, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 541-0043, Japan

While kids in Japan look forward to summer for school break, adults look forward to unagi (freshwater eel). Dubious health benefits aside, eel is a treat for the warmer months, and few places do it better than Shibato. Perhaps the place that invented the local eel preparation, Shibato doesn’t steam its eels before grilling. The resulting crispiness and the head-to-tail cutting style have separated Osaka unagi from eel in the capital for Shibato’s 300-plus years. [$$]

Unagi at Shibato
Photo: Shibato Official Site

14. Hajime

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Japan, 〒550-0002 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Nishi-ku
Edobori, 1 Chome−9−11 アイプラス江戸堀 1F

Hajime Yoneda’s French-ish restaurant just regained its third Michelin star, and for good reason. Behind faux-poetic dish names (“life,” “hope,” “mineral”) lies a collection of immaculately prepared, artful presentations. The restaurant is talked about most for “planet earth,” a plate featuring a textbook’s worth of vegetables and artful plating. Too bad they don’t allow pictures. (Or maybe that’s a good thing.) [$$$$]

15. Yoshino

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3 Chome-4-14 Awajimachi, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 541-0047, Japan

Osaka-style sushi never caught on in the same way that its Tokyo counterpart did, but that hasn’t stopped Yoshino over the past 170-plus years. Hakozushi — the boxed, pressed variety — is the centerpiece here. Each box layers seafood and egg over flawless sushi rice for a result that’s as beautiful as it is delicious. The menu changes by the season, with other Kansai sushi variants, like bozushi and mushizushi, worthy of attention as well. [$$-$$$]

Boxed sushi at Yoshino
Photo: Yoshino Official Site

16. Nishihara

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4-12 Kitashinmachi, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 540-0023, Japan

Osakans are obviously loyal to the local unagi (freshwater eel) preparation that favors grilling the meat without steaming it, but Nishihara’s Kanto-style eels have swayed a lot of allegiances. In the east, eel is cut down the back and then steamed between two rounds of grilling. Served either over a rice bowl or simply by itself, the delicate, supple unagi matches Nishihara’s sparsely adorned Japanese-style digs. Nishihara started a craze when it opened in 2014, and crowds still swell every summer. [$$]

Unagi at Nishihara
Photo: Nishihara Official Website

17. Fujiya 1935

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2 Chome-4-14 Yariyamachi, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 540-0027, Japan

After a few years training at Barcelona’s L’Esguard, Tetsuya Fujiwara returned home to Osaka in 2003. Although he was the fourth generation to take over his family’s Western-style restaurant, he naturally turned it into a modern Spanish gem. Using continental techniques to elevate quintessentially Japanese ingredients, Fujiwara has succeeded in creating playful menus for 15 years. Standouts include spear squid with asparagus linguine and sweetfish in a shiso purée. Fujiya 1935 may have recently lost its third Michelin star, but it hasn’t lost its inventiveness. [$$$$]

Fujiya 1935
Photo: Fujiya 1935 Official Site

18. Jibundoki

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Japan, 〒541-0058 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Chūō-ku
Minamikyūhōjimachi, 4 Chome−5−11 ライオンズマンション御堂本町 1F
06-6253-1661

Clamoring for a reservation at an okonomiyaki restaurant is a strange thought, but Jibundoki has given us a good reason to wait. The okonomiyaki — with both a bouncy interior and a crispy crust — are the main draw, but other teppan menu items like sobameshi, vegetables, and garlicky Awaji beef are more than just distractions. [$$-$$$]

Okonomiyaki at Jibundoki
Photo: mt.marron.k/Instagram

19. Tako Tako King

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Japan, 〒542-0083 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Chūō-ku
Higashishinsaibashi, 1 Chome−13−29 アーバンエース東心斎橋パル 23
+81 06-6213-0098

Takoyaki are normally considered a drinking food in the sense that they’re eaten at the end of a long night, but Tako Tako King smartly designed an entire pub concept around the chewy octopus dough balls. Every one of its handful of locations around Minami is packed nightly with crowds of hungry drinkers and thirsty eaters. [$]

Tako Tako King
Photo: Tako Tako King Official Site

20. LiLo Coffee Roasters

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Japan, 〒542-0086 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Chūō-ku
Nishishinsaibashi, 1 Chome−1−10−28 心斎橋Mビル 1F

LiLo’s tiny storefront isn’t the most comfortable place to linger, but its coffee mastery still draws hordes of bean aficionados. Osaka’s small-batch roasters have typically gone for dark, but LiLo has faith that brighter roasts will catch on in the city. Tasting notes and origins are illustrated visually, and each cup comes with a descriptive card. The color-coded charts and impeccably helpful staff do away with any intimidation that comes from visiting such a specialist. [$]

Coffee at LiLo Coffee Roasters
Photo: LiLo/Facebook

21. Craft Beer Works Kamikaze

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Japan, 〒550-0014 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Nishi-ku, Kitahorie
1 Chome−22, 北堀江1丁目22−21ヒフミヤビル1F

Kamikaze is a shrine to Japan’s fledgling craft beer scene. With among the biggest tap selections in Osaka, the serene atmosphere matches the posh neighborhood. There’s a welcome focus on domestic brews, while select imports are also offered. The talkative staff members calmly guide beginners and talk shop with experts, ensuring a packed house nearly every night. [$]

Beers and bites at CBW Kamikaze
Photo: CBWKamikaze/Facebook

22. Rodda Group

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Japan, 〒550-0023 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Nishi-ku
Chiyozaki, 1 Chome−23−9 桜 ビル 1F 2 号

Osaka’s curry enthusiasts uniformly fawn over Rodda Group’s Sri Lankan versions of the dish. The shop became the talk of the town as many patrons’ first taste of Sri Lankan food, but lines persist for its delicious execution. Gami rasa is a crowd favorite, and the periodic biryani specials are worth trying as well. [$]

Rodda Group
Photo: 辣油は飲み物/Tablelog

23. Kyu Yamu-tei

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6丁目-4-23 Tanimachi, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 540-0012, Japan

Kyu Yamu-tei was responsible for the popularization of “spice curry” around the city, a style that, as its name suggests, is loaded with spices. The daily rotating menu includes idiosyncratic, extra-seasoned takes on curries inspired by varieties from every corner of the globe. Your choice of two curries (at lunch; just one for dinner) comes colorfully arranged around a mound of turmeric rice. Strong not in heat but in flavor, each curry strikes a surprising balance. Kyu Yamu-tei has spawned a couple of sister shops around the city, and the location in the basement of Lucua 1100 at Osaka Station (called Kyu Yamu Tetsudo) is worthwhile as well. [$]

Curry at Kyu Yamu-tei
Photo: Kyu Yamu-tei Official Site

24. Kogaryu Takoyaki

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2 Chome-18-4 Nishishinsaibashi, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 542-0086, Japan

Kogaryu is a quintessential shop for a quintessential Osaka food: takoyaki. This Amemura standard hasn’t changed much in 43 years. The balls are on the chewy side, with generous octopus chunks, and are served at particularly scalding temperatures. There’s seating upstairs, but Kogaryu’s takoyaki is best enjoyed at adjacent Triangle Park, where the city’s youth show off both fashion trends and skateboard tricks. [$]

Takoyaki at Kogaryu
Photo: Ryoko Hintata/Flickr

25. Muguni

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Japan, 〒542-0086 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Chūō-ku
Nishishinsaibashi, 2丁目9−5 日宝三ツ寺会館 1F
06-6212-5068

Yoshoku, the only-in-Japan take on “Western” food, used to be the pinnacle of luxury. While those days are long gone, Muguni upholds the tradition of precise takes on one particular item: omurice. A particularly rich version of the rice-filled omelet takes center stage here, topped with either cod roe or gorgonzola. It’s a meal fit for a French king — as imagined by postwar Japan. [$]

Omurice at Muguni
Photo: erichan_life/Instagram

26. New Light

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2 Chome-16-13 Nishishinsaibashi, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 542-0086, Japan
06-6211-0720

New Light is an old line yoshoku (Japanized Western food) restaurant whose main draw is its Ceylon curry. An idiosyncratic take on standard brown Japanese curry, New Light’s version is extra soupy and pre-mixed with fluffy white rice and a raw egg. Demi-glace sauce lends a sweetness that continues to attract both regular folks and the celebrities whose signatures line the walls. [$]

Ceylon curry at New Light
Photo: nudecable_ikeda/Instagram

27. Sumiyoshi

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3 Chome-20-8 Fukaeminami, Higashinari-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 537-0002, Japan

Takaida-kei ramen gets lost among the sea of ambitious new-style ramen shops, but this local variation has been thriving east of the city since the war. Sumiyoshi is the area’s oldest surviving shop and offers as straightforward a Takaida-kei rendition as you’ll find. Thick, chewy noodles and clear chicken stock mix with an intense, dark shoyu tare for a powerful umami blast. Come for lunch to enjoy this truly local style, made popular before ramen had nationwide ubiquity. [$]

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28. American

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1 Chome-7-4 Dōtonbori, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 542-0071, Japan
06-6211-2100

American is a particularly gaudy example of a jun kissa, an endangered style of old-school coffee shop. The blast-from-the-past decor and thick, rich pancakes continue to draw both dedicated regulars and tourists alike. Other classics, like the fruit sandwich and coffee jelly, have all but disappeared in modern Japan, but still feature proudly on the menu of this postwar relic. [$]

American
Photo: Kayoko Akabori/Umami Map

29. Akagakiya Namba

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3 Chome-1-32 Nanba, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 542-0076, Japan

Tiny, smoky tachinomiya (standing bars) are a Japanese staple for cheap drinks and a bite of simple food. Founded in 1923 — and now a small empire around Osaka — Akagakiya is the city’s great equalizer. Nowhere is this truer than at this Namba location, where overworked salarymen rub shoulders with builders, hardened day drinkers, and winners and losers alike from the massive off-track betting complex nearby. The doteyaki (beef sinew) and kizushi (vinegared mackerel) are local bar standbys at their utilitarian peak. [$]

Akagakiya Namba
Photo: Akagakiya Namba Official Blog

30. Juutei

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3 Chome-1-30 Nanba, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 542-0076, Japan

Juutei has been serving ground beef hamburg steaks with love since 1946, and they’re still a huge draw. From the fake food models out front to the dated mock-Western menu, not much has changed in the 70-plus years this place has been in business — that’s a good thing. Other yoshoku (Japanized Western food) classics like beef katsu, rice pilaf, and a pork chop drenched in gooey ginger sauce are historical relics well worth ordering, too. [$]

Hamburg steak at Juutei
Photo: M-saburo/Battera

31. Matsuyoshi

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1-6 下味原 Tennōji-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 543-0025, Japan
06-6773-0237

Beyond its physical location under a rail line, Matsuyoshi’s smoky interior somehow feels extra under the tracks. Horumon (grilled offal) is the star here, especially the rib, tripe, tongue, and face meat. Even cuts like uterus and aorta are treated with respect. Its home in the old-line Korean neighborhood of Tsuruhashi means its kimchi choices are on point, too. [$]

Matsuyoshi
Photo: アン・ブライス/Tablelog

32. Okada

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Japan, 〒551-0001 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Taishō-ku
Sangenyanishi, 1 Chome−25−10 グランデSH 1F
06-6553-2359

Okada elevates the humble, smoky standing horumon (grilled offal) bar. The all-domestic offal is served in its standard grilled form as well as sashimi and yukke (raw, thinly sliced, seasoned, and topped with a raw egg). Daily specials run the gamut from offal pho and beef heart poke to liver katsu and skirt steak sandwiches. Pair them with something from the surprisingly solid wine list. [$-$$]

Okada
Photo: Okada via Matomeshi

33. Menya Joroku

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Japan, 〒542-0075 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Chūō-ku, Nanbasennichimae
6, 中央区難波千日前6−16

Osaka’s native Takaida-kei ramen has been mostly forgotten in the shuffle of new-wave shops, but Jouroku is the happy exception. It has garnered a ton of extremely warranted praise from ramen cognoscenti for delivering rich soy flavor without overwhelming saltiness. Come early for breakfast ramen on the first Sunday every month. [$]

Ramen at Menya Joroku
Photo: JouRoku/Facebook

34. Ajihei

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4 Chome-3-25 Shōjihigashi, Ikuno-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 544-0003, Japan

Tecchiri (pufferfish hotpot) is a comforting Osaka winter staple, but there’s nothing comforting about the high price of the city’s top fugu specialists. Ajihei has gained a cult following for its happy medium of quality and affordability. It brings pufferfish to the masses primarily as nabe (hot pot), but tessa (fugu sashimi) and fugu karaage (deep-fried) are necessary sides. [$$]

Tecchiri at Ajihei
Photo: Ajihei Sonezaki Official Site

35. Echigen

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2丁目-3-9 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 556-0002, Japan
06-6631-2696

Shinsekai is lined with average kushikatsu (deep-fried, skewered meat and vegetable) shops surviving on the neighborhood’s reputation of being the birthplace of the dish, but Echigen’s eccentric master elevates it well above the surrounding mediocrity. Standbys like beef, shishito peppers, and whiting are at their deep-fried best here, while signature skewers like an entire chicken cutlet (deep-fried, of course) with wasabi do justice to the raucous atmosphere. [$]

Echigen
Photo by Michael Sosnick

36. Nonkiya

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3 Chome-4-5 Ebisuhigashi, Naniwa-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 556-0002, Japan

Nonkiya’s dingy, tight interior matches the humility of its main dish, doteyaki (stewed beef tendon). The goopy brown sauce should inspire confidence; if it looks that unappetizing, it has to taste good. Nonkiya’s doteyaki reigns in the sweetness for a meatier flavor, and is best washed down with watery beer and a side of oden. This is a taste of Shinsekai before its tourism boom — all the more charming for its grit. [$]

Nonkiya
Photo: m-louis/Flickr

37. Tatsuya

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1 Chome-17-10 Sannō, Nishinari-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 557-0001, Japan
+81 6-6926-4478

Offal nabe is a near-necessity in the depths of a cold, damp winter. At tatsuya, the cramped, smoky restaurant’s signature hotpot removes any unwanted chewiness from its component organ meats while a healthy topping of kimchi brings just the right amount of spice. Notoriously frugal south Osakans will say they come to get the best bang for their yen, but really it’s all about the flavor. [$]

Tatsuya
Photo by Michael Sosnick

38. Itto

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1 Chome-23-18 Tengachayahigashi, Nishinari-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 557-0011, Japan
+81 6-6659-8618

Itto is a humble yakiniku (grilled meat) shop with an extremely un-humble beef display featuring cuts from every corner of the country. The big names like Kobe and Matsusaka are present, but less-hyped domestic sources like Omi and Saga offer better value. Piece together a jigsaw puzzle of meat — such as a Miyazaki sirloin with Sendai heart — for a beef dinner as educational as it is decadent. [$$-$$$]

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1. Awajishima Burger

4-1 Ikedachō, Nishinomiya-shi, Hyōgo-ken 662-0911, Japan
Awajishima Burger
Photo: raneko/Flickr

Just a short trip into the suburbs gets you to the legendary Awajishima Burger, which is currently the center of nearly every burger conversation in western Japan. As the name suggests, the shop’s food is intimately tied to Awaji island and centers on its most famous products. The Awaji beef patty is as flavorful as it is juicy and the organic vegetables distract just a bit from the red-meat bomb. Supersweet Awaji onions come both on top of the burger and as fried in rings on the side. Shoddy digs belie the shop’s hyper-focused level of detail, right down to its “secret sauce.” [$]

4-1 Ikedachō, Nishinomiya-shi
Hyōgo-ken 662-0911, Japan

2. Byakuan

6 Chome-12-7 Niitaka, Yodogawa-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 532-0033, Japan
Udon at Byakuan
Udon at Byakuan
Photo: Byakuan Official Site

For most, udon is the cheapest possible meal on their way home. Byakuan, however, is a shrine to the humble wheat noodle. Using meticulously sourced sardines, Hokkaido kombu, and Kochi bonito, the soup reaches a higher plane of complexity and umami. The noodles, made from 100 percent domestic wheat, have a delicate mouthfeel that shine in either a thin, cold soup or the hot curry version. [$]

6 Chome-12-7 Niitaka, Yodogawa-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 532-0033, Japan

3. Yonemasu

Japan, 〒531-0075 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku, Ōyodominami, 1 Chome−9−16 山彦ビル 1F
Yonemasu
Photo: shota_hak/Instagram

Bursting onto the scene in 2016 and garnering its first Michelin star this year, Yonemasu has become one of the city’s hardest reservations to get. From behind the counter comes course after course of stunning kaiseki. Tomoya Yonemasu prides execution over inventiveness, but both his food and his banter exude a subtle joviality. Some say he takes too many cues from Honkogetsu, the gold standard for Osaka kaiseki, but it’s only a matter of time before this newcomer eclipses the old guard. [$$$$]

Japan, 〒531-0075 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku
Ōyodominami, 1 Chome−9−16 山彦ビル 1F

4. Sunshine

Japan, 〒530-0057 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku, Sonezaki, 2 Chome−11−8 大阪日興ビル B2, Kita
Sunshine
Photo: Sunshine Official Site

Ultra-thick, fluffy pancakes have taken the country by storm. Many new cafes command long lines for their breakfast-dessert crossovers, but Sunshine and its contemporaries are the inspiration for the newcomers. Sunshine’s hotcakes, served since 1973, are the platonic ideal of a bouncy flapjack. Best enjoyed with the shop’s dark roast coffee, the pancakes aren’t too cloying to enjoy for a reasonable breakfast. Coffee shop classics like omurice, pilaf, and spaghetti Napolitan round out the vintage menu. [$]

Japan, 〒530-0057 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku, Sonezaki
2 Chome−11−8 大阪日興ビル B2, Kita

5. Ginzaya

Japan, 〒530-0001 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku, Umeda, 1 Chome−3−1 大阪駅前第1ビル
Ginzaya
Photo: Sapparo

Throngs of businessmen are as much a symbol of Japan as Mount Fuji, and there’s no better place to join the after-work crowd than Ginzaya. Pack into the cramped storefront like standing sardines to nibble on extra-tasty versions of izakaya classics from sashimi to beef tataki. Good luck finding it, though. Even regulars can get turned around in the bowels of the labyrinthine Osaka Ekimae building complex. [$]

Japan, 〒530-0001 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku
Umeda, 1 Chome−3−1 大阪駅前第1ビル

6. Ketobashiya Champion

Japan, 〒553-0003 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Fukushima-ku, Fukushima, 7 Chome−9−1 福島レジデンス 1F
Yakiniku at Ketobashiya Champion
Photo: Ketobashiya Champion Official Site

It may not be the norm everywhere, but many traditional Japanese bars serve horse meat as an inexpensive snack. At Ketobashiya, horse is treated with the same careful attention normally reserved for beef. Yakiniku is the main event, and nearly every cut imaginable is available to grill. Spring for an appetizer of sashimi or raw liver and it’ll blow your local izakaya out of the water. [$$]

Japan, 〒553-0003 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Fukushima-ku
Fukushima, 7 Chome−9−1 福島レジデンス 1F

7. Moeyo Mensuke

5 Chome-12-21 Fukushima, Fukushima-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 553-0003, Japan

There’s no better example of the new-wave ramen boom than Moeyo Mensuke. Started by classically trained chefs, the austere, expensive-looking storefront still commands painfully long lines daily. The exquisite duck ramen is more than worth the wait. Wakayama prefecture’s revered Kishu duck is the star of the show, so the soup puts its luxurious poultry flavor at the forefront. The delicate noodles and rare duck meat on top round out a bowl that’s way more opulent than its price point. [$]

5 Chome-12-21 Fukushima, Fukushima-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 553-0003, Japan

8. Ichimatsu

1 Chome-5-1 Dōjima, Kita-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 530-0003, Japan
Ichimatsu
Photo: Ichimatsu Official Site

There are many shrines to chicken around the city, but none holier than Ichimatsu. Counter seating around an altar-like grill puts the yakitori eye candy on full display. Delightful simplicity centers the Hinai-jidori birds from Akita prefecture and Hideto Takeda’s mastery. Skin, gizzards, neck, and sashimi are all highlights of the constantly changing omakase course, and the pickled kinkan (early stage, unlaid eggs) are revelatory. [$$$]

1 Chome-5-1 Dōjima, Kita-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 530-0003, Japan

9. Houba

1 Chome-2-1 Dōjimahama, Kita-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 530-0004, Japan

Given its history, it’s natural that Osaka would be home to Japan’s most talked-about Korean restaurant. At its core, Houba is a family operation, with the head chef working in tandem with his mother. It stood just a head taller than the city’s other such Korean restaurants until word got out about its impeccable execution and slight Italian flair. Two Michelin stars and a move into trendy new digs have cemented its reputation. [$$$$]

1 Chome-2-1 Dōjimahama, Kita-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 530-0004, Japan

10. Regalo

Japan, 〒553-0003 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Fukushima-ku, Fukushima, 1 Chome−5−2 堀野ビル
Pizza in the making at Regalo
Photo: Regaro/Facebook

Tokyo’s perfectionist Neapolitan pizza is blowing up in English-language media, but as always, Osaka’s counterpart scene continues to fly under the radar. Two years after a second-place finish in 2013’s World Pizza Championships in Naples, Tomohisa Niizoe returned to his home city to open Regalo. Since then, the carefully crafted pies flying out of his custom oven have led western Japan’s own pizza renaissance and rival any in Tokyo — or Italy. [$]

Japan, 〒553-0003 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Fukushima-ku
Fukushima, 1 Chome−5−2 堀野ビル

11. Mon Cher

2 Chome-1-2 Dōjimahama, Kita-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 530-0004, Japan
Dojima roll cake at Mon Cher
Photo: Mon cher Official Site

It’s not clear if Osaka is best known for its famous roll cake or for Mon Cher’s Dojima roll cake specifically. Either way, Mon Cher is absurdly popular with both locals and domestic tourists. The spongy, moist cakes are filled with a healthy helping of cream made from raw Hokkaido milk. Rolls are available in department stores throughout the city, but daily micro-adjustments to the recipe mean they’re best when purchased from the main shop. [$]

2 Chome-1-2 Dōjimahama, Kita-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 530-0004, Japan

12. Hanakujira

2 Chome-8-2 Fukushima, Fukushima-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 553-0003, Japan

Many foreigners turn up their noses at oden, the stuff-floating-in-dashi dish symbolic of winter — but they probably just haven’t had a good rendition yet. At Hanakujira, the life-giving broth is bursting with complexity. However, unlike a new wave of high-end oden shops, Hanakujira keeps things affordable and ultra-casual, just as the workaday stew should be. Be warned: Lines can get absurd, especially on cold days. [$-$$]

2 Chome-8-2 Fukushima, Fukushima-ku, Ōsaka-shi
Ōsaka-fu 553-0003, Japan

13. Shibato

2 Chome-5-2 Kōraibashi, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 541-0043, Japan