Nijō Castle is a well-known tourist attraction in Kyoto. But as it isn’t close to Kyoto Station or the Gion area, it might seem hard to find a vegan-friendly restaurant for lunch or dinner. Fortunately, while relatively hidden, a couple of nice places serve incredible vegan food! Because the Kyoto Imperial Palace isn’t too far away from the castle, we have also included the restaurants close to the palace in the list below!
The Vegan-Friendly Restaurants Around Nijō Castle and the Kyoto Imperial Palace
Gomacro Salon (ゴマクロサロン)
If you like noodle soup and curry, you should enjoy the food at Gomacro Salon. The café close to Nijō Castle is run by a sesame oil shop (山田製油), so all of the savory vegetarian dishes served here are cooked with dressings and sauce that the oil shop manufactures. If you like any of the free seasonings on the table, you can purchase a bottle to bring home!
With the bright light coming from the big window and an airy atmosphere, the dining experience at this lovely café is relaxing and pleasant. Plus the staff are welcoming and helpful!
Note that when they say a dish is spicy, it is spicy. But don’t worry. They will also tell you which seasoning on the table you can use to reduce the spice level (^_-)-☆.
Gomacro Salon’s Nice Sesame-Based Menu
The savory dishes at Gormacro Salon are in good portion sizes, and the food seasoned with sesame is fantastic. The quality of the organic vegetables used is one of the key factors of the deliciousness. It aligns with the sesame oil shop’s mission statement: to provide safe and healthy food.
If you order a bowl of their Tantanmen (sesame ramen) and still have broth left, add a bowl of brown rice to make it into another tasty dish!
If you can take spicy food, their white curry rice is amazing.
While in Japanese only, you can refer to the photos on their menu HERE for an idea of what to expect on the day.
Important: Some of Gormacro Salon’s dishes contain honey. If you are a vegan, remember to check with the staff.
☛ A reservation is recommended, especially if you plan to dine at Gormacro Salon during the regular lunch hours.
☛ Arrive early as some dishes/desserts can run out quickly.
☛ If you like their creamy sesame broth/sauce, purchase the Nerigoma (sesame paste) from the café.
☛ Remember to try their sesame desserts, which aren’t too sweet.
Gomacro Salon’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Gomacro Salon is open from 11:30 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
- The last order is taken at 5 pm.
- The restaurant is just a 3-minute walk from Kyoto Subway’s Karasuma Oike Station (烏丸御池駅) or a 7-minute walk from JR Nijo Station (二条駅).
Vegetarian Cafe Ren (素食カフェRen)
If you are around Shijo and are looking for vegan food cooked without using pungent ingredients, such as garlic, visit Vegetarian Café Ren. It is a spot serving Taiwanese-style Shōjin Ryōri, with the main store in Wakayama. The restaurant in Shijo is one of the three Vegetarian Café Ren’s restaurants in Kyoto.
When the weather is chill, instead of Today’s Vegan Special, how about Ren’s Special Medicinal Hot Pot? While Chinese herbal medicine doesn’t sound enticing, the medicinal hot pot at Vegetarian Café Ren is amazing. The soup is cooked with more than 15 different herbs, so not only will you be satisfied afterwards, but your body will also benefit from the herbs’ rich nutrition. If you don’t like hot pots, they also have medicinal curry rice and ramen noodles!
Like many vegan restaurants in Japan, Ren’s vegetables are organic, allowing you to taste the original deliciousness of the vegetables. The purple-colored rice doesn’t just consist of black rice. It also has various grains!
Tip: Their vegan cheesecake is nice.
Vegetarian Cafe Ren’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Vegetarian Café Ren Shijo Omiya is open from 11:30 am to 9 pm from Monday to Saturday.
- The last order is taken at 8 pm.
- The restaurant is just a 5-minute walk from Kyoto Subway’s Shijō-Ōmiya Station (四条大宮駅).
Another vegan restaurant with a gorgeous traditional setting is Itadakizen. If you have been to London or Paris, you might have already tried their delicious food! Locating between Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮) and Nijō Castle (二条城), it is a great place to stop by for lunch in between sightseeing in Kyoto’s city center. The restaurant isn’t far away from the Kyoto Imperial Palace either!
Itadakizen was renovated from a traditional house built more than a century ago. Retaining the homey vibe, dining at the restaurant is like visiting a local’s house! Besides the food and friendly staff, the decoration that is full of characteristics is another reason that the restaurant is loved by tourists. And don’t worry if you don’t want to take off your shoes and dine at the low table on the tatami mats. Itadakizen also has normal table seats.
The restaurant’s menu is simple but filled with normally meat-based dishes. Itadakizen offers plant-based Japanese cuisine with menus such as ramen and sushi. Using soy milk and organic and pesticide-free vegetables, the noodle soup’s broth is rich and flavorful. The vegan sushi is amazing, too.
Moreover, how about finishing your meal with their homemade black sesame ice cream?
Tip: Make a reservation. Itadakizen fills up quickly. You can find the reservation link on their Instagram Account.
Itadakizen’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Itadakizen is open from 6 pm to 10 pm.
- The closest station to Itadakizen is Randen’s Kitano Hakubaicho Station (北野白梅町駅). It is a 15-minute walk to the restaurant from the station.
- You can also take a bus from Kyoto Station.
Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto（ヴィーガンラーメン ウズ キョウト）
Close to Kyoto Imperial Palace, there is a vegan ramen restaurant that should interest anyone who loves teamLab. Not only will you be surrounded by immersive art, but Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto’s incredible food will surpass your expectations, making the moderately higher price tag and the possible long wait worthwhile. You will surely be mesmerized by what the restaurant offers. There is no doubt why the restaurant is in the Michelin guide.
Upon entry, you will be treated with a few drops of meditation essential oil blend on your wrist. Its calming effect will set your mood right for an amazing dining experience. Of course, the staff at Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto are well-trained, so the service you receive will be excellent.
Note that Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto is hidden in a quiet residential area. Ensure the map app on your phone is working. It will be hard to locate the restaurant without navigation because, at first glance, Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto looks more like an atelier than a ramen shop. In fact, it would still be hard to believe the spot isn’t an art gallery after you get to the dining area. The restaurant itself is a piece of art!
Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto’s Ramen
If you travel with meat-loving friends and want to introduce them to how tasty vegan dishes can be, Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto is where you bring them. They will surely have a hard time getting over the rich broth and creamy vegan ice cream.
As we all know, broth is the key to a tasty bowl of ramen noodles, and Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto does a phenomenal job. For example, Kokiake’s soup, made from various vegetables, kelp, and shiitake mushrooms, and cooked for 12 hours, has an appetizing aroma. Believe it or not, the broth has a layered taste. As you think you already know how it tastes, it gives you another flavor, tomato.
Tip: Remember to order a plate of sushi and Yuba Rolls. They are sublime. Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto’s desserts are artfully presented too.
Important: A reservation is essential to dine at Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto. You can reserve through their website HERE.
You can refer to their menu HERE before making a booking.
Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Vegan Ramen UZU Kyoto is open from Thursday to Sunday from:
- 11:30 am to 3 pm (last order 2 pm)
- 6 pm to 10 pm (last order 8:30 pm)
- The restaurant is just an 8-minute walk from Kyoto Subway’s Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station (京都市役所前駅) or a 10-minute walk from Keihan’s Jingu-Marutamachi Station (神宮丸太町駅).
For vegan burgers, Vegginy is a really good spot. Sandwiched with the homemade buns are plenty of fresh vegetables and a homemade patty made from chickpeas, mushrooms, grains, and spices. Although the massive burger isn’t cheap, it tastes phenomenal and is worth every penny. Besides burgers, Vegginy’s sandwiches are highly praised by the customers too!
Also, be sure to get a fresh vegan muffin to go!
Vegginy is run by two friendly ladies. The owner, who spent 5 years in New York, was impressed by the vegetarian food she had overseas and opened the small but cosy restaurant after she returned to Japan. Organic and pesticide-free ingredients are used as much as possible to make each item on the menu. While it will take time for your order to be delivered, each dish is prepared with great care.
Note the cafe’s entrance isn’t obvious because it is in the basement. So please turn on your navigation app, or you could easily walk past it!
Vegginy’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Vegginy is open from Friday to Tuesday from 12 pm to 3 pm.
- On weekends and public holidays, it closes at 2:30 pm for lunch and re-opens from 5:30 pm to 7 pm.
- The restaurant is just a 5-minute walk from Kyoto Subway’s Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station (京都市役所前駅) or a 10-minute walk from Keihan’s Sanjo Station (三条駅).
Padma is another vegan restaurant close to Kyoto Imperial Palace and Heian Shrine. Located on the 2nd floor, from the restaurant’s large window, the view of water flowing in the Kamo River is calming. As soon as you walk into Padma, it feels like you are visiting a friend because the atmosphere is so inviting, warm and relaxing.
Pesticide-free and organic vegetables sourced from rural Kyoto are used as much as possible, making it a great spot to savor the prefecture’s fresh produces. In addition, Padma is a place especially good for big eaters because you will definitely be surprised by the amount of food in its lunch and dinner set menus. If you don’t tend to eat a lot, the restaurant also has noodles and rice dishes.
If you would like to try something special, order a bowl of Mixed Raw Salad on Brown Rice Noodles. Made from brown rice, the texture is chewier than normal noodles. Dressed with sesame-flavored sauce, the aroma is appetizing.
There is also a corner in Padma where you will find gluten-free sweets and cookies. Organic seasonings are also sold here!
☛ Padma has dishes that are cooked without the use of pungent ingredients, such as garlic.
☛ You can also check with the staff if you need more rice to go with their amazing dishes!
Padma’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Padma is open from Friday to Wednesday from 12 pm to 7 pm.
- The restaurant is just a 12-minute walk from Kyoto Subway’s Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Station (京都市役所前駅) or a 1-minute walk from Keihan’s Jingu-Marutamachi Station (神宮丸太町駅).
Gen (玄 gen)
Although the chances of finding a vegan bento box in Japan’s train station are close to zero, there are a few places that offer vegan bento boxes in big cities like Kyoto. Gen is one of them. It also has gluten-free bento boxes!
While Gen isn’t particularly close to Kyoto Station, if you plan to visit Kyoto Imperial Palace and don’t have time to sit in a restaurant for lunch or dinner, grab a bento box, bread, or even a few snacks. We assure you that you won’t regret it. The food that the owner/chef makes is just incredible. Even the non-vegans would enjoy it!
Ordering Gen’s bento boxes, curry, and desserts through Uber Eats is also possible. So if you are visiting temples in Kyoto’s city center, put through your order, and delicious vegan food will be with you shortly (^_-)-☆.
You can refer to their menu HERE beforehand.
Tip: Gen’s vegan quiche is amazing.
Gen’s Business Hours and Access Information
- Gen is open from 11 am to 8 pm.
- It is a 15-minute walk from Kyoto City Subway’s Imadegawa Station (今出川駅).
- You can also take Kyoto City Bus route 101 from Kyoto Station and get off at Imadegawa Omiya (今出川大宮). The restaurant is then a 5-minute walk.
- If you come from Shojo Kawaramachi, take route 12 and get off at Horikawa Kamidachiuri (堀川上立売).
Discover Other Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in Kyoto
Your visit to Kyoto may not just be about visiting Nijō Castle and the Kyoto Imperial Palace. The good news is the prefecture has other vegan-friendly restaurants in the city center and close to spots in the rural area. While the options can be limited, there might be a restaurant close to where you want to visit serving delicious vegan or vegetarian dishes that satisfy your cravings!
Refer to our Guide to Kyoto’s Vegan-Friendly Restaurants for more information!