There's something of the old Wild West Saloon about Kyogoku Sutando. One of Kyoto's oldest and most beloved hostelries, it's located in the Shinkyogoku covered arcade, right in the heart of downtown.
Rather than gunslingers and ladies of easy virtue, however, the clientele are more likely to be off-duty salarymen and OLs, students and tourists. And always retirees. The latter are senior citizen regulars who have been coming here, quite literally, for decades.
An Izakaya with History
Kyogoku Sutando was founded in 1929, by Tokyoites who came down to Kansai following the destruction wreaked by the Great Kanto Earthquake. It had a branch in Maruyama Park, before moving to the current location. It has always possessed a certain 'retro chic'. The old timers who come here will 'dress up' for the occasion in the traditional manner. Namely, by wearing a hat.
The old timer pictured here, Foodies Go Local's editor-in-chief, is bucking the hat trend, but enjoying a glass of the local Gekkeikan sake. Note the slightly offset mirrors lining the walls. This clever design makes for great people watching.
Part of the fun at Sutando is that you are always sharing a table or counter space with the locals. They are usually happy to chat. That said, as you'll gather from the photo (left), it is better if you can persuade a Japanese speaker to come with you. The staff are really friendly, but English isn't their forté. They are also incredibly busy.
The menu features agesoba noodles (huge), yakibuta pork, korokke croquettes, tonkatsu pork cutlets, kamo ro-su roast duck, and hamo pike conger tempura. Other izakaya staples include hiyayakko cold tofu, and of course, cold draft beer and local sake.