My family enjoys going out for brunch or lunch on the weekend. But with COVID-19 still a danger, we hesitate to put ourselves in closed spaces with poor ventilation. We search for Osaka cafes with outdoor seating where we can breathe fresh air and enjoy an open atmosphere.
Here, I’ll introduce my favorite restaurants with outside seating. Some have terrace seating, others have a balcony. All offer outdoor tables and good food, while relieving coronavirus anxiety.
While safety is my current motivation, most cafes offering outdoor seating were designed to take advantage of a good view. It makes sense then that most are in the hills or near a river. I live in the north of Osaka Prefecture, so my list starts there. However, I include a couple of shops on Nakanoshima (an island in downtown Osaka City) and one to the south near the touristy area of Dotombori.
I’ll give you an idea of each cafe’s atmosphere and menu, and provide a link to the restaurant on Google Maps. Some other key points to consider in choosing from this list are whether you have a car and how early the place opens, as some don’t serve breakfast.
Here are some fantastic cafes in Osaka with outdoor seating:
This shop is small. It sells beans and coffee-making equipment at the entrance and has a few tables indoors placed rather too intimately for the current situation. But proceed to the balcony and there are four well-spaced tables for al fresco dining, seating four each. There is usually an opening. A sunshade is overhead. There is greenery on the south and a view of an urban vegetable plot and the Rokko mountain chain in the distance to the west.
The meals at Hiro Coffee are light—I usually get the ham and egg toast + drink. I add the leaf and kinuwa salad and upgrade the drink to a pot (they call it “two-cup”) of coffee. The selection of coffees is extensive and they have a coffee of the day (higawari).
A few words of caution: The open-faced sandwiches are meant to be picked up and bitten (no silverware), but if you’re not careful in biting all the way through the ham you will find the egg sliding off the toast on the dangling scrap of ham and landing on your lap. Why do I know this? Experience, son. Experience.
The other thing is that they serve their coffee with “fresh,” which means non-dairy creamer. I ask for milk when I order my coffee. I haven’t tried asking for Jersey cream, as I am moderate in my demands, but if you like pushing the envelope, you could try it. They will also sell you a side of jam if you ask for it. It’s good!
Hours: Open from 8:00 AM
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/y7NkwKQBvHoZokbo9 (If you drive, parking is under the building.)
The LOAF Cafe shares space with LOAF Bakery. By the way, the all-caps in the name is their idea, not mine. It’s not an acronym, they just really want to emphasize their name. That’s a common thing in Japan.
Of course it refers to a loaf of bread, but is also suitable because you can loaf around on the terrace with a green suburban feeling. The second floor height gives a wide view. In summer, they have a couple of fans with misters. Usually the four outdoor restaurant tables are spread out, but we once scooted ours back under the awning to sit out a short sprinkle.
But back to the bakery… it’s on the first floor and the restaurant/cafe is on the second floor. The meals come with an all-you-can-eat bread buffet. Following my wife’s strict coronavirus protocols, I use a napkin to handle the tongs. I also wear my mask and hold my breath as I walk through the indoor shop to the bread table. Most people can hold their breath up to 2 minutes—you’ll probably be fine.
I usually take the fritter lunch, which is JPY 1150, but my son splurged on the US sirloin steak lunch for 1750 yen and said it was worth it (I was paying).
Hours: The bakery is open from 9:00 AM, but the cafe opens at 11:00.
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/LuP6jEASoUaobXcEA.
Parking is round back, with overflow across the main street (cattycorner). They don’t validate it, they just hand you 200 yen.
PARK in CAFE bird tree is one of my favorites among these Osaka cafes with outdoor seating, as you can enjoy a stroll in the park after your meal. The restaurant is inside Senri Minami Park, so you’ll have a forced stroll from the parking lot whether you like it or not—or from Minami-Senri Station of the Hankyu Senri Line.
The restaurant’s roof extends to cover the terrace, but this area has no walls, allowing the air to flow through. You should request an outer seat for maximum ventilation. However, the enclosed part of the restaurant is still fairly open due to large sliding glass doors.
BBQ is available, but I went for the chicken fricassee. Potato gratin and pasta are also good choices. Prices range from around JPY 2,000 to 3,000.
Hours: Lunch is served from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/oacWkvAo8x1vxTb89
This isn’t just eating outdoors—this is eating in the sky! A deck is perched on the ridge of a mountain, and the atmosphere is like a ski resort. However, it is actually on the grounds of a Buddhist temple. From the parking area, Hontakiyama no Cafe is uphill and to the left. Then you can either follow the road up a hill to the left or climb some mossy stone steps that look like they have not been tread on in a hundred years.
Vegetarian curries are the signature dish. Everything tastes better with mountain air. After your meal with obligatory selfies you should wander the grounds. The eponymous taki (waterfall) is unfortunately for the eyes of the monks only. The path to it is barred.
You’ll have to drive along a winding road to get here, which is why it’s a popular stop for motorcycle clubs. Don’t worry, they aren’t scary. The typical owner of a fancy hog is a high-income company employee in his 50s. I know this from an actual Harley-Davidson survey.
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 9 AM – 5 PM
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/wk24Wd9FHzgaJTvC8
GARB weeks is one of the more glamorous Osaka cafes with outdoor seating. The mood of this place may be more suitable for special events or anniversaries than just chilling. It’s the only one on this list that also hosts weddings. So, it may be best to call ahead and make sure the place isn’t booked up. If you’re lucky, the large open patio will be available. The restaurant is located on Nakanoshima, an island at the heart of Osaka.
The pizza oven is the centerpiece of the open kitchen. The specialty here is pizza in the Neapolitan style (1300-1600 yen depending on toppings). Pasta and steak round out the menu, each running around a thousand yen. There is a wide range of Italian appetizers and side dishes.
Hours: Opens from 11:30 weekdays/11:00 weekends and holidays
Google Maps: https://g.page/garbweeks?share
There are two Osaka restaurants located on Nakanoshima in this list. &ISLAND Nakanoshima is an open-air cafe along the riverside. Basically, it doesn’t have a wall on the side facing the river.
The lunch is mostly fancy hot dogs worthy of several photos. All are 686 yen, except the “GODZILLA” for 1,000. The sandwiches are also colorful, and there are a few other impressive photogenic offerings. (Instagram is such a great advertising tool for restaurants—why not maximize exposure?)
Hours: Opens from 11:00
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/ETUGuwHvWekX5axy8
Cafe Spat's near Dotombori does not have a view. But it has outdoor tables with giant parasols. The location near Namba in a sightseeing area is the draw.
They specialize in curry, but for brunch, I would go for the loco-moco, which is a Hawaiian egg on rice dish. Pizza and spaghetti pomodoro look pretty typical. (Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian. I know this because an Italian invented a system of breaking work into 20-minute chunks, which he named “pomodoros” after his tomato-shaped kitchen timer. I completed this article in 21 pomodoros—so slow! Actually, I was also playing a free video game called “Rise of Legions.”)
As for varieties of coffee, the menu lists just “coffee” at 320 yen. Well, it’s outdoors and it’s just five blocks from the famous Dotombori, where you can take your picture with the Glico running man in background.
Hours: Opens at 11:00
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/2fvgKPkRoADJikvNA
Coronavirus is a drag. But don’t let it turn you into a hermit—it’s not good for your mental health. Get out there and boost the economy, but do it safely. Try these outdoor brunch and lunch spots, and enjoy co-mingling with your fellow humans in the fresh air. Don’t stay indoors playing free video games all day.