Minami Bar Guide

Minami Bar GuideThis is a bar guide, based on about four years of partying in Osaka, for the Minami area (Namba, Shinsaibashi, Amemura, Soemoncho, Yotsubashi, Horie, etc.). I chose to focus on Minami because it’s the place I know best, and it’s really the best place to go out for a night out in Osaka (in my opinion).

Some things you should know about this guide:

  • Ratings of any sort are objective, and you may or may not agree. Just take it is advice from someone who has lived in and loved Osaka for some time now.
  • This is for bars, not izakaya.
  • I’m more of a cocktail drinker than a wine or beer drinker, so a lot of my drink ratings may focus on the cocktails aspect. Of course I still enjoy beer and wine.
  • I’m writing from the perspective of an American expat who speaks and reads Japanese fluently. Experiences may differ depending on your nationality, personality, language abilities, etc.
  • I shy away from places with table charges or cover charges in general (with ROCK ROCK as an exception–see the review below).
  • I use the phrase “gaijin bar,” but I don’t mean it in a negative way.

I hope this guide will help those new to the area, those visiting, and even those who have been here awhile to expand their horizons, meet new people, and experience the great night life Osaka has to offer.


About My Rating System

I rate all bars on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being lowest, 3 being average, and 5 being outstanding. I use six criteria, with the final two not being applicable to everyone who uses this guide:

  • Atmosphere: The overall mood, “cool” factor, and feel of the establishment.
  • Drinks: The quality of their drinks, as well as selection and originality.
  • Prices: How well-priced their drinks (and food) are, and how much value you get for what you pay (1 means things are too expensive, 5 means they are exceptionally well priced). This rating also decrease if there’s a cover or table charge.
  • Fun: The overall “fun factor”–this relates to the events held, entertainment such as pool or darts, the overall feel created by the staff and customers, and so forth.
  • Food: The quality of the food (I have put a question mark for places whose food I haven’t eaten enough of to rate fairly).
  • Pick-up: Let’s be honest, a lot of you are going out to bars for nampa, or picking up guys/girls. This is a rating of how easy it is to pick up in each establishment.

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Balabushka

Atmosphere: 3
Drinks: 3
Prices: 3
Fun: 4
Food: ?
Pick-up: 4
Balabushka is best on Saturdays, as people tend to come here before hitting the Amemura-area clubs. Although customers often come in groups, you can easily walk in by yourself and meet plenty of new people. There are pool tables and darts, which can make it seem more like a campus bar on quiet days.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<
URL: http://www.balabushka.jp

  • 06-6211-5369 / 大阪市中央区西心斎橋2丁目9-5 日宝日寺公館4F

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Bar Moon Walk

Atmosphere: 2
Drinks: 4
Prices: 5
Fun: 2
Food: ?
Pick-up: 1
This laid-back bar is great for those on a budget, or those looking for a quiet place to go with a friend. There is a table charge of 420 yen, but then drinks are 210 yen and food is 105 yen, so overall it’s very inexpensive. Go here if you want a slow night, or just want to “fuel up” more before heading out to other places.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<
URL: http://www.barmoonwalk.jp/ (Japanese)

  • 06-6211-1055 / 大阪市中央区西心斎橋2-9-32 アローホテル1F
  • 06-6212-9955 / 大阪市中央区西心斎橋2-8-33 Osaka Center Bldg. 2F

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Bar and Dining Vano

Atmosphere: 5
Drinks: 3
Prices: 4
Fun: 3
Food: ?
Pick-up: ?
A stylish bar with a chic feel that’s best visited in groups or used for parties and other get-togethers, this is a good place to go before hitting the clubs. The drinks are good and priced quite well.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<
URL: http://jk-c.jp/vano/ (mostly Japanese)

  • 06-6258-1088 / 大阪市中央区西心斎橋1-9-16 大京心斎橋第2ビル2F

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Blarney Stone

Atmosphere: 3
Drinks: 4
Prices: 3
Fun: 4
Food: ?
Pick-up: 4
An Irish pub that opened its Shinsaibashi branch in 2010, this place has a good mix of expats and local Kansai residents for a fun, international feel. There are a number of beers on tap, and the staff are quite friendly. This is also a good place to meet new people, see live music events, or simply hang out with your friends.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<
URL: http://www.the-blarney-stone.com/shinsaibashi

  • 06-6484-2220 / 大阪市中央区東心斎橋2-5-27 幸田ビルB1

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Blow Bar

Atmosphere: 5
Drinks: 3
Prices: 3
Fun: 3
Food: 3
Pick-up: 2
A Jamaican-style bar with a chilled-out atmosphere, Blow Bar is best visited in groups and on weekends, and it’s especially good for birthday parties or large get-togethers thanks to its large tables and spacious interior. The staff are friendly and the drinks decent, making this a good place to spend a night chatting, or just a place to stop in at before hitting up the clubs of Namba or Amemura.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<
URL: http://blow-bar.com/ (Japanese)

  • 06-6211-4300 / 大阪市中央区西心斎橋2-8-33 アメ村スクエア1F

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Cafe Absinthe

Atmosphere: 4
Drinks: 5
Prices: 2
Fun: 4
Food: 5
Pick-up: 3
Gourmet, drinks, parties–Cafe Absinthe has it all. This fine establishment specializes in Mediterranean fusion cuisine (the cooks here are amazing), and it also sports a wide selection of imported European absinthe that will knock you down flat. The food is up to Horie standards (it used to be located in Kita-Horie, and is now located in Yotsubashi), yet the prices are quite reasonable. Along with the wide assortment of absinthe, don’t forget to try their mojito, which is the best I’ve found in Osaka. They use their basement-level rooms as a club on event nights (usually held on weekends), and they also bring in DJs often–I highly suggest checking one of these events out. Cafe Absinth also makes a great date spot on quieter weekday nights.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<

  • 06-6534-6635 / 大阪市西区北堀江1-2-27 サウス四ツ橋ビル1F

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ChicaIchi

Atmosphere: 3
Drinks: 3
Prices: 5
Fun: 4
Food: 3
Pick-up: 1
A little-known bar between Daikokucho and Namba tucked away under the expressway, this cozy underground bar is an expat magnet, full of regulars who area always welcoming to newcomers. The atmosphere is laid-back and the English-speaking bartender/owner is fun to chat with. Probably my favorite part about this bar is the prices: all drinks, even cocktails, are only 200 yen a glass!
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<

  • 06-6644-0451 / 大阪市浪速区難波中2-8-71 B2

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Covent Garden

Atmosphere: 3
Drinks: 3
Prices: 3
Fun: 3
Food: 5
Pick-up: ?
This is hands-down the best place in Osaka to get a burger–and let me make it clear that, as an American (a picky one) in Japan, I rarely find burgers that are even acceptable. They also serve a variety of other Western-style foods as well, including veggie burgers, cheese fries, nachos, pizza, and wraps, as well as a few Japanese dishes. And let’s not forget their wide selection of imported beers and other cocktails. The bar’s atmosphere is also good: foosball and darts are available, as is free Internet, and the lower level has couches you can lounge on. The staff are also friendly, making this one of the best places to chill out in Osaka.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<
URL: http://coventgarden-jp.net/ (Japanese)

  • 06-4391-3177 / 大阪市西区北堀江2-5-10 松枝ビル1F

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Game Bar Continue

Atmosphere: 3
Drinks: 3
Prices: 3
Fun: 5
Food: ?
Pick-up: 0
This is a unique video-game-themed bar that, most likely, only men will be interested in. They have every system imaginable, from the Atari days to present, including rare items such as the NES Power Glove, Super Scope 6, Virtual Boy and more. You can play these games for an hourly cost, but it’s fairly reasonable, as are the drink prices. The customers tend to be of the otaku variety, but that can be fun in its own way, especially because the small size and personal feel of this bar make not talking to other people nearly unavoidable. Bottom line: if you grew up in the NES/SNES days, this bar is a must-see. The hours are somewhat irregular, as the owner sometimes closes it randomly. Also, the bar can be a bit hard to find–once you reach the building shown on the map below (or according to the address below), go inside and walk through the interior hallway until you see it.
URL: http://continue.uijin.com (Japanese)
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<

  • 06-6121-2800 / 大阪市中央区西心斎橋2-9-5 三ツ寺会館1F奥

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Hub British Pub

Atmosphere: 4
Drinks: 4
Prices: 4
Fun: 4
Food: 5
Pick-up: 3
Hub was my first regular bar in Japan, starting with the Takadanobaba shop in my student days, and it’s the first place I gravitated to when moving to Osaka. This is one of the places I frequent the most—I’ve even met some of my best friends in Japan at the Hub. Their wide variety of drinks, well-made strong cocktails at good prices (upgrade to Jumbo Size for extra value), and lovely fish and chips and other greasy food make for a good overall experience. You can chill out here during quieter weekday happy hours, or come on weekends and event days for a more lively atmosphere. Soccer match days are especially fun. The underground Ebisubashi branch is a little cozier, and has a nice hidden-away feel to it; the Ole branch is more like a giant sports bar (best to come in groups); and the Shinsaibashi branch has an open layout with long couches and a view of Midosuji, making for a comfortable atmosphere where it’s easy to talk to new people.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<
URL: pub-hub.com (Japanese)

  • Ebisubashi Branch: 06-6630-0520 / 大阪市中央区難波3-6-4 平和園ビルB1
  • The Ole Branch: 06-6644-8333 / 大阪市中央区千日前2-8-17 なんばダ・オーレ(オリエンタルホテル)3F
  • Shinsaibashi Branch: 06-6211-8286 / 大阪市中央区心斎橋筋2-6-14 アクロスビル2F

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Little Long Beach

Atmosphere: 4
Drinks: 4
Prices: 3
Fun: 5
Food: 4
Pick-up: 3
Owned by an enterprising Californian (hence the bar’s name) who runs the place along with his friendly staff, Little Long Beach (LLB for short) spills out onto the street on Yotsubashi-suji near Namba Station. The atmosphere here is warm and lively, and most who visit once will become regulars. This is a place where you can make friends instantly and truly experience the warmth of Osaka residents.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<

  • 06-6635-2332 / 大阪市浪速区難波中1-1-10

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Murphy’s

Atmosphere: 2
Drinks: 3
Prices: 3
Fun: 3
Food: ?
Pick-up: ?
This is an Irish pub located in Shinsaibashi that’s quite popular among area expats. I don’t personally go to this place often, but many of my friends a lot of others in Osaka do, especially those who don’t speak Japanese well (it’s very much a “gaijin bar”), so I’ve included it on the list. Check it out for yourself if you’re interested in meeting other local teachers and the like.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<
URL: http://www.murphysosaka.com/english.html

  • 06-6282-0677 / 大阪市中央区東心斎橋1-6-31 リードプラザ心斎橋6F

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ROCK ROCK

Atmosphere: 4
Drinks: 3
Prices: 3
Fun: 5
Food: ?
Pick-up: 4
A hybrid bar-club, this place has a more friendly, small-bar atmosphere on weekdays, and dancing to ear-bleeding music on Saturdays with people packed in wall-to-wall. The music here is great, partly because it is all the heavy rock I grew up loving as well as any newer rock that’s worth listening to. Furthermore, any famous foreign band that comes through Osaka almost always pops in here after their gig, so drop by if you want to meet someone famous on concert nights (check out their visitor list if you don’t believe me). There is a cover to get in, but it’s not steep and includes free drinks. This is one of my favorite places in Osaka, and there is no other bar or club like it.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<
URL: http://www.rockrock.co.jp/ (Japanese)

  • 06-6244-6969 / 大阪市中央区西心斎橋1-8-1 心斎橋アトリウムビル3F

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Rug Time Osaka

Atmosphere: 4
Drinks: 3
Prices: 2
Fun: 5
Food: ?
Pick-up: 1
Located along Midosuji between Namba and Shinsaibashi Stations, this little jazz bar is open late and provides a fun place to see live music, or perform with the house band on open mic nights if you feel so bold. For a change of pace and a chance to see local pros as well as up-and-coming young jazz musicians, check out Rug Time.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<

  • 06-6214-5306 / 大阪市中央区心斎橋筋2-6-14 アクロスビル4F

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Zerro

Atmosphere: 4
Drinks: 4
Prices: 2
Fun: 5
Food: 4
Pick-up: 5
This is another one of my favorites because the staff is welcoming, the cocktails are expertly made and strong, and the atmosphere is great for hanging out with friends or meeting new people. You can also get American cocktails here that rarely appear in Japan, such as Tokyo Iced Tea and AMF. If you are looking to go to Sam and Dave’s, this is the place where people tend to drink before heading across the street to the club. Saturdays are best, when they play excellent music, and DJ events are often held to spice things up. The food here is also excellent, especially the “roast dinner” offered on Fridays. While you can chill out here and talk with local expats on weekdays, the best time to come is on the weekend near or around last train time, when things really pick up.
>> COMPLETE BAR MAP <<

  • 06-6211-0439 / 大阪市中央区心斎橋筋2-3-2

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Guest Reviews and List Expansion

I am always looking to expand and update the list, but I only have so much time and money to go out drinking! So I’m hope to get guest reviews of the following places from people who frequent them at least somewhat often: Blue Billabong, Bar Scorpion, Wax69, L&L, B-Trip, Safari, Hafez, Dublin Bay, and Mambo Bar Latino. I reserve the right to proofread and edit entries before posting them, and reject entries that are business-related plugs or overly biased. Please follow my style (same ratings, approximately same length of description) and try to be as objective as possible. I will gladly give credit to anyone whose submission is posted (unless you prefer to remain anonymous), and can also put a link to your website if you have one.

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