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Best Bars and Restaurants for a Weekend in Sapporo

This article is contributed by Graham Hill - ICHIBAN NO MACHI

As the fifth largest city in Japan, Sapporo offers visitors a unique experience with many local surprises.  With quick flights from both Haneda and Narita, Sapporo is a perfect destination for a weekend trip or a short holiday.  In this post we will provide some local suggestions for some of the best to eat and drink that Sapporo has to offer, setting you up for a perfect stay in this city.

Sapporo is in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan.  Hokkaido's New Chitose airport offers flights from all major cities in Japan, and some international locations as well.  As you step off the plane, it takes about an hour to get into the city of Sapporo (easily accessible by train, bus, or rented car).  While there are hotels all throughout Sapporo and the neighboring cities, if you stay in downtown Sapporo (or off the any of the major train lines that take you into Odori or Sapporo stations), you'll be a great position to try many of Sapporo's special places.

Let's say you made plans for three days and two nights in Sapporo. You booked a daytime flight into New Chitose and a hotel room near Sapporo station. You arrive at 2 PM. New Chitose is a small airport, so it's easy to collect your bags. Taking the JR train from the airport would be a good way to get into the city.  You get off the JR line at Sapporo station, and walk or take a cab to your hotel.  You check in, relax a little, and then you're ready to go out and explore Sapporo.

For your first night in Sapporo

You have so many choices. If you want something central, something a little more traditional and Japanese, Sushi Aburiya Odori (on the 4th floor of the Bisse building) might be a good way to start the weekend.  Sushi Aburiya Odiri is a comfortable place, with a nice counter where you can watch them cook.  With a reservation you might be able to book a table with a perfect view down onto Odori park. For something more western, The Meat Shop is just up the street. For dinner they do steaks at a very high level (including different kinds of Japanese beef), in an atmosphere that is both casual and cool at the same time.

The Meat Shop - Kobe beef steak

On your first night, after dinner, you might try one of many special bars closer to Susukino station.  There is a famous jazz bar called Bossa on the 2nd floor of a building near that station that serves great cocktails and plays jazz records.  For something a little less well known, Owl and Rooster is a few blocks away, on the 6th floor of a high-rise; a tiny place, where the owner pours expensive, but beautiful cocktails.  After your drink, you could easily catch a cab back to Sapporo station (or make your way back to the Susukino station and take the train).  You could get some rest, and get ready for day #2.

For lunch on your second day

You might start by deciding if you want to try some local food.

From Obihiro (another Hokkaido town, a few hours away to the east) comes butadon, pork donburi (broiled pork served over rice).  There are many butadon places in Sapporo, the most famous of which is called Tokachi Butadon Ippin and is on the 6th floor of the shopping mall Stellar Place in Sapporo Station.  The atmosphere is very practical, maybe a little crowded and loud, but they do make a simple and delicious butadon.

Tokachi Butadon Ippin - Pork plate combo

Even more famous as a local cuisine, soup curry is a Sapporo favorite for visitors and locals alike.  Soup Curry Garaku may be the most famous spot for soup curry in Sapporo, and that will become obvious as you see the very long line to get a table.  If you want to make better use of your time on a short trip, Soup Curry Treasure is their sister-store, offering the same flavors. Treasure is a few minutes away, and it's usually much easier to get a seat (but you might still wait a while).  For a very local experience, Delhi is a "mom and pop" soup curry restaurant in the same neighborhood, that does soup curry with an Indian influence.

Soup Curry Garaku - Chicken top

If you like to eat where the locals eat, there are great Hamburg steaks and a beautiful experience at Hamburg Steak North Continent.  For the best hamburgers in Sapporo, Jacksonville has three locations and makes truly excellent American hamburgers.  For something more unusual, there are Italian sandwiches at Sandwich and Wine Yuutsuna Mokuyobi (a short walk from Maruyama station).  In that same neighborhood, Spatacos does "California style" tacos and can make for a perfect experience (if his little shop is open; his hours are irregular).  For one more option in Maruyama, Jahd Pul has the best Indian food in Sapporo, and is open for lunch on weekends (usually, check his Facebook page to be sure).

Hamburg Steak North - Continent Sapporo hamburg

Jacksonville - Mexican burger

Spatacos - Mexican tacos

Jhad Pul - Light thali

Sandwich and Wine Yuutsuna Mokuyobi - Roast beef

That afternoon you might make a day trip to Otaru, head south to see an exhibit at the Sapporo Art Museum, or spend some time in one of Sapporo's many beautiful parks (Odori Park, Nakajima Park, and Maruyama Park, are all special places).

As evening approaches, you're ready for another night out.

For dinner on Saturday

Again, so many excellent choices for bars and restaurants in Sapporo.If you like Italian, Agora at Tanukikouji 1 Chome has wonderful food, and some of the best pizza in Sapporo.  Across Sosei Park from Agora, Sessione is hidden spot (behind the fish market); more expensive, but is an exceptional option for Italian.  In the same neighborhood, Salt Moderate is a "Hawaiian" restaurant, that focuses on oysters and steak.  Craft Beer Volta is another good option, with a broad menu of izakaya-style food and drinks, including a craft beer menu.  And if your Japanese is semi-fluent, New Chavez is a hip izakaya with a modern and artistic feel.  Reservations are recommended for all of those locations.

Craft Beer Volta

Craft Beer Volta - Gyoza

For a little more adventure that evening, you could go to Phred's Beer Inn Mugishutei for a special experience and imported craft beer.  Or stop by Miss Jamaica for a mojito and some roots reggae.

Beer Inn Mugishutei - Pint beer

For your last morning in Sapporo

You might head back to Sapporo's Stellar Place, and have a delicious breakfast at J.S. Pancake Cafe.  If you bring your bags, you could take the elevator downstairs and be at the JR train in a few minutes. Get there as they open to avoid the line (they get crowded quickly, and breakfast can take a while).

J.S. Pancake Cafe

Sapporo has too much to offer to do it all in one weekend, but after you've sampled some of what this city has to offer, we're sure you'll be excited to come back again.

Find More Restaurants and Bars in Sapporo

There are many more recommended restaurants beyond those listed above! Please check out for more options.