So, what exactly is a family restaurant on Okinawa?
It can be hard to draw a line between what is a family restaurant and what is not. One online dictionary briefly describes it as a restaurant that families can use casually. Hundreds of restaurants on Okinawa would match that description. But when it comes to restaurants that truly deserve the nickname “famiresu,” the list may not be so long. If the definition of the word is chain/franchise restaurants with various menu items for reasonable prices, push-buttons for ordering, and soda fountain system called a “Drink Bar,” the list will likely be as follows:
Café Restaurant Gusto
Notes: There are 12 Gusto restaurants on Okinawa according to the company’s website. Two of them are on route 58 near Camp Foster and Camp Kinser. Their popular menu item “Cheese-filled hamburger steak” has been often advertised on TV.
• Gusto Chatan near Camp Foster: (Hours 7 - 3 a.m.)
• Gusto Urasoe near Camp Kinser: (Open 24 hours)
Notes: Although known as one of the major family restaurant franchises in Japan, it waited until 2015 to open its first restaurant on Okinawa. In addition to its signature western-style menu items such as steak, rice omelet, and hamburger, several limited menu items were introduced by using local food such as aguu pork and goya (bitter melon).
• Royal Host Okinawa Rycom Mall near Camp Foster: (Weekday Hours 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Holidays 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Notes: Based on a concept that a cowboy family in Texas treats customers to a home-cooked meal, this family restaurant mainly serves steak and hamburger cooked with Certified Angus Beef. The Cowboy Family restaurant in Rycom mall is the only one on Okinawa. Waiters are dressed like cowboys or cowgirls – hats and all.
• Cowboy Family Okinawa Rycom Mall near Camp Foster: (Hours 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.)
Notes: There are 10 Joyfull restaurants on Okinawa. Most of them are open 24 hours a day except the one in San-A Convention City. A variety of menu items, especially hamburgers are available for reasonable prices.
• Joyfull Ooyama near Camp Foster and MCAS Futenma: (Open 24 hours)
• Joyfull Okinawa Convention City near MCAS Futenma: Hours 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.)
• Joyfull Maehara near MCAS Futenma: (Open 24 hours)
Notes: A local chain owned by San-A. As the name suggests, a variety of Japanese dishes are available. There are many lunch plates with tempura, sushi or sashimi.
• Wafutei Hamby Town near Camp Foster: (Hours 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.)
• Wafutei Okinawa Convention City near MCAS Futenma: (Hours 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.)
Notes: A franchise of family restaurants that focuses on Japanese dishes. Known for many menu items with fish. For rice, customers can choose from white, five grain, and rice seasoned by brown seaweed.
• Ootoya Ginowa near MCAS Futenma: (Hours 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.)
Ootoya Chatan near Camp Foster: (Hours 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.)
• Ootoya Noborikawa near Kadena Air Base: (Hours 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.)
Notes: A restaurant franchise that offers casual-style Italian cuisine. Most menu items come in a large size for family-style dining. Party plans are available.
• Capricciosa Chatan Mihama near Camp Foster and Kadena Air Base: (Weekday Hours 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m., Fri./Sat. Hours 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.)
Notes: Known for serving steaks with heated stone so customers can reheat their meat. Other menu items include hamburger, spaghetti and pizza. “Doraemon,” a famous Japanese cartoon character serves as a mascot.
• COCO’S Aeon Gushikawa near Awase Communication Facility (Hours 10 – 2 a.m.)
Notes: Known for its various menu items with hamburger. The interior of the restaurant has a log cabin look like something from a western movie. Many restaurants are open late, including the one near Camp Foster, which closes at 2 a.m.
• Bikkuri Donkee Hamby Chatan: (hours 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.)
Tomato & Onion
Notes: A family restaurant franchise based in Kansai-area. There is only one Tomato & Onion restaurant on Okinawa. Hamburgers, steaks, and pastas are their main menu items.
• Tomato & Onion Yasuoka Naha: (Open 11 – 1 a.m.)