1. Hotel Cucule: Any hotel that provides cult-chic uniforms for its guests instead of robes is A-OK in our book.
2. Euglena Garden: This cute cafe/bar is a temple to euglena, which Wikipedia appetizingly describes as a “genus of single-celled flagellate protists.” We think it’s sort of like algae? Our euglena slushie was delish, but we opted to skip the euglena Oreo ice cream.
3. Sumibiyakiniku Yamamoto: Beef place #1, charcoal grills. Come early for the best cuts.
4. Kingyu: Beef place #2, gas grills. Not as atmospheric as Sumibiyakiniku, but we preferred the actual meat here.
5. Penguin Shokudo: This adorbs restaurant specializing in noodle and rice bowls is owned by Ishigaki’s culinary power couple, the Penguins. She hails from Tokyo, he from China, and their artisanal, small-batch chili oil is lauded throughout Japan. Seriously, there’s a waiting list.
Their story was even made into a biopic a couple of years ago called Penguin Fufu. Cross-cultural love, scrappy entrepreneurship, lots of food porn—this story has everything.
6. Yaeyama Style: Noodle shop with a nifty vending machine ordering system. When we arrived, the place was packed with uniformed students from the local high school, slurping and taking selfies.
7. Misushi: Even though, somehow, sushi isn’t big on Ishigaki, there is some around, and this is a great place to get some—fresh fish, flawless tempura, lovely owner.
8. Mirumiru: Ice cream
9. Parlor Sango: Teeny cafe serving light bites and shave ice. Also home to the Egg Project, a 100+ year old traditional house converted into a pop-up space and sometimes yoga studio.