Shokudo (食堂, shokudō) are casual restaurants or cafeterias that serve a variety of inexpensive Japanese dishes. Many of them are mom-and-pop, hole-in-the-wall type restaurants where the locals eat. They are numerous across Japan in urban centers and on the countryside. They are also often found around tourist sites, making them a natural option for many foreign travelers, as well.
A meal at a shokudo usually cost around 500 to 1500 yen. The menus vary between establishments, but they commonly include noodle dishes such as udon, soba and ramen; rice dishes such as donburi and curry rice; and set meals (teishoku) which include a main dish such as grilled fish, sashimi or tempura in combination with a bowl of rice, miso soup and pickles. Water or tea is provided for free, while a selection of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages is also usually available.
Many shokudo offer little in the way of English (except around tourist sites frequented by foreign travelers). Sometimes they will have food samples near the entrance that you can use to order from, but the menus are often handwritten in Japanese and do not usually have pictures. In some cases the menu may be written on pieces of paper hung on the walls. Most shokudo offer Western-style tables, sometimes alongside Japanese-style, low tables on tatami floor.