Ah, yes: “Where shall we eat?” It’s one of the most touchy subjects to discuss with your friends or family when you are out and about in the heart of St. Petersburg, especially if no one in your group speaks Russian. In the heat of your discussion, someone is bound to say that he or she is tired of eating at the ‘stolovaya’ (Russian canteen) and that the American fast-food chain is just too familiar and mainstream. Then you also have that one person who decides to be vegetarian or vegan, for a week. After much deliberation with your group about where to eat, look no further. We came up with a diverse list, in no particular order, of ten of the best places to eat, categorised by different ethnic cuisines.
1. Botanika - Italian, Indian, Russian and Japanese
Food you must try: Coconut ice-cream
As the oldest vegetarian restaurant in St. Petersburg, Botanika offers well-presented and delicious food that may even convert non-vegetarians to vegetarians! The dining space, which is comprised of circular, wooden tables and chairs with vine-green sofas and larger tables next to the windows, is quite small, but the atmosphere is cosy and well-lit. Botanika boasts freshly-made food and has over 100 items on the menu. If you are purely vegan, their staff will happily accommodate you! And for non-vegetarians, if you decide to have a clean eating regime for one day in St. Petersburg, Botanika is your kingdom. But the desserts might tempt you - we recommend you order the heavenly and luscious coconut ice-cream.
Address: ulitsa Pestelya, 7, St. Petersburg , 191028
Opening Hours: For normal hours, 11am - midnight (last order at 11pm) and for summer hours, 11am - 1am
Access: 15 minutes walk from Chernyshevskaya Metro
Contact: +7 8122727091
2. Jack & Chan - American and Asian
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Food you must try: Chicken and shrimp pad Thai
The name sounds like a spin-off of the legendary actor from Hong Kong, Jackie Chan. The food, however, has no relation to the actor himself but the restaurant serves both Asian and American cuisine. Unfortunately for Americans, the choices are limited to two different types of burgers (the infamous Jack and Chan burgers) and the New York cheesecake. But when it comes to Asian cuisine, you can choose from their spicy, coconut tom yam soup and their chicken and shrimp pad Thai. Jack & Chan is one of the many favourite places amongst international students of the language school across the street, in St. Petersburg. With a contemporary twist on food and interior design, Jack & Chan welcomes not only students but all who love southeast Asian cuisine.
Jack & Chan
Address: ul. Inzhenernaya, 7, St. Petersburg, Russia, 191011
Opening Hours: Mondays to Thursdays, 11am - 12am, Fridays and Saturdays, 11am - 2am
Access: 8 min walk from Gostiny Dvor Metro
Contact: +7 8129820535
Facebook: Jack & Chan
3. Cat Cafe - Georgian
Food you must try: Khachapuri Adzharian (Georgian flat cheese bread with fried egg)
The name of this restaurant can be misleading and make people think there are real, live cats in this restaurant. But in all honesty, you will only see that the interior design is cat-themed. Here in St. Petersburg, Georgian cuisine is a real specialty and the Cat Café lives up to its authenticity. Dine here for a quiet and intimate atmosphere, furthermore, their dishes are great value for the money and staff have been highly commended for their quick attendance and warm hospitality.
Address: ul. Stremyannaya 22/3, St. Petersburg 191025
Opening Hours: 9am - 6pm. Closed on public holidays.
Access: 3 minute walk from Mayakovskaya Metro
Contact: +7 8125713377
Website: Cat Cafe (in Russian)
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4. Marketplace -International
Food you must try: Grilled ‘shashlik’ (kebab)
The two branches of Marketplace, situated on Nevsky Prospekt, are always bustling and crowded during lunch and early evening hours. The restaurant features buffet-style food. Some sections are self-service, but there are a few that includes their chefs and staff in front of their stations, ready to serve their hungry guests. It will take a while for you to decide what to eat once you step into the centre of the market-like restaurant. But we recommend the charcoal barbecued chicken, famously known as ‘shashlik,’ which is garnished with sesame oil dressing.
Address: Nevsky Prospekt, 24, St. Petersburg 191186
Opening Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 8:30am to 5:30am, Mondays 8:30am to 1am
Access: 7 minute walk from Nevskiy Prospekt Metro
Contact: +7 9818544833
5. Soviet Cafe Kvartirka - Russian
Food you must try: Pelmeni (dumplings that usually consist of minced meat filling)
Situated on Malaya Sadovaya Avenue, hidden on one of the most secluded street corners away from Nevsky Prospekt, Kvartirka is distinctively nostalgia for baby boomers, today. When you walk into the cafe, the interior replicates the style of typical households during the Soviet era. Try any of Kvartirka’s flavoured dumplings, or as they call it here, ‘pelmeni.’ They are generally tasty and you can feel that the texture is freshly-prepared. Most locals top pelmeni with piquant sour cream.
Soviet Cafe Kvartirka
Address: Malaya Sadovaya ul., 1 Saint Petersburg 191023
Opening Hours: Mondays to Thursdays, and Sundays, 12pm - 1am; Closed on Fridays and Saturdays
Access: 3 minute walk from Gostiny Dvor Metro
Contact: +7 8129006550
Website: Soviet Cafe Kvartirka
6. Pirogoviy Dvorik - Russian
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Food you must try: Chicken and mushroom pie
The essence of Russian pies, or pirozhki, has a great influence across central Asia and Greece, during the Soviet era and its popularity has continued to thrive until this day. Since its establishment in 2005, Pirogoviy Dvorik has been known for their high-quality range of pies as comfort food. While most people fry these pirozhki, the staff of Pirgoviy Dvorik bake their pies.
Address: Griboyedov canal embankment, 22 St. Petersburg 191011
Opening Hours: Mondays to Fridays, 9am - 11pm. Weekends, 10am - 11pm.
Access: 5 minute walk from Nevskiy Prospekt
Contact: +7 8123100160
Website: Pirogoviy Dvorik
7. Le Pain Quotidien - French
Food you must try: French pastry basket
Le Pain Quotidien, also known as ‘Hleb Nasushni,’ meaning daily bread in Russian, is a bakery-restaurant originally founded in Brussels, in 1990 and has since become a renowned, international chain. Their bread is freshly made with organic ingredients and elegantly displayed in their front windows. Invite your friend or colleague along for brunch and order their basket with an array of wholesome croissants and a selection of plain, butter and sweet flavours. The basket is value for money as you will also receive two americanos.
Le Pain Quotidien
Address: Nevsky Prospekt, 5, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 191186
Opening Hours: Mondays to Thursdays and Sundays, 8am - 10pm. Fridays and Saturdays, 8am - 11pm.
Access: 2 minute walk from Admiralteyskaya Metro
Contact: +7 8126020210
Website: Le Pain Quotidien (in Russian)
8. Karavan Sarai - Uzbek
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Food you must try: Plov (rice slowly and heartily cooked in broth)
If you are looking for a restaurant that provides great service and an authentic Uzbek experience, it is right here at Karavan Sarai. From its distinguishable Oriental interior design to Uzbek music in the background and the occasional Uzbek belly-dancing performance, the restaurant truly takes you into a different world. Taste their national dish, plov, a rice dish cooked with tasty lamb cubes, carrots, chickpeas and flavoured with aromatic spices. You can also taste their ayran, a sour yoghurt drink garnished with mint leaves - an exotic delight.
Address: Ul. Nekrasova, 1 Saint Petersburg 191014
Opening Hours: Mondays to Sundays, 12pm - 12:30am.
Access: 15 minute walk from Chernyshevskaya Metro
Contact: +7 8122734205
Website: Karavan Sarai (in Russian)
9. Sunduk Art Cafe - Russian and European
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Food you must try: Rassolnik, a traditional Russian soup made with pickles, barley and giblets.
The most distinguishable feature about Sunduk Art-Café is not actually the food, but its peculiar atmosphere as it combines ocean-themed interiors and live music in different music genres, every weekend. Guests are welcome to enjoy the mini dance floor. If you are daring when it comes to trying new food, taste the wholesome rassolnik soup.
Sunduk Art Cafe
Address: Furshtatskaya ul., 42, Saint Petersburg, 191123
Opening Hours: Mondays to Fridays, 10am - 12am. Weekend, 11am - 12am
Access: 3 minute walk from Chernyshevskaya Metro
Contact: +7 8122723100
Website: Sunduk Art Cafe
10. Teremok -Russian Pancake House
Food you must try: Choose any of the savoury or sweet ‘bliny’ (Russian pancake)
Here, in Russia, it goes without saying that foreigners should visit the famous Teremok and try their savoury or sweet ‘bliny’ (little Russian pancakes) at least once in their lifetime. The origin of the name, translated into English, means “small hideaway,” and traces back to a Russian fairytale. As you will notice in its colourful interior, the eatery aims to appeal to children. Adults, however, claim they have a love-hate relationship with Teremok’s pancakes. With approximately 200 branches across St. Petersburg and Moscow, the fact that Teremok operates like a fast-food chain may be off-putting. However, their hearty pancakes are a guilty pleasure for older people.
Address: Liteyniy avenue, 22, St. Petersburg 191028
Opening Hours: Mondays to Sundays, 7.30am - 11pm.
Access: 10 minute walk from Chernyshevskaya Metro
Contact: +7 8123632332
Website: Teremok (in Russian)
Our suggestions as food for thought
No matter where you are from, St. Petersburg offers everyone the best of both worlds when dining out, with its great selection of Russian and global cuisine. From Russia’s curiosity and love of international flavours to their full devotion to simple yet wholesome, local cuisine, foreigners will appreciate St. Petersburg’s undeniably vibrant selection of restaurants, cafes and Teremok outlets. So, try something new with your family and friends - you may be in for an exciting and delicious surprise.
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