The bright blue domes of the popular Uzbek restaurant Alasha can be spotted from a distance. Tucked away from the city centre, the restaurant, built according to Timurid architectural traditions and style, has rapidly become one of the best-loved dining spots in Almaty. The menu offers traditional Uzbek cuisine, including the signature dish of wedding plov, a delicious main course consisting of lamb, rice, chickpeas, raisins, carrots, and garlic. The plov is cooked on an open fire in gigantic iron cauldrons, and accompanied by achik-chuchuk, a salad made of fresh tomato, herbs, and pickled onions. Beginning at 9 p.m. every evening, meals are accompanied by live Uzbek music and traditional dance.
Alasha, Ospanov Street 20, Almaty, Kazakhstan, +7 727 254 07 00
A staple of Almaty’s restaurant scene, the chic and sophisticated Bellagio restaurant features both modern Italian cuisine and traditional Central Asian dishes. Situated in the nature park of Medeo, the restaurant offers a spectacular view over Almaty, a fresh breeze from the surrounding mountains, and a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of the city. The restaurant’s diverse menu, including delicious Italian pasta, juicy steaks cooked over a charcoal grill, as well as spicy langman and hearty kebabs, caters to every culinary whim. The beautiful, romantic and prize-winning interior décor ensures a luxurious and relaxed ambience. The restaurant also offers high-quality cognac and Cuban cigars.
Bellagio, Gornaya Street 197, Almaty, Kazakhstan, +7 727 386 79 60
No list of Almaty’s best eateries would be complete without Chukotka, a laid-back restaurant and bar, a favourite of the city’s trendy crowd. Providing a busy schedule of music shows on the weekends, this is the place where Almaty’s new bands perform live. On the first floor of Chukotka is a modern dining area, which serves a variety of Central Asian, Russian and European dishes, and a bar with a dance floor. On the second level is a dacha (summer house), which acts as a coffeehouse on weekdays and a bar on weekends. Situated inside the stunning Panfilovtsev Park, Chukotka has become an essential part of Almaty’s social life.
Chukotka, 40 Gogol Street, Almaty, Kazakhstan, +7 727 273 39 74
A proud winner of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2014, the trendy and hip Coffeedelia is the perfect choice for a lazy afternoon outing with friends – to engage in the latest gossip and people-watch. This upscale yet laid-back coffeehouse offers not only a perfectly roasted coffee, freshly squeezed juice or refreshing cup of tea, but also several tasty breakfast and light lunch options, as well as quick nibbles in between. Coffeedelia’s menu ranges from a hearty dish of fried eggs with bacon, to classic thin-crust pizza and fresh Caesar salad, to classic New York cheese cake, delicious brownies and light French pastries.
Coffedelia, Kabanbay Batyra Street 79, Almaty, Kazakhstan, +7 727 272 64 09
Centrally located and with a sister branch near Central Stadium, the restaurant Entrecote features a range of contemporary cuisine, including wide range of classic French, Italian, Russian and Kazakh dishes. This vibrant and lively restaurant, with a charming interior design echoing traditional European bistros, specialises in meat dishes, especially steaks. The restaurant serves a three-course business lunch on weekdays and has live music on weekend evenings. The menu highlights include a juicy pepper steak and shashlik, as well as sizzling chiburekki, a national dish of the Crimean Tatars – a moon shaped deep-fried dough piece, filled with ground or minced meat and onions.
Although Gakku is not easy to find, as one of the few authentic Kazakh restaurants in the city, it is an unmissable dining experience. Spread over two dining areas, one of which is dressed as a Kazakh yurt (a traditional nomadic tent), the restaurant is famous for its large selection of top-quality traditional Kazakh dishes, including horse-meat steak (kuyrdak), an ancient Kazakh main course consisting of mutton and potatoes. However, the absolute must-try for those taking on Kazakh cuisine is the beshbarmak – a local highlight made of boiled horse-meat, served with boiled sheets of pasta and a meaty broth, thickened with kumiss (fermented horse’s milk).
Gakku, 7 Keremet, Almaty, Kazakhstan, + 7 727 315 09 67
Literally meaning a ‘wintering palace’ in Turkic languages, the cosy and laid-back Kishlak restaurant specialises in traditional Central Asian cuisine. The interiors of the three dining rooms are stunningly decorated with distinctive Central Asian motifs, and each room represents an ancient household setting: the house of a farmer, the home of a merchant, and the living room of a wealthy bai (the traditional title of a feudal master and landlord in Kazakhstan). Whilst seated at tables of low teahouse-style, diners can discover the rich, multilayered flavours of Central Asian food and select from a broad range of traditional Uzbek, Uygur and Kazakh specialties.
Kishlak, 540 Seifulina Street, Almaty, Kazakhstan, + 7 727 261 56 01
The charming and cosy Traktir Medved restaurant, which translates to ‘Bear Tavern’, is beautifully decorated in the style of a rustic Russian farmhouse, with traditional curios and colourful wooden panels on the ceilings and walls. A staple of Kazakhstan’s restaurant scene, with branches in Almaty, Astana, and Karaganda, the restaurant offers high-quality classical Russian and Ukrainian food, beginning with a substantial main course of dressed herring (made of layers of salted herring, boiled beetroot, eggs and mayonnaise), progressing to the sweet dessert of bliny, a thin pancake commonly filled with jam, honey, or cottage cheese. Other menu highlights include borshch (a traditional Ukrainian beetroot soup), and pelmeni (Russian dumplings filled with minced meat, fish or mushrooms).
Traktir Medved, 140 Kanbai Batira Street, Almaty, Kazakhstan, +7 727 267 51 30
Considered to be one of the most unique restaurants in Almaty, Wagon is stylised like a wooden train carriage, with a model of an old steam engine locomotive, a train carriage at the entry, and the sound of wheels turning played between songs. The enchanting interior is matched by the restaurant’s modern fusion of Central Asian, European and Russian cuisines. The genial chef, known as Uncle Zhena, is highly praised for his creative and genuine menu, featuring equally delicious Italian desserts and traditional Russian main courses. Located in the Almaty suburbs, the restaurant is well-loved among locals for its flawless service, delicious food and comfortable interior.
Wagon, 241 Bogenbai Batyr street, Almaty, Kazakhstan, +7 727 333 44 47
Zheti Kazyna is named in honour of the ancient belief that a Kazakh nomad possessing seven treasures (Zheti Kazyna) – a beautiful wife; a fast horse; a hunting eagle; a faithful dog; a good weapon; true courage; and a heart for cooking good food – can be considered the happiest and the luckiest amongst men. This charming high-end restaurant, decorated with traditional nomad artifacts such as Kazakh homewares, weapons, household tools and utensils, features traditional Kazakh and Central Asian food. The menu highlights include aromatic langman with fried Xinjiang gravy, classic Kazakh beshbarmak and juicy Caucasian barbecue with flat bread, baked in tandoor oven.
Abylai Khana Avenue 58A, Almaty, Kazakhstan, + 7 727 2732587