Thanks to the introduction of visa-free travel to the Grodno region of Belarus, this city has seen a recent tourist boom. This gives intrepid travellers the chance to experience some excellent Belarusian food in the city’s numerous restaurants. At the same time, there are also quite a few international options, ensuring that Grodno (also written as Hrodna) has no shortage of choices at mealtime. Most of these cosy establishments are also within walking distance of the city’s main sights.
Korolevskaya Ohota, which translates as ‘Royal Hunting’ is a truly upmarket, exquisite restaurant perfect for a banquet. This is Belarusian fine dining at its best. Korolevskaya Ohota is housed in a 19th-century historical building on Ozeshko Street. As well as offering sensational food in an elegant setting with luxury seating, the restaurant also attracts those into architecture due to the venue’s grandeur, with a rich maroon and gold colour scheme consistent throughout. It hosts corporate events and weddings, but you can also simply pop in for an unforgettable dinner or lunch, and drink vodka long into the night, like a king.
One of the best restaurants in Grodno is part of the city’s Neman Hotel. It is open to the public and has some cosy booths, a long bar with stools and a cellar area. The menu has a range of local and international options. From Belarus, try the potato pancakes, fermented oat soup or roast poultry casserole. For your foreign options, the duck breast and apple flan served in sweet and sour ‘Porto’ sauce is a great option, as are the fish dishes. The beer choice includes Belarusian beers but also some interesting foreign imports including Murphy’s Irish Stout.
A little bit of England right in Grodno is evident at the somewhat swanky London Pub. It has leather seats, a wooden bar and a huge London underground map on the ceiling. Prices here tend to be a bit higher than in the more local pubs, but you get the treat of some British and Irish beers on tap, English pub food and live football. London Pub also attracts a good mix of locals, expatriates and tourists, so it’s a good place to mingle. This is your option if you want some pub grub such as fish and chips, burgers and salads.
For superb views of Grodno, with a huge range of tasty food, look no further than the Bolshoi Buffet. Housed on the top floor of a shopping mall on the city’s swanky Soviet Street, this is one of the finest places to dine. You head up on the lift, where you will find a large room with a buffet at the back. The buffet has a large range of Belarusian and international food. Expect to fill up three separate dishes – one for salad, one for vegetables and set dishes and a third one for meat. The salads are great, as are the beef burger with egg and some sumptuous rice and pasta dishes, which ensure you won’t go hungry here. The venue is licensed and serves a nice range of local and imported beers. There is Wi-Fi within, and the prices are very reasonable – definitely one of the best restaurants in Grodno.
On a prominent corner near Lenin Square on the popular Soviet Street sits a cosy little venue known as The Tavern. Here, you can try some of the finest Belarusian dishes as well as a range of beers on tap and some local vodka. It is a very popular spot at weekends for lunch and dinner and has a cosy, warm traditional interior. Try the local ale, the Old Bobby, and the Solyanka soup – it’s delicious.
Situated within a five-minute walk from the train station and just opposite the bus station, Putnik is an absolutely perfect restaurant to experience how a typical Belarusian canteen works. It’s cheap, the food is cooked fresh, it’s sociable and it’s how the locals love to eat and meet. On the way in to Putnik, you remove your jacket and join the queue for food. It’s a buffet selection, and you just tell the staff what dishes you want. The cutlets are recommended as are the delicious salads and soups. The menu changes each day. To accompany your typical canteen-style food, try a tea or a coffee for the non-alcoholic option, or grab a local beer from the fridge to wash it down. A meal in Sputnik with a drink, starter and main course shouldn’t cost more than US$3.
For some great local food overlooking the banks of the Neman River, look no further than Korchma U Prichala. This is situated on the riverside path by the river and serves up delicious Belarusian food including hearty beetroot soup, pork cutlets and beef stew. The restaurant becomes much livelier in the summer months and has a beer garden. It’s a good place to go at night with friends for a large dinner and some vodka or beer.