Minsk is a huge city full of local and international restaurants these days, yet it somehow remains one of the least visited capital cities in Europe. The bonus is that you get to sample a whole range of unique and enticing Belarusian dishes without the distraction of hordes of tourists. Test the expertise of the city’s chefs by dining out at these exquisite, welcoming and appetising restaurants.
Lido is a typical traditional Belarusian restaurant in the style of a canteen or a large buffet. It has been famous for generations as a friendly, cheap and consistent restaurant in the city where you can get great food. Walk in hungry and always leave satisfied and full. You can try the cold beetroot soup, cutlets and, of course, the potato pancakes, known as draniki. The prices are very cheap and the system is easy to understand – pick up a tray, pass through the buffet picking up the food you want and pay at the end.
Traktir Na Parkovoj is the finest barbecue restaurant in the city. Summer months are a real treat here at this venue, which cooks up the tastiest meat straight from the barbecue, served with fresh salads, vegetables and sauce. The venue caters for large groups and hosts many events and functions. But it’s also perfect for those wanting to sample some really well-cooked meat dishes in a traditional Belarusian restaurant with a stylish wooden design. There is plenty of seating inside and outside. Don’t be shy about indulging in the vodka – the venue has a good selection, many of which are mandatory for the locals when working their way through their cooked meat dishes.
Belarusian fine dining at its best is clear for all to see at Kamyanitsa Restaurant. The only issues you will have are which of the extremely appetising dishes to choose, and where you should sit in order to fully experience the richness of this splendid establishment. Try the Charka and Skvarka (an appetiser with baked potatoes, vegetables and vodka), the Granny Dunya’s Meat Pot (a main course with beef, ham, vegetables and sour cream) and the cinnamon fruit strudel for dessert. Drinks-wise, the selection is also unique – order the house beer, and it will be served in an old-style cup rather than a glass. It’s all part of an elegant feast in the Belarusian capital.
Vasilki is another typically Belarusian restaurant. It is actually a chain that has three locations, with the recommended one for tourists being on Praspyekt Nyezalyezhnastsi (Independence Avenue) as it is more central. Vasilki has an interesting interior design, mostly based around wood, with patterned curtains and cushions. The menu is also very traditional. There are fish dishes served on a piece of wood, circular potato pancakes and chicken served in a pan. The drinks list includes great coffee, juicy cocktails and tea.
Grai Cafe is a centrally located unique local restaurant which always gets rave reviews. The interior has flowers all over the walls. The atmosphere is pleasant, with only Belarusian music being played. There are also reproductions of Kazimir Malevich‘s artworks all over the walls, as he and Marc Chagall both taught at the nearby Vitebsk Popular Art School. Food is as typical and real as Minsk gets. Hearty soups, pork cutlets and large chicken dishes as mains plus the trademark potato pancakes all come recommended. The beer and wine selection is minimal, but many locals opt for something stronger – ask for a locally made vodka or another strong spirit that is house-made.
Kuhmistr is an authentic Belarusian restaurant based on the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. It is centrally located near the President’s Palace in Minsk. Expect carefully prepared and well-cooked dishes including potato casseroles, beetroot soup and draniki (potato pancakes). The interior has many old-school items around the walls and floors including a piano, painted plates and vinyl records. The entire experience feels like a time warp back to another time.
Not all of the best restaurants in Minsk have to be Belarusian, and this is one gem of a place worth visiting. Restoran Natvris Khe is a Georgian-style restaurant. All sorts of Georgian dishes are prepared by expert chefs here including Adjarian khachapuri andshashlik, as well as Armenian-style lahmacun. As you might imagine, excellent Georgian wine makes the menu too in a cosy and quaint little restaurant that is also family-friendly.