Vilnius' 10 Best Cultural Restaurants | Eating Local in Lithuania
The cobbled streets of the lively and charming capital of Lithuania hide a surprising variety of high- end restaurants / Pixabay
The cobbled streets of the lively and charming capital of Lithuania hide a surprising variety of high- end restaurants, modern eateries and laid-back cafes. From traditional hearty Lithuanian meals to Gallic fare, the rapidly transforming restaurant scene caters for every taste and budget, ranging from luxurious restaurants to quick bites at local bistros. In an update to our previous gourmet guide, we bring you 10 more of the best places to eat in Vilnius.
Restaurant, Lithuanian, $$$$
Lokys, Vilnius | Courtesy Lokys
Situated in the historic building of 15th century, once built as the home and shop of the local merchant, sophisticated and elegant Lokys restaurant features traditional Baltic cuisine. Spread over several floors, with a charming gothic cellars and open-air inner courtyard open during summer months, the restaurant offers both a la carte dining options and set menus for larger groups. From juicy slabs of wild boar, delicious beaver stew with spinach and horseradish, to quail served with cowberry-wine sauce and venison meat roasted with apples, the restaurant serves seemingly medieval yet mouth-watering game. To conclude the meal, the guests are invited to try kvass, a traditional and non-alcoholic drink made from black rye bread and caraway seed.
Tucked away from the busy streets of old town in small and quiet St. Michael street, the elegant and charming family-run restaurant Holy Mikos features a large variety of contemporary Lithuanian dishes with the occasional French twist. The elegant interior design, with oil paintings, candles and antique furnishing, as well as attentive service and relaxing music, ensures an intimate and cosy ambience. From delicious shrimp and vegetable soup, or duck confit with shredded beetroot pickle, to halibut fillet with pearl couscous and dark chocolate fondant, the restaurant caters for every culinary whim and meal of the day. A perfect choice for a mellow evening dinner or sophisticated lunch with friends.
A simple and relaxed family-owned restaurant, Bistro 18 is considered to be one of the best dining options in Vilnius. A winner of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for several years in a row, the bistro offers a large selection of contemporary international cuisine, ranging from classics like warm goat’s cheese salad and chanterelles with cream and bacon, to more adventurous dishes such as scallops with green pea puree, and Indian-style red curry with vegetables and basmati rice. The simple and spacious interior, with wooden flooring, white walls and exposed brick vaults flanked by shelves of wine bottles, ensures a cosy and laid-back atmosphere.
In the heart of old town, the cosy and charming French restaurant Balzac welcomes its guests with the warm and intimate ambience of a traditional French farmhouse. Named after the famous French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac, the restaurant serves a variety of classic Gallic dishes. A typical three course meal will include a classic dish of French onion soup or oven-baked Burgundy snails for starters, a juicy rabbit in a mustard sauce or duck confit with cowberry sauce for the main course, and tarte au citron and crème brûlée for dessert, all accompanied with great selection of French wines. Booking in advance is well advised.
Restaurant Balzac, Savičiaus street 7, Vilnius, Lithuania, + 370 61489223
A welcome addition to the Vilnius restaurant scene, the trendy and modern Kitchen was one of the first places in the city to introduce the concept of dining at communal tables. Located on the second floor of the old townhouse, the restaurant features a menu of contemporary Mediterranean and Italian cuisine, with dishes ranging from hearty meals of pastas, risottos and quiches to more light options of salads and soups for a quick bite. A perfect choice for a mid-day lunch or an evening outing with friends, this lively restaurant is popular among locals, especially in the summer when guests are welcomed on the balcony overlooking the busy old town streets.
Named after the Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte, the restaurant Rene is a true gem. The funky interior is decorated with black and white chessboard flooring, colourful posters of Magritte paintings, and white tablecloths on which guests are invited to explore their creativity and draw, with pencils provided by the restaurant. The Belgian theme extends to the meal, with high-quality traditional Belgian cuisine and the wide choice of Belgian wine and beer served. The restaurant offers various seasonal specialties, including classic Belgian dishes of savoury mussels a la provençale with French fries and crispy waffles. Over the weekend booking in advance is recommended as the restaurant gets particularly busy.
Trendy and lively Lauro Lapas, translated as ‘the bay leaf’, offers a contemporary take on traditional Lithuanian cuisine. The menu includes a limited choice of adventurous a la carte options such as beef, beetroot and chicken liver, or asparagus soup with quail egg, as well as daily offering, changing according to the season and the availability of local produce. The eclectic modern interior showcasing wooden wine boxes, cookbooks and fresh herbs provides a delightful background from which to admire the beautifully presented meal and focus on what truly matters – the food . The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday and is the great option for a quick lunch or a relaxed Saturday dinner.
Open only since 2012, Druskos Namai, literary meaning ‘the house of salt’, features contemporary Baltic cuisine. The restaurant’s menu changes on a daily basis depending on the availability of local and seasonal produce. Although continuously changing, the menu would usually include a starter such as mackerel salad or split pea soup with lardons, a main course such as pike fillet with saffron mashed potatoes, olives and capers or, for the more adventurous, horse fillet, and for dessert delicacies such as mango parfait or vanilla and white chocolate cheese cake. A booking, especially on weekends, is well advised.
Considered to be one of the top five restaurants in Vilnius, if not in Lithuania, the sophisticated and intimate Telegrafas restaurant features contemporary European cuisine with Mediterranean touches. Situated in the building of former central telegraph, the restaurant aims to modernise traditional Lithuanian cuisine, yet include fresh local produce as much as possible. Headed by the executive chef Javier Lopez, and with a frequently changing menu, the restaurant offers a great selection of both meat and fish dishes, including such delicacies as lobster and tiger prawns, always accompanied by a glass of wine from the exhaustive wine-list. The restaurant is a perfect spot to try traditional Lithuanian dish – cepelinai, traditional potato dumplings filled with meat, mushrooms or cheese.
A small and folk-themed restaurant, Senoji Trobele, or ‘old hut’, is the best choice to explore traditionally hearty Lithuanian cuisine in Vilnius. Tucked away from the old town, the venue is well-known for its folk-themed and rustic interior and simple, unpretentious yet delicious traditional Lithuanian dishes, including a variety of hefty meat and fish main courses such as marinated herring or potato pancakes with chicken. The experience of a traditional Lithuanian meal can not be complete without a glass of local beer or sweet mead, a local alcoholic beverage produced from the local honey and herbs. During the summer months, the restaurant opens its outside terrace, creating a welcome rest spot for good meal and laid-back people-watching.