St Petersburg dwellers are not fans of big, crowded restaurants. The trend here is to find a tucked-away nook with an original concept and hope you can enjoy it before everybody else finds out. Here are some of the most popular eateries in St Petersburg where you can find locals having breakfast, dropping in for lunch or enjoying a long evening meal.
Khachapuri and Vino
Restaurant, Georgian, $$$
When this Georgian café opened, it became a sensation instantly. Reservations are often required, and the owners expanded to three new locations around the city. What makes it so special? The menu is very traditional, with typical Georgian dishes and a great selection of Georgian wines, but everything is prepared impeccably and at budget-friendly prices. Make sure to try their namesake dish, khachapuri. It’s similar to a cheese-filled pastry, baked in their in-house old-style oven.
As the name suggests, Ketch Up Burgers is, indeed, a place to have burgers. Although there are other items on the menu, these are the main attraction. All the burgers have the perfect combination of ingredients, which at times can be quite exotic, and can be paired with different sides as well as with craft beers on tap. Beware, though, as portions are very generous!
Frank appeared amid the hype for meat-oriented restaurants and became the place in town for ribs. House of Cards fans will notice the connection here – the show’s main character Frank Underwood had a soft spot for ribs and would travel to the outskirts of the capital to get his fix. Luckily, when in St Petersburg, there is no need to leave the city centre to get the best ribs in town. Also, check out some of the in-house specials from behind the bar.
Co-op Garage is not easy to find, but it is well worth the search. It sits inside a courtyard that usually has the gates shut but not closed, so feel free to walk right in. The place does, indeed, resemble a garage, with barrels for tables outside, but it also features spacious diner-style couches inside. The smell of smoke permeates the air because all the pizzas are made in a big wood-fired oven – make sure to try them. There are not only some traditional ones to choose from but also some unique options, such as a pizza with pumpkin and gingerbread.
Bekitzer does Israeli street food, and they do it right. Expect hummus, falafel, shakshuka and more. The chef received special training in Israel and brought back excellent recipes, along with ingredients that are difficult to find in Russia. The bar is packed on any given night, but it is well worth the wait.
Pita’s serves up delicious street food. They take the traditional concept of shaverma, a type of wrap, and make it unique with unusual ingredients, including vegetarian options. The mint and berries shaver is a must-try. Combine it with a delicious side dish for a perfect quick meal.
Hamlet + Jacks mainly focusses on Russian cuisine, and their menu is an innovative one. It’s usefully separated into three parts: ours, ours+theirs and not ours, depending on where the ingredients come from. The ‘ours’ section only uses Russian-made produce, so the dishes are as local as they can be, whereas ‘theirs’ and ‘not ours’ refers to international dishes.
This Italian spot is frequented by locals due to its fantastic rooftop, which has live music, hammocks, and a great view over Petrogradskaya island. Although some way from St Petersburg’s city center, Makaronniki is certainly worth the trip!
This vegan café has become a favourite even for those who eat meat. The trick is in the fresh ingredients used in every meal, and Ukrop also has alternatives for almost every dietary requirement. The interiors are always bright and will cheer you up on a gloomy winter’s day. Plus, their desserts are great alternatives to guilty pleasures.
A great location for an easy meal, the Clean Plates Society’s menu has a huge variety of options, and it is perfect for both a quick lunch and laid-back dinner. There are soups, burgers, pasta and all sorts of snacks that will go well with the extensive wine card.