The Volga Tatars are Russia’s second largest ethnic group and have a strong culinary tradition. As the capital of Tatarstan and with a healthy restaurant scene, Kazan is the perfect place to indulge in this earthy, hearty cuisine. Don’t miss out on gastronomical delights with our pick of places to try Tatar cuisine, no matter your budget.
Restaurant, Asian, $$$
Tatarskaya Usadba | Courtesy of Tatarskaya Usadba
A large dinning complex attached to a boutique hotel, that welcomes customers regardless of whether they are guests at the hotel or not. Not cheap, but the menu (which also comes in English) covers all items on the Tatar food hit list. This is a good place to try the smoked horse meat sausage or the smoked goose fillet – another delicacy. They also have plenty of baked goods and pies to get stuck into. Grab a seat in the summer verandah for a view of the Kaban Lakes, while you enjoy your meal.
One of the best options if you are on a budget or on the go, the Baketle supermarket chain has a deli section full of freshly baked pies and desserts that are just as good as home-made ones. Alongside their baked goods they have a selection of meals and salads that you can take away for later. There are loads of locations scattered throughout the city, so you are bound to stumble across one as you discover the city.
Another reliable budget option, Dom Chaya is a soviet style self-service canteen right in the heart of the city, that serves up Tatar staples. The soups and pastries are particularly good here, and it is also a good place to try Gubadiya, which is prepared as a sweet here. Despite it’s no-frills appearance, Dom Chaya, which translates to tea house, is usually filled with locals enjoying a quick cheap meal. Head upstairs if you prefer table service.
A stalwart of the Kazan’s Tatar culinary scene, the House of Tatar Cooking is a formal environment, which is just as enjoyable as the food. As you would expect from a restaurant of such esteem, the menu is comprehensive and includes the Tatar take on the Russian soup Solyanka. Made with capers, lemon and pickled cucumbers and usually pork or beef, Dom Tararskoi Kulinarii adds cured horse meat to the broth for a classic Tatar flavour.
You can’t beat the central market for value when it comes to food. And across the vendors, the range is extensive. Get stuck into a duck belish – a hearty pie made from duck, potatoes and grains, stuffed into to a crusty shell. Or try a pilaf, served with vegetables and fruit. Finish it all off with either the honey drenched chak chak or a slice of gubadiya – a layered pie of tvorg, egg, raisins and dried fruit, covered in melted butter. Sometimes its made with a layer of meat to make it savoury and both the sweet and savoury versions are available here.
Another reliable chain that has a decor as considered as the menu. The interior recreates a rustic cabin, decorated with traditional homewares and textiles; the earthy tones complementing the hearty meals on offer here. Food is prepared to traditional recipes, and the selection is ample. Get stuck into Tatar dumplings, manti, or this is another great spot to try Tatar solyanka. Take a business lunch deal for a quick affordable lunch while you discover the city. There are other branches of the restaurant at Ulitsa Butlerova, Vishnevsky and Ostraovsky, as well as Prospekt Pobedy.
An up-market restaurant that does Uzbek, Russian and Tatar meals, the perfect choice for when you want to treat yourself. The Tatar menu is limited, but offers a few well prepared options for every course. However, Uzbek cuisine, which is the restaurant’s speciality, shares similar culinary features to Tatar, so pick and chose across the different menus. Try the pilaf, traditional to both Uzbek and Tatar diets, as it is particularly good here.