You don’t have to spend hand over fist to get a good feed in Samara – there are plenty of restaurants and cafes in this Volga side port town that will fill you up with tasty meals at a reasonable price. Here’s our pick of the best budget restaurants around.
Gastropub, American, Vegetarian, $$$
Slightly more expensive than other restaurants on the list, this spot is a premium burger joint and one of the first in the city. Most burgers on the menu are under USD$8, so the food is still affordable. The menu is extensive, there are even a few options for the vegetarian burger lovers. Choose from chicken, beef, turkey or fish burgers covered in various smoked and spiced sauces, smothered in melted cheese. Naturally, there is a good selection of beers to wash these gourmet sandwiches, so it’s a good place to linger.
Cafe, Restaurant, Georgian, Vegetarian, $$$
A well-loved institution that offers up Georgian food, and is a favourite with the locals. Eat stuffed breads, shashlik (skewered meat from the grill), kachapuri (fresh stuffed bread) and khinkali, (dumplings) in a modern but relaxed environment, or try a light pastry or dessert with a cup of sweet tea or coffee. Also has an excellent selection of Georgian wines on offer, and a great place for breakfast. There are several other locations, with different opening times, so check their website for details.
Restaurant, European, Vegetarian, $$$
This popular little joint, not far away from the Volga, has big portions and friendly staff. As the name would suggest the meals are meat-heavy, however vegetarians can cobble together a delicious and filling meal made from grilled vegetables on offer and the selection of salads and starters. To wash down all the authentic Serbian flavours there are plenty of German beers on tap as well as strong Turkish coffee.
Restaurant, Russian, Vegetarian, $$$
A reliable franchise that offers traditional Russian meals at reasonable prices. Fish features heavily on the menu, as do all the classics such as stroganoff, pelmeni, vareniki and pancakes. There is also good selection of soups, including a fish take on the traditionally pork based solyanka soup and a borscht made with meatballs and beans. The interior is decorated so that it is reminiscent of a rustic dacha, and this delightfully kitschy decor adds to the dinning experience.
Food Truck, Israeli, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
Not a restaurant but a food truck that sets up camp along the Volga embankment in Samara for summer and serves up fresh and healthy Israeli street food. It is a cheap and cheerful option for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters who want to make the most of the summer sun. The truck specialises in pita wraps stuffed with falafel, shakshuka (deliciously spiced tomato and egg) as well shawarma, all coved in dollops of freshly made hummus and complemented with pickled vegetables.
Cafe, American, Russian, Vegetarian, $$$
This spot is housed in an old dentist’s office that Lenin supposedly sought treatment at while he lived in the city after graduation. Legend has it Lenin’s last visit coincided with the birth date of Benjamin Franklin, the cafe’s namesake, cementing the cafe’s concept. With a hint of 1950s/1960s American kitsch, the cosy cafe’s interior is bright and cheerful, without being cluttered. The menu boasts American diner-inspired meals – think burgers, fried chicken and sweet pies, and the drinks list has milkshakes and coffees, as well as booze.
Cafe, Russian, European, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
A cheerful and casual cafe that takes pride in offering up food that tastes like home. The lunch menu changes daily, so variety is guaranteed and there are lots of vegetarian, even vegan options. A light breakfast is served until noon, and customers can choose from a selection of small plates of breads, cheeses, and fruit and vegetables. During the weekdays breakfast lunch and dinners are all served between specific times, so time your visit accordingly. There is also an events programme, so check their Facebook page for details