As a busy port town, tourist destination and the major transport hub for the Volga region, Samara is full of places to eat and caters to all tastes and budgets. Choose from freshly made falafel and Israeli street food, Georgian wine and dumplings or treat yourself to a Russian-French fusion dinner. With our picks of the top restaurants, you won’t be short of ideas on where to get a great meal in Samara during the World Cup.
Restaurant, Georgian, Vegetarian, $$$
This is a well-loved institution that serves up authentic Georgian food in a friendly, relaxed environment. Intrinsic to the region’s cuisine is the wine it produces, and so the restaurant proffers up plenty of great wine to accompany your meal. This is the perfect place to try out staples such as khachapuri (cheese-stuffed bread), khinkali (dumplings) and, of course, sample that famed red wine. It is advisable to book or get in early if you are planning on heading down for dinner – it’s small, so it fills up pretty quickly.
Restaurant, Russian, $$$
Staraya Kvartira (‘Old Flat’) is a self-described museum-restaurant littered with kitsch Soviet memorabilia and trinkets and decorated to resemble an old Russian babushka flat. It serves up Soviet favourites cooked from family recipes that have been passed down the generations from mothers to daughters. Explore the many different rooms in this rabbit-warren-like den and then taste traditional comfort food, such as the classic stacked salad, herrings under fur coat (pickled herrings layered under potato, beetroot and carrot), and chopped steak served with a fried egg on top. Vegetarians can scrape together a meal from the salads, soups and starters, which is a good enough excuse to check out this delightful restaurant.
Restaurant, Russian, French, $$$
Treat yourself to a fine dining experience and enjoy a French take on Russian fare in an elegant and stylish environment. The restaurant makes the most of the nearby Volga River by serving up fresh seafood, picked by you, straight from the aquarium. Perfecto Group, Olivye’s umbrella company, also has an in-house bakery, which bakes up decadent and creamy desserts. As a French-Russian fusion restaurant, the wine list at Oliver is extensive, so be sure to ask the waiters for their recommendations.
Restaurant, European, Vegetarian
This popular little joint, not far away from the Volga, has big portions and friendly staff. As the name would suggest, the meals are meat-heavy; however, vegetarians can cobble together a delicious and filling meal made from grilled vegetables on offer and the selection of salads and starters. To wash down all the authentic Serbian flavours, there are plenty of German beers on tap as well as strong, Turkish coffee. Don’t miss out on the onion soup or the cheese pie.
Zhili-Byli is a reliable franchise that offers traditional Russian meals at a reasonable price and a good place to dine with children. Fish features heavily on the menu, as do all the classics such as stroganoff, pelmeni and pancakes. There is also good selection of soups, including a fish take on the traditionally pork-based solyanka soup and a borscht made with meatballs and beans. The interior is decorated in the stye of a rustic dacha, and the delightfully kitschy décor adds to the dinning experience.
Restaurant, Italian, European, Vegetarian, $$$
This busy all-rounder fills up pretty quickly, so booking ahead for dinner is advisable. The big drawcard is the extensive Russian/English menu that offers European- and Eastern-style flame-grilled pork, seafood and poultry, so you can dig into hearty servings of kebab and big juicy steaks smothered in your choice of sauce. There are plenty of pasta and pizza options to choose from, as well as fusion plates like the ceviche and arancini, and vegetarian options. To accompany the meal, the restaurant offers an extensive wine list, so make a booking and enjoy an evening in one of Samara‘s most popular restaurants.
Food Truck, Israeli, Street Food, Vegan
Not a restaurant but a food truck that sets up camp along the Volga embankment for summer and serves up fresh and healthy Israeli and Jewish 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. This summertime favourite specialises in pita wraps stuffed with falafel, shakshuka (spiced tomato and egg) as well shawarma, all covered in dollops of freshly made hummus and complemented with pickled vegetables. There are also lots of thirst-quenching juices, ice teas an beers to choose from.