Are Hermitage, Peterhof, and Kazan Cathedral already on your list of things to do in the cultural capital of Russia? I thought so! Now it’s time to add a few amazing Saint Petersburg restaurants that will complete your experience.
Let me just say how lucky you are to travel to my motherland in the times when Russian cuisine is going through its Renaissance! Were you to come, say, ten years ago, you’d find plenty of places to eat in Saint Petersburg (and all over Russia) that offered a combination of Japanese and Italian cuisines. True story. In 2010 Russians were craving sushi and pasta, and preferably all at the same time.
Nowadays, we have a more refined taste. We find pleasure in trying exquisite twists on traditional Soviet dishes, prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Dare I say, we are up to date with global trends. And Saint Petersburg restaurants and their chefs are largely the reason Russia has a spot on the world map of gastronomy.
Now, I’ve only been to the city three times, but I’d love to share my favorite places to eat in Saint Petersburg with you. Some of them are casual, others — fancy. Some serve traditional Russian cuisine, others — a modern take on the same dishes. Some are old and iconic, others — young and bold. Hope you’ll find a restaurant (or six) that will satisfy your taste and make your trip even better.
6 Restaurants in Saint Petersburg I Absolutely Loved
Just so you understand how amazing and highly-recommend this place is, Banshiki is a restaurant I chose to celebrate my five-year wedding anniversary last year. First of all, you probably want to know what the name means. Banshiki are the men who work in Russian banya (steam rooms) and whip people with birch tree twigs (the experience is voluntary, not to worry).
The reason for this unusual name is that the restaurant shares the building with Degtyarnie Bani (Degtyarnie steam rooms). You can plan to visit both the steam rooms and the restaurant for a perfect day of pampering yourself.
The menu of Banshiki is a unique creation of chef Stanislav Levokho that features Russian dishes prepared with a creative twist.Think: Olivier salad with smoked salmon and caviar, black dumplings, and solyanka soup with beef cheeks. If you stop by for breakfast — which you absolutely should do — try their curd cheese “Eskimo” ice cream.
They also have a small shop near the entrance where you can get their homemade pickles, home-smoked fish and meats, and frozen pelmeni (dumplings) to take home.
Banshiki — Degtyarnaya Ulitsa, 1A
P.S. Unfortunately, I have no pictures from Banshiki as I was too busy celebrating my anniversary, so you’ll have to believe my word that it’s one of the best restaurants in Saint Petersburg.
I’ve been drooling over CoСoСo’s Instagram page for years before finally making the trip to Saint Petersburg and giving it a try. As intimidated as I was to dine at such a fancy place all by myself, I had to experience the culinary genius of Igor Grishechkin. In short, he did not disappoint. I even wrote a review of CoСoСo — something I rarely do in this blog. My review, of course, has very little to do with actual reviewing and much more with complaining about how expensive the bread basket was. But even so, I highly recommend this restaurant in Saint Petersburg if you are visiting.
Igor Grishechkin is one of the chefs who, by combining traditions, modern technology, and seasonal ingredients, creates something truly exciting. Among other great modern chefs of my country, he propels Russian food forward.
At CoСoСo, you’ll find dishes inspired by different eras: from the foods served to Tzars at palaces to simple dishes prepared in Soviet kitchens. And if you know Russian folklore, history, and literature, you are up for a few surprises.
“Kasha iz topora” (porridge made of an axe), for example, is a reference to the famous fairy tale with the same name. The porridge indeed comes with a tiny axe masterfully made of butter!
One of the most popular (and Instagrammable, if you are into that kind of thing) desserts on the menu is “My mother’s favorite flower”, which is a chocolate brownie shaped like a broken pot of flowers.
Crème brûlée resembles a cameo, with a beautiful female profile made of panna cotta. While a “piggy-bank” is, in fact, a milk chocolate figurine filled with cottage cheese zephyr and strawberry jelly.
CoСoСo — Voznesensky Ave, 6
Pishechnaya on Bolshaya Konyushennaya
I bet you just looked at the name of this place and didn’t even try to read it. Am I right? Let me explain. In Saint Petersburg, one absolutely has to eat pishki which are somewhat like American donuts (do not, under any circumstances, call them donuts, though).
Pishechnaya is a place where you get pishki. And the oldest and most iconic pishechnaya is located on Bolshaya Konyushennaya Street. You go there for a quick snack while exploring the city to experience true Soviet atmosphere still preserved in the center of Saint Petersburg.
The cafe has been opened since 1958. The interiors are simple as can be, and so is the menu. Pishki are only 14 rubles a piece (USD $0.23). You can also get a cup of tea or coffee and a bottle of soda, and that is pretty much the entirety of the menu.
The place is popular with both locals and tourists, and you might even have to wait in line on weekends. The wait is so worth it, though! Hot fatty pishki dusted with sugar taste heavenly, and the whole experience is one to remember.
Pishechnaya — Bolshaya Konyushennaya Street, 25
Mechtateli, which means “dreamers” in Russian, is where the cool kids hang out these days. The beautiful cafe with large windows facing Fontanka river and Sheremetev Palace boasts amazing location, creative menu, and a great wine list.
Chef Viktor Gusev uses locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients which is why the menu changes frequently. If you are wondering what cloudberry cream, juniper sauce, or even edible moss taste like, Mechtateli is the right place to go.
I love to come here for breakfast. You must order sirniki (cottage cheese patties), either with caramel sauce and sour cream or with sweetened condensed milk and drunk blueberries. If you don’t mind a creative take on your coffee, go for pine-nuts-flavored raf or latte with halva and pecans.
If you choose to come for dinner, take advantage of their wine list carefully selected to match the dishes on the menu.
Mechtateli — Fontanka river embankment, 11
Being a food blogger I do a fair share of research and always ask for recommendations when traveling. Dachniki is the only restaurant in Saint Petersburg I came across accidentally.
The restaurant is located on Nevsky prospect, right in the city center, which usually would be a red flag for me. The interiors are made to resemble a Russian dacha (country house) — another no-no. Finally, there are plenty of tourists inside — never a good sign. Normally, I would not set foot in a place like this.
However, on my first day in Saint Petersburg I was too hungry to be picky, so I gave it a chance. If you are looking for traditional Russian food without any creative twists and gimmicks, this is the right place.
Everything I tried at Dachniki was top-notch: from their medovuha, to hearty soups, to mayo-filled salads. The place might feel a little tacky and you’ll definitely hear lots of English around you, but don’t dismiss it on the account of being too touristy. The food is authentic and delicious.
Do try one of the many alcoholic drinks they offer— and I don’t only mean vodka. They have plenty of homemade infusions: with horseradish, cranberry, chokeberry, and pine nuts to name a few. If you love beer, try Vasileostrovskoye that is produced locally in Saint Petersburg. Honey beer is amazing too (for those who have a sweet tooth).
Dachniki — Nevsky Ave, 20
Khachapuri i Vino
Georgian cuisine is big in Russia: we love us some khinkali, khachapuri, and pkhali. If none of those words mean anything to you, just know: it’s food and it’s freaking delicious!
Khachapuri i Vino is a chain of casual restaurants in Saint Petersburg. They are great for a lunch or dinner with friends and family or even on your own.
As the name suggests, order khachapuri (cheese-filled bread) and vino (wine), but don’t stop there. Their pkhali (minced vegetable balls) and kharcho soup are great too. Finally, finish it off with baklava or churchkhella (candy made of grape must and nuts).
Khachapuri i Vino — they have 5 locations in Saint Petersburg, check the addresses online.
Let me know if you try one of these places. It always makes me happy if readers follow my tips and order “what she had”. If you have any recommendations for great restaurants in Saint Petersburg, do let me know in comments! I am always in search of delicious food in Russia.
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Are you looking for more information about Russia?
If it’s your first trip, read my 50 important tips for the first-time travelers. If you are planning to visit Moscow, here are my favorite restaurants that serve Russian food in the capital. You should also visit GUM which is a perfect place for foodies. Finally, don’t miss Eliseevsky, one of the most incredible supermarkets in the world.
Want to learn more about hearty Russian food and enigmatic Russian soul? I have an article about our enormous love for mayo, our tradition of spending time with family in the kitchen, and a few more personal posts about life as an immigrant and being bilingual.