I have not been to Moscow for many years and mistakenly did not count it on the list of food destinations. I have visited the place for the world cup and was blown away by the diversity and quality. I am fortunate to have friends in town who pointed me to the “must” locations. I was impressed by the affordability and consistency of the quality. As a rule, more affordable restaurants have better food. Two interesting specifics of Moscow restaurant scene: very extensive and difficult to navigate menus and small size of portions. The former problem can be resolved by the help of English speaking (hopefully) waiter. The latter one is actually a benefit allowing you to try more dishes.
Now the places:
Zhevago. That is the one to be on everyone’s list. Remarkable recreation of the dishes from soviet period. We lived one block away and had there 4 breakfasts in the raw. Every day different. All three of us were impressed. Especially memorable are their omelets. Made in high temperature ovens, holding their hight for a long time after they are out! Unusual omelet flavors (cream cheese-crab-pickled tomato, pumpernickel bread-lardo, mushroom-cedar nuts) but down right delicious! The restaurant open 24 hours and delivers at any time.
Beluga. In the same building as Zhevago. Specializes in Russian “High end” seafood. The place to sample caviar. Very affordable by the US standard. Excellent mixed drinks. Whole menu of the Bloody Maries...
I found the service to be a bit pretentious. And although the food was delicious, I think you can find similar things for cheaper…
“Erwin. Rekamoreocean”. That was another one we loved. Awkward name. Specialty - only Russian (which they keep proudly announcing) seafood. The menu is structured by the water masses surrounding Russia and there are a plenty of water masses to go around… The highlight: crab. If you never tried Russian crab, you are for a special treat. Please keep in mind that the Alaskan ones are the defecting babies of the Russian ones. Very affordable. The "must" when in Moscow.
Pushkin. The touristy and most expensive place we have visited. Nothing is wrong with the food, but there are hardly any Russians there. All the chairs have the names of the celebrities who were sited on them. Mine had Schwartzneger. Once again, the food was very good, but the most expensive one we had in Moscow. Very touristy feel. My German friend called the house beer - katsenpisen.
Voshod. Very interesting place, themed in interior after the early space exploration and themed in food after former Soviet republics. Both accomplished very well. Totally worth the visit, although very touristy location - Zariade Park (designed by the same people who designed the Highline in NYC). We loved every plate they tossed to our table.
Tsarskaya Ohota. I was taken to the place by my local friends. It is a 40 minutes ride to suburbs without traffic. Located in the neighborhood where all the billioners live. Hard core classical Russian (not Soviet) food. The options are buffet or a la cart. I have enjoyed the experience very much, but difficult to get to. Probably should do on weekend, figuring the traffic directions. Traffic is not the strong part of Moscow.
Chaihona #1. Chain of Uzbeki restaurants, recommended to me by Uzbeki taxi driver. They are ubiquitous around the city. We have visited one and liked it. Very cheap.
Although we were there to see the world cup the food elevated experience. Happy to go back for more. I suspect we just scratched the surface.
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