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Food & Dining in Latvia


Pork and potatoes still may reign in Riga, but the last years have brought immense variety to the dining scene, so that even in this cream based nation, one doesn't have to compromise one's cholesterol. Between genuine sushi bars and real ethnic establishments there are also weaker attempts at exoticism, and prices aren't as low as one would expect in Eastern Europe.

Latvian cuisine comes from the peasant culture, and is based on crops that grow in Latvia's maritime, temperate climate. Rye, wheat, oat, peas, beets, and potatoes are the staples; smoked bacon, sausage, and other pork products are favourites. Since Latvia is surrounded by the sea, smoked and raw fish is common. Many types of food are flavoured with caraway seeds, especially cheese and bread. A cheese similar to smoked gouda, but softer, is the cheapest and, arguably, tastiest variety. Latvian rye bread is heavy and flavourful, and goes well with hearty Latvian meals like pea soup, potatoes, and schnitzels. Restaurants in larger cities often offer stews in clay pots.

Hors d’oeuvres are very good and often the best part of the meal. Overall, cuisine can be heavy but almost always tasty and nourishing.


Being a multi-cultural city Riga has a variety of restaurants, bistros, bars and cafés offering various cuisines and interesting interior. Regarding the smoking policy in Riga, almost all places of the kind have either separate zones for smokers and non-smokers or do not allow smoking at all.

Vecriga (Old Town)

Riga's cobblestoned Old Town boasts plenty of restaurants nestled among the low-rise buildings and medieval churches, and is especially great for local traditional food. For some local cuisine paired with international offerings, a relaxed ambiance and live music on weekends, go to Jaunais Balzambāra Restorāns. This popular and fashionable restaurant is a good option for a lively dinner or a delicious business lunch.

Rozengrāls is a medieval restaurant, said to be the oldest in Riga. This is a popular destination for those looking to soak up the medieval ambiance of the Old Town while dining on local and other Eastern Euopean fare.

Another hot spot offering local cuisine is Pulkvedim Neviens Neraksta, which is a quality restaurant and bar by day, and happening nightclub when the sun goes down. For more international options, Melnie Mūki has you covered with Mexican, French, Italian, and Eastern European. This modern eatery is housed in a former 13th century monastery, making the contrast a thrilling setting to dine in.

Steakhouse Dome claims to be the best steakhouse in the entire country, but in addition to these steaks, they also offer an abundant menu of Eastern European dishes. Another steakhouse with a distinctly different feel is Steiku Haoss. This two-story theme restaurant is decorated to evoke the atmosphere of an old Western movie, adorned with saddles, animal skins and cowboy waiters.

For an upscale, romantic dinner, Kaļķu Vārt is the perfect place to go. When you're done eating, downstairs is a venue for live music. If you are a garlic lover, you must give Ķiploku Krogs a try. Every dish on the menu features garlic as an ingredient, including the desserts.

Centrs (New Town)

The more modern and Art-Nouveau New Town of Riga features numerous restaurants and cafes of all types all over the place. Da Sergio is a pleasant and authentic Italian restaurant, serving and displaying all things Italian, from the wine to the music. Their woo-burning oven turns out delicious, authentic pizzas. Galerija Istaba is a two-story building featuring an arts, gifts and souvenir shop on the ground floor, and the tasty cafe upstairs featuring local cuisine. Čīīz Bar features local specialities as well as other international cuisine; they are especially well known for their creamy cheese soup Chester. This is a great place for groups and meetings.

One of the fanciest restaurants in the city located inside Hotel Bergs, Bergs is elegant and intimate. The international menu features upscale contemporary as well as traditional cuisine. Osiris is an elegant and arty restaurant serving contemporary cuisine, and Goija is a Moroccan-style tea house serving over 50 different types of teas from all over the world, as well as vegetarian cuisine, and a separate hookah bar area.