Student Concerns: Where to Eat Out…
In past blog posts I’ve covered various food topics, like reviews of specific Latvian restaurants, or reviews of snacks you’ll find in a variety of Latvian stores. Food is kind of important once you get to a new area. It’s part of the culture, and therefore is a way of experiencing the world you live in (at least for a short period of time). New flavors, dishes and maybe even eccentric food tastes shape your perception of a nation, even if only slightly.
The problem is, if, you’re like me, you also have to fit all your food into a tight budget… So food not only becomes about flavor, but also about: how good of foods, delicacies and flavors can I get with my allotted 60 Euros a month for food? (I’m doing it in that budget by the way, in case you were wondering how much you need to get by in a week)
So I’ve now compiled a list of some of my favorite places for an economical, but tasty meal. Dinners and sit down restaurants will often cost slightly more than a lunch, but overall, food is both cheap and high quality here. In traditional Eastern European style, freshness is foremost (especially for fruits and vegetables) and quantity is queen, so expect to find some good stuff wherever you go.
Also, this list is by no means complete. Some are good options for near the school for a quick lunch, others are further away for a fun night out. See the descriptions for more info.
Latvian Cuisine, cafeteria style, ~6EUR for a main dish, side and drink. See my review of it from a couple days ago, but just a solid, hearty meal of comfort foods. Protein main dishes include pork, chicken, and beefsteaks, sides are mainly starches, and the salad and dessert bars are extensive. A great place to really jump into the culinary sphere in Riga.
Location: Elizabeths iela 65
Пельмени Bar, cafeteria style, ~5 EUR for a meal and drink. Also a classic Eastern European experience, but with a good dash of Soviet swagger… As definitely one of the most stylistically eccentric restaurants in the area, they offer a bar of Russian dumplings, with fillings of chicken, pork, veggies, beef and cheese presented in a self-serve manner. Additional toppings of ketchup, sour cream, dill, etc. are also available, and at the register they just charge based on weight. Based on it’s relatively close location to the school (in the first shopping center closest to the language center), this is a great place for lunch between courses.
Location: Stacijas Laukums 2
Rimi (or other grocery stores):
Various foods, prices vary. This is for when you’re feeling like mixing it up, or you just want to keep it simple. Personally I always just book it back to the bakery and pick up some .89 cent pizzas or 5 donuts for a Euro because carbs are life, but do with it what you will. The chocolate muffins are also UHmazing. Located in the shopping mall across the road from the school, it’s quick and it’s easy.
Location: Stacijas Laukums 2
Any cafe in Old Town Riga, for real:
Coffee, cake, sandwiches, salads, drinks, you name it, they’ve probably got it. ~10EUR for a meal or ~4 for a drink. If you’re looking for a chill place to hang out, or a place to do homework, or somewhere to sit and enjoy seeing Riga pass you (the lazy man’s walking tour), any cafe or small place will do. Just looking at reviews (cause I have not been to all these places), cafes such as Kuuka Kafe, MiiT, Renzi and Index Cafe are at the top of the list. You’ll just have to find them in Old Town, exploring.
Location: Old Town Riga
Medieval Restaurant, sit down, ~15EUR for a full meal. Definitely one of the coolest culinary venues you’ll find in the city. All it is on street level is a big, wooden door, but it leads downwards to a set of tunnels where traditional meals from the 12th century are served. And between the original tunnels and wall decorations, the hefty meals, the dim lighting, the heavy wooden furniture and the traditional music at night, you get the real deal. Combined with relatively reasonable prices on food, it makes for a great restaurant for a big group of friends or colleagues.
Location: Rowena 1, Old Town Riga
If you’re looking for great places to eat, these are just some of the options available for a cheap but great culinary experience. Overall though, they go to show just how unique and great the culinary atmosphere is in Riga.
Mark Kennedy, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Riga