46 Best Restaurants in Moscow, Russia

Mari Vanna

$$$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya

Find the unmarked entrance, ring the right doorbell, and you will be taken back half a century to an idealized Soviet home. It could be Red Army Day, the way the tables are garnished with white cloth and water goblets—and the flour-and-water baranki crackers on the table evoke bygone scarcity. Stolid, apron-clad waitresses glide from table to table delivering beet salads, mushroom soup, and other nostalgic fare. Wooden shelves and the bric-a-brac on them—glass cookie jars, an old radio, a deer figurine—make this place feel truly homey. The experience isn't entirely homespun, though—Mari Vanna has branches as far afield as New York and Los Angeles.

Metropol

$$$$ | Kremlin/Red Square

Recalling the splendor of prerevolutionary Russia, the opulent interiors of the Metropol hotel's grand dining hall are a stunning memorial to Russian art nouveau. The nearly three-story-high dining room is replete with stained-glass windows, marble pillars, and a leaded-glass roof. Among the famous guests to have dined here are George Bernard Shaw, Vladimir Lenin, and Michael Jackson. The menu is laden with French and Russian delicacies, such as the popular fried duck with wild-cherry sauce and a baked apple. Cap your meal off with wine from the extensive list and cheese. There is also live music at breakfast and in the evenings.

Mu-Mu

$ | Kitai Gorod

Join the masses for pancakes and kebabs at this popular cafeteria-style chain. This location is just a block away from the Lubyanka, once the home of the KGB, and still the main building of that notorious agency's successor. Compared to the offerings at similar Russian fast food joints, the food here is of a higher quality. Even so, unless you love mayonaisse, skip the mystery salads for simpler meats and sides that include stuffed and fried cutlets and dumplings, grilled meat and fish, and classic Russian soups, including borsch and shi, made from cabbage. The staff doesn't speak much English, but you can generally get by with gestures.

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Pizza Express

$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya

This British pizza chain has slowly cornered the market for inexpensive Italian fare in Moscow with several branches. The Tverskaya location is the largest, serving decent pizzas and pasta dishes to local business people, students, and foreigners who pack into the two floor of dining rooms. Reasonably priced wines are available by the glass.

Prime Star

$ | Kremlin/Red Square

This citywide chain is one of the few trustworthy spots to get fresh, tasty food on the fly. With many shelves of low-cost wraps, salads, soups, and even sushi, there's a lot to choose from. There's also a pastry case with surprisingly good fresh-baked cinnamon rolls, and even a worthy chocolate mousse. When it's warm, sit under a patio umbrella here, on a pedestrian street near Red Square, and watch every class of Muscovite go by.

Propaganda

$$ | Kitai Gorod

This may be one of Moscow's most popular clubs, but before the dance floor opens up, it lays out the tables for its own hearty, delicious food, for some of the most reasonable prices in the city center. The cuisine ranges over all the continents, from Indian to Thai to Russian, but the dishes are kept simple, and service is quick. The filling sandwiches and pastas, with such accompaniments as curried chicken and porcini mushrooms, are particularly good values. Warning: the place gets smokey at night.

Scandinavia

$$$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya

One of the most serene dining rooms in the city, with comfortable wooden chairs and upholstered benches, also has a nice terrace and beer garden for summer dining. The Swedish chef mixes modern European and Scandinavian choices. If you're out for purely Scandinavian fare, try the herring with boiled potatoes, which comes with a shot of aquavit; for casual dining, the burgers are considered to be the best in Moscow.

Starlite Diner

$$$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya

This chain scattered throughout Moscow serves sandwiches and burgers in brightly lit 1950s settings and is popular with late-night workers, early-morning partygoers, and American travelers and expats looking for a taste of home. This location is especially busy because of the city-center location and secluded summertime patio. Waiters are young and friendly, speak English, and serve fast.

Strelka Bar

$$ | Kropotkinskaya

A row of windows and the blond-wood patio provide you with a panorama of the Moskva River, the Kremlin, and the white marble monolith of Christ the Savior cathedral. Though the location alone warrants a visit, a reliable menu offers an interesting mix of salads, pastas, and grilled meats, and service is solicitous. The place buzzes with hipster youth and a velvet rope appears on Friday and Saturday nights, but, as at many Moscow clubs, foreigners don't usually have a problem getting in.

Turandot

$$$$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya

Ornate decor and elaborate, modern interpretations of Russian, Continental, and Asian Fusion fare make quite an impression—which is the point, and why this over-the-top rendition of a baroque palace is one of the preferred eateries of the city's power elite. Beneath elaborate frescoes, domes, and columns, a waitstaff in brocaded waistcoats serves everything from dim sum to smoked venison; there's something for just about everyone willing to pay the bank-breaking prices. Weekend brunches are an expensive indulgence, while the pre-theater set menus are quite a bargain.

U Pirosmani

$$$ | Southern Outskirts

This well-known restaurant specializing in the spicy cuisine of Georgia is across the pond from the convent. If you're visiting on a weekend, you may want to book ahead.

U Pirosmani

$$ | Southern Outskirts

Copies of works by namesake Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani decorate the whitewashed walls that, along with wood-paneled ceilings, create the aura of an artist's studio. Try to sit by the window in the main hall or on the balcony so you can enjoy beautiful views of New Maiden's Convent, across the pond. The menu reads like a Georgian cookbook, though some complain that the food can be a bit hit or miss. But order the hachapuri, Georgian cheese pie, and a kebab and you can't go wrong.

Uryuk

$$$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya

The tangy and savory Uzbek food here is served in a palatial dining room that appears to have been decorated by a particularly extravagant sultan. Walls are swathed in Persian rugs, transparent curtains, embroidered pillows, and turquoise-and-white tiles, and the food selection is just as lush. On the menu is a choice of more than 20 fresh salads, plus grilled meats, tandoori breads, and such classics as plov, the Central Asian take on rice pilaf, served with lamb and dried fruit. Another choice is a hearty lamb-and-noodle soup called lagman. Servers are friendly but can be a bit pushy, so be firm if they offer something you don't want.

Vogue Café

$$$$ | Kitai Gorod

One of the most fashionable restaurants in town is distinctly Russian, serving a menu that's a throwback to Soviet times, with items such as Russian cured sausage and kefir, a sour-milk drink. The interior is sophisticated and understated, with gold-and-black-suede booths and walls lined with photos of fashion models, many of whom are regulars.

Volkonsky

$ | Kitai Gorod

Moscow has waited years for the arrival of a sophisticated French-style bakery like this. In addition to the mouthwatering choice of pastries, biscuits, and cakes, this is also an ideal place to pick up a sandwich or a freshly prepared salad, or to simply grab a coffee. There are lines out the door at all three locations, and this branch has a small seating area and a range of quiches and pastas for a sit-down lunch.

Zhiguli

$$$ | Arbat

Among the numerous cafés along the Arbat where you can take a break and have a drink is this quirky place that feeds on nostalgia for the Soviet Union. Fortunately the service and the food are better than they were in the old days. There's a large dining room and a small, cafeteria-style cafe for light and quick snacks.