Moscow Restaurants

In a city where onion domes and Soviet-era monoliths bespeak a long, varied, and storied past, it's easy to forget that the dining scene is relatively new, having emerged with democratization in 1991. Now, nearly twenty-five years later, the Moscow restaurant scene is still going through growing pains and has yet to find its pace. This is good news for adventurous diners. You might still find yourself being served by pantaloon-and-ruffled bedecked "serfs" beneath glittering chandeliers in one of the showy, re-created settings that arose in the post-Soviet era—and that even a tsar would find to be over the top.

But many restaurants now approach their food sensibly and seriously. A new crop of chefs is serving traditional Russian fare, often giving it some innovative twists. One European cuisine to invade the city anew is Italian, and scores of dark-haired chefs from the Mediterranean are braving the cold to bring Muscovites minestrone and carbonara. Other ethnic restaurants have long since arrived as well, and you can sample Tibetan, Indian, Chinese, Latin American, or Turkish cuisine any night of the week.

One welcome, long-standing Russian tradition that remains in place is a slow-paced approach to a meal. It's common for people to linger at their tables long after finishing dessert, and you're almost never handed the bill until you ask for it. Keep in mind that chef turnover is high in Moscow, which means restaurants can change quickly—and that there's always a new culinary experience to be had in this ever-evolving city.

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  • 1. Dukhan Chito-Ra

    $ | Eastern Outskirts | Russian

    This one-room café has home-style Georgian food so good that you'll feel you've found your way to a tavern deep in the Caucasus hinterlands...Read More

  • 2. Hachapuri

    $ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | Russian

    This modern chain of cafes shares a name with Georgia's most beloved culinary export, a crispy pie filled with a creamy, tangy cheese (six varieties...Read More

  • 3. Kamchatka

    $ | Kremlin/Red Square | Russian

    This upstairs cafeteria-style café is a throwback to the Soviet era, packed with students drinking cheap beer, pensioners reminiscing over meat...Read More

  • 4. Bavarius

    $ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | German

    Oompah music plays in the background, dirndl-clad waitresses carry fistfuls of liter-size mugs, and the smell of sauerkraut lingers in the air...Read More

  • 5. Filial

    $ | Kitai Gorod | Eclectic

    Students and a sizeable portion of the local office-worker population flock here for the three-course lunch special, and in the evening, the...Read More

  • 6. Fresh

    $ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | Vegetarian

    The minimalist interior isn't necessarily welcoming, but this a great place for a quick, healthy lunch near the city sights. There are lots...Read More

  • 7. Gogol-Mogol

    $ | Kropotkinskaya | European

    Sink into folds of burgundy velour with a plate of chocolates and a cappuccino at this indulgent dessert spot off the Boulevard Ring....Read More

  • 8. Kvartira 44

    $ | Ulitsa Bolshaya Nikitskaya | Café

    Bookshelves line the walls of this two-floor café, popular with students and intellectuals who enjoy good food at budget prices—salads, braised...Read More

  • 9. Lyudi kak lyudi

    $ | Kitai Gorod | Café

    Some of the new Russian elite undoubtedly have closets bigger than this hole-in-the-wall student hangout. But what this jammed little place...Read More

  • 10. Mu-Mu

    $ | Kitai Gorod | Fast Food

    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...Read More

  • 11. Pizza Express

    $ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | Italian

    This British pizza chain has slowly cornered the market for inexpensive Italian fare in Moscow with several branches. The Tverskaya location...Read More

  • 12. Propaganda

    $ | Kitai Gorod | Eclectic

    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...Read More

  • 13. Starlite Diner

    $ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | American

    This chain scattered throughout Moscow serves sandwiches and burgers in brightly lit 1950s settings and is popular with late-night workers,...Read More

  • 14. Volkonsky

    $ | Kitai Gorod | Bakery

    Moscow has waited years for the arrival of a sophisticated French-style bakery like this. In addition to the mouthwatering choice of pastries...Read More

  • 15. Yolki Palki

    $ | Kitai Gorod | Russian

    With hanging chickens and waitresses dressed in national costume, the decor at one of the first chain restaurants in Russia is more kitsch than...Read More

  • 16. Zu Cafe

    $ | Arbat | Asian

    Recently Pan-Asian cuisine has become quite popular in Moscow, and this small chain of affordable fusion cafés has done its part in introducing...Read More

  • 17. Glamur

    $ | Kitai Gorod | Russian

    Café Glamur is nothing like the name suggests—instead of being posh, it is humble and homey, with a perpetually laughing host, lively keyboard...Read More

  • 18. Lunchbox

    $ | Ulitsa Bolshaya Nikitskaya | Eclectic

    Perhaps just like it was when you were a kid, this Lunchbox has a sleek design and occasionally zany food that is only sometimes what you were...Read More

  • 19. Ossetinskiye Pirogi

    $ | Zamoskvorech’ye | Russian

    Many of the ethnic groups scattered throughout Russia have culinary outposts in Moscow, and this relaxed cafeteria-style café is the territory...Read More

  • 20. Dome

    $ | Kropotkinskaya | Eclectic

    Dome is one of the still-growing contingent of bars and restaurants installed in the buildings of the former Krasny Oktyabr chocolate factory...Read More

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