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. Gusyatnikoff

    $$$$ | Eastern Outskirts | Russian

    Feast on exquisite traditional Russian fare in what was once (and still feels like) a private mansion. On the four floors, there are spaces...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. Pavilion

    $$$$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | Russian

    If you've ever wondered how Soviet officials dined, head to this retro eatery in an old mansion with views onto Patriarch's Ponds, immortalized...Read More

  • 6. Ragout

    $$$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | European

    A short and frequently changing menu features dishes rooted in Continental and Eastern European traditions and often includes a selection of...Read More

  • 7. Shinok

    $$$$ | Western Outskirts | Eastern European

    Meals at Moscow's best Ukrainian restaurant often include a plate of assorted salo— a specialty of cured pork fat. If such traditional country...Read More

  • 8. Vatrushka

    $$ | Ulitsa Bolshaya Nikitskaya | Russian

    The name comes from a popular Russian pastry, but there's nothing common or traditional about the presentations in this old mansion stripped...Read More

  • 9. CDL

    $$$$ | Ulitsa Bolshaya Nikitskaya | Russian

    Inside this elegant mansion is one of the city's most beautiful dining rooms—and one of the best places to sample authentic Russian cuisine...Read More

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