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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Buono

    $$$$ | Western Outskirts | Italian

    It's all about the view atop this Stalin-era skyscraper that also houses the Radisson Royal hotel. The cuisine takes few chances, hewing to...Read More

  • 4. L'Albero

    $$$$ | Northern Outskirts | Italian

    This is one of the few truly excellent Italian restaurants in a city full of pretenders. Brand chef Nicola Canuti is a pupil of French great...Read More

  • 5. Mari Vanna

    $$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | Russian

    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...Read More

  • 6. Staraya Ploshchad

    $$ | Kremlin/Red Square | European

    Photographs of candelabra-filled imperial-era restaurants greet you in the foyer, and candlestick sconces and red velvet festoon the walls....Read More

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