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. 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

  • 7. Café Pushkin

    $$$$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | Russian

    In a mansion meant to recall the days when the writer Pushkin stolled the 19th-century avenues of Moscow, staff members dress like household...Read More

  • 8. Chaikhona No. 1

    $$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | Russian

    This massive Uzbek café and lounge on ploshchad Pushkin is part of a chain with almost 20 locations around the city and offers diners the chance...Read More

  • 9. Chekhonte

    $$$$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | Russian

    The modern takes on Russian classics served in chic, contemporary surroundings in the InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya are truly inventive...Read More

  • 10. Genatsvale VIP

    $$ | Kropotkinskaya | Russian

    After entering through a tunnel of vine leaves, you're seated at oak tables in a somewhat Disneyfied version of an old country house in Georgia...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. U Pirosmani

    $$$$ | Southern Outskirts | Russian

    Copies of works by namesake Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani decorate the whitewashed walls that, along with wood-paneled ceilings, create the...Read More

  • 13. Varvary

    $$$$ | Ulitsa Tverskaya | Russian

    Anatoly Komm, the only Russian chef to receive a Michelin star (it was at a restaurant in Geneva), has returned home to present his innovative...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

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